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Phuket Business: HMRC approves Gibraltar

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Business: HMRC approves Gibraltar | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Another surprising development in a year which has seen the UK pension transfer market repeatedly shaken up and placed on its head, Gibraltar announced last recently that it received confirmation from (Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs) HMRC that it may resume accepting QROPS (Qualifying Recognized Overseas Pension Schemes) transfers.

The move is extremely surprising because HMRC is not known for endorsing much of anything in writing when it comes to the offshore world.

Gibraltar had originally taken the decision on its own to halt transfers due to concerns by HMRC that after the age 60, residents and non-residents of Gibraltar alike paid no taxes while drawing income from their pensions.

The recent removal of Cyprus as a jurisdiction able to receive transfers, and the fact that Malta has in the past month introduced significant taxation of non-residents’ pension disbursements in the absence of a double taxation agreement, has made it obvious that a key point for HMRC is that completely tax free pension income is not acceptable to them.

Gibraltar passed legislation two months ago to tax pension income at 2.5%, which although close to zero, apparently is good enough for them to receive the green light.

The removal of the ability to transfer pensions to Guernsey earlier in the year and the recent change to the laws in Malta (which previously allowed a retiree in Thailand to draw their pension tax free), have put a great deal of egg on the faces of those of us in the industry who had transfers underway which were railroaded by a flurry of legislative changes.

Many have now taken a ‘wait and see’ approach since HMRC has appeared to be very proactively looking to stop the tax advantages being gained by retirees abroad, even though it theoretically should make no difference to them if some foreign government receives tax from the pension payments (it isn’t going in their own coffers). It has appeared to many to be a case of sour grapes, but this latest move changes that perception and makes it look like they are in fact interested in adding a level of clarity and confidence to the market by confirming that transfers to Gibraltar’s very low tax regime are in fact okay.

The news is very good for those who have held off transferring to Malta, as the trustee fees in Gibraltar are lower and will likely drop as trustee companies will surely flock to the jurisdiction.

Luckily, I have not yet had a chance to transfer anyone into Malta and thus I don’t have to have the difficult conversation explaining why it should be transferred over to Gibraltar.

There is still no inheritance tax collected in Gibraltar and upon death the beneficiaries are paid in full. For those with large pension pots, the ability to drop one’s bracket down from something like 30-40% to 2.5% could mean a very large increase in the net value of their pension.

I would advise anyone who has been considering moving their pension offshore to speak with their advisor about getting it done sooner rather than later, as the one thing this year has shown is that the ability to transfer out of the UK net is definitely not guaranteed to be around forever.

David Mayes MBA lives in Phuket and provides wealth management services to expats around the globe, focusing on UK pension transfers. He can be reached at:
085-335-8573 or david.m@faramond.com.

— David Mayes

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO

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Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO | The Thaiger

We look at the recent changes made by the Australian and Indian governments to except control over the world’s biggest social media platforms. India has issued strict new rules for Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms just weeks after the Indian government attempted to pressure Twitter to take down social media accounts it deemed, well, anti social. There is now an open battle between the rise of social media platforms and the governments and ‘old’ media that have been able to maintain a certain level of control over the ‘message’ for the last century. Who will win?

The rules require any social media company to create three roles within India… a “compliance officer” who ensures they follow local laws; a “grievance officer” who addresses complaints from Indian social media users; and a “contact person” who can actually be contacted by lawyers and other aggrieved Indian parties… 24/7.

The democratisation of the news model, with social media as its catalyst, will continue to baffle traditional media and governments who used to enjoy a level of control over what stories get told. The battles of Google and Facebook, with the governments of India and Australia will be followed in plenty of other countries as well.

At the root of all discussions will be the difference between what governments THINK social media is all about and the reality about how quickly the media landscape has changed. You’ll get to read about it first, on a social media platform… probably on the screen you’re watching this news story right now.

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The social media giants in battle with ‘old’ media and world governments | VIDEO

The Thaiger

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The social media giants in battle with ‘old’ media and world governments | VIDEO | The Thaiger

“The rules signal greater willingness by countries around the world to rein in big tech firms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter that the governments fear have become too powerful with little accountability.”

India has issued strict new rules for Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms just weeks after the Indian government attempted to pressure Twitter to take down social media accounts it deemed, well, anti social.

The rules require any social media company to create three roles within India… a “compliance officer” who ensures they follow local laws; a “grievance officer” who addresses complaints from Indian social media users; and a “contact person” who can actually be contacted by lawyers and other aggrieved Indian parties… 24/7.

The companies are also being made to publish a compliance report each month with details about how many complaints they’ve received and the action they took.

They’ll also be required to remove ‘some’ types of content including “full or partial nudity,” any “sexual act” or “impersonations including morphed images”

The democratisation of the news model, with social media as its catalyst, will continue to baffle traditional media and governments who used to enjoy a level of control over what stories get told.

The battles of Google and Facebook, with the governments of India and Australia will be followed in plenty of other countries as well.

At the root of all discussions will be the difference between what governments THINK social media is all about and the reality about how quickly the media landscape has changed. You’ll get to read about it first, on a social media platform… probably on the screen you’re watching this news story right now.

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Never miss out on future posts by following The Thaiger.

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Business

Turbulence ahead for Thailand’s aviation industry | VIDEO

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Turbulence ahead for Thailand’s aviation industry | VIDEO | The Thaiger

When the airlines, in particular, were asking the government to put their hands in their pockets for some relief funding in August last year, it was genuinely thought that international tourists would be coming back for the high season in December and January. At the very least local tourists and expats would head back to the skies over the traditional holiday break. And surely the Chinese would be back for Chinese New Year?

As we know now, none of that happened. A resurge in cases started just south of Bangkok on December 20 last year, just before Christmas, kicking off another round of restrictions, pretty much killing off any possibility of a high season ‘bump’ for the tourist industry. Airlines slashed flights from their schedule, and hotels, which had dusted off their reception desks for the surge of tourists, shut their doors again.

Domestically, the hotel business saw 6 million room nights in the government’s latest stimulus campaign fully redeemed. But the air ticket quota of 2 million seats still has over 1.3 million seats unused. Local tourists mostly skipped flights and opted for destinations within driving distance of their homes.

As for international tourism… well that still seems months or years away, even now.

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