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by Mike Bridge After months of campaigning, the UK government has just responded this week to the thousands of UK overseas pensioners, stating they are not willing to fork out an estimated £0.6 billion a year.  Many of the UK retirees living in Thailand signed the UK Government petition regarding UK pensions being indexed. This issue ,in a nutshell, is that UK-based pensioners received a sizable increase to keep pace with inflation, and so did expats in various countries including Spain and the Philippines.  But not if they were expats in Thailand, which seemed very unfair to many. So someone started an […]

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Interesting stats on required response and debate by the UK government according to the article.

“Having reached over 10,000 signatures recently, it meant the UK government had to respond.”

- The response being that no increase is forthcoming.

“They can press the government for action and gather evidence. If this petition reaches 100,000 signatures, the Committee will consider it for a debate.”

- With 55,000 British expats in Thailand, they’re going to have a hard time getting to 100,000 signatures.

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The reply from UK MPs sounds as expected because the retirees who live in UK spend their money in UK. And therefore UK government will get a a lot of these money back in form of taxes, fees etc.

Retirees living in Thailand spend in Thailand and their spending does not return to UK treasury 😉

Saying all that, I fully sympathize UK and all other retirees. I dread my own retirement to be honest 🤔

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3 hours ago, BigHewer said:

Interesting stats on required response and debate by the UK government according to the article.

“Having reached over 10,000 signatures recently, it meant the UK government had to respond.”

- The response being that no increase is forthcoming.

“They can press the government for action and gather evidence. If this petition reaches 100,000 signatures, the Committee will consider it for a debate.”

- With 55,000 British expats in Thailand, they’re going to have a hard time getting to 100,000 signatures.

What a bout the few million Expats around the world, they are allowed to vote too as it also affects many of them.

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Why do they tell the Brit government they are living in Thailand?

Once you have the pension and it is paid into you British bank account there are no other on going checks regarding where you live.

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So bottom line is lay low and zip it !

Have family help by maintaining a physical address there !

Come here and live your life out!

Its called playing the game! They deal you the cards and make up the rules while you sit tight pretending as the game progresses!

Its a shame too, cause one is forced to contribute from your pay earnings!!

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8 minutes ago, riclag said:

So bottom line is lay low and zip it !

Have family help by maintaining a physical address there !

Come here and live your life out!

Its called playing the game! They deal you the cards and make up the rules while you sit tight pretending as the game progresses!

Its a shame too, cause one is forced to contribute from your pay earnings!!

I have paid income tax and national insurance for 35 years, plus run a business and so employed many others who paid tax plus the 2.2 million in VAT I collected and gave to the government so I think I am due my petty full pension, it is not a gift or an allowance they make it out to be. 

It is not important as far as the money goes but why should they get a penny more from me?

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2 hours ago, JamesR said:

Why do they tell the Brit government they are living in Thailand?

Once you have the pension and it is paid into you British bank account there are no other on going checks regarding where you live.

You don't have to but if found out (there are numerous grasses that loiter) you will have to pay everything you have gained illegally back plus the standard fine of 100% of the amount you claimed.

For the paltry amounts we are talking about, it is ridiculous to even consider it imo.

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The petition didn't have a prayer did it - so the government were petitioned to spend another £0.6billion pounds to people who won't spend a penny of it in the UK. 

Madness to think that would get the green light in these times.

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2 hours ago, JamesR said:

Why do they tell the Brit government they are living in Thailand?

Once you have the pension and it is paid into you British bank account there are no other on going checks regarding where you live.

It’s all about having an address in the U.K. which then makes it appear you are resident. With the rules around council tax, and electoral registration, it’s not always straightforward to have a family member agreeing  to you using their address. I did hear that you can use a U.K. PO (Post Office) Box address but I think that loophole was closed recently? 

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The oddity is that you do get the annual increase in some countries and not others. Such diverse places as the Philippines get it, and yet commonwealth countries like Canada you don’t. I have no idea where the original list of countries who benefit came from, but an expat living in Manila gets the increase (no money spent going to U.K. tax), while an expat in Bangkok doesn’t. Seems odd in these times of human rights and equality. 

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6 minutes ago, Soidog said:

It’s all about having an address in the U.K. which then makes it appear you are resident. With the rules around council tax, and electoral registration, it’s not always straightforward to have a family member agreeing  to you using their address. I did hear that you can use a U.K. PO (Post Office) Box address but I think that loophole was closed recently? 

There are other rules which will apply in my case in that I will be in the UK more than 90 days a year and I have ties to the country eg family and a house in the UK, so I will still be resident.

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17 minutes ago, Soidog said:

It’s all about having an address in the U.K. which then makes it appear you are resident. With the rules around council tax, and electoral registration, it’s not always straightforward to have a family member agreeing  to you using their address. I did hear that you can use a U.K. PO (Post Office) Box address but I think that loophole was closed recently? 

I doubt if you can use a PO address. 

I will look into it all when a I am ready to go to Thailand, I will ask my accountant, I am sure he will know the tricks needed. 

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22 minutes ago, Benroon said:

You don't have to but if found out (there are numerous grasses that loiter) you will have to pay everything you have gained illegally back plus the standard fine of 100% of the amount you claimed.

For the paltry amounts we are talking about, it is ridiculous to even consider it imo.

For me it is about the principle and the fact they have had so much tax out of me.

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1 minute ago, JamesR said:

I doubt if you can use a PO address. 

I will look into it all when a I am ready to go to Thailand, I will ask my accountant, I am sure he will know the tricks needed. 

The guy I spoke to said it wasn’t a simple PO address. It was some kind of link to a PO address but somehow linked it to a genuine address. I didn’t look in to it as I already maintain a U.K. home 

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52 minutes ago, JamesR said:

For me it is about the principle and the fact they have had so much tax out of me.

oh for sure - its totally absurd you get the increases in the Philippines but not Thailand - however it's unlikely you will get away with subterfuge before they find out or someone grasses you up. 

Just not worth it in my opinion.

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1 hour ago, Soidog said:

The guy I spoke to said it wasn’t a simple PO address. It was some kind of link to a PO address but somehow linked it to a genuine address. I didn’t look in to it as I already maintain a U.K. home 

But regardless of your links to the UK - if you are out of the country for more than 181 days a year you are not entitled to pension increases and liable for prosecution and penalties should you take them. You could own Windsor Castle and it wouldn't make a blind bit of difference. I'm not saying that's right, I'm just saying that's how it is. 

I've looked at this so hard over the years and I cannot think of a single benefit of maintaining links to the UK if you have decided Thailand is your home. Tax wise it makes absolutely no sense, then any UK property ownership will leave you with a significant CGT bill should you ever sell (it's incredible how many people I've met who aren't aware of this), and any pension (private) income that you get will be paid GROSS IF you declare yourself a non resident of the UK. (the onus is on you then to pay tax in Thailand but there doesn't appear to be an easy mechanism to do this so it just gets uncollected) Fail to do so and you will leave at least 20% of it behind in a country you can't benefit from.

Someone mentioned getting an accountant involved - lol I have contacted dozens and dozens and not one of them had a clue about expat taxation arrangements and even less about the UK/Thailand tax treaty relationship. Why would they. Your best bet is to seek advice this side.

Some say to keep the NHS entitlement, but not only are you not entitled to that unless you lie again, have you seen it lately ? It's a basket case and certainly not worth the effort.

If anyone knows of any benefits of keeping ties with the UK I would be interested to hear them.

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1 hour ago, JamesR said:

 

I will look into it all when a I am ready to go to Thailand, I will ask my accountant, I am sure he will know the tricks needed. 

I'll have a fiver on he/she won't have a clue.

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185.17 a week = 740.68 a month = 8,888.16 a year

175.00 a week = 700.00 a month = 8,400,00 a year

How do you work out  losing £4,800 a year 

I make it 488 a year not 4,800. 

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11 hours ago, JamesR said:

What a bout the few million Expats around the world, they are allowed to vote too as it also affects many of them.

According to the article it’s the Thai expats being unfairly shafted.

Many of those millions are unaffected and won’t be motivated to help.

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Without getting into the weeds of the UK pension program, it seems to me that someone, somewhere down the line has unfairly put Thailand in the non increase category. I suspect it may have something to do with tax treaties with the various countries? In any event, it is clearly a legitimate complaint? Sounds like it is literally going to take an act of parliament to fix it. 

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2 minutes ago, Freeduhdumb said:

Without getting into the weeds of the UK pension program, it seems to me that someone, somewhere down the line has unfairly put Thailand in the non increase category.

Exactly. It would be interesting to know which other countries are lumped in with Thailand.

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In response to this article, and to follow up on signing the UK Petition, and seeing the UK Gov response, I conducted a brief poll in the Facebook Group "British Expats in Thailand", asking their for thoughts and responses to the UK Gov's response.

 

The vast majority agreed that non-parity of UK State Pension with residents of the UK, and those of <>50 other countries was unfair, irrespective of whether there were any international social security agreements with the other countries. It was emphasized that non-parity countries include Australia and Canada, who have very large numbers of UK expat retirees, and are, like many on the list of “social agreement” (parity) countries, UK Commonwealth countries.
Contributors explained that, for 70 years, the state pension “pot” had been under-funded, and that made it difficult for any current government to meet the £0.6 billion annual cost of state pension parity.
 
I would just like to add a bit more context... UK annual public spending for 2022-23 is budgeted at £1.087 trillion (average <>£38k per UK household), so, to achieve state pension parity, EITHER each household would have to pay, on average, an extra <£21 a year to fund the £0.6bn shortfall, OR UK Gov would have to divert 0.055% of its annual spending away from other beneficiaries.
 
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12 hours ago, Dmitrii said:

The reply from UK MPs sounds as expected because the retirees who live in UK spend their money in UK. And therefore UK government will get a a lot of these money back in form of taxes, fees etc.

Retirees living in Thailand spend in Thailand and their spending does not return to UK treasury 😉

Saying all that, I fully sympathize UK and all other retirees. I dread my own retirement to be honest 🤔

That is a fair comment and undeniably true, however what is not taken into account is the monies saved by expats not using facilities like the NHS etc, the money saved there must far outweigh the pittance the governments saves by not increasing our pensions which in itself is the lowest in Europe. We don't get free prescriptions and free bus passes, the savings for the government must be huge. 

If you live in the US, you get it, in Canada not, there is no rhyme nor reason as to why we are not being given an increase each year, the government seems to find money for other countries and even for people who have never paid a penny into the kitty, but we don't vote, so we don't matter. 

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8 hours ago, Benroon said:

But regardless of your links to the UK - if you are out of the country for more than 181 days a year you are not entitled to pension increases and liable for prosecution and penalties should you take them. You could own Windsor Castle and it wouldn't make a blind bit of difference. I'm not saying that's right, I'm just saying that's how it is. 

I've looked at this so hard over the years and I cannot think of a single benefit of maintaining links to the UK if you have decided Thailand is your home. Tax wise it makes absolutely no sense, then any UK property ownership will leave you with a significant CGT bill should you ever sell (it's incredible how many people I've met who aren't aware of this), and any pension (private) income that you get will be paid GROSS IF you declare yourself a non resident of the UK. (the onus is on you then to pay tax in Thailand but there doesn't appear to be an easy mechanism to do this so it just gets uncollected) Fail to do so and you will leave at least 20% of it behind in a country you can't benefit from.

Someone mentioned getting an accountant involved - lol I have contacted dozens and dozens and not one of them had a clue about expat taxation arrangements and even less about the UK/Thailand tax treaty relationship. Why would they. Your best bet is to seek advice this side.

Some say to keep the NHS entitlement, but not only are you not entitled to that unless you lie again, have you seen it lately ? It's a basket case and certainly not worth the effort.

If anyone knows of any benefits of keeping ties with the UK I would be interested to hear them.

This is a big topic and worthy of its own thread I think.
 

I’m not sure of the 181 day limit as I frequently was out of the country for longer on business and leisure over the years and never lost any entitlement to the NHS, or voting rights. I was never asked if I spent such time out of the country, so how would they ever know? Equally, I know many people in Thailand who have used family addresses for more than 20 years and have annual pension increases. While I don’t think the U.K. government will change the rules, I’m sure they spend little to no time chasing pensioners who don’t declare being out of the country for more than 181 days. 

As for the NHS I’m afraid I have to totally disagree with your statement about it being a basket case. The issue is the demand and waiting list for the service. Once you are in the system then it is world class service.
 

The NHS needs to redefine itself and focus on essential treatments. Less “wellness” bollocks and issues such as Gender reassignment and supply of gluten free products to people who can afford to buy their own. A limit on body BMI unless clearly linked to illness should also be a qualifying factor in my book! All of that would save money and time and allow more essential services to be performed. I saw an article the other day of a woman who had taken her kid to A&E because she couldn’t remove a sticking plaster as the kid was crying. Charge idiots like that and save more money and time. As you may guess, I have strong feelings and opinions about what I consider to be a wonderful service we Brits should be rightly proud of ☺️☺️

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