Facelift For Online QROPS Info From HMRC

Lisa Smith, BA (Hons), CeFA

The British tax man has updated online information about Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS) for expats.

The changes were flagged in the latest pensions newsletter to tax and accounting professionals.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has developed a new hub page for overseas pensions bringing together news and information impacting Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS).

Pension administrators and retirement savers can download forms and access detailed online guidance from the hub.

Another link goes to a list of news and updated documents

The pages were published on October 20 and cover QROPS milestones dating back to August 2014.

Technical guidance is not consumer friendly

Much of the information is technical rather than consumer-friendly, although the hub has a short guide to transferring money from a UK pension to a QROPS.

HMRC has also changed information on the QROPS List page – including updating the name to Registered Overseas Pensions (ROPS).

The page clearly explains the likely consequences of avoiding tax or transferring pension cash to an unlisted scheme as well as listing all QROPS claiming HMRC compliance.

“HMRC can’t guarantee these are ROPS or that any transfers to them will be free of UK tax. It’s your responsibility to find out if you should pay tax on any transfer of pension savings,” says the warning.

“HMRC will usually pursue any UK tax charges and interest for late payment arising from transfers to overseas entities that don’t meet the ROPS requirements even when they appear on this list. This includes where taxpayers are overseas. HMRC will also charge penalties in appropriate cases.”

Early access to QROPS cash warning

The web pages also warn consumers against accessing QROPS cash before the age of 55 and suggest professional advice should be sought before accessing any pension benefits.

Tax penalties start at 55% of the value of any transferred fund.

QROPS started in April 2006 to provide expats with UK pension funds easy access to their retirement cash once they had moved overseas.

More than 1,200 QROPS are available in 41 financial centres.

Australia is home to the most pensions – with just shy of 30% of the total according to the latest official list from HMRC.

Other popular QROPS centres include Gibraltar and Malta.

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