Do you have friends or family who are foreign pensioners?

Dec 05, 2016
Author: Ean Barnard

South Africans who are returning home from working in London or the UK now have a choice to move their existing UK pensions abroad. British expats in the UK can also move their existing pensions out of the UK tax net if they are planning on working or retiring in South Africa.

Over 140,000 people were born in South Africa, but living in the UK according to the 2001 Census, double the amount in 1991. In 2013, the number of South Africans in the UK climbed to 211,000 with even higher numbers expected for 2016. 32% of South African-born people were recorded in London and 11 of the most affluent areas of London included populations of more than 600 South African-born people each. So, South Africans are deeply entrenched in British society.

But, Brexit could lead to many of these South Africans to be booted out of the UK.

New UK immigration laws, if implemented, would introduce a “settlement threshold” on salaries, forcing all non-EU residents who have been living in the UK for over five years, to prove they earn at least £35,000 (R822,000) a year or face deportation. The UK Home Office and Home Secretary Theresa May are facing criticism for the proposed laws, which have been called “discriminatory” and illogical in light of the fact that the average salary in the UK is only £26,000 (R610,000). Over 100,000 signatures have been collected to petition against the move.

However, if you have worked in the UK and returning home to South Africa or if you are a British expat moving to South Africa, there is a silver lining. There are over 300,000 Brits living in South Africa. A Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme or ROPS was set up to receive existing UK pension monies. If you have a private pension scheme such as a final salary scheme, Defined Contribution Scheme, SIPP or SSAS, you can move your UK pension abroad out of the UK tax net. The UK Government taxes UK pensions at retirement rather than when you are contributing to your pension, but if you leave the UK you can also transfer your pension out of the UK tax system.

If you leave your pension in the UK, you can face up to 45% income tax on your retirement income and up to 45% tax on death on any lump sums left to your loved ones after the age of 75. However, you can transfer a UK pension to Hong Kong and pay zero taxes in the UK. Your ROPS in Hong Kong faces zero tax on income, growth or death and thanks to a tax treaty between HK and South Africa, the taxation rights are given to Hong Kong. So, your pension is taxed at a zero rate and can be paid into your South African bank account. You can choose the currency of your pension and there is a huge range of shares, ETF’s, mutual funds and income paying funds that you can invest in. You should seek a QROPS specialist to find the best tax solution, get the best deal on fees and find you the best mutual funds to maximize returns.

You can read more here: africa/

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