A clear, concise guide to rops & qrops
A ROPS (Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme) is probably the most well known of the overseas pension schemes. Also known as QROPS (Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme) before HMRC dropped the ‘Qualifying’.
Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have acknowledged the pension issues that exist for UK expats and have created options, such as ROPS specifically for them. This gives individuals access to their benefits locally and is subject to taxation where they reside, rather than the UK.
If you live abroad or are planning to do so in the near future transferring your pension to a ROPS could allow you the freedom and flexibility you need.
Introduced in 2006, ROPS (or QROPS then) were designed to enable British expats move their pension funds to an overseas jurisdiction where they could enjoy minimal tax rates, greater income potential and increased financial freedom. ROPS are pension schemes outside the UK that are recognised by HMRC and regulated in the local jurisdiction.
Trusteeship and administration is provided in sound and robust jurisdictions such as Malta, Hong Kong, Gibraltar, Australia, New Zealand and Guernsey.
Benefits can be drawn in your new place of residency and subject to local tax rates, which could be very low or even nil.
QROPs are generally not subject to inheritance or income tax in the UK and they are often based in locations with a lower tax rate than the UK. You can take income from your pension in a more tax efficient way and may be able to access a larger tax free lump sum, too – as much as 30%.
Once transferred, your money is no longer subject to UK taxation and, on death, your entire remaining pension fund is passed to your beneficiaries tax free.
Pensions are subject to tax over a certain value – currently that allowance is £1.055m.
However, when you transfer your pension to a recognised overseas scheme future growth of your fund above the UK lifetime allowance (LTA) will not be subject to the excess tax charge.
At the age of 55 you can withdraw your pension income in the currency of your choice with no FX costs.
You don’t need to purchase an annuity or pay a UK tax charge upon death.
ROPS are flexible, too, allowing you to choose from a huge range of investment funds across various currencies, allowing for a diverse and risk-spread investment portfolio.
Consolidation. A ROPS can receive multiple transfers. If you have several schemes, each will be charging you trustee and other fees, a ROPS enables you to bring them all into one pot, making monitoring easier, and reducing overall fees.
If benefits are drawn after 10 years or more since leaving the UK, a larger tax-free lump sum of 30% may be payable (as opposed to 25%). This payment is tax-free in terms of UK taxation.
If you are aged between 18 and 75, have worked in the UK, and contributed to a company or a private pension scheme, and are now no longer resident or are planning to leave the UK, you can apply for a ROPS. (In some situations, a ROPS may even be suitable for a UK resident).
Final salary schemes can be transferred, and although they offer guaranteed benefits they can be inflexible in their structure, so there are advantages in moving to a ROPS. But it is essential to ensure a full analysis is undertaken to compare the two options.
You can take all of your fund as cash lump sum but you will pay tax according to the country you live in. Most schemes we recommend offer a minimal rate of tax.
Only ROPS Trustees can accept a transfer through an appointed qualified intermediary.
State Pension Schemes and an annuity with an insurance company cannot be transferred to a ROPS – they are a private pension arrangements only.
In the 2017 spring budget HMRC introduced further restrictions on transfers to ROPS and a potential tax charge of 25% depending on your place of residency. This does not mean a ROPS is automatically unsuitable as your overall situation and other levels of taxation may mean one is still attractive.
Brite Advisors will demonstrate how and why a ROPS should be more beneficial than the alternatives available to you.
For a 10 year period from the date of any transfer, the ROPS provider has reporting requirements back to HMRC so they can monitor activity and ensure scheme’s remain compliant.
Generally, to benefit from QROPS status the minimum amount of funds you can transfer is £50,000.
HMRC produce a list of recognised schemes (see below), which is regularly reviewed and re-published. These schemes must continue to operate a strict list of benefit rules in order to maintain their recognised status.
It is imperative that schemes being transferred to are on this list at the time of transfer, otherwise punitive tax charges could apply. Brite Advisors will only recommend schemes that are on and have consistently been on this list.
Brite Advisors has several official, recognised overseas pension schemes as can be found at the UK Govt. HMRC website link below. They are the Tribune Retirement Scheme in Hong Kong, the Infinity International Pension Plan in Malta and the Apollo QROPS in Gibraltar.
Brite Advisors will clearly highlight the advantages and disadvantages of your existing plans and compare them a ROPS plan.
Brite Advisors re-defined UK pensions for expats when they launched in 2016. Today, Brite Advisors leads the world in UK pension innovation with our low-cost investment platform and end to end solution. The Brite Advisors platform provides a seamless experience with the mission of maximising pension assets. Brite Advisors is a global company with offices and teams around the world dedicated to providing a financial planning experience like no other. For international SIPPs, QROPS or Direct Investing it’s your easiest investment decision.
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