Qrops offshore pensions rules

Strict rules govern the workings of a QROPS offshore pension – and the UK taxman has some severe punishments for breaking them.

The problem with policing a QROPS scheme is that no single regulatory body is responsible for managing the pension.

Cross-border co-ordination is almost impossible:

– The tax rules are imposed in the UK

– The QROPS master trust and provider can have bases in different countries with their own regulators

-The QROPS investor can live in any tax jurisdiction they choose

To counter this opportunity for exploiting loopholes, HMRC puts the responsibility for the integrity of a QROPS scheme on the providers.

How the QROPS rules are broken

Inevitability, these permutations lead to some advisers and providers trying to push the QROPS investment envelope mainly in two areas:

– Offering larger tax-free cash withdrawals than allowed – the rules state that up to 70% of any fund transfer must be kept in the QROPS to pay retirement benefits, but some advisers suggest much more is available

– Offering cash withdrawals and benefit payments at an earlier age than the minimum retirement age

– Implying that pension savers can invest in assets disallowed by HMRC, like residential property

The five-year QROPS reporting rule

Many of these rule breaches involve the QROPS pension scheme’s five year reporting rule – this states that fund managers must inform HMRC of any payments from a QROPS within five years of the start of the pension scheme.

If a QROPS provider lets pension investors take any of these unauthorized cash withdrawals, the provider risks losing their QROPS status. Loss of status immediately means no UK pension scheme can transfer cash to the provider.

The pension investor risks a penalty of 55% of their transfer fund value for breaching the rules. Speak to the leaders in Qrops, Qrops.net for more information.

On an average Qrops transfer of ?200,000GBP, the penalty could total 110,000 GBP

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