QROPS Singapore – Transferring Your UK Pension to Singapore
Tax Planning for British Citizens Resident in Sinagpore. Are you thinking about moving to Singapore? Are you bored with the UK or has your company moved you to one of their satellite offices in Singapore?
Is it time to start thinking about how are you going to take care of your finances? We can help you with tax planning, pension planning and family protection when moving to Singapore.
When most Brits move out to Singapore, sorting out their current investments is the last thing on their mind. If you are moving out of the UK permanently, it should be one of the first things your should consider, especially seeing as the UK government keeps moving the goal posts all the time.
British expats working in Singapore and even Singaporeans who have lived in the UK and built up a pension there can transfer their UK pensions abroad to get their pensions out of the UK tax net.
Expats in Singapore may also want to think about what they are going to do with their house in the UK which now faces capital gains tax even as their primary residence if they are not living in it. Also, they should consider moving some money from GBP into the Singapore Dollar.
Exchange Rate in Singapore – SGD/GBP
The Singapore Dollar is now one of the most stable currencies in the world and has been gaining traction against the Pound as you can see in the 10 year chart below.
There are now roughly 2 Singapore Dollars to the Pound compared to 3 Singapore Dollars to the Pound 10 years ago. The exchange rate has levelled off now.
When pension planning, you need to take exchange rates into account, but leaving your pension in GBP or converting to US Dollars or Singapore Dollars are all OK strategies.
There are a lot more financial instruments available such as ETFs and mutual funds in US Dollars, so we tend to prefer transferring clients’ monies to US Dollars, unless they are permanent residents and want Singapore Dollars or are considering moving back to the UK in which case we recommend keeping it in GBP.
The next thing you need to consider with your existing UK pensions is the tax position.
Transfer UK Pension Out of UK Tax System or Leave in the UK?
Should you transfer your UK pension into the Singapore pension system or to another jurisdiction out of the UK tax net or leave your pension in the UK.
The new pension freedoms for 2015 have raised doubts for pensioners as where to put their hard earned pension monies, but we will seek to clarify the different tax rules and what is best for your pension.
UK Pension Paid into a Singapore or UK Bank Account
If you leave your pension in the UK, but live or work in Singapore, what is the tax position for your pension scheme?
The UK and Singapore have a Double Taxation Treaty, but you need to look into the rules to see where it is taxed.
Due to the intricacies of the rules, your pension would be taxed in the UK and not Singapore.
- You would be forced to pay UK income tax at the highest marginal rate
- You would be forced to pay UK death tax at the highest marginal rate
- There would be no tax in Singapore
- However, if you are a Singapore resident, you may volunteer your UK pension payments received in or remitted to Singapore for tax in which case the DTA may still provide relief from UK taxation on such payments, taxable only in Singapore (at up to 20%), but with the fund still remaining exposed to the lump sum death charge of up to 45%
Transferring your UK Pension to a QROPS
For British expats living in Singapore and for Singaporean residents who have worked in the UK, you can transfer your UK pension to a QROPS in Gibraltar. We find this solution preferable to a Malta QROPS solution as a Malta QROPS would attract a higher income tax rate of up to 35% on income taxed in Malta.
Taxation under a Gibraltar QROPS for Singapore Residents
- You can get a higher cash lump sum in Gibraltar
- You pay only a flat rate of 2.5% income tax
- No tax in the UK and no tax in Malta
- You avoid the death tax in the UK
- You can pass on 100% of your pension fund to any beneficiaries you want tax-free upon death if you are a Singapore resident
- Even if you return back to the UK, you can reduce your death tax charge or even get rid of it altogether
As we have seen, if you leave your pension in the UK, you will pay up to 45% income tax and up to 45% death tax as a non-UK resident living in Singapore. Even if you become a permanent resident in Singapore, you may still have to pay up to 20% in income taxes.
Furthermore, leaving your pension in the UK will leave your pension open to future tax increases.
A move of your pension to Gibraltar means that not only can you avoid all UK taxes if you never return, but you can pass on your entire pension pot on death without fear of taxation in the UK. You can invest in whatever currencies, mutual funds or ETF’s that your heart desires. If you ever decide to return back to Blighty, you can mitigate a lot of the taxation by drawing your pension whilst offshore which can significantly reduce the death tax position as well.