Do you have a UK registered pension and are you a tax resident in China?

If so, and your pension remains in the UK, you should be aware of your possible UK tax obligations. Furthermore, benefits could be available should you transfer these pension funds out of the UK to other secure jurisdictions under HMRC’s favourable Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) regime.

Tax Options

Leave the Pension in the UK

Leave the Pension in the UK

If the pension remains in the UK, under the DTA, no UK tax would be due on payments (at up to 45%) with China (as country of residence), having sole taxing rights. Under domestic law, if domiciled in China such income would be subject to Chinese IIT. If non-domiciled but resident in China for more than 5 full consecutive years, foreign pension income is subject to Chinese IIT from the 6th year if you continue to reside in China for the full calendar year. If nondomiciled and not resident in China for more than 5 full consecutive years, the foreign pension income should not be taxable because it is foreign sourced income. Furthermore, the fund remains exposed to the UK death benefit charges.

Gibraltar QROPS

Transfer to a Gibraltar QROPS

Transferring to a Gibraltar QROPS for non-UK residents (5 years +) can alleviate UK tax on payments (at up to 45%) with 2.5% Gibraltar tax on payments and tax in China (at 20%) if domiciled in China or non-domiciled and taxed on worldwide income basis (i.e. from 6th year of residence). A foreign tax credit should be available for Gibraltar tax paid to alleviate any double taxation. Furthermore, the QROPS can protect from the UK death benefit charges if non-UK resident (5 years +) and there is no Gibraltar IHT.

Malta QROPS

Transfer to a Malta QROPS

Transferring to a Maltese QROPS, for non-UK residents (5 years +) can alleviate UK tax on payments (at up to 45%). No Maltese tax, with tax in China (at 20%) only if domiciled in China or non-domiciled and taxed on worldwide income basis (i.e. from 6th year of residence). Furthermore, the QROPS can protect from the UK death benefit charges if non-UK resident (5 years +) and there is no Maltese IHT.

If you leave your pension in the UK

If you leave your pension in the UK

From 6 April 2006 a single set of rules came into effect. Under this system, the tax treatment for all types of approved schemes, including occupational schemes, small self-administered schemes, personal pensions, self-invested pension plans and retirement annuity contracts have been amalgamated into the rules for Registered Pension Schemes. These can be either Defined Benefit or Defined Contribution (DC) Schemes.

DTA between the UK and Argentina

DTA between the UK and China

There is a DTA between the UK and China. Under this, pensions and other similar remuneration, including annuities paid as part of a pension arrangement to a resident of China, are taxable only in China.

There are separate provisions for Government Service Pensions.

Gibraltar QROPS

Gibraltar QROPS

Gibraltar has no DTA with China, therefore the QROPS payments to you would be taxable in Gibraltar, currently at a rate of 2.5%.

No UK income tax if non-UK resident (for 5 tax years + or total withdrawals are below £100,000).

No Gibraltar Inheritance Tax.

Protection from UK IHT.

Protection from UK death benefit charges, if non-UK resident (and non-UK resident for the last 5 years + before payment).

Malta QROPS

Malta QROPS

Malta has a DTA with China, this provides that pensions and other similar remuneration paid to a resident of China in consideration of past employment shall be taxable only in China. However, if the pension is not paid in consideration of past employment it is also generally only taxable in China (under the Other Income Article of the DTA). We understand that the Maltese Tax Authorities do not treat pensions from QROPS as “paid in consideration of past employment”. There are separate provisions for Government Service Pensions.

If Malta taxes the QROPS income payments (unlikely based on the above), they are taxed at rates up to 35%.

No UK income tax if non-UK resident (for 5 tax years + or total withdrawals are below £100,000).

No Maltese Inheritance Tax.

Protection from UK IHT.

Protection from UK death benefit charges, if non-UK resident (and non-UK resident for the last 5 years + before payment).

Pension benefits

Pension Death Benefits Payment – UK Tax

From 6 April 2015, the UK tax treatment of benefits from DC schemes on death depends, amongst other things, on the age of the member at the time of death (i.e. pre or post 75). From this date, generally, there should be a lower UK tax cost on passing pension value to heirs on death. However, that said, there is still a possible current tax rate of up to 45%.

For those that are non-UK resident and have a QROPS, the UK tax cost on succession can be less.

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This general information has been provided on the basis of our understanding of the current legislation in the UK, Gibraltar & Malta as of April 2015. Should any of the information provided be inaccurate, incomplete or misleading, we take no responsibility for any reliance placed on it. We recommend that individuals always seek specialist multi-jurisdictional (where relevant) tax advice so that their individual circumstances can be fully considered.