Australia ROPS schemes approach 50% of HMRC list total
For the second time since HM Revenue & Customs suspended its closely-watched online list of ROP schemes on 2 June – ahead of major revisions brought about by recent regulatory changes – the list has been updated, with the result that Australian entities now account for 45% of the total.
An additional 21 Australian schemes have been added since the list was last published, on 7 June, bringing the total up to 434 schemes, out of a list total of 967. Normally the list is updated every two weeks, but it was delayed earlier this month when, it is thought, the revisions to the previous list had taken longer than expected.
The 967 schemes on the current list, which was updated yesterday, is 35 more than the 932 that comprised the previous edition.
As was the case on 7 June, most of the new Australian schemes were so-called “self-managed super-funds”, as opposed to retail schemes provided by pension scheme providers.
Among the other jurisdictions to add schemes were Guernsey, which added one scheme since 7 June, bringing the total to 28, and Gibraltar, which saw six schemes added, bringing the total to 37.
Of the six added Gibraltar schemes, four were among the 11 that disappeared after HMRC suspended the list in order to revise it in response to the regulatory changes. The four that have been restored are the Apollo QROPS, Bourse Retirement Scheme (Gibraltar), IVCM (Gibraltar) Retirement Annuity Trust and the Pantheon QROPS.
The other new Gibraltar schemes were ones that came off only recently, as was also the case with the single Guernsey addition.
The country with the second-largest number of ROP schemes currently is the Republic of Ireland, with 51, which has stayed the same since the 7 June updating, and which stood at 51 in May as well; Malta is in third place, with 34 schemes, also unchanged, and New Zealand in fourth place with 30.
The updated list is of considerable interest to the UK pensions transfer industry, because it is seen as evidence of what HMRC now considers acceptable for a scheme, and jurisdiction, to meet its requirements, which have been changed at various times since qualifying recognised overseas pension schemes (QROPS), now referred to as ROPS, were first created in 2006.
Geraint Davies, managing director of the Guildford, England-headquartered, fee-based Montfort International advisory firm and a close watcher of the HMRC list, noted that there could be a problem if the individuals behind the new self-managed Australian super-fund ROPS, who by definition are also their scheme’s trustees, turn out not to be aware of their tax obligations as a result of their having moved their pensions into one of these schemes.
Effort to crack down
The recent suspension of the official ROPS (recognised overseas pension schemes) list, which was preceded by a steady shrinking in the number of schemes on the list – and even, the elimination of several countries altogether from the list, including Canada and the US – reflects a new effort by HMRC and Treasury officials to more closely regulate the UK’s pension transfer industry, in response to growing complaints from out-of-pocket savers.
As of 6 April, scheme managers wishing for their schemes to continue to be a qualifying ROPS (or QROPS) have been required to confirm to HMRC that their scheme meets its “revised requirements”.
Scheme managers that previously had been required to designate 70% of an individual’s transferred funds to providing that individual “with an income for life” once retired were obliged to complete and return a set of new forms provided to them by HMRC, which confirm that their scheme meets the new Regulatory Requirements.
To see the current ROPS list on HMRC’s website, click here.