One week on, new additions to ROPS list, as April looms

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By recent standards, today’s regular update of the official HM Revenue & Customs’ list of Registered Overseas Pension Schemes was almost a non-event. One week on from Philip Hammond’s shake-up of the overseas pension landscape with his 25% tax, no countries disappeared from the list, for example, as happened two weeks ago, when all of the schemes on offer in the US vanished. Or two weeks before that, when the last three Canadian ROPS disappeared.

True, two schemes disappeared from the Isle of Man’s section – the Rival SIPP and the Watson Personal Pension Scheme – and three from the Netherlands’ section: the Delta Lloyd Balans Pension Plan, Delta Lloyd Garant Pension Plan ands the
Delta Lloyd Persoonijk Pension Plan.

Some 29 schemes were added to the most recent ROPS (formerly known as the QROPS) list compared with the one published two weeks ago, according to Geraint Davies, managing director of Montfort International, a UK pension transfer specialist, and regular watcher of the HMRC list.

“Nineteen of these were Australian schemes, three were Hong Kong, three Isle of Man, and one each from Guernsey, Iceland, Jersey and the Netherlands,” he added.

Davies said ROPS-list Watchers had “just one more ROPS day to go before HMRC are expected to publish their first “post-APSS240 deadline ROPS List”, which he said is expected “sometime after 14 April”.

The APSS240 form is what ROP scheme managers are supposed to use “to confirm that [they] understand and will operate the new tax charge from 9 March 2017”, according to HMRC.

It was on 8 April – one week ago exactly – that, as reported, UK Chancellor Philip Hammond stunned the UK pension transfer industry by announcing a new 25% charge on pension transfers, targeted at “those seeking to reduce the tax payable by moving their pension wealth to another jurisdiction”.

Under the new rules, exceptions will apply in cases in which people are seen to have a genuine need to transfer their pension, including when the individual and their pension are both located within the European Economic Area.

April ‘could’ see list changes

Come mid-April, Davies believes, the online ROPS list could begin to get lively again.

“It is really with bated breath that we await the first post 14 April 2017 list,” he told International Investment.

“The question is, where does HMRC go from here, if schemes just see [the APSS240] as just another form to fill in, sign and send?

“We wonder if QROP schemes really understand the consequences, whereas UK schemes will well and truly understand their obligations.”

Davies believes the pension transfer advice market is at last “moving rapidly towards being, as far as possible, “UK regulated as opposed to barely regulated”, as UK advisers and ceding schemes become “more than cautious”.

“UK advisers now will come under the spotlight, as they will have to work out when a QROPS is appropriate and when it is not – not easy even pre-Philip Hammond budget.”