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Expat Investor : September 2008
NEWS Spanish government's £37 million debt to Brits Expat top of the ops revealed THOUSANDS of Brits who sold a property in Spain between March 2004 and December 2006 could be owed a 20% tax rebate to the tune of £37m – £11,000 each, including interest – as a result of a Spanish Government Capital Gains Tax (CGT) scam exposed by Spanish lawyers, Costa, Alvarez, Manglano & Associates and currency exchange brokers HiFX. British non residents who sold their Spanish properties during this period paid a Spanish Non Residents’ Income Tax rate of 35% on any capital gains, compared to a rate of 15% paid by Spanish nationals. This 20% overpayment, says HiFX, not only totals a profit somewhere in the region of £37m, but also contravenes European Community Treaty rules on discrimination and therefore was unduly charged by the Spanish government. Placing an actual figure on the number of people affected by this is very difficult, as the Spanish Government understandably does not want to disclose this information. However, HiFX believes a conservative estimate is in the region of 4,500 British people, plus thousands more residents in other European countries, each paying an average of £14,000 each in capital gains, having sold property in Spain over the three-year period. “People who sold property previous to January 2004 have already missed out, as claims can only be made dating back over a four year period, meaning millions more have become victim to this tax trap.” HiFX together with the Spanish lawyers are calling for Brits to come forward and register their details to be part of what could be the biggest class action against the Spanish tax authorities for many years. For more information, and details of how to register your interest, visit www.spanishtaxreclaim.co.uk Who are you going to call? the majority of the population (79%) see the merit of a second opinion. Almost four out of 10 of the UK population (39%) have used price comparison websites to seek out information on products, and three out of 10 (29%) have allowed friends and family to provide some input into financial decisions. More positively, a similar number NEW research from Unbiased.co.uk reveals that when it comes to arranging our finances, 2 EXPAT INVESTOR ? have sought out qualified advice, with 37% having seen a financial professional at a bank or building September 2008 society, and one in four (26%) having used an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). Rounding out the ‘top five’ are the money pages of national newspapers – to whom 23% have turned for information. The research also reveals that of those that have sought advice (79% of the population) – one in three (33%) have used an IFA. The type of advice that we seek changes as we get older – with four in 10 (41%) of those over the age of 55 who have expatinvestor.com sought advice on money matters having used the services of an (IFA). The area of personal finances where the impact of seeing an IFA is at its strongest is in saving for retirement. Half of the population (50%) intend to fund, or partly fund, their retirement through the state pension, with 40% being fortunate enough to have an occupational pension scheme. The next two most popular methods of saving for retirement are savings accounts (25%) and private pensions (23%). Of those currently investing in a private pension, £168 is the average amount invested every month, with men contributing more than women (£180 vs £155). Of those with private pensions, the most common form of advice (42%) was from an IFA. David Elms, Chief Executive of Unbiased.co.uk, comments, “There is a clear message in this research – those that use IFAs are more likely to have put formal plans in place for a comfortable retirement.” From Andorra to Zaire, the healthcare needs of expatriates bear striking similarities, with Caesarean sections and CT scans representing the most common procedures in most global regions, according to data from Bupa International. BUPA International has almost 800,000 customers in 190 countries and has analysed the most common procedures worldwide to find that Caesarean sections and CT scans top the list of expat operations across Africa, North America and the Middle East. Removal of moles and skin lesions has in the past been common across most regions of the world but now has become rare. However, in Europe, diagnostic tests – such as colonoscopies and gastrocopies – stand out as the most frequent procedures undertaken by expats. Bupa International’s data also shows that: ? Expats in Africa have more operations to remove their appendix than those in any other region of the world. ? MRI scans feature in the top three procedures in Central and South America and Africa. ? There were no cases of primary repair to inguinal hernia in most regions of the world; in fact, operations to remove a hernia were only present as a top procedure in North and Central/South America. ? Asia is the only region to have seen a rise in laparoscopic cholecystectomy (removal of the gall bladder) whereas Central and South America is the only region to have seen a decline in the procedure. Dr Torben Staher Johannsen, medical director Bupa International, tells Expat Investor, “Expats have common healthcare needs wherever they are in the world, and health insurance plays a vital role in providing them with rapid access to high-quality medical facilities, no matter which country they are in when they require diagnosis or treatment.”
July August 2008