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Can I reverse a Qrops pension if I return to the UK?

I AM thinking of taking my pension in France under QROPS, but as there is a possibility I may one day have to return to the UK, I would like to know whether such an arrangement is reversible or what would happen if I did return to the UK.  G.N.

18 January 2017

FIRSTLY, you should know that QROPS have been renamed ROPS as the ‘qualifying’ element has been dropped by HMRC. You should also know that UK pensions have had a relaxing of the restrictions as to the amount of income that can be taken from them, which does remove one of the attractions of the QROPS/ROPS.

You should also be aware that a QROPS/ROPS, while approved by HMRC, falls under the financial regulations of the country from which the contract is provided, and not the UK Financial Regulator, so this change needs to be taken into consideration, having said which an EU state providing the contract would amount to similar treatment as in the UK currently since the UK is governed by EU financial regulations (though this may change after Brexit).
Should you effect a QROPS/ROPS, you have the choice of retaining it on return to the UK or of transferring back to a UK pension scheme – assuming financial regulations on the day allow this given Brexit. However, there will be charges incurred on both the transfer into the QROPS/ROPS and back into a UK pension.

Ideally you would want advice from both a UK IFA and someone equally qualified overseas since there is also the taxation of your country of residency that would need to be taken into account should you remain outside of the UK.
Mystery charges by online firm
SOMEONE (deliberately or mistakenly) subscribed me to ‘Remises et Réductions,’ an online shopping firm to which I do not belong and to whom I never gave my bank details.
  I found out as I saw it had been deducting €15/month. What redress do I have? I wrote to the company informing it of the issue but it still treats me as a member and has simply now cancelled the membership which I never signed up to in the first place. B.J.
THE organisation you mention is linked to purchases made online, and sometimes when making a purchase simply ticking a certain box when inserting your payment details – even by accident, or in the hope of receiving a discount – is enough to establish membership.
The best course of action is to write and ask the firm through which website the membership was established and then to check with the website to see if they can provide you with a screen print or other proof of your payment details so as to see whether the box for the membership to ‘Remises et Réductions’ was ticked, and take further action dependent on the result.
Generally-speaking, take care what boxes are ticked (or unticked) when making online purchases and check bank statements regularly.
Obtaining RSA income support
I AM 53, divorced, and have moved back in with my parents. I have just started to receive a small private pension from the U.K. (€450 a month). It is my only income. Can I claim RSA income support?  W.D.
IT may be possible but given your income amount it may be just €20/month (basic RSA for a single person being €535, minus €64 forfait logement if you are living free of charge = €471, from which your other income is deducted).
However, there could be issues with your situation. RSA is available to working age EU citizens who have lived in France for more than three months (though this is not enforced if, for example you are doing declared work or temporarily not working due to illness) but the person must also in theory be able to show they are in legal residence. Between three months and five years in France – according to the letter of the law – this is meant to include either working, or having ‘sufficient resources so as not to be a burden on social security’. For under-65s, a monthly income equivalent to the basic RSA is the test for this... With regard to RSA it is ultimately your departmental council that decides if you qualify, or exceptionally, the Caf family benefits body may take a decision on its behalf.
The Caf service said it is not possible to say categorically whether you might qualify without checking all the details of your circumstances.
Right to social charge refunds
I HAVE had a large bill for social charges on investment income despite not being affiliated to French social security. The tax office has said it has the right to impose this. Can you please clarify?  J.P.
THE TAX authorities had agreed to make refunds of social charges levied on income from property and investments of people who were non-residents in other parts of the EU (or EEA or Switzerland) and/or who were living in France, and who were proven to have been affiliated to another EU country’s social security system at the time.

  However, as of 2016 France made legal changes to the way the proceeds of the main charges were used, which it claims means they are now no longer directly funding the social security system – hence refunds are no longer being made. Some lawyers are now making renewed challenges to this policy.

This means that, for example, charges on property capital gains as of January 1, 2016, or at-source deductions are no longer in theory refundable. Contrary to what might have been expected, France is also claiming that due to the legal changes for 2016 they also had the right to make charges – without refunds – based on 2015 incomes that were declared in 2016.  
You could take legal advice as to possible avenues for mounting a challenge to that, however as far as the official line goes, the last charges
that are refundable were ones paid in 2015.

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