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UK personal pension - time to dig up my nuts

UK personal pension - time to dig up my nuts

Old Oct 21st 2023, 7:58 am
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Default UK personal pension - time to dig up my nuts

Apologies for bombarding you with questions but it feels like all my bureaucratic chickens are coming home to roost at once.

I have an ancient UK personal pension that I took out decades ago. My selected retirement age is fast approaching (60) and the provider is asking me what I want to do.

One option is to leave it where it is. Which is tempting because if we ever move to the UK, cashing it in would be pretty straightforward.

The other option is to cash it in now. As far as I can gather, the provider would pay it out, but would apply an emergency tax code which equates to a 40% deduction.
Under the tax treaty, UK personal pensions are taxable in France, not the UK.
So to claim back the deduction, I have to complete the “France individual form” provided by HMRC.
I then take it to my local French tax office and ask them to sign and stamp the section confirming that I am tax resident in France.
Then I send it to HMRC. And declare the lump sum in my French tax return next May.

The problem is the form is in English. I can’t see my tax office certifying something that’s in English.

Has anyone been through this process before?
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Old Oct 21st 2023, 9:17 am
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Default Re: UK personal pension - time to dig up my nuts

There should be a french and english versions on the HMRC website-at least there was a couple of years ago
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Old Oct 21st 2023, 11:37 am
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Default Re: UK personal pension - time to dig up my nuts

Not any more unfortunately. It’s in English only.

I really wish I could just pay the tax in the UK but under the treaty that’s not an option.
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Old Oct 21st 2023, 12:06 pm
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Default Re: UK personal pension - time to dig up my nuts

Hi Helen
Pensions are a really complicated area even when you are solely UK based.
If you have a SIPP then you could go into flexible drawdown.
If not a SIPP then you could look at converting it into a SIPP (Self Invested Pension Plan).
This means that you can vary the amount you draw each year.
The advantage of a SIPP over an annuity is that they are normally written in Trust and are therefore outwith your Estate. (in the UK)
You can leave the money in the SIPP to beneficiaries of your choice e.g. spouse or children.
Ideally, you can draw an income after you retire to supplement your French pension and reduce the total amount of tax that you pay.
Tax-free lump sums are tax-free in the UK but taxable in France.
The problem is that UK financial advisers are not usually able to advise on French tax law and French accountants are not equiped to advise on UK tax law.
There is a website where several experts can offer free advice to expats.
PM me if you want details.

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Old Oct 21st 2023, 1:45 pm
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Default Re: UK personal pension - time to dig up my nuts

Thanks very much Cyrian. I will indeed PM you.

There isn’t a huge amount in this personal pension and it’s not worth using it to buy an annuity. It isn’t part of our retirement planning to be honest because - after I took it out - I got a job with a decent pension scheme.

It would be most useful to me right now as a single lump sum.

I realize that - since I’m resident in France - I’m not entitled to the 25% tax-free lump sum.
But I also understand that it can actually be very tax efficient to take the money while resident in France because if
1. you take the whole lot at once AND
2. you’re not “pris en charge par la sécu”
(which I’m currently not, thanks to
private health insurance)

the French only levy a flat tax of 7.5%. That’s it. No other deductions.

So definitely worth considering.

The only bit that bothers me is getting the local tax office to certify something that’s in English. I guess, worst case scenario, I’d have to provide a certified translation.



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Old Oct 21st 2023, 2:13 pm
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Default Re: UK personal pension - time to dig up my nuts

I suppose the only way to find out is to ask your friendly neighbourhood tax person
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Old Oct 21st 2023, 2:33 pm
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Default Re: UK personal pension - time to dig up my nuts

That’s the answer I was dreading! And you’re probably right.

I’d have to ask them in advance, though.

Otherwise I can foresee a situation where HMRC have taken the 40% and the Fisc refuses to certify the form but proceeds to tax me on the lump sum anyway because - in going to them - I’ve alerted them to the existence of the payout.
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Old Oct 21st 2023, 2:36 pm
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Default Re: UK personal pension - time to dig up my nuts

Originally Posted by Listen Very Carefully
I suppose the only way to find out is to ask your friendly neighbourhood tax person
I agree. I would ask the tax office if they would accept the English version form or if they have an alternative.
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Old Oct 21st 2023, 3:02 pm
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Default Re: UK personal pension - time to dig up my nuts

Right. I shall steel myself and make an appointment.
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Old Oct 21st 2023, 4:58 pm
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Default Re: UK personal pension - time to dig up my nuts

This is from the HMRC Community forum, on a thread titled "When to send an Individual DT" :


When to send an Individual DT

Maybe the French Tax Authority agreed to using the English version and should recognise and action it without any ado?
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Old Oct 21st 2023, 5:58 pm
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Default Re: UK personal pension - time to dig up my nuts

I am thinking about digging up the nuts too. There must be quite a few people in the BE forum in this position. I wonder if a dedicated pension thread might be useful?
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Old Oct 21st 2023, 6:02 pm
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Default Re: UK personal pension - time to dig up my nuts

Thanks Red Eric. I too saw that on the HMRC Community site and was wondering.
A British friend in Germany is going through the same process (trying to take a UK personal pension lump sum with Royal London) and is wondering how his local German office is going to react to being asked to certify the Germany Individual Form. Which is also in English and a lot more complicated than the France Individual Form.
The tax office in Strasbourg are a funny lot. You get different answers from them depending on who you speak to.


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Old Oct 21st 2023, 6:42 pm
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Default Re: UK personal pension - time to dig up my nuts

Originally Posted by philat98
I am thinking about digging up the nuts too. There must be quite a few people in the BE forum in this position. I wonder if a dedicated pension thread might be useful?
Yes, it most likely would be useful. I bottled on doing this a couple of years ago as I saw my own situation as being very (too?) specific.

However, I could chip in with some anecdotes (useful ones, honest), some pointers and similar.

First question to ask yourselves is "who's the competent country" in EU-speak when it comes to pensions, S1s et al...
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Old Oct 23rd 2023, 7:24 am
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Default Re: UK personal pension - time to dig up my nuts

I'm living in Japan and will shortly have a similar problem. I heard from another expat here the the Japanese tax office will not accept the HMRC document, English only. The tax office here fortunately have a bi-lingual "Certificate of Residence" document and he provided that along with the HMRC document which was accepted by HMRC, he then got a refund on tax paid, eventually. Seemingly the process was like pulling teeth, but it worked.
Try asking the French office if they have a similar document proving residence, something HMRC can read of course.
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Old Oct 24th 2023, 4:19 am
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Default Re: UK personal pension - time to dig up my nuts

Hi Jakeinaka

What a palaver.
I’m still hopeful my local French tax office will sign and stamp the France individual form but thanks for suggesting an alternative.
What looks certain is that the whole business is going to take ages. My mate in Germany has just had to post photocopies of his passport, bank statement and utility bill to Royal London as part of the ID checks. It has to be done by post. Once the provider has paid out, he’ll then ask the German tax office to sign and stamp his Germany individual form. Then that too has to be sent to HMRC by snail mail.
And judging by the comments on the HMRC community site, even once HMRC receives the form it can take months to get the refund.

Rather than have risk complicating matters by getting a payout less emergency 40% tax this French tax year (from Aegon) and another from HMRC (ie the refund) in 2024, I’m going to wait until January. At least that way the two payouts will fall in the same French tax year and I won’t have to declare them until May 2025 (assuming they don’t have some rule about declaring pension lump sums within 30 days or whatever).

Am very keen to simplify my financial affairs in case we decide to stay on in France in old age. It would be nice to offload our two little rentals, cash in the ancient personal pensions and just have a pot of cash festering in the bank to be spent on gin, pâtisserie and heating oil.


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