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Is your UK defined benefit pension safe!!!

Pension protection fund explained

High in everybody’s news feed in the last few days is the relatively surprising collapse of Britain’s second-biggest construction company – Carillion.

For many people that are currently in employment with some of the UK’s largest companies day to day work is generally something that is assumed as a given – It is only when something like this happens out of the blue that it brings home just how delicate our working and financial lives can be at times.

The ongoing job roles of the approximately 20,000 British-based employees are under huge threat, but what of their other hard earned benefits? Well luckily their pension rights should largely be preserved, thanks to the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), a private scheme funded by a levy on member companies.

When a firm with a salary-linked pension scheme goes to the wall without enough assets to carry on paying retirees, the PPF steps in. Those already in retirement get their pensions met in full, although future increases may be limited, while those who have yet to reach retirement age receive 90% of their benefits, up to a cap of around £35,000 (€39,500) a year.

The role of the PPF is to protect millions of people throughout the United Kingdom who belong to similar defined benefit pension schemes. If their employers go bust, and their pension schemes cannot afford to meet their liabilities and pension promises, the PPF will compensate the employees for their lost benefits. Tens of thousands of people are already in receipt of compensation from the PPF and hundreds of thousands more will do be in the future. The PPF is a public corporation, set up by the Pensions Act 2004, and is run by an independent Board.

This kind of collapse has huge knock on effects on both the wider markets as well as the multitude of small firms supplying services to the ‘Big Boys’.

Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay warned of a “domino effect” with subcontractors further down the supply chain that have already been waiting for up to six months for payments, may now receive nothing at all for the work they carried out.

Transfer values for Defined Benefit pensions are currently very high, due to a quirk of low interest rates. This could mean a higher transfer value might offset some of the risk you will be taking on if you chose to transfer your benefits.

Should I transfer? Am I in the best scheme for me? Is my scheme underfunded? There are many questions that need to be asked and Pennick Blackwell are happy to assess your personal situation and scheme position and if required walk you through all the potential pitfalls and options available to you.

Financial tips for the New Year

Financial tips for the New Year

Instead of Gyms, Drink and Cigarettes, think about giving your finances the resolution treatment this year

Another year has ended, 2018 has begun with many people looking to make a fresh start, new beginnings and change their lives for the better.  While this is a worthy goal, too many people forget to consider the financial implications of resolutions or their personal finances full stop.  So, while the idea of change for the better is in your mind, why not consider ways to make your finances healthier this year.

These ideas, unlike some of the other resolutions people make at the start of the year, don’t have to be done straight away, many of them can’t.  Rather, use this guide to consider how some or all of the points mentioned can help you manage your finances a bit better with the goal being to either save more or pay less to the bank and get the benefit of extra money down the line.

1: Decide on your goals

First and foremost, consider what you need to tackle and look to how you may achieve your desired effect.  Are you looking to start a savings plan, pay off some debt or loan, discover new investment options or could you do with consolidating debt to save interest payments?

Writing down your financial requirements and situation may allow you to consider what you need to do in order to accomplish your goals, seeing can be believing.

2: Get your mortgage into shape

If you already have a mortgage, there are three things you should be thinking about this year. The first is checking you’re on the right rate; after all, one thing we’ve learned from the Clausula Suelo scandal is we can’t rely on the banks to get it right for us.

The second is to consider a switch to another product or competitor. A short term outlay that comes with switching banks could save you in the long run.  If your conditions are not favourable, a switch could save you a noticeable amount on a monthly basis.

Thirdly, pay extra. Crazy right!  It may not be.  If your mortgage allows it and has no charge to make one off payments, a little saving through the year can work wonders on the long term cost of a mortgage.  While you could be doing something else with your money, inching away at your mortgage is hard to beat. A little effort can, over time, produce substantial returns.

By overpaying an amount every year you’ll reduce what you owe the bank and reduce future payments or cut the term of your mortgage. It also means you’ll cut your interest bill. And paying less interest to the bank is something everybody can appreciate!

3: Consider your pension

If you have one, take the time to read your annual pension benefit statement and figure out how your retirement is shaping up. You owe it to yourself.

And if you don’t have a pension, is it time to think about getting one?

If you have spare cash you can make extra contributions, increasing your pension and your tax benefits. But if your pension is going nowhere, why reward your non-performing fund manager even more?  So many UK Pensions are underfunded and in danger, is leaving it with them the right thing to do?

4: Bump up your savings

Deposit rates may be on the floor but the banks will still charge you a handsome amount to borrow from them so why give them your hard earned money for nothing?

A look at alternative investment options to the banks could increase your return substantially without having your money tied up for a number of years.

Using an investment management company comes with a cost but if you can earn 4% on a well-run investment, after costs, it will still give you more than double what you could probably earn in a bank deposit account.

5: Take control of your debt

While mortgages may account for most of a person’s debt, expensive, short-term debt is also a factor, for example, more than one-third (36 per cent) of credit cards have balances of between 75 and 100 per cent of their limits.

If you have too much debt weighing on your credit card, try and make some inroads this year.

If you have a high amount sitting on your credit card at a rate of around 20 per cent, cutting that down would be one of your best resolutions this year.  Instead of just paying the minimum every month, try to add something every month off the debt.  With the amount of interest charged on cards, a little goes much more than a long way!

If you want more information on any of the above topics or anything else related to your financial needs, please feel free to contact us on any of the following ways in order to set up an appointment for a free financial health check and see how a financial advisor can assist you.

Prepare with Pennick Blackwell and minimise the risks to your money (and health!)

Estate Inheritance and Tax

Benjamin Franklin’s oft quoted line about “nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes” is one we all are too aware of.  The spectre of both haunt us constantly through our adult lives and it seems the older we get, the more familiar we become with both burdens.

However, Franklin never knew the difficulties of the relationship between death and taxes when you add another country or two into the mix!  Like most of us here in Spain, we all have someone who is either back in our home country or has assets in another country that can muddy the waters when it comes to inheritance after a death.  If you think that in a country like Spain, each region has their own inheritance rules, how more complicated does it get when you add another country into the mix, or more than one…

When dealing with this sensitive issue, preparation can take a lot of the hassle out of the situation for the people dealing with matters after you’re gone.  Losing a loved one is hard enough on anyone, having to deal with the added stress of remaining assets and investments is not something they should have to battle with.

We have dealt with clients who have had hit brick walls dealing with banks, investment companies, siblings and the tax men in both the UK and Spain, all the while just trying to cope with the loss of a loved one and it’s not a situation that anybody wants to find themselves in.

Knowing how to address a situation can often be half the battle and by having an informal chat with us we can guide you in preparing for the event and show you how you and your loved ones can benefit from all the options available to ease the passing and not get caught up in tax worries.

Working together, we can look at your situation, your needs and the implications of Inheritance Tax specifically to you and look at ways to lessen the blow and make sure no charges are taken without being known about.  We can help explain Domicile situation versus residency and how it affects you and your situation, see if you are liable for Inheritance tax, calculate what you may have to pay and look at ways to disperse your assets now to lessen the impact later on.

Estimates put the amount of people who could be liable to pay Inheritance Tax on worldwide assets and are prepared for it at as low as 27% of people.  If you are an expat, if you have enjoyed a successful life, if you want to enjoy your retirement and look after your loved ones, it pays to have a (free no obligation) discussion about your situation to see where you stand.

Pennick Blackwell, with our strategic partnership with Neofin Asesores, can assist you when it comes to pre planning for the inheritance and distribution of assets or assist and advise you how to plan for this eventuality and take the stress out of the situation for those who have to deal with it.

By speaking to someone who is in a position to help and knows the pitfalls and problems that can arise, you can avail of all the advantages possible in order to help you plan your wealth and prepare for whatever eventuality.  If you live in Spain, but are not Spanish and have holdings elsewhere do you know your tax liability both in Spain and back home?

A famous play (and more famous saying) says that “You can’t take it with you”, however, with thought, consideration and planning, you can decide where it goes and who gets it when you leave.

Prepare with Pennick Blackwell and minimise the risks to your money (and health!)

Notary Fees and Mortgage Set Up Claims

The Clausula Suelo is well underway and after various rulings, denials, appeals, European interjection and the Spanish Government’s involvement, Banks are starting, slowly it must be said, to address the situation and refund money to their clients. It still by no means is a done deal when you find a Clausula Suelo in your mortgage agreement but it’s a lot closer to being able to resolve the situation than ever before.

During the whole Clausula Suelo debacle, another questionable banking practice came to light and was actually ruled against by the Spanish High Court in December 2015 but, like the Clausula Suelo, has taken time and effort to get claims moving.

The subject of this new claim is the setup costs of taking out a mortgage. While the client is liable for all costs regarding the purchase of a property “Compraventa”, the ruling states that the banks should be liable for the costs in relation to the mortgaging of the property “Prestamo Hipotecario”.

What this means to the average client is the taxes on the mortgage (1.5% of the value of the property), the Notary fees relating to the mortgage and the registration of the mortgage can be claimed back by the client.

An example here is a client taking out a € 80,000 mortgage on a property valued at € 128,400 would be looking at a claim value of about € 3,300, a nice amount of money for clients who have struggled to pay inflated mortgage instalments. This is a low-level estimation, this amount can go up with the price of the house.

However, this new claim is not limited to clients who have suffered through the Clausula Suelo issue. This claim affects anyone who has taken out a mortgage by and large. If you are currently paying a mortgage, you could well be entitled to claim back these charges.

In order to do so however, the official invoices from the Notary are a must, as well as the receipt of payment of the taxes on the mortgage (Modelo 600). NO claim can be handled without the documented proof of payment and the client needs to present this in order to proceed.

Here at Pennick Blackwell we can handle your claim, assist you in getting copies of the invoices if you do not have them and calculate what you may be entitled to. An email in exchange for € 3,000? Contact us today to get the information and let us help you reclaim what you should not have paid.

Prepare with Pennick Blackwell and minimise the risks to your money (and health!)

Clausula Suelo, the consumer’s victory!

Banks, their reputations have suffered in recent memory. No longer are they seen as trusted institutions, now they are pariahs that prey on everyone, no matter what the cost. We saw it with the Global crash, instigated by banks, Icelandic collapse, the English LIBOR scandal and here in Spain, the Clausula Suelo. Wide-reaching scams that caught clients from every walk of life.

If it wasn’t enough to have been swindled, it’s the sheer audacity of the banks to deny any wrongdoing that infuriates clients. Since 2013, we have known that the Clausula Suelo was wrong, the banks were wrong to implement it and clients were due refunds. It has taken the involvement of Europe’s highest court to finally put pressure on the banks and the government to start paying back the clients who have had to pay out much more for their mortgages than they should have.

In the past month, we at Pennick Blackwell have been happy to see our clients start getting the refunds that have been too long overdue. In the past month, we have claimed back nearly € 150,000 for our clients and that is only scratching the surface of this horrid situation. That works out to an average of € 10,000 per client who we have been able to help so far, and more is on the way.

Courts Workload

The courts are working on cases that have not been agreed to by banks. There are no more continuances or loopholes for the banks to exploit. Using a company like Pennick Blackwell, you can be sure that you get the best offer on your mortgage claim against the bank, including interest on the money due back! The banks won’t give interest on your savings but you can claim interest on your own money, taken without cause or reason.

Many of the leading banks in the country are now looking at the Clausula Suelo situation properly and are dealing with the damage it has caused to you, the client. We are delighted to see that offers are coming in but we still have work to do and patience to ask. Some banks are still denying the case, some are giving lesser offers, and we will deal with each as we need to, for now, we wish to rejoice with those clients that have had their reward and remind those waiting, it is coming, and the tide is turning.

YOUR questions, OUR answers

If you have any questions, concerns or issues that you feel need to be addressed, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free reply. Do you feel cheated by your Spanish Bank? Are you looking for a way to save money, little or large? Is your insurance too much or your investment return too little? A little question can mean a big return!

Prepare with Pennick Blackwell and minimise the risks to your money (and health!)

The next bank claim!

Not to flog a dead horse but, once again we are sorry to say that there is another issue that banks have to answer for that some of our readers may not know about.

In 2015, the Spanish High Court ruled that any client taking out a mortgage, should not have had to pay for the Notary Fees relating to that mortgage. However, as usual, the banks were happy to let the clients pay Notary fees for an agreement that the bank holds the rights to until the very last payment.

Until the mortgage is paid in full, the bank are the legal owners of a mortgaged property and are responsible for the costs involved in setting up a mortgage on that property.

Again, like the Suelo, this situation will drag on, the banks will dispute it, will delay it but eventually, should have to pay out on it, they took money from clients who, in many instances, had to scrape and save for every Euro in order to secure their mortgage. A few thousand would go a long way for any client that is buying a house, no matter what it is used for, the obligatory Life Insurance, the demanded House Insurance, that nice new Sofa or the 50” TV.

If you wish to have more information about how you can claim on this new situation, please do not hesitate to contact us through any of the methods listed below and we can look into the case for you.

The Clausula Suelo, success is starting!

It’s been a long hard slog, in 2013 the Spanish High Court ruled that the “Clausula Suelo” was immoral and should not have been included in mortgage contracts in Spain.

Most of the major banks (Santander outstanding) were caught up in this ruling and went into damage limitation mode. Denials, excuses, delays and rejections were the normal course of action for the following few years.

Then, Europe, yes Europe came to the rescue, who would have thought it! In December 2016, the European Court of Justice upheld the Spanish decision about Clausula Suelos and ordered the banks to pay back, not just from 2013 but from the start of the mortgage, we can be excused for thinking it would be that black and white!

However, the banks huddled again and went running to the Spanish Government looking for a way out of their predicament. However, all the government gave them was time, and not a lot of it. They decreed that the banks had to get themselves in order and respond within 3 months to a claim. As usual, this did not happen, delays came, deadlines passed but finally, issues are starting to be resolved.

It is with great pleasure that we can announce another banner month against the Clausula Suelo and we have had offers in this month for various clients, totalling just over € 50,000. The banks have learnt that the clients will not go quietly into the night and neither will their representatives.

Many of the leading banks in the country are now looking at the Clausula Suelo situation properly and are dealing with the damage it has caused to you, the client. We are delighted to see that offers are coming in but we still have work to do and patience to ask.

Some banks are still denying the case, some are giving lesser offers, we will deal with each as we need to, for now, we wish to rejoice with those clients that have had their reward and remind those waiting, it is coming, the tide is turning.

We are happy to help, so if you would like more information please get in touch or give us your number and we will call you back.

Clausula Suelo, the saga could be coming to an end

As many people, too many in fact, are aware, since 2013 (and before) the clients of many banks in Spain have been fighting to get back money taken from them without right by the banks who had inserted hidden clauses in Mortgage contracts to ensure the banks would not lose out when interest rates dropped.

Thanks to a ruling from the European Court of Justice in December 2016 and a subsequent ruling from the Spanish Government in January 2017, the banks, finally, seem to be treating this matter with the care and attention it deserves.

In the last 2 weeks, we have had offers come in from various banks for our clients which shows a drastic swing in the bank’s attitude to this situation. Where previously they would not enter into discussions about these “Clausula Suelos”, now they are explaining how to proceed to get a refund, albeit quietly!

Some banks still hold out against the justice their client’s deserve but we will pursue them to the courts if need be in order to get the satisfaction are clients, not only expect, but legally deserve.

Good things come to those who wait and the Suelo, after a long, hard slog is starting to peek its head above the horizon and show the light at the end of the tunnel.

If you feel that you could have been affected by this situation, and you have not looked into it yet, contact us on the information below for a free review of your case to see if you can benefit from a refund. It´s time to strike while the iron is hot.