How are UK investments taxed in Spain? And is it worth reviewing the current structures of your assets to see if they are tax-efficient for this chapter of your life?
While adapting to life in Spain comes easily to many expatriates, letting go of the things that we’re used to isn’t always easy. Having financial assets structured in a way that is familiar and that you understand can be comforting.
But is holding investments in the UK the wisest choice if you live in Spain? Is this strategy tax-efficient, or are you sacrificing potential opportunities to stay with what feels safe?
Although premium bonds do not typically provide earnings of capital growth, they are still considered ‘the UK’s biggest savings account’ with over 21 million Britons saving more than £117 billion in them. The main attraction of investing in premium bonds is that any winnings have always been tax-free in the UK.
However, this is not the case once you become a resident of Spain. Gains from bonds will be added to your general income for the year and taxed at the progressive rates of income tax. These tax rates vary a little depending on which region you live in and reach as high as 47% in Andalucía, 45% in Madrid, 47.4% in Murcia, 49.5% in the Balearic Islands, and 50% in Cataluña, 50.5% for the Canary Islands, and 54% in Comunidad Valenciana.
ISAs may be tax-free in the UK, but the interest and gains earned from UK ISAs are fully taxable in Spain if you are a resident there at the corresponding progressive savings income tax rates as follows:
|Taxable Base||Total Tax Rate
|Up to €6,000||19%
|€6,000 to €50,000||21%
|€50,000 to €200,000||23%
These rates are fixed, meaning they do not vary between the autonomous communities.
What about bank interest and other UK investments?
Like ISAs, worldwide bank interest is taxable for Spanish residents at the savings rates, irrespective of the UK resident’s tax-free threshold.
Low interest rates have caused UK savings accounts to stagnate, while the rise of inflation decreases their value. In fact, with the current economic climate, exploring alternative structures for your money could present you with better options.
Ideally, you should review all your UK investments to consider how they will be taxed in Spain. Besides income tax, you will be taxed on the gains when you sell them and you also need to consider Spain’s annual wealth tax and plan ahead for Spanish inheritance tax.
Lump-sum payments from UK pensions are taxable in Spain, so if you have not yet left the UK you may wish to draw the lump sum before you do.
For those who are already Spanish residents, UK private, occupational and state pensions are taxable only in Spain. State retirement pensions are paid gross, but other pensions will be taxed in the UK until HMRC receives your Spanish tax residency certificate.
Government service pensions remain only liable to UK tax but will be considered by Spanish authorities when determining the effective tax rate on your other income.
The Spanish taxation of UK private pensions is a little too complicated to cover here, and it would be advisable to seek personalised advice regarding yours.
Learn more about pensions for financial security throughout your retirement.
UK rental income
If you are resident in Spain and rent out property in the UK, the income could be taxable in both countries, though the UK tax paid can be offset against the Spanish liability.
In Spain, it is taxed at the scale rates of income tax. A 60% reduction is available in Spain against the net rental income, but only for long-term lettings where the tenant uses the property as their main home.
Alternative investment options
There are highly tax-efficient opportunities available to residents of Spain. A more favoured of these is a Spanish-approved life assurance contract, which acts as an investment wrapper to a conventional portfolio. With this structure in place, no tax is payable on income from the underlying asset until a withdrawal is made, and even then, only the gain is subject to tax.
And when it comes to reviewing investments, there is more to it than just about tax. They should be specifically structured around your circumstances, objectives, time horizon and current risk tolerance – all of which have probably changed since you moved to Spain. You should regularly review your savings and investments to ensure they continue to meet your objectives and are suitable for your new life in Spain.
Breaking old habits can be profitable if you take the time to explore all options and seek specialist cross-border advice. Blevins Franks is the leading wealth management company that has helped British expatriates living in Spain for over 45 years. Our investment experts will be able to review your portfolio and advise you towards positive action in the most tax-efficient way possible.
Contact Blevins Franks today.