Those in the UK pensions industry will have been following the TMF QROPS (qualifying recognised overseas pension scheme) proceedings all the way through to the Court of Appeal and more recently the group litigation brought by the ROSIIP members in the Administrative Court appealing HMRC’s imposition of an unauthorised payment charge and surcharge laying claim on 55% of their pension fund.
To recap, ROSIIP, a QROPS established in Singapore, was found by the Court of Appeal not to be a QROPS (for reasons connected with the tax and pensions system in Singapore) despite HMRC publishing the scheme name on their list of approved schemes and issuing letters of approval. Those members who had relied on HMRC’s published QROPS list and transferred their funds were not happy about HMRC retrospectively seeking to take 55% of their fund in tax charges. Charles J had some sympathy with this; in fact he referred to HMRC’s behaviour as “scandalous” and “grossly unfair” not to mention their patent disregard of their duty of candour.
Despite the judge’s consternation, he has so far decided not to publish his judgment of the 5 day GLO hearing which took place in June 2013 and concluded when HMRC sought to withdraw the assessments on the members. Instead, Charles J appears content that his severe criticisms of HMRC have been addressed and the guidance that HMRC issued on 27 November (Guidance Note) speaks satisfactorily of a way forward. There are some that may not share his view however.
What we have now is a clear statement from HMRC that the QROPS system is one of self-assessment. So if you want to retire overseas and take your UK pension pot with you then you will need to engage some expensive advisers to ensure that the transfer is safe.