If you have made a transfer in or out of an Australian Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) between April 6 and June 17, 2015, you may face action from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
Here are some of the answers to frequently asked questions from our expat readers:
Why are the dates important?
On April 6, 2015, the UK government introduced a pension age test banning anyone aged under 55 years old from withdrawing payments from their pension except under exceptional circumstances.
On June 17, 2015, Australia QROPS were deemed in breach of the pension age test and transfers from UK pensions to Australian schemes were stopped.
Do I qualify for the ‘exceptional circumstances’ get out?
This is unlikely. An exceptional circumstance generally means you can access your pension before the age of 55 is you are expected to live for less than a year.
What if I transferred my pension between April 6 and June 17?
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in the UK have stated that this would be treated as an unauthorised pension transfer.
The transfer is unauthorised because the payment from the UK pension went to an Australian pension that failed one of the qualifying tests for a QROPS.
In these cases, the usual procedure is for HMRC to chase the pension investor for a 55% penalty calculated against the pension contribution relieved transfer amount.
Basically, HMRC is calling back any tax relief paid on pension contributions made before the transfer.
What if I transferred before April 6, 2015?
Nothing – providing the Australian pension receiving the money was listed on the HMRC QROPS List and met the qualifying rules as the pension age test was not in force before this date.
What if I make a QROPS transfer now?
Providing the Australian pension is listed on the HMRC QROPS List, you can make the transfer. That also applies if you transfer any pension relieved fund from a former Australia QROPS to a new QROPS in Australia or another financial centre.
Where can I get Australia QROPS advice?
You must speak to a regulated and authorised IFA in Australia about pension advice if you live in Australia.