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HMRC slashes Australian funds from overseas pensions list

HMRC slashes Australian funds from overseas pensions list

Only one Australian recognised overseas pension scheme remains on HM Revenue and Custom’s official list of recognised overseas pension schemes, following a temporary suspension allowing it to be reformatted in light of recent rule changes.

On June 16, HMRC published a new update on recognised overseas pension schemes, stating that from 17 June the list of notifications would be temporarily suspended for a short period to allow it to be reformatted.

Prior to the temporary suspension, there were 3,811 schemes on the Rops list, but this has now been slashed to 663.

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Of this figure, previously there were 1,653 Australian schemes listed. However, on the new version of the list, published today (1 July) only one remains - the Local Government Superannuation Scheme.

Earlier this week, FTAdviser revealed that HMRC had confirmed to the Australian Treasury that Australian funds no longer comply with its rules under the new pension age test for them to remain recognised overseas pensions.

These funds had the facility to allow recognised overseas pensions. HMRC’s pension age test requires schemes to assert savers are not able to access funds before the age of 55 in line with UK law.

Geraint Davies, managing director at Montfort International, said: “It’s a very interesting state of circumstances we sit in; the Qrops world has changed forever.

“The advice delivers by Australian advisers needs to be investigated - this might be the beginning of the examination of prior advice.”

There are just shy of 60 Irish schemes and around 30 New Zealand schemes on HMRC’s updated Rops list.

In April this year, HMRC amended its list of registered pension schemes in what appeared to be a bid for clarity in light of the new pension freedoms, toughening risk warnings and modifying language to emphasise that appearing on the list does not confer authorisation.

A regular pension schemes newsletter from the tax watchdog also mentioned that following the 6 April reforms it updated the forms used for overseas schemes to confirm their compliance with UK tax rules and to report payments.

The updates came on the back of a frenzied few weeks of news in relation to overseas pensions, amid a clampdown on access rules for schemes in other jurisdictions in the wake of the freedoms coming into force in the UK.

HMRC declined to comment.

ruth.gillbe@ft.com