Thursday, 29 August 2013

Pensions & Investments - Before you leave for France

Before you leave the UK and come to live in France, there is a unique opportunity to rearrange your Pensions & Investments.  We work with the leading international tax and wealth management advisers to UK nationals living in Europe.

Unfamiliar local bureaucracy and a foreign tax system can be very confusing, especially when the rules frequently change, as they have done in France under President Hollande.  To confuse matters, you may also still be liable to some UK taxes.

The tax burden has increased, with President Hollande particularly targeting wealthier residents. He has started taxing investment income at the same rates as employment income, scrapped the lower wealth tax rates, increased succession tax for children and imposed social charges on non-residents. Income is also subject to ‘social charges’, which are levied on top of income tax.

All this makes it more important than ever to take professional advice on your tax planning. It is still possible to take advantage of tax compliant opportunities to protect your assets from the various French taxes. With professional guidance, our clients enjoy extremely favourable tax treatment on their capital investments and assets.

In view of the loss of trust and confidence in banks, many investors are now seeking alternative safe custody arrangements to provide security for their assets. Our business partners can provide our clients with the maximum level of investor protection, without relying on the financial strength of banks.

There are several interesting options for UK nationals living abroad to consider for their pension funds. However pensions planning is a ‘minefield’ for expatriates, and great care should be taken to assess the options available and what is best suited to you before transferring your fund to an alternative structure, such as QROPS. This sort of plan offers :  

1 Tax efficiency. Subject to the laws of the overseas country in which you become resident, it may be possible to receive income from your retirement fund at lower tax rates than would apply in the UK.

2 Investment choice. There is no need to buy an annuity, so you can retain control of your pension savings capital, and you can hold assets such as residential property, which are not usually allowed in UK pension funds.

3 Passing wealth between generations. QROPS enable you to pass the portion of your pension savings that you do not spend to your heirs and, depending on the tax laws of the country where you choose to become resident, there may be a lower rate of Inheritance Tax to pay or – as is the case in Cyprus – be no local equivalent of this tax.

4 Avoid or diminish exchange rate risks and costs. You can take income and capital from your QROPS in the currency of your choice.

No decision affecting your retirement capital and income should ever be taken in a rush. Remember the old maxim: ‘Act in haste – repent at leisure.’

Expert advice and planning is absolutely essential to ensure that your wealth is transferred to your chosen beneficiaries in accordance with your wishes, without it being decimated by inheritance taxes.

You also need to consider the best way to hold your assets, so that they can be passed to your heirs according to your wishes and as efficiently as possible.

Our advisers offer numerous International Tax & Wealth management strategies for UK Expats‎. Can you afford not to take their advice ? Did you know that there have been 21 new French finance acts in 5 years. How much tax is too much ? You do not always have to pay !!
To learn more contact

Friday, 23 August 2013

Top 5 things to do in the Dordogne

Peppered by over 1000 historic châteaux, beautiful forests, medieval towns, picturesque villages, flowing rivers and caves, it is easy to understand why Dordogne is one of France’s most loved regions, and probably the favourite destination of British buyers. There are so many things to do, eat and discover in this idyllic south-west region of France.

What are the top 5 things to do, when the choice is so wide ?

1st – visit a leading market. Perigueux is a Gallo-Roman city going back to 16th century B.C.  The Roman remains and architecture from the renaissance era are a must visit, as is the coveted market, which gourmets all across the world come to for it’s rare local delicacies. Sarlat market is a must for food lovers. All year long, depending on the season, you can find foie grass, the famous cepe mushrooms, magret / duck & goose products, truffles, walnuts and countless other delicious local products to tempt your taste buds. Sarlat also has a very high concentration of listed buildings to visit.

2nd – Lascaux. With its paintings estimated to be over 17,300 years old, the caves of Lascaux will not only be an incredible sight and vision of beauty.  It is complex of caves famous for its Paleolithic cave paintings. The original caves are located near the village of Montignac, and visitors today visit a stunning replica.

3rd - The Dordogne River is a river of stunning beauty and tranquility, where you will enjoy incredible sights and can enjoy the usual river based activities. The higher reached of the Dordogne are renowned  for being the best fly-fishing areas, whilst boating activities are more popular further west.

4th – Visit some of the Plus Beaux Villages. Dordogne is said to have the highest concentration of the most beautiful villages in France. It is easy to see why when you visit somewhere such as Domme which feature remarkably beautiful historical architecture mainly from the Renaissance era set in a back drop of stunning natural beauty. Alphabetically the choice is from Belvès, Beynac et Canzenac, Castelnaud-la-Chapelle, Domme, La Roque Gageac, Limeuil, Monpazier, Saint-Amand-de-Coly, Saint-Jean-de-Côle, & Saint-Léon-sur Vézère.  Why not visit them all ?

5th – Visit the local Châteaux. With over 1000 to choose from, there is one for everyone’s taste. Perhaps the best known are Le Chateau de Castelnaud, Chateau de Beynac, and the  Chateau of Milandes.

Not a lot of people know this - The Dordogne is one of the very few rivers in Europe to have a  tidal bore, rather like the River Severn in England. This means that a handful of times a year (given the right season and wind direction) a powerful wave travels many miles up-river, making this an amazing phenomenon to watch and the experience of a lifetime to surf for the brave.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Dordogne Valley - Luxury house for sale with pigeonnier set in large grounds

The house was rebuilt from an old barn, ground up, about 15 years ago, by a multi millionaire. If you are looking for peace & quiet in parkland setting, near village, then this beautiful Quercy house is just for you. It comes with 20 acres of land. Finished to
the very highest standards. 

The accommodation comprises of briefly : large salon with fireplace, bar area, quality fitted kitchen, dining room with fireplace, 2 ground floor bedrooms (each with shower rooms en-suite), WC, laundry / boiler room. Vaulted cave for your wine.

1st floor – large mezzanine, 2 further bedrooms (each with en-suite bathrooms), dressing room, study. Please note all 4 bedrooms for this property are en-suite. 

Located close to the A20, the property has good access to the road network and airports, but is in a tranquil location. Ideal as a luxury family home, but equally suited to someone wishing to offer top end chambre d’hôtes. Located between Souillac and Gourdon, there are plenty of tourist attractions such as Rocamadour and Sarlat on the doorstep.

Price  838,685 €  Link

Friday, 16 August 2013

Wake up Hollande !

Politicians are rarely popular individuals. They have a really tough job, and they cannot please everyone with the difficult decisions that they face. Added to that, the financial situation experienced over the last 5 plus years have made time harder than ever.

However, France seems to be suffering more than is necessary under the leadership, if that is the correct word, of François Hollande. The self styled "Mr Ordinary" changes his policies almost as often as his underware, presumably as his aides highlight one problem and then another.

I read recently that France remains the No 1 tourist destination in the world, yet again, but instead of capitalising on this marvellous opportunity to kick start an economy, France remains France, and is well down the list of Euros / £s spent per person on holiday. Why ?

Because France refuses to wake up to life in the C21st. Recently, I have seen restaurants in tourist areas, closed for 3 weeks for their annual holiday, at precisely the time when they could be ringing the cash tills if they had a clue about marketing.

No attempt is made to entice holidaymakers to dig into their wallets, you just cannot imagine this happening in the UK or across the Atlantic in the US. Tourism is a great opportunity to start to grease the cogs of a country's economy, but here is an opportunity being wasted.

It is really hard to believe that "entrepreneur" is a French word. Entrepreneurial spirit is characterised by innovation and risk-taking, and is an essential part of a nation's ability to succeed in an ever changing and increasingly global marketplace. Successive French governments have done seemingly everything in their power to suppress this Entrepreneurial spirit. the sole exception has been the creation of the Auto entepreneur scheme. This is a simplified version of an existing small business set-up, the micro-entreprise, which requires a turnover below certain thresholds.

It is intended to give those starting a business an easier way to set up, pay taxes and social security charges. Auto-entrepreneurs are exempt from registering with the chambre de métiers or the chambre de commerce et d’industrie, which saves time and money. However, instead of encouraging people down this route, the Government is closing opportunities and moving the goalposts, creating confusion and a lack of confidence.

The same sort of confusion reigns in the property world - with the rules for Capital Gains Tax having been changed several times in the brief period that Hollande has been in power. Originally the time limit for CGT calculations was a 15 year period of ownership, after which the proceeds were tax free. Since then, the period has been increased to 30 years, and more recently changed again to 22 years. In addition, social charges have been levied against UK owners, which may yet get a challenge in an EU courts, as it is not technically legal. No clear guidelines are in place for the present regime, leading to uncertainty.

If there is one thing that markets hate - it is uncertainty. So France is missing another trick here, because it could also use the housing market to kick start it's economy. When people start moving house, they also start spending money, and these cogs grease more cogs, and stimulate other areas of the economy.

I don't think that Hollande has yet worked out that this means more revenue, (in the form of increased taxes). he certainly didn't when he introduced his 75% income tax regime and a list of high profile celebrities announced that they would be quitting France. He hasn't worked out that a certain % of x is better than 100% of nothing. Wake up please M Hollande.................

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Sarlat / Les Eyzies (24) - For sale a truly top class gite complex. Proven business.

This is a high quality gite complex, surrounded by 22 acres of private grounds in the Vézère Valley, offering peace and quiet whilst at the same time being close to all services of the beautiful towns and villages of this most fascinating region.

The property is large and flexible and a new owner might choose to reorganise the existing arrangements and occupy a different house, freeing the current owner's house for rental purposes. 
Maison de Maître plus a converted Tobacco barn, plus 2 further letting units.

I will let the pictures speak for the quality of this excellent business.

Price 825,000 €


Monday, 5 August 2013

Saint Saud Lacoussière (24) - For sale : 3 bed bungalow (non negotiable price)

Offered at a newly reduced, non-negotiable price for a quick sale, this is an outstanding example of a modern, three bedroom bungalow situated on the edge of a village.

Nicely positioned in the centre of a large plot with open views to the south and west across the Dronne Valley, this immaculate bungalow still retains three years of the builder’s guarantee. It is fully double-glazed and has under-floor heating throughout which is powered by an aerothermic heat exchanger.

It is a short walk into the centre of the pretty village which has a general store, a bar and two restaurants, one of which is highly acclaimed in the region. Limoges International Airport is only 45 minutes away with frequent flights to and from the UK.

Price 199,900 € Floor plan available


Sunday, 4 August 2013

Nontron (24) - For sale : magnificent 19th Century town house with 8 bedrooms & heated pool

A magnificent 19th Century townhouse with eight bedrooms, heated pool and superb views – suitable as a large family home or as a commercial investment.

 The entire property has been renovated and decorated to the highest quality standards to create a real ‘top end’ feel. Chandeliers and original features are beautifully blended together to give a chic but relaxed feel throughout the house. The current owners have invested heavily to create a sumptuous interior and a beautifully landscaped garden that makes full use of the open views across the stunning Perigord Vert countryside.
The landscaped gardens offer magnificent, open views across the Bandiat valley and towards the church in Nontron. There is a secluded and fully fenced salt-water swimming pool measuring 9 x 4.5m.

Price 565,000 €  Floor plans available