Malta QROPS are becoming more and more popular, and Malta is rapidly establishing itself as a leading QROPS jurisdiction. This is in part as a result of HMRC’s clampdown of other QROPS jurisdictions, such as QROPS in Guernsey. However, for the most part, it is as a result of the unique factors which make Malta a secure, safe and robust jurisdiction for QROPS pension transfers.
Malta: A Secure and Robust QROPS Jurisdiction
One of the unique factors that makes Malta QROPS schemes so attractive is that fact that the Maltese Financial Services Authority (the “MFSA”) undertook extensive consultations with UK HMRC to ensure that Malta’s domestic pensions legislation was compatible with all HMRC requirements. Thus this gives immense confidence to pension holders who are considering transferring their pension to a Malta QROPS – knowing that the rules have been ‘blessed’ by the HMRC itself.
In addition, each QROPS scheme in Malta must be approved individually by MFSA. Because Malta is a full member of the EU, it must adhere to EU standards of investor protection, and thus the MFSA lays down very strict requirements as to who can be a QROPS and pension administrator and trustee, and this in turn offers additional protection for investors.
Malta’s Tax Treaty Network
A key advantage that Malta has over it’s QROPS rivals is that it has a comprehensive network of Double Taxation Treaties (DTA’s) (which currently number 57), which can offer scheme members significant advantages. In particular, Malta has a wide ranging tax treaty with the US, which has created the possibility of a US/IRS compliant QROPS for US residents.
If you live in a country which has a double taxation agreement (“DTA”) with Malta, this allows your pension income to be paid out gross, and you then pay the taxes in the country you are resident of, when you start to draw an income from your pension fund. This can have significant advantages if you live in a country which has favourable tax treatment of pension income, such as Spain.
The full list of countries that Malta has concluded a DTA with are as follows:
Albania, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Barbados, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Isle of Man, Israel, Italy, Jersey, Jordan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Palestine, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, USA.
Malta QROPS Schemes: Key Features
- 30% of pension may be taken as a lump sum, from age 50
- Investor protection to EU standard
- All legislation is written in English (in addition to Maltese)
- Trust law is based on English law
- Malta is an EU country, which offers a number of potential advantages to a pension holder transferring their pension to a Malta QROPS
In addition, of course, a Malta QROPS will benefit from the advantages inherent in all QROPS schemes, such as the ability to choose the currency of the fund and income, increased investment flexibility, and avoiding inheritance tax.
We are of the opinion that a Malta QROPS offers some of the most flexible and attractive conditions for UK pension transfer. Thus for most people who are considering a UK pension transfer into a QROPS, Malta will represent the best option. Furthermore, it is our view that Malta not only satisfies all the required conditions as laid down by HMRC, but represents the most secure and robust solution available which minimises the risk of the HMRC removing Malta QROPS from the QROPS list at any stage in the future.