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HMRC set to close online overseas pensions service

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has confirmed it is closing the online service which manages qualifying recognised overseas pension schemes (QROPS) in April.

HMRC has published an update on its website confirming that the online QROPS service will cease on 5th April, with no clear explanation as to why the service was shutting down.

Instead, managers and administrators of pension schemes, as well as transfers to and payments from QROPS will be required to provide information about overseas pension schemes directly to the tax authority.

With no online service available from 6th April, those using QROPS at present will need to use the existing forms and reference material available.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, confirmed in his inaugural Autumn Statement 2016 that the Government was seeking to better align the tax rules regarding QROPS and British pension schemes with one eye on preventing overseas pension schemes from being misused.

For instance, HMRC took the decision to remove all but three QROPS in Canada from its official list; prompting questions of HMRC as to whether it was clamping down hard on non-compliant QROPS.

Nevertheless, HMRC still has almost 1,300 QROPs located in 40 different countries on its list.

The current online QROPS service notifies HMRC if a scheme is QROPS and can report payments out of funds moved from a UK pension scheme to a QROPS, or to outline changes in details, pension status or pension fund value.

From April 2017, QROPS outside the European Union (EU) will be given the same pension freedoms, although HMRC and the Treasury have said final details are yet to be finalised.

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