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tax“Taxation is legalised extortion and is valid only to the extent of the law.”

Ed Troup (now Head of HMRC – in a 1999 newspaper article)

This final installment in a trilogy of posts detailing the transition of my tax affairs from the UK to Canada over the last year (previous episodes here and here) may seem somewhat dry reading, but it might also provide at least some useful information for those who find themselves in the same boat.

As mentioned previously I had taken advice from HMRC in the UK before we left for Victoria. One of the suggestions that they had made was that I should write to them setting out in detail our intentions and proposed schedule. This I did – if for no other reason than that it is always a good idea to get such things down in writing and to file a copy for posterity.

Income tax in the UK is collected through a Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system which relies on each individual being ascribed one or more codes which determine how much tax is deducted each time an income is payed. My income before retirement fell into a higher tax bracket, which in turn meant that the two pensions that I was already drawing at the start of the 2015/16 tax year were also taxed at that level. When I retired and started receiving my third and final pension (but stopped receiving a salary) the tax codes for all three pensions should have been changed to reflect the fact that my income no longer merited being taxed at the higher level. Once we had become Canadian tax residents the codes should have been changed again to ensure that I was no longer taxed in the UK at all.

Naturally, ensuring that these codes were all corrected at the appropriate times proved to be far from simple. They should have been updated as a result of communications from my final employer when I retired, but in the event I still had to spend some considerable time on the phone from Canada to the HMRC arguing the case before all three pensions were finally being taxed at the basic rate. HMRC then had to pay me a rebate for overpaid taxes – which they duly did.

Once my tax status as a resident of Canada had been confirmed by Revenue Canada and the consequent paperwork forwarded to HMRC there followed another round of ‘negotiations’ before all three pensions finally became un-taxed in the UK. I had by this point already been taxed in Canada for the year to December 31st and I was looking forward to recovering the monies that had been deducted in the UK since our departure in July. A further conversation with HMRC made it clear that this wouldn’t happen until I had completed and submitted a tax return for the 2015/16 tax year in the UK.

Filling out that tax return was quite a mission in itself and entailed another couple of hours of phone calls to HMRC before I was satisfied that I had accurately particularised our situation.

Having ventured thus far with my explication I firmly intend to document that process as well – though I fear that so to do will entail a fourth post. Ah well!

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Photo by Andy Dawson Reid“Tax is not a four-letter word; rather, it’s the price we pay for the country we want.”

Alex Himelfarb

My last post went some way towards explaining the vexatious complexity of our tax affairs upon leaving the UK last year and heading across the pond to Canada. I promised – for those who simply could not sleep without knowing how the issues had been resolved – to reveal all. As I am (mostly) a man of my word…

I had, naturally, taken the trouble to consult Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) well in advance of our departure from the UK to discover exactly what steps would need to be taken to ensure that I ceased paying tax in the UK on our departure and started so doing in Canada. A most Helpful Young Chap had given me chapter and verse… though as it turned out not all of the chapters and rather less verse than he might have!

He did advise that I should acquire – from the HMRC website – “Form Canada-Individual” (for those seeking this document it should be noted that it does not – unlike most other HMRC forms – have a form number!). At the bottom of the first page of this document there is a box labelled “For use by Canada Revenue Agency” and the guidance notes helpfully state that once completed the form should be sent to the “Tax Services Office of the Canada Revenue Agency for the area in which you reside“, for them to stamp and to sign. The HYC from the HMRC was unable to elaborate further on this instruction so I figured I would have to wait until we got to Canada and to ask questions there.

A few days subsequent to our arrival I paid a visit to the Revenue Canada building in Victoria, thinking that this would be the best way to find out whom I should approach. The Canada Revenue office may well be open for business but the building itself certain isn’t – not to the public at any rate. There is no open foyer or reception desk – just tight security and locked doors. I was forced to resort to the InterWebNet instead and – taking what seemed the best bet – sent my “Form Canada – Individual” to the Revenue Canada office in Vancouver.

Nothing at all happened for two months but eventually a reply limped into our mailbox. According to Revenue Canada Vancouver my application could not be processed because I had not provided them with my Social Insurance Number (SIN). This was – of course – because I had not been able to ascertain from anyone what the correct procedure was. I duly added the requested information and resubmitted the whole application – as directed by Vancouver – to Ottawa.

This time a mere month elapsed before Revenue Canada once more returned my application. Apparently they did not have the required information to determine that I truly was now a Canadian Resident for tax purposes. I would needs complete and return Form NR74 – “Determination of Residency Status (Entering Canada)” along with my resubmitted application before they could proceed.

Manfully resisting the temptation to enquire as to why Revenue Canada could not have sent me this form the first time they returned my application, I duly completed it. I could not help but notice that the information requested was mysteriously similar to that already submitted on “Form Canada – Individual” – but thought it best not to point this out either.

Another hiatus ensued.

Eventually – some six months after setting the whole process in motion – I finally received from Revenue Canada the duly stamped and signed copy of “Form Canada – Individual“, which I promptly sent back to HMRC in the UK. I was now registered as a tax payer in Canada – effective from the date that we landed.

Now – the Kickass Canada Girl has a long-standing relationship with a tax accountant in Victoria, who agreed to handle my tax affairs as well as the Girl’s. She was most helpful to us both in completing our tax returns following the end of the 2015 tax year on December 31st. Our attention was drawn to some highly beneficial rebates of which we would not otherwise have been aware and – as a result – my tax bill was considerably less scary than it might have been.

All that remained was for me to persuade HMRC to stop taxing me a second time (or first – if you see what I mean) in the UK and to return any excess tax that they might already have deducted.

The tale of how that went must – however – wait for next time.

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pieter_brueghel_the_younger_paying_the_tax“The hardest thing to understand in the world is the income tax.” 
Albert Einstein

I have been meaning for some little while now to draft a brief disquisition on the subject of taxes – with particular reference to the effects thereon of relocating to a different continent. Though circumstances are – in term of taxation – really quite different from case to case, it is yet possible that my recent experiences in the field may be of some small use to someone somewhere.

That I have not until now carried out the electronic equivalent of putting pen to paper can be readily explained. Our situation featured certain complexities which have complicated the transition considerably. It is only very recently that we can state with reasonable confidence that our tax affairs have now been put in order. We have yet to receive final written confirmation that this is the case, but the omens have a propitious look about them.

It is a basic principle of income taxation that the norm is for all such to paid in one’s country of residence. There might well be exceptions should one be in receipt of income from territories other than that in which one resides, unless there exist between said nations a reciprocal tax agreement. The United Kingdom and Canada have just such an agreement.

On moving from the UK to Canada there is a supposedly relatively simple procedure to follow to ensure that one stops paying tax in the former and commences so doing in the latter. Of course, such things rarely turn out to be simple in practice, though that has much to do with the degree of tax complexity to which one is subject.

In my case the situation was complicated by the following factors:

  • I retired part way through the 2015/2016 tax year. I paid income tax at above the basic rate on my salary until that point.
  • I was already drawing two of my three employer’s pensions from the start of the year. These were also being taxed at the higher rate.
  • When I retired my final pension kicked in, though of course my salary stopped at the same time. I was still being taxed at the higher rate even though my income no longer merited such.
  • Two weeks after retiring we moved to Canada and I became a tax resident here. My pension incomes are all paid in the UK and transferred monthly to Canada, but because the UK uses PAYE (Pay as you earn) I was still seeing tax deducted at source in the UK. I was thus for a period being effectively taxed in both countries – though in Canada (which does not have PAYE) payment was not due until the end of the tax year.
  • We sold our property in the UK a week before leaving the country. Normally the sale of one’s primary residence in the UK does not attract capital gains tax. We had – however – been living in a rented apartment for our last four years in England, and had tenants in our apartment. In such circumstances the rules are different and capital gains tax can come into play.
  • The UK and Canadian tax years do not coincide. In Canada the tax year runs quite logically from January 1st to December 31st. In the UK – as you might expect – the situation is quite different and the year runs from April 6th to the subsequent April 5th.

I fear that I can only subject myself to a certain level of tax contemplation at any one sitting. A subsequent post (or posts!) will thus be necessary to guide the gentle reader through how the process of tax transfer was effected in our case.

Something to look forward to!

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Image from PixabayIn a previous posting – released into the wild in the earliest days of this unruly month and somewhat cheekily entitled “Much ado” – I offered the determined reader a ‘shopping list’ of things that must be done to progress our emigration, now that we have handed in our notices to our respective (and understandably heartbroken) employers.

It ran thus:

In the immediate future we must:

  • set in motion our remaining pension plans
  • ensure that everything required for the smooth transition of our tax arrangements has been done
  • check that the necessary finances are in place
  • book our one-way flights to BC
  • arrange surveys and obtain quotes from a number of international moving companies
  • push through the refurbishments necessary at our Buckinghamshire apartment
  • agree a notice period with our tenant

The gentle reader is doubtless eager to know how things are progressing. Herewith my end-of-month report:

  • My remaining pension provider (the School) has been alerted to the upcoming transition and I await the necessary paperwork.
  • Much research has been done on the means to effect the necessary tax changes. I have a feeling that some professional advice may yet be required if all is to progress seamlessly.
  • As far as is possible at this point the required finances have been marshaled into the appropriate positions.
  • Our one-way flights to Victoria have been booked – taking full advantage of the Air miles accrued during the Kickass Canada Girl’s sojourn in beautiful British Columbia in 2012.
  • We have been surveyed to the utmost degree by our panel of international movers and have on this very day confirmed a booking with our chosen tranter.
  • We have effected the necessary repairs and redecorations at our Buckinghamshire apartment.
  • Our tenant has agreed to vacate the apartment at the very start of May.

Thus far – so good… I will naturally report further on the next steps to be taken as they become apparent.

Full steam ahead!

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Image from PixabayThere is – it would seem – suddenly much to be done…

Having handed in our respective notices to our respective employers the Kickass Canada Girl and I are now rapidly becoming aware of just how much has to be studied, planned, decided, arranged, booked and confirmed… and how little time – quite regardless of the fact that our proposed transatlantic transition is still more than four months away – there is to accomplish everything.

In the immediate future we must:

  • set in motion our remaining pension plans
  • ensure that everything required for the smooth transition of our tax arrangements has been done
  • check that the necessary finances are in place
  • book our one-way flights to BC
  • arrange surveys and obtain quotes from a number of international moving companies
  • push through the refurbishments necessary at our Buckinghamshire apartment
  • agree a notice period with our tenant

There is – naturally – much more to be done, but that will do to get us started. I will – of course – report further as things progress.

Heads down – full speed ahead!

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Photo by Andy Dawson ReidI have – as I did at this time last year – taken a week off work to recuperate from the rigours of the academic year which has just recently run its course.

Thus far – apart from running a few errands – I have done little of note… some barely consequential musical doodling and a pleasant walk when the gaps in the showery weather permitted. This is not a problem – however – the aim not being to achieve much beyond catching up on some sleep and getting myself back into my normal positive frame of mind.

I’m still working on that!

On one of my walks I took some snaps, none of which I particularly cared for with the exception of that appended here – an old tractor put out to pasture in the corner of a bosky meadow.

No need – I think – to dwell too heavily on the symbolism therein.

Work has – of late – been particularly bloody for us both. In my case there are things going on at the School that I do not much care for. I am all too aware that my disgruntlement is in no small part because I now long to be gone over the hills and far away – and that were it not so I would probably embrace the changes in a considerably more positive manner. It is nearly two years now since I first wrote on this blog – “I’m done“… Well – I am even more done now!

This is the waiting game – the hiatus in our onward march of progress – the lacuna in our strategic thinking.

My request for Canadian PR has been submitted – now we wait…

Our Buckinghamshire apartment hangs on the property market like a ripe fruit, waiting to be plucked – and now we wait…

Our pension projections – courtesy of the Kickass Canada Girl’s financial advisor cousin – glitter temptingly just out of reach – and we wait…

The girl and I both feel that we have achieved in our careers all that we wish or need to do. Nothing left to prove.

And now we await…

…the starting gun…

…the breaking of the storm…

…the moon on a stick!

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Photo by Andy Dawson ReidOn the threshold of any wholly new and momentous devoted enterprise, the thousand ulterior intricacies and emperilings to which it must conduct; these, at the outset, are mostly withheld from sight.

Herman Melville

It is a little over two years now since I first started the process of applying for Permanent Residence status for Canada, with a view to retiring to British Columbia just as soon as could feasibly be arranged. Those who have alighted on this blog in even the most transitory of fashions will doubtless be only too aware that – as a result of a series of unfortunate circumstances – the entire operation ground to a halt in the autumn of 2012 and remained in a state of hiatus until earlier this year – when the process was finally booted back into life.

I re-applied for my Police Certificate – I underwent another medical – the Kickass Canada Girl and I re-filled many, many forms – we researched and compiled yet more supporting documentation – and we paid our application processing fees online.

Well – here we are – six weeks later – and the event that I began to doubt would ever happen has finally taken place.

Today I posted my application for Canadian Permanent Residence!!



I will – naturally – keep you updated regarding progress as it happens. For now though – here is a breakdown of what we had to submit:

For the Sponsor (the Girl):

  • 1 x completed form – IMM 1344 – Application to Sponsor, Sponsorship Agreement and Undertaking
  • 1 x completed form – IMM 5481 – Sponsorship Evaluation
  • 1 x completed form – IMM 5540 – Sponsor Questionnaire
  • 1 x completed form – IMM 5491 – Document Checklist – Sponsor

Supporting Documentation for form IMM 5540

  • Additional information on previous spouses
  • Details of current relationship

Receipts for fees

  • 1 x copy of the receipt for the Sponsor’s fee
  • 1 x copy of the receipt for the Principal Applicant’s processing fee

Travel Documents and Passports

  • 1 x copy of Canadian Passport.

Identity and Civil Status Documents

  • 2 x copy of previous divorce certificates
  • 1 x copy of P60 End of Year Tax Certificate
  • 1 x copy of a letter from the Girl’s employer stating salary

Intention to Re-establish in Canada Documents

  • 1 x statement of Intention to Re-establish in Canada
  • 1 x statement detailing Canadian RRSPs (Registered Retirement Savings Plans)
  • 1 x pension projection for my defined benefit pension plans
  • 1 x letter detailing mortgage on the Girl’s son’s condo in Victoria
  • 2 x copies of Property Tax Notices on Canadian properties
  • 1 x copy of estate agent’s (realtor’s) details regarding the sale of our UK property
  • 1 x copy of statement of Canadian savings accounts

For the Principal Applicant (me!):

  • 1 x completed form – IMM 008 – General Application Form for Canada
  • 1 x completed form – IMM 5669 – Schedule A – Background/Declaration
  • 1 x completed form – IMM 5406 – Additional Family Information
  • 1 x completed form – IMM 5490 – Sponsored Spouse/Partner Questionnaire

Identity and Civil Status Documents

  • 1 x copy of birth certificate
  • 1 x copy of driving license
  • 1 x copy of marriage certificate
  • 1 x copy of previous divorce certificate

Travel Documents and Passports

  • 1 x copy of passport

Proof of Relationship to Sponsor

  • 19 x copies of photographs of the two of us taken on holidays and at other events over the past 9 years
  • 6 x copies of photographs of our wedding and reception in Victoria
  • 2 x copies of photographs taken on our honeymoon
  • 6 x copies of photographs taken at our wedding blessing ceremony in the UK
  • 1 x copy of our wedding invitation
  • 1 x copy of our wedding blessing ceremony invitation
  • 1 x copy of our wedding ‘thank you’ card
  • 1 x copy of a screen-capture showing a small number of the 4000+ emails we have exchanged over the last 9 years

Police Certificates and Clearances

  • 1 x Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) – Police Certificate

Proof of Medical Examination

  • 1 x E-Medical Information Sheet completed by the clinic


  • 8 x photographs to the specification in IMM 3901 Sponsorship of a Spouse, Common-law Partner,Conjugal Partner or Dependant Child Living Outside Canada – Part 3 – Country Specific Instruction (Western Europe) – Appendix B: Photo Specifications


Amen to that – and ‘bon voyage’!

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Photo by Andy Dawson ReidIt is not far short of a month since I passed the significant (for me, anyway!) milestone that was my sixtieth birthday. I am now officially ‘getting on a bit’!

The gentle reader may have noticed – however – that apart from describing in a frankly unnecessary degree of detail the celebrations that accompanied the event I have made very little reference to what it is actually like to have crossed the great divide into a seventh decade. Though I have now achieved an age that would once have been considered ‘pretty good going’ – in this day and age to have done so is merely commonplace.

Truth be told I have written nothing because being 60 has felt little different to being 59 – which in turn felt no different to 58 – and so forth…

That this may be self-evident is clearly no help at all to anyone who has arrived here as a result of Googling the InterWebNet nervously for signs of an after-life in the detritus of the boomer generation. I will therefore make what observations I can – however prosaic they may be.

The first thing to say is that once one has passed one’s sixtieth anniversary – in the UK at least – one is suddenly eligible for free stuff!

I take regular medication for inherited hypertension. It will be very nice no longer to have to pay for my prescriptions (three off – every two months)… at least until we move to Canada, where – the Kickass Canada Girl assures me – I will be charged even more than I had once to pay here.

I am also a long-time contact lens wearer and – as a result of one of my habitually curmudgeonly fallings-out with my erstwhile optician – I had recently to sign a new contract with a different chain. For this purpose I was required to take a fresh eye test and I was delighted to find that this also was free of charge.

Until fairly recently I would have been able to get a free bus pass as well – but I learn that the powers-that-be have decided that this was far too straightforward a service to be gifted to mere mortals and have thus of late complicated it to the nth degree. To qualify now one has to live in a certain part of the country, to have been born under a particular phase of the moon and to arrive at the answer ‘5’ when asked to subtract the number one first thought of…

Well – something like that! I will not – apparently – qualify for mine until I am sixty five years, two months and twelve days old – and I certainly don’t intend still to be around here by then. Those who know me will doubtless snort derisively at this juncture and point out that the issue is moot since I wouldn’t be caught dead on a bus in any case!

One change – however – is significant. I am now a pensioner! At my previous school my retirement age was 60 and my pension thence – though relatively humble – has now come into effect. I thus received my first pension paycheck at the end of last week. Now that was a momentous event.

The real changes – though – will not take place until I finally retire…

Roll on the day!

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DNA_Double_HelixWe are all selfish and I no more trust myself than others with a good motive.

Lord Byron

At the roughly equivalent point last year – shortly after the Kickass Canada Girl and I had returned from Provence and before she flew back to Victoria to face the as yet unanticipated storm – we met some very old friends of ours (and – in terms of longevity – of mine in particular) for a drink at a very pleasant pub in the Surrey hills. I posted concerning that rendezvous here – the subject of which being elicited by Oldest Friend’s wife’s then recent retirement.

It is a sad side-effect of busy modern lives that – although we met our friends subsequently once more before Christmas – we realised recently that we had not done so since. Indeed – we had not even spoken to them! We rectified this sorry omission at the weekend by meeting for a drink at an altogether different – but equally pleasant – pub in the Surrey hills. Much catching up was done but one major topic of our conversation was not dissimilar to that of the previous encounter, we being – quite naturally – most keen to learn how their first year of mutual retirement had gone.

This whole question is once again at the forefront of our minds and I will be posting further on the subject shortly. Given the current climate it is no surprise that many of us of advancing years find ourselves preoccupied with thoughts as to how we will live once we are no longer ‘economically active’. Being baby-boomers we are nowadays assailed routinely by (or more accurately ‘on behalf of’) those less fortunate than ourselves (for which – in this case – read ‘younger’) and lambasted by complaints (of increasing ferocity) that we are somehow stealing their birthrights and plundering their futures.

The irony is that what many of those of us with a particularly late-sixties upbringing (if not actually hippies then certainly empathisers!) thought we were doing was our bit to save the planet. We are a gentle people with left of centre persuasions. We care about the environment. We care about inequality. We care about injustice. We still want to know what’s so funny ’bout peace, love & understanding… Accusations of selfishness thus wound us deeply.

And yet…

Whereas it has always been in my nature to feel vaguely guilty that I earn a pretty decent salary for what doesn’t exactly seem like rocket science (to me, at any rate!) and that I have been hugely fortunate to have found myself – quite accidentally – a member of some really rather good pension schemes – and whereas on the rare occasions that I have been obliged to seek better terms and conditions the experience has left me feeling as though I had just been accused of indecent intrusion upon some innocent instance of ovis aries…

…I can’t help but observe that – of late – my demeanor in such circumstances has shifted somewhat – and I am become considerably more single minded when it comes to maximising my possible returns. I am uncomfortably aware that this is the inevitable result of the realisation that time is running out – and that once the deed is done and I am no longer gainfully employed then the opportunities to influence my standard of living become negligible.

But that don’t mean that I like it!

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Photo by Andy Dawson Reid“Life isn’t a matter of milestones but of moments”

Rose F Kennedy

Here is one such moment – though one that does, as it happens, feel like something of a milestone…

Regular readers of these random jottings will be aware that – over the past 16 months or so – a number of targets, deadlines or turning points – what the navigators amongst you might call waypoints – have materialised only subsequently to evanesce. Amongst these were the movable feast that was to be my retirement, the uncertain date of my emigration to Canada and the point at which we might finally sell our apartment in Buckinghamshire.

All of these uncertainties give the whole process something of an air of unreality. It is all well and good laying plans and scheming schemes – deciding that such and such will be so – but until something concrete actually happens there is always a slight nagging feeling that one might just be pissing in the wind!

Well – an event has now occurred regarding which there can be no doubts.

At my previous school my pension age was sixty. Had I remained there I would now have been contemplating retirement in just over seven months time – regardless of any other plans that might have been made, or even of my own whims and fancies. Even so, the side-effect is that my pension from that school’s rather splendid scheme kicks in regardless shortly after the turn of the year – on the occasion of my sixtieth birthday.

I thus duly received – earlier this week – the forms necessary to set the process in motion. I have completed, signed and returned them. Though not in itself a particularly dramatic or life-changing event, it is the first real indicator that I am indeed approaching retirement – which occurrence itself truly will be momentous.

Now – that is a moment to celebrate!

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