web analytics


You are currently browsing articles tagged Retirement.

Image from PixabaySo Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

Douglas Adams – Book title

Pace the promise at the end of my last post (the final part of a trilogy on my tax transition from the UK to Canada over the last year) this unexpected fourth part details the delightful process of completing a reasonably complex UK tax return. The gentle reader will be relieved to know that I am going to skip all of the obvious bits and just concentrate on that which is out of the ordinary.

Completion of this particular return was complicated by the fact that – having been resident in the UK for 104 days from April 6th to July 19th 2015 – I was considered by HMRC to have been a UK resident for tax purposes for the whole tax year. To avoid being taxed in both countries for the period from July 19th 2015 (our date of landing) to April 5th 2016 (and having already paid my Canadian taxes up to December 31st) I needed to meet the criteria for a ‘split year treatment‘ for 2015/16, under which I would pay taxes in whichever country I was resident at any given point.

There are eight sets of circumstances under which one is deemed to have met the criteria for ‘split year treatment‘. The only one that applied in my circumstances was Case 3 – ‘Ceasing to have a home in the UK’. The HMRC’s ‘Tax Return Notes’ give a fair bit of information on the criteria as a whole but cheerfully send one off in search of document RDR3 – ‘Guidance Note: Statutory Residence Test (SRT)’ for further detail on each specific case. Herewith the relevant sections for Case 3:

Case 3:  Ceasing to have a home in the UK

5.22  In this instance, you may receive split year treatment for a tax year if you leave the UK to live abroad and you cease to have a UK home.

You must:

– be UK resident in the tax year
– be UK resident for the previous tax year (whether or not it was a split year)
– be non-UK resident for the following tax year
– have one or more homes in the UK at the start of the tax year and at some point in the year cease to have any home in the UK for the rest of the tax year.

5.23  From the point you cease to have a home in the UK you must:

– spend fewer than 16 days in the UK
– in relation to a particular country, either:

– be present in that country at the end of each day for 6 months, or
– have your only home, or all your homes if you have more than 1, in that country within 6 months

Hmmm! That is all as clear as mud…

The other portion of the return that I had not previously encountered was that concerning Capital Gains Tax – for which the sale of our UK property made us potentially liable. The basic rules regarding Capital Gains Tax on property sales at the time that we sold the apartment were thus:

  • Capital Gains Tax could be subject to Private Residence Relief (PRR)
  • PRR was 100% if the property was one’s prime residence and was lived in for the whole time that it was owned
  • PRR might be reduced if the property was let for more than three years
  • no tax was payable in any case for the final 18 months of ownership

Our apartment in Buckinghamshire (which I had owned for more than fourteen years) had been let for more than three years at the point at which we sold it. We thus had to work out the level of PRR for which we might still be eligible. This was calculated by determining the profit made on the sale (the agreed selling price less the original purchase price) and by determining the percentage of months for which PRR might be applied. I had owned the property for 176 months, I/we had lived in it for 130 months and it had been let for 41 months. Given the exemption for the final 18 months of ownership this meant that I could apply for PRR to cover 84% of the capital gain.

That would yet have left a chunk of tax owing, but there were – fortunately – a couple of other reliefs that could be applied:

  • Selling costs (estate agent and legal fees) could be set against the profit
  • We could apply for Letting Relief for the period that the apartment was actually tenanted
  • There was a general Capital Gains Tax allowance of £11,000

A tortuous calculation led us to the conclusion that all of the potential taxes and reliefs fundamentally cancelled each other out – leaving us after all nothing to pay on the sale of our home. The tax return was duly completed and sent to the United Kingdom at the start of June this year. Shortly before I started writing this series of posts I was finally in receipt of a further rebate from HMRC, though they also sent a note which somewhat unkindly suggested that this refund had been based on my calculations – which they claim not to have checked! I suspect that this is just to give them some wiggle-room should they find any way that they can claw back some of what they paid me.

We shall see…

Tags: , ,

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!

Tags: , , ,

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!

Tags: , , ,

Image from PixabayThe trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off.

Abe Lemons

On July 4th last year I posted this joyous missive announcing that I had – finally – retired from the world of work. The astute amongst you (all of you, naturally!) will observe that this means that I have now been retired for a year – the first of a number of such anniversaries over the next few weeks of events from a year ago.

Last July’s celebratory post included the following observation:

The obvious question – to which I am immediately subjected – is naturally:

How does it feel to be retired?

The answer, of course, is that I have no idea. I left work on a Friday. It is the weekend. It could – in fact – be any weekend, except that I don’ t have to go to work next Monday.

Well – it is high time that I took another crack the question – so here goes…

The short answer is:

It feels great!”

… followed rapidly by:

Every day feels like Saturday!

(This is not entirely true, of course, but it is too good a line to waste.)

The longer answer, unfortunately, has a strong whiff of cliché about it and kicks off with:

You know – looking back now I have no idea how I ever managed to fit a job in as well

…which has become a cliché because (virtually) every retiree says it (actually – I guess that makes it a truism, but I’m sure you get the point). There is clearly something about the change of pace of life upon retirement that gives one the impression that one is busy, busy, busy – even if one is in reality patently no-where near as occupied as one was before.

Take my case for example. Until this time last year my working week comprised, on average, ten hour days. In addition I would sit in the car on the way to (or from) work for up to four hours a day. The Girl and I contrived still to enjoy a social life (though somewhat wearily at times) – I managed a modicum of creativity and we found time to eat and to sleep (though actually there was not very much sleep, truth be told!).

So how have things changed? Well – I do get to sleep more (hooray!). I also have become a reluctant gardener. We shop considerably more frequently than our erstwhile weekly dash round Waitrose. We do our own cleaning (at least for the moment).

Lest this sound all rather prosaic… I am delighted that I can finally devote serious time to creation – easily spending much of a day in the studio working on something or other. I also have the time to exert considerable amounts of energy on the planning and preparation for our new theatrical adventure. I can read more books and study more, and I am doing more exercise than I have done in many a long year. We get to spend more time with friends and, above all, I can give time to exploring this amazing place and learning how everything ticks.

I think that what I am stumbling towards saying is that the dial of work/life balance has been swung back firmly into equilibrium…

…and it feels good!

Tags: , ,

Image from Pexels…that’s fit to print!

New York Times masthead

Time for a quick catchup on some news from Victoria.

For the Kickass Canada Girl and I (wrong – but so right!) life sometimes seems to comprise such a constant stream of happenings and doings that our nascent existence here in BC evolves more rapidly than can reasonably routinely be communicated to those who are not fortunate enough to live at this end of the island.

To remedy this unfortunate situation herewith a brief parade of news items in no particular order.

Though I am myself a confirmed retiree – and delighted so to be – it was always a matter of some conjecture as to whether or not the Girl was entirely done with the world of work. After six months in which she greatly enjoyed a sort of trial run at retirement she perhaps unsurprisingly decided that she had more to give.

Following a couple of half-hearted applications for not entirely suitable positions the ideal opportunity finally offered itself. The Girl made a serious application – turned on the afterburners at the resultant interview and – to the complete lack of surprise on the part of all who know her – watched the interviewing board’s eyes light up not just with regard to the position on offer but also with a view to future elevation.

She is now working four days a week appraising the needs of clients of an extensive volunteer service that provides support for the elderly (and others) to enable them to live independently.

Hoorah for the Girl! Well done…

In my end of year post of December last I made reference to the legal matter that has resulted in our having to put in abeyance any immediate plans to renovate our house in North Saanich. Our initial hope was that the mere presence on our team of the big guns – in the shape of our hot-shot lawyer – would send the vendors scurrying to the negotiating table. Sadly they have thus far eschewed doing the decent thing and it has been necessary to serve the papers for a civil claim.

Hmmm! Matters grind on at glacial pace – in all regards save that of the ever mounting fees payable…

As also referenced in a jolly post but a couple of weeks back, my ‘Boating Essentials’ course reached its conclusion with yet another multiple-choice exam. To my intense chagrin I was yet again defeated by a single question in this test, though I did score well above the required pass mark. We then rounded matters off with a two day course on ‘Marine VHF Radio’, for the use of which it is obligatory to hold a certificate. I finally conquered my multiple-choice demons and registered a perfect score.

I can, however, take no credit for this happy state of affairs – that going instead to the Brentwood Bay Power Squadron. The preparation of students for examination by their training team is second to none and they have the awards to prove it. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole kit and caboodle and was most impressed by all concerned.

All that remains is for me to find a suitable boat…

Tags: , , , ,

Afternoon in Naples - Cezanne“A human being would certainly not grow to be seventy or eighty years old if this longevity had no meaning for the species. The afternoon of human life must also have a significance of its own and cannot be merely a pitiful appendage to life’s morning.”

Carl Jung

In the final part of my brief series on the subject of home-sickness posted in the run up to Christmas last year I concluded that the malaise to which I had briefly fallen prey that November had been caused in the main by feelings of a loss of significance – a lack of purpose – and of the concomitant confusion concerning my place in the world. I further opined that the topic of ‘significance’ was itself… er… significant and that I would needs return to it in some future disquisition.

Now seems as good a time as any so to do.

As noted in the aforementioned post my emigration to Canada was not the only important event with which I was occupied last summer. I had also reached the end a forty year career in education. I consider myself to have been massively fortunate to have had the opportunity to work in two of the UK’s leading public schools (public in the English sense here) and I felt toward the end that in my primary career in IT (primary in the sense that it was that for which I was most highly rewarded) I had gone about as far as I could go. I had acquired something of a reputation amongst those peers whose opinions I most respected and had little need to prove myself further.

The English public school is an ancient and complex beast – particularly those amongst their number that focus on boarding. These institutions have fashioned an uniquely self-contained and multi-layered culture which incorporates not only the academic, the sporting and the artistic, but also their own individual ethos and mythology. Some go so far as to insinuate into the English language their own vocabulary.

Those who work for these august bodies can choose to hold themselves aloof from such aeon-aged Weltanschauung – or they can cheerfully subscribe thereto. It will surprise no-one that I opted for the latter course, throwing myself into as much of School life as was feasible for one who lived several hours’ drive hence.

I was also for a decade a resident (being joined there in ‘mid-term’ by the Kickass Canada Girl) of a small village in South Buckinghamshire – the sort of rural idyll in which everyone knows everyone else’s business in rather too much detail. I by no means ranked amongst the luminaries (and there were a fair few of them!) but most of them knew who I was.

I served the village for a number of years as secretary to its cricket club. To those for whom the notion of ‘village cricket’ stirs thoughts of amiable amateurishness – or perhaps summons up images redolent of bucolic quaintness – I should point out that within the appellation itself the words ‘village’ and ‘cricket’ get equal billing. Whatever the standard of the play and the good nature and friendliness of the participants, membership of such a club does expose one to all of the pressures and pomposities attendant to rural politics and personalities.

This whole slightly convoluted explication is by way of an illustration as to how the structures that I had (mostly) sub-consciously adopted to support my life in the UK had successfully furnished me with a sense of belonging – a sense of purpose. I knew my place. Nothing out of the ordinary in that, of course… we all do pretty much the same. Reaching the end of a working life can, however, lead to a dislocation from this sense of place as, of course, does moving to a strange country. Doing both at the same time virtually guarantees it and having to start afresh to rediscover one’s sense of worth from scratch can be intimidating. In my case one of the side-effects was my brief bout of home-sickness.

As might be determined from those pre-Christmas posts my response to the malaise was to indulge – as is ever my wont – in a little navel-gazing. Interestingly the topics to which I have alluded above were not the ones that featured most strongly in the resultant retrospection.

Those that were – however – must wait for next time.


Tags: , , , , ,

Photo by Andy Dawson Reidyear-end also year·end (yîr′ĕnd′)
The end of a year: the value of the account at year-end.
Occurring or done at the end of the year: a year-end audit.

It is at this time of the year that the Girl and I habitually sit down and look back over the events that have unfolded throughout the preceeding twelve months. It is always good to take stock of what has (or has not) been accomplished and to use this as spur to encourage us onward toward the nascent season ahead.

It need hardly be said that the year just ending has been – to put it mildly – epic! We have retired from the world of work. We have sold up and closed down our existence in the United Kingdom. I have become a Permanent Resident of Canada. We have moved across an ocean and a continent. We have purchased a house. We have instigated the lengthy and complex process of setting up a new life here on the west coast of British Columbia.

Given that all of this is the culmination of a five year project it would not be at all surprising were we to be somewhat overwhelmed by the massive changes that our little lives have undergone. In the event the happenings of the last couple of months have added a momentum of their own which has imbued the end of the year with yet another unexpected twist.

I have already alluded in cryptic manner to an issue that has arisen concerning our house purchase that has required the intervention of the legal profession. As the matter is ongoing I cannot at this stage tell all. Suffice to say that there is an issue with the property that was not disclosed at the time of the sale – though it was known about. Given that considerable expense will now be required to resolve the matter, we are seeking – and are most hopeful of achieving – a suitable settlement with the vendors.

Then – a week before Christmas – we suffered a bereavement. When the Girl’s mother died when she was in her early teens, her mother’s best friend – an honorary aunt – stepped in and effectively raised her from that point on. Such was the robust nature of this exceptional lady that – though well into her eighties – we believed that she might live forever. She was always exceedingly kind and generous to us and we will both miss her terribly. For the Girl this is, naturally, a particularly difficult time.

The Girl was grateful that – by catching the 5:30am flight out of Victoria the Sunday before Christmas – she was able to reach the hospital in Kamloops (her birthplace) in time to say goodbye. She returned to Victoria on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, we entertained on Christmas Day and – early the next morning – took the ferry to the mainland and drove back into the snowy interior of BC for the memorial service. The Girl is joint executor to the estate and we will have to stay in Kamloops for a while helping to sort everything out.

All in all, not how we expected this momentous year to end. Regardless we wish all gentle readers a very Happy New Year, and a prosperous – not to mention hopefully calm – 2016.





Tags: , , , , ,

Image from PixabayThis is the final epistle in a trilogy of posts concerning homesickness – particularly as it affected this recently retired immigrant (albeit an imperceptible one!) from the UK to the Pacific Northwest. The first two parts – should you wish to consult them – are easy to locate, but for those who prefer to follow links rather than navigation can be found here and here.

Though the end result may be pretty much the same, feelings of homesickness can come in many different guises. The ever helpful InterWebNet offers much useful guidance to aid the identification of the causes and thus assist reasonably rapid recovery. I found these discovered items – presented in no particular order – to be useful:

This article on gritandglamour.com – entitled ‘Getting over Homesickness‘ – draws attention to the parallels between homesickness and the grieving process.

“The brain on homesickness is much like the brain on grief—the stages and emotions are remarkably similar, and that makes sense. You are, after all, mourning the death of your former existence to a large degree.”

The article also contains a useful set of links to other related resources.

The importance of allowing oneself to grieve those things that have been lost is also the theme of an article entitled ‘One thing no HR Manager will ever tell you when re-locating‘ on a website called medibroker.com. Of course, the need to grieve that which has been lost is not by any means exclusive to expats – it is an essential skill that we must all needs acquire – but emigration can bring a number of such losses into focus at the same time.

I also found this article – ‘Homesickness isn’t really about Home‘ by Derrick Ho on the CNN website – to be most helpful.

“It (homesickness) stems from our instinctive need for love, protection and security — feelings and qualities usually associated with home, said Josh Klapow, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at the University of Alabama’s School of Public Health. When these qualities aren’t present in a new environment, we begin to long for them — and hence home. “You’re not literally just missing your house. You’re missing what’s normal, what is routine, the larger sense of social space, because those are the things that help us survive,” Klapow said.”

This was particularly apt in my case since I wasn’t just missing the sights snd sounds of home. Though I do – of course – miss friends and family, at this point in our lives our get-togethers and gatherings have in any case become rather few and far between. Also, although I do love my mother country fiercely the end of November does not present it at its best and such ‘delights’ as are to be found at that time are not the stuff on which I dream when I fantasise about its bosky beauties. My brief bout of homesickness clearly had other causes.

It did not take much soul-searching to identify what these causes might be. As the gentle reader is doubtless aware I am not just a recent immigrant – I am also a recently retired immigrant. To the other losses with which I have had to come to terms on moving to a new country must be added those associated with reaching the end of my working life. Such include the loss of the status that paid employ provides – the loss of a sense of structure to my life – the loss of a regular routine… in fact one might go so far as to suggest the loss of a sense of purpose.

I have spent much of the past few years telling anyone who would listen that I had no fears concerning retirement. I was eagerly anticipating being able to devote most of my time to artistic and creative endeavours once I no longer had to endure the daily trudge to and from London.

It is still very much my intention that this will be the case, but it seems that I underestimated the extent to which the opportunities that my previous working existence provided enabled me to exercise my creative muscle. Teaching drama at the School – directing plays there and at my previous school – availing myself of an outlet for my play-writing and composition… all of these will take some replacing and I duly mourn their passing.

The key element in this particular round of homesickness was thus mostly to do with the feeling of a loss of ‘significance‘. That is in itself a big topic which will require further examination – and which will in turn lead to further discourse on this forum.

That is – however – quite enough for now…


Tags: , , ,

imageThis post has been a long time coming.

Regular readers will need no reminder of the tortuous genesis of our Canadian adventure. Should the casual passer-by wish to catch up on the history of our struggle to divest ourselves of our UK property – of the Kickass Canada Girl’s abortive 2012 attempt to establish a new career in Victoria – of our brief long distance relationship and of my delayed retirement… all of the necessary information may be gleaned from the archives to this blog.

I will simply refer all other gentle readers to this post, dating from the end of April of this year. This missive – lurking under the banner “A lesson in patience” – had as its theme the notion that the entire enterprise had been an extended education in endurance.

It turns out that in this regard I was somewhat off-beam!

The post contained the following paragraph:

“As the deadline for our departure for Canada approaches with all the subtlety of a runaway train we must keep our faith, our belief in our good fortune and our fingers firmly crossed. The universe is surely planning for everything to pan out just right – at just the right moment.”

At the point of posting the Girl and I had both made something of psychological leap, deciding that we would no longer fret and strut regarding our lack of progress but determining instead that we would retire and move to Canada in July come what may! Had we not found a purchaser for our Buckinghamshire apartment – or had my Permanent Residency at that point not been approved – we would go regardless and make of the emprise what we might.

It is now a matter of history that within forty eight hours of this missive having been penned we received – and accepted – a reasonable offer for the apartment. Within little more than a week of that milestone my application for PR was also granted.

The sale of the apartment was completed a mere week before we departed on our trans-Atlantic jaunt, just in time for a six-year high in the Sterling/Canadian dollar exchange rate to gift us a bonus of around $145,000 on what we would have had, had the property been sold when we first attempted so to do.

Our good fortune in finding our dream house in Victoria has been documented sufficiently recently that I need not repeat myself here. Suffice to say that faith in our fellowship of the fortunate few, which had been somewhat eroded over the last year or so, has been dramatically restored.

What might all of this mean?

Well – there is no denying that a great deal of patience has been called for over the last four years. The ultimate lesson – however – is surely rather that one should trust in the universe to provide what is needed – when it is most needed. One may – of course – ascribe this fortune to whatever higher force one deems appropriate. Personally I just think that we are just lucky, lucky buggers!

End of story…

Tags: , , , ,

The_End_BookWell – that’s it! After forty years of continual employment I am no longer a working man. For the first time in my life since I commenced my education at the age of five (with perhaps the exception of school summer holidays) my existence has no clearly defined structure. This might take a little getting used to.

The obvious question – to which I am immediately subjected – is naturally:

How does it feel to be retired?

The answer, of course, is that I have no idea. I left work on a Friday. It is the weekend. It could – in fact – be any weekend, except that I don’ t have to go to work next Monday.

Still – I could be on holiday, and indeed I have no doubt that this is going to feel like being on holiday for quite some time, particularly as we head for British Columbia in just over two weeks time.

Have no fear. I am going to post on the subject of retirement. Probably extensively! But not now – not just yet…

This all needs to sink in for a while.

Bear with…” – as the slightly dated cultural reference would have it…

Tags: , ,

« Older entries