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Expat ex-policeman hit by pension hike

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A DECORATED former States police officer has been left struggling to pay his medical costs after his tax bill trebled when a relief scheme for overseas pensioners was scrapped two years ago.

Former police officer Martin Edwards

Martin Edwards, who served with the force for nearly 30 years and received an award for long service, has become the latest overseas retiree to contact the JEP after being stung by a new tax regime that was introduced in 2016.

Mr Edwards, who lives in Spain, also received a commendation for bravery after intervening in a fight between a group of men armed with iron bars outside the Blue Fox nightclub in the 1980s.

He says that his annual tax bill increased from £2,000 to £6,000 after overseas residents lost their entitlement to tax breaks on Jersey-sourced income – including from property, employment and private pensions – when the Non Residents Tax Relief scheme was scrapped.

The move was intended to capture more tax from wealthy individuals living overseas claiming rental income and reduce the administrative burden on the Taxes Office.

But it has impacted heavily on Islanders who have retired abroad and now have to pay the full 20 per cent tax rate on all of their private pension income after losing the personal allowance and other reliefs.

Mr Edwards said that the money he has lost would have covered expensive medical bills he is soon due to pay.

‘I am paying an extra £4,000 a year on my police pension now,’ he said.

‘I need to have my hip replaced – I won’t need to pay for the surgery but I will need to pay for the replacement. If I had that extra four grand, which I have now lost, then I could have used that to pay for it.’

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After writing to Treasury Minister Alan Maclean in 2016 asking why Non Residents Tax Relief was being scrapped, Mr Edwards was advised that it was because the scheme was ‘complicated’ and placed a ‘significant administrative burden on both taxpayers and the Taxes Office’.

‘Is that how they view us pensioners – an administrative burden to them?’ said Mr Edwards.

‘I spoke to my tax adviser and he said that the forms aren’t difficult to fill in. They are just picking on us because we are an easy target – we are overseas, so can’t vote and we can’t make our voice heard.’

Mr Edwards has contacted Senator Sarah Ferguson, who was re-elected last week, to take up the matter.

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Other Islanders who have retired abroad and have been stung by the new regime include ex-radio presenter Roger Bara who lives in North Cyprus, former postman Bob Dale who lives in the Canary Islands and Francis Newall, who used to work at Highlands College and now lives in northern Italy.

Mr Bara has set up a Facebook group called the Jersey Ex-pats Association to lobby the government on the matter. He would like to see a personal allowance introduced for pensioners who live overseas.

It is understood that Chief Minister Ian Gorst has ordered a review of the matter.

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
author

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