Is gifting money abroad a tax minefield?

13 September 2012

Q

I am looking to send some money to Spain to help my son, who works in Madrid, to purchase a flat. Are there any tax issues I need to consider?
From
HD/York

A

Gifting money to friends or even family must be done carefully. This is because there is the potential for the gift to give rise to tax issues and so you are right to be cautious.

The first question I would ask is where has this money come from? If you have sold an asset in order to release the capital to give to your son then you must be wary of capital gains tax (CGT). If the cash is already sat as cash then it is unlikely to have any CGT problems.

Second, you must be aware that if you were to die within seven years of making the gift to your son, then the gift may well still be counted as part of your estate for inheritance tax purposes.

Before making the gift to your son I would recommend having a brief conversation with your lawyer, accountant or financial adviser to run through the points I've raised to ensure you're not creating any potential tax issues.

Key tax rates and reliefs for 2012/13

How to send money abroad

If you are sending a large sum of money, the obvious way to do it is via your bank but, as is so often the case with obvious options, this isn't the best choice. In fact, it's the expensive option, as your bank won't offer you the best exchange rate.

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When it comes to transferring large amounts to a foreign currency, even the smallest change in the exchange rate can have a big effect. For example, if you are looking to transfer £50,000 and you can find an exchange rate that is 1% better than the one offered by your bank you'll save £500.

To get the best rate you should check the foreign exchange specialists. Because they buy and sell huge sums of currency each day they get better prices and so can offer better deals to their customers. You can use a comparison website such as fxcompared.com to fi nd the best deal.

When Moneywise checked the rates for moving £50,000 from the UK to Spain the results varied by more than €2,000, so there is big money to save by shopping around.