We are now entering challenging times in Sweden with high inflation, rising interest rates and geopolitical instability. On the 11 of September, the Swedish people voted for a change of politics and the right wing in the Parliament won the majority of the Swedish votes. Today, it still remains to be seen how the new Government will be formed and which political party(ies) will govern Sweden for the next four years.
What could this mean for (U)HNW clients and their advisers?
If the new government will be a right-wing coalition, which it looks like, we can expect a political resistance in rising taxation on income and capital. Some of the right-wing parties even promised lower taxes prior to the election and will now have to live up to their promises. However, if the right-wing coalition would fail to form a new government, the left wing led by the Social Democrats will most probably be the alternative. Should this happen, tax policy for the coming years is more uncertain. The Social Democrats (Sw; Socialdemokraterna), supported by the even more far left party Vänsterpartiet, has indicated its intent to raise the tax on wealthy individuals, but has not been able to specify in what shape or form such a tax reform will take.
When looking back at recently implemented or suggested tax initiatives by the former Social Democrat Government; such as the proposal for an exit tax, more extensive CFC-legislation, unilateral termination of double taxation treaties with Portugal and Greece, there is reason to believe that increased taxation would be on the agenda with a left-wing government. Should this materialise, clients will continue to reconsider their options, which may include investment abroad in secure and efficient structures, or even relocation to other countries.
Not all wealth plans are robust enough to withstand changes in client’s circumstances and some, such as Investment Savings Accounts (Sw; ISK), are only recognised for tax purposes in Sweden and taxed as an ordinary bank account abroad. Both civil and tax law treatment of unit-linked life assurance solutions (Sw; kapitalförsäkring), on the other hand, is relatively well harmonised across countries. An insurance solution tailored by the right experts can assist in solving many points of uncertainty and ensure that our clients’ extensive, and often sophisticated, needs are met. These may include the complexities of planning for dual nationality and tax residency, family members living in a third country, the most diversified investment portfolios including complex unquoted assets and Swedish and foreign holding company structures, just to name a few.
However, Sweden will most certainly have a new government in place in upcoming weeks, and whatever the shape and form of the new Swedish Government, Lombard international Assurance’s commitment to the Swedish markets and our Swedish clients will remain unchanged – as it has been for the past 31 years.
One thing is clear; the geopolitical instability currently felt in Sweden, as well as in most parts of the world, is not over - in fact, it may not even have started. With that fresh in mind, a review of existing wealth plans, individual as well as corporate, is likely to be prudent. The exercise will realistically include the identification of wealth solutions that are not only compliant and fiscally efficient today, but also sufficiently resilient in the long term to protect and enhance wealth for retirement as well as for the next generation. An international unit-linked life assurance solution – a well-recognised wealth planning tool in Sweden – may be the answer. Lombard International Assurance’s Swedish compliant insurance solution offers the following advantages.
Benefit summary for our Swedish policyholders
- investment flexibility – access to international assets not registered in Sweden, such as alternative funds and private equity;
- maximum policyholder protection through Luxembourg’s “Triangle of Security”;
- no capital gains or income tax on proceeds from the life assurance policy. Specifically, gains derived from withdrawals and/or surrender are not subject to Swedish income tax;
- possibility to assign, pledge or use the life assurance policy as collateral;
- the proceeds from the life assurance policy fall outside the Swedish taxpayer’s estate on the death of the life assured if there is a beneficiary nomination;
- direct investor influence possible – policyholder free to manage the portfolio of a fund linked to the life assurance policy;
- easy to declare in the annual Swedish tax return.
The effective tax rate for 2022 on foreign life assurances held by Swedish resident individuals amounts to 0,3757% on the value of the life assurance in the beginning of the year + full or half value of premiums paid to the life assurance during the year depending on when the premium was paid. .
Lombard International Assurance offers policies that are portable from one country to another. A Swedish resident investor subscribing to a life insurance policy today can leave Sweden for another country in the future without needing to dismantle or replace the investment at that time. The future tax treatment of policy gains depends on the tax regime in the new host country. With the possibility to offer tailor made solutions, Lombard International Assurance policies enjoy equivalent (or better) tax advantages to domestic policies in many European and non-European countries when relocating.