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Everything posted by Starshollow

  1. Voluntary PRSI contributions in Ireland

    very interesting, thank you for all your efforts in this !   Cheerio  
  2. Hi there - this is important info, albeit a bit late for this particular fella after  3+ years, I am afraid. But since you are a professional in this field: a) welcome b ) perhaps support Toytown by advertising? c ) perhaps write a WIKI here on Toytown about this topic to help informing and educating Expats who are looking for such info?   I am active here since 2006 and it is a great place to assist Expats and make a name for yourself by offering free and worthwhile information and content to those looking for such info..   Cheerio  
  3. Pension refund Germany

    HI Theo, great that you want to help...but the questions you answer to are 5-6 years old (2014) and long since dealt with some way or other... :-)   Cheerio  
  4. US Citizen residing in Germany. Where to invest?

    Yep, fully understand. But a wider and more diversified approach is to look at the market capitalisation of the world stock markets and spread your investments via ETFs accordingly. No surprise: you'll still have a major share of investments into US stock markets as you can see from my picture below...but you'll also participate in the other markets and become less dependent on how the US stockmarkets react.   In the last couple of years, of course, a US-stocks bias worked well enough, but it is a totally random thing as to which  area of the world is doing best and the opposite, hence market-chasing is as senseless as is market-timing in my professional opinion. Having said that: Warren Buffet obviously is from another planet or star-system with his long track record of picking excellent value-stocks and stick with them.    
  5. US Citizen residing in Germany. Where to invest?

      HI Jeba, it is a relatively new development that most US banks/platforms do not allow residents of Germany/the EU anymore to invest directly into US-domiciled funds. In September Charles Schwab informed all their clients in Germany that they will not be allowed anymore to invest in new funds, not even re-investing dividends etc. Reason is that the fact-sheets for investment funds in the US differ in some parts from the fact sheets that the EU has made obligatory for funds sold within the EU. Since it is too much trouble to put in those extra data (it is mostly about forecasting performance), US investment funds won't go thru with this and rather not sell anymore. Only way around is if there is a financial advisor in between as "discretionary manager" because then for the US fund industry the client is a professional and not the end-consumer. This is what we are working on right now. We have a good solution for investment capital >250k EUR and shall soon and finally have solutions in place for lower lump-sums as well as investment plans. Only downside - clients will be able to choose only from 7 different portfolios (differing in the balance between stocks and bonds) and have no say in choosing their own funds. There are some offers on the market from third parties with very complex investment products that claim to offer similar investment chances, but they rely heavily on commissions and I have serious doubts about them. I am also currently negotiating with a German pension insurance company to set up their normal pension plans as commission-free and with a portfolio of US-domiciled ETFs. And, of course, you can always you Berkshire Hathaway stocks...not a bad idea in general, but not a really world-wide diversification and then you still need to find US-domiciled bonds to go with that.   Cheerio  
  6. Generali Vision can't charge when cancelling early

    usually, if someone gets close to actually taking this to court, they settle (with a non-disclosure-agreement as part of the settlement). You just need to make a very convincing case and be persistent. It is usually the company that sold it to you that settles it and not Generali, though.   Cheerio  
  7. The GENERALI VISION plans is the most beloved cash cow for those usual culprits among the IFAs which target Expats in Germany, especially the CTMNBN. Why: it pays a princly or even royal commission to the "advisor" and the commission is risk free for the advisor. Because the terms and conditons of the plan say, that you HAVE to continue paying your premiums during the initial period no matter what. What does this mean? If and when you have been signing up with a GENERALI VISION plan as your offshore pension plan, there is a so-called initial period which varies based on the duration of the contract period you sign up for. As you can see here, if you sign up for 30 year duration - which is not unknown for pension planning - your first 28 (!!!) premiums go in full into paying "administrative fees and costs" which mainly means commissions.   Now, in the past I have noticed on several occassions that GENERALI in Guernsey demanded continuation of premium payments if a client cancelled early, say after 1 year, until the premiums for the initial period are paid in full. As at that point in time, i.e. the end of the initial period, none of the invested money is left over, it actually means that you have to waste more money...which is fine and dandy for the advisor as it means there is no claw-back of his commissions. And if there is no claw-back in case of early cancellation, there is no incentive for either the advisor or the insurance company to take care that you have been well and dutyfully informed and advised...   The following court decisions, one of which is brand new, can help Generali Vision victims in Germany to get out of the contracts early without too much losses (mind you, there will be always losses)   1. German courts have decided now that it is illegal to continue charging administrative fees if a plan has already been cancelled. In this case, Prisma Life from Liechtenstein, even set up an extra contract/agreement, signed by the clients, to this regards - which also been found illegal and thus not legally valid. If you are in a situation where you just detected that you have been tricked into signing up for such a plan and already paid some money into it but are still way within the initial period, this is your first step to tell the advisors and Generali what to do when they come back and still want to continue charging you - because for you as a German resident the German laws are prevailing and Generalli has to comply to them.   2. So, point 1 helped you to avoid having to continue paying into a plan money that would be entirely lost. But let us assume you already paid in some decent amount of money and of course you want something back. Acording to Generali Vision, 100% of your first premiums during the initial period are lost, i.e. the surrender value for you upon early cancellation is nil. This, too, is illegal under German laws: This link may seem at the beginning to be misleading, as it talk about a victory of the German insurance companies in a court decision. But the victory only was that they can keep back abut 50% max of the already paid premiums. This means on the other side that they always have to pay out at least 50% of the paid/invested premiums, something which Generali Vision so far has always tried to reject. These are high court decision in Germany and you can use them against the IFAs and Generali Guernsey   3. Your last and maybe best point is to declare the whole contract for nil&void for one or several of the following reasons: - Generali Guernsey, the company behind the GEnerali Vision plan, is not registered to operate their business in Germany at the BaFin (Federal finance authority in Germany). This you can check and prove easily by going to the public data bank of BaFin:     As you can see, there is no GEnerali INTERNATIONAL company listed with BaFin:     Therefore they are legally not allowed to be sold/offered to residents of/in Germany in the first place   - secondly, German laws for insurance/investmend advisors require full disclosure of the costs for the plan BEFORE you get the application and in FULL EUR and not in percentage points or inital period months. I have never seen so far any IFA/typical culprit active in Germany to do a proper disclosure and therefore the contracts are not set up in a legally compliant way in Germany.   - on top of that, often the IFAs, too, are not licensed at all to offer insurance or investment advice in Germany. If an IFA approaches you from an office in Germany (it often says so on their website and in their emails or business cards, "Frankfurt office") or if he/she otherwise claims to live in Germany, they have to have the appropriate licenses as advisors under German laws - EU passsporting rights only apply to cross-border activities, not to establishment of branches/offices in other EU countries. You can always check at the DIHK registry here for insurance advice: and for investment advice here: If your advisor or his company are not properly registered there, they are not complying to German laws and thus not allowed to offer advice/sell insurance or investment products.   Based on all these points you have ample reason to fight such a plan and to have declare it nil&void and thus to get all your money back and not just 50%   Obviously, you are best advised if you never sign these plans in the first place---- but too often you will not be aware of the traps and loopholes in the Ts&Cs and the IFAs will never tell you cause they know nobody would evere sign such a thing otherwise.   Wishing you best of luck and tons of nerves if you find yourself in such a situation   Cheerio
  8. Krankenversicherung for Schüler over 18

    with his rate of "Freiwillige Versicherung" he is already at the bottom of the price range for public health insurance, regardless whether he is a child living with the parent (and correctly denied the status of dependent family member, I am afraid) or as an adult all by himself. The only lower rate available than what you have been paying is if he inlists as a student at a German university.   Cheerio  
  9. Pflegeversicherung back payments

    correct... it happens too often, I am afraid, that the people working in these positions are not trained properly in the legal fine-prints of the complex German system.   Cheerio  
  10. Working in Germany for a foreign company

    it is much, much more. Main yardsticks is whether you are the boss of your own time management or not, whether you HAVE to work at a given location/office, how your work is controlled by the contract-partner and many things more. And even if you are not considered "Scheinselbstständig", be aware that you might be considered as a "arbeitnehmerähnlicher Selbstständiger" which would mean that you are liable to pay the full contribution into the public pension system. Always make sure you have this issue clarified by an expert (usually tax advisors), otherwise you might face some nasty surprises down the road.   Cheerio  
  11. Equity Release Scheme

    Yes, that would be it ---but there are no banks offering that in Germany. There are 1-2 "foundations" which will kinda purchase your house, offer you life-long living rights plus some ongoing pension payments, but it is all rather complicated and not even close to what is being offered in other countries to this regards. Cheerio  
  12. Now this is a surprise... (10 minutes with Elton and you are gay as a maypole!)   Ok, so far the legal situation in Germany was this: if you wanted to get into the German public health insurance as voluntary member (i.e. for instance as a self-employed person), either from the outside of the EU with no prior public/state health insurance coverage within an EU memberstate's public health insurance system or as a person who choose private health insurance in Germany initially and somehow regretted it, you had to become a compulsory member (or dependent family insured member) for 12+ month before you could then continue your public health insurance as a voluntary member in your own right.   In the wake of the new legislation since August 1st, this, too, has changed...and nobody noticed, not even me (and I read the law) !!! Wow! I just did some online research in some other experts forums for health insurance and stumbled about this info, which then was confirmed by checking out a website of one of the larger public health insurance groups in Germany, BKK:[bkkl-item]=159909,0 You have to scroll down pretty much to the end to get to the gold nugget of this new legal information:   <h2 class="stw_gld1_head" id="gld3."></h2>     So, what says here is this: do to the new regulation which is supposed to prevent people who were family insured to drop out (because as young folks the exceeded the age limit, for instance), the rule is now that if you have been compulsory insured or family insured and this status ends, you'll become a voluntary member no matter what. And especially (bold in the above quote): you don't have to fulfill any prior insurance time/period.   What does this mean?   Case 1: you are employed with a gross salary over the legal threshold and decided to take on private health insurance because you were young, single and could save a lot of money. Now you meet this girl/guy whom you gonna marry and he/she bring three children into the happy marriage and he/she has no job/income. So far you were in the bad situation that even if he/she already was in public insurance, he/she would have to pay up to 50% of the max premium in public health insurance because half of your income would have counted for computing his/her premium while for each child you guys would have to pay the min contribution of 150+ EUR per month.   Now you only have to convince your boss to reduce your gross salary for 1 month (!!!) under the legal threshold JAEG, by which you become compulsory public insured again (in the past you had to do this for 12 months, which is a bit more complicated and also means more loss of income). After the one month, you can go back to your prior salary but still remain in the public health insurance as voluntary member. And add your wife and kids for free as dependent family members...   Case 2: you have been self-employed in Germany and with private health insurance. Now you only need to find someone for 1+ month for an employment with compulsory public health insurance (midi-job or more) and after that you can go back to being self-employed while keeping this public health insurance as a voluntary member for all it is worth.   Case 3: you come as a self-employed person from outside the EU with no prior public health insurance in an EU memberstate. Therefore you can't enter the public health insurance in Germany as a compulsory member. All you need now is to find someone to hire you (Visa permitting, of course) as an employee for 1+ month and you have every right to stay in the public health insurance system later as a voluntary member.   Case 4: you have been privately insured and are over 55 years old. Not even employment gets you back into public health insurance anymore. But if you become a family/dependent insured member thru your spouse while having no income at all higher than 385 EUR p.m. for just one month, you can afterwards continue to stay in the public health isnurance even as a voluntary member in your own right when you work and earn money again.   this will help solve a lot of problems for people who have a good reason to want to go back into public health insurance. It will. unfortunately, also invite more abuse of the system, because now it is much easier to contemplate going with private health insurance (and save money for yourself while opting out of the social welfare system) because the way back if your situation changes is much easier. But it is the law...make the best out of it. And find a good professional and independent advisor to help you with that, because it will take a long time till the last employee in a public health isnurance has learned and understood this.   Cheerio
  13. calling @PandaMunich ...   Cheerio
  14. Additional dental insurance

    any ongoing periodontal disease will usually lead to a rejection of an application  by private health insurance companies, sorry... too late for that now.   Cheerio  
  15. if you go back to public health insurance - which can be a viable option indeed - just make sure you'll turn your existing private health insurance into an "Anwartschaft" in the process of giving notice. That way and for a small monthly fee only you can get back into private health insurance without additional health check-ups or additional health-risk-costs at a later point in time in case you'll find out that private health insurance is actually the better choice. Especially for the children, I would also advise looking into the questions whether any orthodontic treatments could be coming up in the next years as the public health insurance offers only scant to no coverage for that and you'd be needing to fork out some serious money if you don't have private coverage for that.   Cheerio  
  16. So, it seems that around 389k US-nationals around the world have received some unpleasant letters from the IRS that their US passport might become revoked due to tax debts.   Read more about this here: Since we are specialized in offering financial/investment advice to US Expats who live in Germany, we do also have an excellent network of tax advisors who are specialized in assisting such clients with their US-taxation issues. Happy to help if you want... :-)   Cheerio  
  17. Pension for self employed

    You are lucky that they consider you NOT to be a teacher but rather a consultant. There is a lot of definition-grey-zone in these areas and some people are then caught on the wrong side of it and have to pay into the pension like teachers and others don't Count yourself truly blessed by this... and still don't forget to build up your own adequate provisions for pensions/retirement, right ?   Cheerio  
  18. Suspected insurance fraud.

    It is a sad truth that the consumer protection in Germany is still on the level you would expect from a third world country rather than a leading OECD country (and I  am probably insulting a large number of so-called 3rd world countries in this comparison, too).   I am glad you got out of the health insurance issue, which was already a really criminal act on behalf of the salesperson, and the RIESTER plan.  Without having seen any of the letters you have received claiming now commissions or something from you, I am fairly certain that they have no leg to stand on, legally speaking.  Particularly since the woman who sold you this basically admitted to her fraudulent behaviour with the acceptance to pay back your damages.   What I would suggest unless you'd be willing to involve the Honorarberater once more again and front his fees in order to reclaim them later from the culprits, is that you take these letters to the next/closest Verbraucherzentrale. they can offer you advice and even write back to those crooks on your behalf for a very small fee..and have an inherent interest to do so.   If you like, you can PM me your contact info and I'll give you mine so that you can send me copies of the letters you have received to give it a glance.   Cheerio  
  19. bAV - Have I got the right end of the stick?

    I usually don't beat my drum here on Toytown (providing loads of good information and content is usually sufficient enough anyway :-) ) but if you like to get some advice on this, just click on the "contact me" link below and I'll be happy to assist you like we did with many employers past and present. And here is a link to our website where you can find some presentation for employers about the benefits of company pension schemes: Cheerio  
  20. private health insurance cash back on termination

    no, they won't pay this no-claims bonus to you, neither in full nor pro-rata. In all such contracts, there is a clause that the bonus will only be paid out if you are still a client at the point when it is due. Since that is usually around May/June with most insurance companies, anyone who switches by the turn of the year (either by giving normal notice or giving special notice due to increase in premium) will always lose out on the next bonus payment.   Cheerio  
  21. bAV - Have I got the right end of the stick?

    it is fairly simple, actually. What you should do for your employees are two things, actually: - offer them a decent company pension scheme (they have a right to join one anyway, might as well make it something good that binds them even more to you) - offer them those company paycard systems where you can put in tax free up to 40 EUR a month. this here in one of those providers that offer excellent services to this regards:   Cheerio  
  22. This here is the reference/comment section under a paid advertising of an excellent tax advisor for Expats. Please scroll down to the actual forum and post your question there...
  23. Switching from Private to Public health Insurance

    if and when your gross salary falls below the legal threshold, you'll be compulsorily insured in public health insurance. I.e. you MUST go there. Should you plan on going back later to private health insurance, it would be wise to set up a so-called "Anwartschaft" which lets you back at the same prices (and without additional health risks) later anytime.   Cheerio PS: the legal threshold in 2020 will be a gross salary of 62.550 EUR per year or 1/12 of that per months. If your monthly salary drops below that threshold, you'll be forced to move to public insurance right away. 62.550 Euro 62.550 Euro 62.550 Euro
  24. Dingdong the witch - DeVere - is dead in Germany   Astonishing news !   After years and years of complaints to the regulatory authorities in Frankfurt (IHK) it seems that DeVere Germany has lost the last license they ever had in Germany, the one to offer insurance advice. Since pension plans are insurance plans under German legal definition, that license has covered (kind of) a lot of sins in the past. But finally, Devere Germany has no such licenses anymore (despite their claims in Spring of last year to up their presence in Germany massively with a new/renewed office in Munich).    I got the word from a new client that DeVere is reaching out to all clients in Germany and urges them to appoint their Spanish office (or is it the Malta office?) as the new advisor. Do that at your own peril only! Setting up an advisor in a different legal environment where you have a hard time making any claims in case of malpractice is never a good idea. Period. Regardless of what kind of license they actually claim to hold anywhere else.   Checking the German DIHK online registry it turns out that no advisor company is listed anymore under the former German license number. So they are - legally at least - gone for good.    Since their website currently still shows for Germany the old license and offers services from the German office(s): if any of you are being contacts currently or more recently from the German office, please contact me ASAP because I am preparing a cease&desist order for them to market any German legal presence now and in the future as long as they do not have a German license. A please forget or don't listen to any "passporting" nonsense they will tell you. If they do and you are uncertain, contact me: I can explain.   Finally... After so many year...   One done - plenty more to go!   Cheerio