x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

You can leave home, but tax may find you

Have a problem? Been treated unfairly? Our consumer advocate is on the case for you.

I recently received an e-mail, apparently from Etisalat, which included their logo and seemed authentic. But when I contacted them to ask about it, I got a rather odd response. I believe that this may have been a fraudulent message. Can you shed some light? JW Abu Dhabi The email you received asked for usernames and passwords as verification for your accounts, advising that a failure to respond and provide the requested information would result in the account being permanently closed. This part is a dead giveaway, as no company will ask you for information in this way. Etisalat has advised that it "keeps on issuing such warnings and phishing alerts to its customers and is now taking many more active steps to make customers aware about such attacks". The latest warning was issued in May, and reads as follows: "Etisalat today requested Etisalat internet Mail users to ignore any unknown and unsolicited e-mail that requests them to change their password. Some subscribers have alerted Etisalat that they have received such a message. Etisalat cautions its customers to pay attention for such e-mails and advises them not to divulge any confidential information like passwords, bank accounts, PIN or eVoucher / recharge card numbers to unsolicited e-mail messages." I can safely say you were targeted by an online scam.

I am British but have lived abroad for many years. I do not own property in the UK and it is unlikely that I will return to live there. I have been told that on death the UK government will tax my assets, but is this correct? I have not lived in my home country for years. ML Sharjah As you are UK domiciled, a strong concept in British law, on death your worldwide assets would be subject to UK inheritance tax. Residence has no bearing on inheritance tax, which applies to your worldwide property if you are UK domiciled, and to your UK based property if you are domiciled elsewhere. In the current tax year, the inheritance tax threshold, also known as the nil rate band, stands at £325,000 (Dh1.9 million) and is the amount up to which an estate will have no inheritance tax to pay. If the estate - including any assets held in trust and gifts made within seven years of death - is more than the threshold, inheritance tax will be due at 40 per cent on the amount over the nil rate band. As there is no inheritance tax to pay on transfers between spouses, a change was introduced recently which allows couples to double up their allowances on their estate to £650,000.

I have a number of National Bonds worth Dh5,000. But my friend told me that I don't have enough to win the big prize. However, surely all holdings are equal? AF Abu Dhabi According to National Bonds, "to be eligible for the weekly Millionaire draw, the minimum bondholding should be Dh10,000 and above. All bondholders are eligible for the other prizes regardless of the number of bonds they hold." Your highest maximum prize is currently Dh10,000, of which five are won weekly.

I plan to sell my car, but like many people have had a few traffic fines over the years. I understand I have to get a clearance certificate. But I don't know where to start. FM Dubai A clearance certificate is issued by Dubai Police to confirm that there are no outstanding fines and so you are free to sell. The easiest way is to go to the Dubai Police website (www.dubaipolice.gov.ae) and under the section headed e-services you can enter details of your vehicle. You can apply for a certificate to be sent to your PO Box address. There is a fee of Dh7.

We have two UK endowment policies with Scottish Widows and have been receiving letters advising that there will be a shortfall from the expected maturity values in 2018. Even though there are nine years to the maturity date, it seems that even the company's highest projection of 8 per cent a year will not be enough. At the moment the surrender value is still less than the premiums I have paid so far. Should we keep the plans or cash them in? Is it too late to make a complaint about these plans to get some compensation? SA Dubai

There is no automatic compensation just because you may be disappointed with how your endowment policies are currently performing. Endowments are linked to long-term investments, which can go down as well as up. That said, if you have been misadvised, you have the option to make a complaint. In your case, the policies are not due to mature until after the standard UK retirement age, so you could argue that you were sold a plan with an inappropriate term. Your first port of call is the advisory company that arranged the plans. But it appears that they are no longer trading. You should therefore approach Scottish Widows stating your case. You should ensure that you use the word "complaint" in your letter so that the proper procedure is followed. You have to give Scottish Widows the opportunity to investigate and respond. If the firm has not resolved your complaint within eight weeks, or if you are unhappy with their decision on your complaint, you can then contact the financial ombudsman service (www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk).

You have the option to surrender the plans, but before doing so I suggest that you have them independently reviewed. The premiums you are paying include life cover of £55,000 and this would be lost upon surrender. Have a problem? If so, e-mail Keren Bobker at onyourside@thenational.ae Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. She can be reached at keren@holbornassets.com