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Hopes for better pension deal

If talks in progress are successful, international PhDs and post docs may soon be able to get a better deal on their pensions

Scientists and research staff from abroad at the University of Copenhagen may be able to look forward to lower tax rates on their pension, and an immediate pension payout on their leaving Copenhagen.

This is according to the International Staff Mobility Office (ISM) at the University of Copenhagen that is lobbying for the change with pension funds and tax authorities.

Under the present rules, a large portion of PhDs’ and postdocs’ salaries are withheld in their pension schemes: However, at time of payout – many years later – some are unable to be reached by pension funds, while others simply forget that they had the pension funds available at all.

Not obligatory

»The new element will be that pensions will be taxed immediately, and that they can be paid out« explains Vivian Tos Lindgaard, head of the International Staff Mobility Office.

»As a mobile international scientist, you can end up having pensions in different countries, with the risk that some of these funds are misplaced at the end of a career,« she explains.

The new payout option for PhDs and postdocs will not be obligatory, and they may opt to retain their pension in the fund for later payout on retirement.

Less tax

Under current rules, pensions are taxed at 60 per cent per cent on retirement. Under the new regulations, the pensions will also be taxed more leniently: for PhD’s typically at around 37 per cent, the rate which most international researchers are subject to on their salaried income.

There are two main reasons why international researchers are subjected to lower tax rates than Danish researchers: First, international researchers disproportionately pay for welfare services that they didn’t use as a child and which they are less likely to use later as a pensioner if they move on. Second, government policy is to attract foreign talent that otherwise would be scared away by high Danish income taxes.

Vivian Tos Lindgaard hopes that the new rules will be in place this summer with Unipension, which is the consolidated administration of three funds (AP, MP and PJD) offered to University of Copenhagen scientists and staff. Other universities are likely to follow the University of Copenhagen’s example.

»Pension funds have shown a greater understanding for the fact that they have to offer better service to internationals,« Vivian Tos Lindgaard says.

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