With the end of the 2019/20 tax year just two months away, now is the time to review your tax planning and ensure you are making the most of the available allowances and reliefs.
This checklist will hopefully provide a number of clear pointers but please remember – you must use your allowances or lose them.
Have you used your annual allowance for pension contributions?
Pensions come with valuable tax benefits. To begin with, investments in your pension are free from Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax. Pension contributions up to your annual allowance will also receive an automatic 20% top-up from HMRC, and higher-rate and additional-rate taxpayers can claim back another 20% or 25% through their Self-Assessment. (Additional rate taxpayers should focus using their full allowances – given the generous relief available). Click the link to find out more: How much can I pay into a SIPP or Pension?
Pension contributions up to your annual allowance will also receive an automatic top-up from HMRC.
Because of these generous tax rules, there is a limit to the amount you can pay into your pension – please click on the following link for more information:
Each year you can contribute as much money as you earn, usually up to £40,000 (although this tapers down to £10,000 for higher earners). If you earn enough, you may also be able to make extra contributions by carrying forward any unused allowance from the last three tax years (Click the link to read further about articles we have previously produced – https://www.bestpricefs.co.uk/blog/pension-developments-pension-considerations-tax-windfall-potential/ ; https://www.bestpricefs.co.uk/blog/pension-tax-reminders/). Simply contact the office on 01639 860111 to arrange a conversation to gather advice in this area if required.
Have you made the most of your ISA allowance?
ISAs are also free from Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax. The ISA allowance is currently £20,000 – this doesn’t carry over between tax years, so any allowance you don’t use by 5 April will be lost forever. This is why it makes sense to use as much of your allowance as you can afford to each year.
BestpriceFS are Independent Financial Advisers so we can access and provide advice on any ISA product at low cost.
Are you using other tax allowances for your savings?
The Government gives you several other allowances for savings held outside pensions and ISAs. You don’t need to do anything to start using these allowances, but if you exceed them you must inform HMRC and may need to complete a Self-Assessment.
The Personal Savings Allowance is a tax-free allowance for interest payments. It is £1,000 for basic-rate taxpayers and £500 for higher-rate taxpayers but doesn’t apply to additional-rate taxpayers. All taxpayers also receive a £2,000 tax-free allowance for dividend income.
Are you and your spouse both making use of your personal allowances?
If you are married or in a civil partnership, you may be able to save money by structuring your finances as a couple to ensure you are using both spouse’s tax allowances. This could be an especially good idea if one spouse pays tax at a lower rate than the other.
You could save money by structuring your finances as a couple.
As an example, one spouse could transfer an income-generating investment to the other in order to use their Income Tax allowance or transfer the ownership of an asset before selling it to use their Capital Gains Tax exemption. In either situation you will need to contact your providers to arrange the transfer of assets, and there may also be paperwork to complete. Now is the time to consider your position before the TYE.
If you want to make financial gifts, have you used your annual tax-free allowances?
Each tax year you can make a range of tax-free financial gifts. These leave your estate immediately and won’t be taken into account when calculating your Inheritance Tax bill. They include:
- Gifts to your husband, wife or civil partner (as long as the UK is their permanent home)
- Gifts of up to £3,000 each tax year, which can be carried over one year for a total of £6,000
- Unlimited individual gifts of up to £250 per person
- Wedding gifts of up to £5,000 for a child, £2,500 for a grandchild or great-grandchild, or £1,000 to anybody else
- Unlimited payments towards the living costs of a child, elderly dependant or ex-spouse
- Regular gifts from surplus income that won’t affect your standard of living
Have you considered more complex tax-efficient investment schemes such as VCTs?
If you are a higher-rate or additional-rate taxpayer who can tolerate a high level of investment risk, you could also consider more complex tax-efficient investments such as Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs). These offer generous tax breaks to offset the added risks of investing in smaller, younger and unquoted companies*.
We can help you with your financial planning with professional, experienced support at low cost.
We are experienced at helping clients make the most of tax rules and allowances, structuring their finances tax-efficiently to ensure they don’t pay more tax than is necessary.
(Advised) We recommend reviews are carried out annually or as personal circumstances evolve – simply get in touch to arrange a review.
(Non-Advised) An initial consultation is free. There is no obligation to engage with professional advice services. If you decide to engage with professional advice services all costs will be agreed in advance.
*VCTs should be regarded as higher risk investments. VCTs are only suitable for UK resident taxpayers who can tolerate higher risk and have a time horizon of greater than five years. Owing to the nature of their underlying assets, VCTs are highly illiquid. Investors should be aware that they may have difficulty or be unable to realise their shares at levels close to that which reflect the value of the underlying assets. Tax levels and reliefs may change, and the availability of tax reliefs will depend on individual circumstances. You should only subscribe for new VCT shares on the basis of the relevant prospectus and most carefully consider the risk warnings contained in that prospectus.
The value of your investment can go down as well as up, and you can get back less than you originally invested.
Past performance or any yields quoted should not be considered reliable indicators of future returns. Before investing in funds please check the specific risk factors on the Key Features Document as some funds can be high risk or complex; they may also have risks relating to the geographical area, industry sector and/or underlying assets in which they invest. Prevailing tax rates and relief are dependent on your individual circumstances and are subject to change.
Tax law is complex and is the domain of professionals.
Remember what HMRC state – Don’t make tax taxing!
Seek professional advice so that more of your hard earned money remains with you…….
Wishing you a prosperous TYE.
Best Price FS Team