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Getting Ready for Tax Year-end Planning ahead with Richard Eastwood

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Pension Planning

The Annual Allowance for pension contributions is now £40,000, though to the extent that this has not been used it can be carried forward for up to three years.

Currently, contributions qualify for tax relief at the investor’s highest marginal tax rate, but some Government ministers have suggested that relief should in future be standardised at perhaps 30%. Higher rate taxpayers might therefore be minded to contribute sooner rather than later.

The maximum size of pension pot which can be accrued during the investor’s lifetime without incurring a tax charge is £1.25 million, though people whose pension savings exceeded this figure as at 6 April 2014 can apply to “protect” savings of up to £1.5 million from tax.

Spouses With No Taxable Income

Non-working wives and others with no pensionable earnings are entitled to invest up to £2,880 p.a. in a personal pension and to have their investment topped-up by the Government to £3,600.

If one of the partners in a marriage or civil partnership has not used the whole of their personal tax allowance or basic rate tax band, they can save tax by transferring income-producing assets to the other partner. HM Revenue and Customs has no concerns when transfers of property or investments are made in this way, but may object to transfers of shares in private companies.

Taxable Income Over £100,000

The personal tax allowance is reduced by £1 for every £2 of income over £100,000, which means that the value of the £10,000 allowance will have been totally eliminated by income of £120,000. The best way of reducing taxable income to £100,000 or below is to make pension contributions or eligible gifts to charity via Gift Aid.

Tax-Efficient Investments

Pensions are the most tax-efficient investments, but for reasonably cautious investors the next most tax-efficient are Individual Savings Accounts (‘ISAs’).

ISA contributions do not qualify for tax relief, but the underlying investments enjoy the same tax-treatment as pension savings, and the proceeds are tax-free. Furthermore, as from 6 April 2015, investors will be able to pass their ISAs to their spouses or civil partners on death with the tax breaks intact.

There is no facility to carry forward the annual allowance for ISA investment, so it’s “use it or lose it”!

For the less risk-averse, Venture Capital Trusts and Enterprise Investment Schemes offer tax benefits which is some cases extend to relief from inheritance tax, subject to the investment having been held for at least two years prior to death.

Capital Gains Tax

Tax is payable 28% on gains arising on the sale of assets including investments and buy-to-let properties (or 18% where there is an unused basic rate income tax band). However, the first £11,000 of gains is tax-free.

Transfers between spouses can enable savings of capital gains tax in the same way as with income tax.

To protect against tax on future gains, it might be worth considering selling investments and re-purchasing them in an ISA.

Entrepreneurs’ Relief

Officers and employees of unquoted companies may be able to claim entrepreneurs’ relief, whereby capital gains tax on the sale of their holdings is reduced from 28% to 10%.

To qualify, the taxpayer must have been an officer or employee for at least 12 months prior to the sale and have owned at least 5% of the shares and voting rights during that time.

Inheritance Tax Planning

The rapid increase in house prices means that a growing number of deceased’s estates are now suffering inheritance tax.

The first £325,000 of the value of an estate qualifies to be taxed at the nil rate, which means that it is free of tax. But the excess over this figure is taxed at 40%; and the ‘nil rate band’ will be frozen at £325,000 until 2019.

However, for married couples and those in civil partnerships, any proportion of the nil rate band which is not used on the death of the first of the couple to die can be carried over and added to the nil rate band of the survivor.

A number of other exemptions from inheritance tax are available. £3,000 may be transferred annually and greater sums on marriage (£5,000 from parents and £2,500 from grandparents). In addition, any number of small gifts of up to £250 can be made without attracting tax.

The most generous exemption is for gifts of whatever size which are made more than seven years before death and qualify to be regarded as Potentially Exempt Transfers.

There is also an exemption for gifts, again of whatever size, which are made on a regular annual basis out of surplus taxed income, without affecting the donor’s normal standard of living. However, the Revenue will require evidence of income and outgoings and the amounts transferred.

Gifting to charity is again encouraged, and a special rate of 36% applies to the whole of a taxable estate if 10% is left to charity. Bearing in mind the fluctuating values of assets, Wills must be drafted carefully if advantage is to be taken of this concession.

To get your year end in order or for financial advice for future planning please contact Richard Eastwood on 0161 785 3500 or email richard.eastwood@pearsonlegal.co.uk

 

 

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

Written by Richard Eastwood

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