Plan and Prepare: Making New Year’s Tax Savings Resolutions

At this time of year, we think about New Year’s resolutions, and it’s also a good time to start planning our tax affairs before the end of the tax year on 5 April. As you think about 2019 and your goals for the coming year, we can help to start you off on the right financial footing. It’s well worth spending some time in January to think about your money so you can achieve your goals as quickly as possible.

Tax planning might not sound very exciting, but it can have a dramatic effect on your personal finances. The Government and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) continue to clamp down on what they regard as tax avoidance and unacceptable tax planning. But there is still much that can legitimately be done to save or reduce tax.

MEETING YOUR FINANCIAL GOALS

Tax planning is one part of meeting your financial goals. By taking action now, it may give you the opportunity to take advantage of appropriate reliefs, allowances and exemptions, and consider whether there are any relevant decisions that you need to make sooner rather than later. Many of the tax and investment planning opportunities available require action to be taken before 5 April 2019.

While some people avoid making New Year’s resolutions for fear that they will only break them, people who make financial New Year’s resolutions are more likely to end 2019 in better financial shape than when they began.

READY TO PUT THE TIPS INTO ACTION?

Here we’ve provided some of the main areas you may wish to discuss with us, if appropriate to your particular situation:

TOPPING UP YOUR PENSION

Pensions are now more flexible than they have ever been and remain extremely tax-efficient. You’ll receive tax relief at the basic rate of 20% on contributions made to personal and workplace pensions. So for every £80 you pay in, HMRC will top it up to £100. If you’re a higher or additional rate taxpayer, you can claim back up to an additional 20% or 25% through your self-assessment tax return. However, if you are a Scottish taxpayer, the tax relief you will be entitled to will be at the Scottish Rate of Income Tax, which may differ from the rest of the UK.

But you’ll need to watch out for the annual pension allowance. This is the limit on the amount that can be contributed to your pension each year while still getting tax relief. For the 2018/19 tax year, for most people it’s £40,000, or the value of your whole earnings – whichever is lower. Lower allowances may apply if you have already started drawing a pension, or if you are a higher earner with income plus pension contributions that total above £150,000.

If you’ve used your full allowance in the current tax year but not in recent years, you may also (depending on your circumstances) be able to ‘carry forward’ any annual allowance that you haven’t taken advantage of in the three previous tax years. There’s also the Lifetime Allowance to consider. If the value of all your pensions is more than £1,030,000, anything over this limit will be taxed when you start using it.

The value of pensions can go down as well as up, and you may not get back as much as you put in.

TAKING YOUR ISA TO THE MAX

One of the easiest ways to reduce your tax bill is to shelter any returns above your allowances in an Individual Savings Account (ISA), which is a tax-efficient wrapper. For the 2018/19 tax year, you can put up to £20,000 into an ISA. For a couple with two children, the total ISA allowance available to the family is £48,520, which comprises £20,000 for each adult plus £4,260 of Junior ISA allowance per child.

You can choose to hold all of that in a Cash ISA, or put it into a combination of investments, including funds, shares, gilts and bonds through a Stocks & Shares ISA, or you can invest in peer- to-peer lending through an Innovative Finance ISA. Alternatively, you can split your allowance between a Cash, Stocks & Shares, Innovative Finance and Lifetime ISA. (LISA)

However, with a LISA, you can only allocate up to £4,000 of your £20,000 allowance. You also must be aged between 18 and 39 when you start and can deposit up to £4,000 per year until your 50th birthday. The Government will add an annual bonus of 25% (up to a maximum of £1,000 per year) to any savings.

The principle purpose of a LISA is for the proceeds to be used to either (a) purchase a first home or (b) provide you with funds to help you in your retirement after you have attained age 60. This means that, if the money is withdrawn for any other purpose (and unless the saver is in serious ill health), the 25% government bonus will be withdrawn, and the proceeds will also incur a 5% charge.

You won’t be taxed on returns from savings or investments held in an ISA, nor will you have to pay Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on any of the profits you make above the annual CGT allowance, which in the 2018/19 tax year is £11,700. The standard CGT rate is 10%, while the higher rate is 20%.

GETTING PERSONAL WITH YOUR ALLOWANCE

Everyone has a certain amount of income they can earn each year without paying Income Tax, known as their ‘personal allowance’. For the 2018/19 tax year, this amount is £11,850.

Your personal allowance is in addition to the Personal Savings Allowance (PSA). Since April 2016, savings interest has been paid tax-free, which means that most savers no longer have to pay Income Tax on the savings income they receive.

Your PSA depends on which Income Tax band you are in, with basic rate taxpayers entitled to a £1,000 allowance, while higher rate taxpayers receive a £500 allowance. Additional rate taxpayers are not eligible for a PSA.

Investors also have a dividend allowance, which means that individuals receive their first £2,000 in dividends tax-free, but any dividends above this amount will be charged at 7.5% for basic rate taxpayers, 32.5% for higher rate taxpayers and 38.1% for additional rate taxpayers.

Take advantage of your marriage vows. If one spouse is a higher rate or additional rate taxpayer and the other doesn’t pay tax at all, it could be more tax-efficient to put the account solely in the non-taxpayer’s name. This would give that spouse full ownership of the account, so you’ll need to make sure you’re both happy with the arrangement.

DON’T LEAVE YOUR TAX RETURN UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE

The deadline to submit your tax return online is 31 January. Failure to meet the HMRC deadline can result in penalty fines or extra interest charges.

TAKING CONTROL OF YOUR FINANCES

Setting resolutions at the beginning of a new year can help you reach short- and long-term goals and even improve the way you feel. Taking control of your finances is a great feeling, so if you would like to discuss any aspects of your financial plans, please speak to us – we look forward to hearing from you.

Who are Vizion Wealth?

Our approach to financial planning is simple, our clients are our number one priority and we ensure all our advice, strategies and services are tailored to the specific individual to best meet their longer term financial goals and aspirations. We understand that everyone is unique. We understand that wealth means different things to different people and each client will require a different strategy to build wealth, use and enjoy it during their lifetimes and to protect it for family and loved ones in the future.

All of us at Vizion Wealth are committed to our client’s financial success and would like to have an opportunity to review your individual wealth goals. To find out more, get in touch with us – we very much look forward to hearing from you.

DISCLAIMER:

INFORMATION IS BASED ON OUR CURRENT UNDERSTANDING OF TAXATION LEGISLATION AND REGULATIONS. ANY LEVELS AND BASES, OF AND RELIEFS FROM TAXATION, ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

Posted by Andrew Flowers

Andrew is the managing partner of Vizion Wealth and has been involved in the offshore and onshore financial services industry for over 18 years. Andrew was the driving force behind Vizion Wealth after years of experience in a number of advisory roles within high profile wealth management, private banking and independent financial advisory firms in the UK.

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