• Yorkshire: 01423 520 052 | North East: 0191 232 8391 | Edinburgh: 0131 600 0052 | London: 020 3011 5252

Tax

Planning for tomorrow, today

560 315 Eleonore Bylo

4 pension facts to help you create a happy and wealthy retirement.

The future may seem far away. Regardless of your retirement goals, there are things you can do to increase your chances of success.

It is important to look objectively at your plans and adapt them as your priorities change over the years and you go through different life events.

Your retirement will be as individual as you are and it may arrive earlier than you had anticipated. Time really does fly. Planning ahead is almost certainly going to give you more choice and freedom and pensions can be the most tax-efficient way to save for your retirement.

1. Tax Relief

Most UK taxpayers receive tax relief on their pension contributions, which means that the Government effectively adds money to your pension pot.

Basic rate tax relief: The pension scheme administrator will claim the basic rate tax relief for you from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). With basic rate Income Tax at 20%, for every £80 you pay into the pension plan you receive basic tax relief of £20 which is also paid into your plan. The total amount paid into the plan is therefore £100.

Scottish taxpayers and tax relief: Scottish taxpayers receive tax relief based on Scottish Income Tax rates and bands. If you pay tax at the Scottish starter rate, HMRC will not ask you to repay the extra tax relief claimed by the pension scheme administrator.

Welsh taxpayers and tax relief: From 6 April 2019, the Welsh Assembly has devolved powers to set their own Income Tax rates. Currently they have set the rates at the same level as the UK rates.

Please note that the Scottish and Welsh rates may change in the future

Higher rate and additional rate tax relief: Intermediate, higher or top rate tax payers may be able to claim further tax relief from HMRC. If you are eligible for further tax relief on your payments, you can ask HMRC to change your tax code by contacting them or you can complete a Self-Assessment Tax Return after the tax year has ended.

2. Employer Contributions

The Government introduced auto-enrolment as a way of helping employees save for retirement. It means that employers must automatically enrol certain staff into a workplace pension scheme.
When you pay into a workplace pension, your employer and the Government also contribute. The amount paid depends on your employer’s pension scheme and your earnings, but minimum contribution rates are set.

Unlike other ways of saving, a workplace pension means you aren’t the only one putting money in. Your employer has to contribute too, as long as you earn over £6,240 a year. You will also receive
a contribution from the Government in the form of tax relief. This means some of your money that would have gone to the Government as income tax, goes into your workplace pension instead.

You and your employer must pay a percentage of your earnings into your workplace pension scheme. The earnings trigger is one of the three key factors which ultimately governs who gets enrolled into a workplace pension scheme through automatic enrolment (the existing threshold is £10,000 for the tax year 2020/21, which runs from 6 April to 5 April the following year).

Under auto-enrolment schemes, you make contributions based on your total earnings between £6,240 (Lower limit qualifying earnings band) and £50,000 (Upper limit qualifying earnings band) a year before tax.

Your total earnings include:

  • salary or wages
  • bonuses and commission
  • overtime
  • statutory sick pay
  • statutory maternity, paternity or adoption pay

From April 2019 the amount of total minimum contributions increased to 8% – your employer will contribute 3% and you will contribute 5%. These amounts could be higher for you or your employer because of your pension scheme rules. They’re higher for most Defined Benefit pension schemes.

In some schemes, your employer has the option to pay in more than the legal minimum. In these schemes, you can pay in less as long as your employer puts in enough to meet the total minimum contribution.

3. Flexible access

A Defined Benefit pension scheme pot is highly flexible from age 55. Almost all pensions allow you to take some of your money as tax-free cash. With this option, you can take some or all of your 25% tax-free cash first. What’s left in your pension pot remains invested, giving it a chance to grow; however, as with all investments, your money can go down as well as up.

After you’ve taken all of your tax-free cash, any money you take out will be subject to tax. This means that you can take money from your tax-free amount first and then take the taxable amount when you need it. Remember, you don’t have to take all of your tax-free cash in one go.

To help you minimise the tax you pay, you can take the taxable money whenever you like. So, for example, you can take it over a number of different tax years. This spreads it out, and if you do it this way it could help keep you in a lower tax bracket.

4. Effects of compounding

While it is never too late to start saving and planning for retirement, the earlier you start, the better. Starting earlier means more time for your savings to benefit from the effects of compounding returns. Conversely, the longer you wait, the less time you have for your money to grow and the harder you’ll have to work to reach your retirement goals.

The basic concept is simple. Compounding returns is where the profits you earn on your money are re-invested and start earning more money, which is then re-invested again and so on. With compound returns, it’s less about how much you can afford to put aside and more about for how long the money has time to grow, with your money snowballing into a pot.

Are you approaching retirement, or about to retire?

In the years leading up to retirement, you might start to wonder if you have saved enough to retire comfortably and thought about everything you need to consider. Are you ready to retire? Do you know what you might get? Do you understand your income options, tax and your State Pension? Please speak to us to discuss your options.

Accessing pension benefits early may impact on levels of retirement income and your entitlement to certain means tested benefits and is not suitable for everyone. You should seek advice to understand your options at retirement.

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. Tax rules are complicated, so you should always obtain professional advice. A Pension is a long-term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down, which would have an impact on the level of pension benefits available. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Pensions are not normally accessible until age 55. Your pension income could also be affected by interest rates at the time you take your benefits. The tax implications of pension withdrawals will be based on your individual circumstances, tax legislation and regulation, which are subject to change in the future.

Tax-wise

560 315 Eleonore Bylo

Make the most of your valuable allowances, reliefs and exemptions

Once we enter January, the end of the 2019/20 tax year will be just over three months away on 5 April. As this date approaches, the window of opportunity reduces if you want to make the most of valuable allowances, reliefs and exemptions that could help reduce your tax bill and make sure your finances stay tax-efficient.

Some of these allowances will be lost forever if they are not used before the tax year end – and the sooner you claim them the better. Every year, some people leave end-of-year tax planning until the last minute. But leaving planning until the eleventh hour increases the risk that you will discover you have left it too late and missed out on the chance to improve your financial position.

Acting well before the tax year end means you can also be sure that you are maximising your opportunities and minimising your stress. The list we’ve provided below isn’t exhaustive, but it highlights some of the main areas to consider if appropriate to your particular situation. If you would like to discuss your own financial position, please contact us.

Income Tax

Consider making use of lower-rate tax bands. It’s important to review the tax implications of transferring income-producing assets and taking note of anti-avoidance and settlements legislation.

The way you receive an income, and the rates and allowances that apply, should be at the front of your mind. How much you pay depends on where you live in the UK, with Scotland and Wales in receipt of devolved powers to set their own Income Tax bands on top of the personal allowance.

The annual dividend allowance remains at £2,000 for 2019/20 after reducing from £5,000 this time last year. With the new personal allowance of £12,500 added to the frozen dividend allowance, the maximum tax-free income you can receive through dividends is £14,500 in 2019/20.

Some smaller amounts of income are tax-free up to annual limits. Under the Government’s renta-room scheme, you can continue to earn taxfree income of up to £7,500 a year from letting out a furnished room in your home.

Individual Savings Account (ISA) Allowance

With a Cash ISA or a Stocks & Shares ISA (or a combination of the two), you can save or invest up to £20,000 a year tax-efficiently.

If you are in a position to, it makes sense for you and your spouse to take advantage of each other’s ISA allowance, particularly if one of you has more financial resources than the other. That way, combined, you can save (in the case of Cash ISAs) or invest (in the case of Stocks & Shares ISAs) up to £40,000 tax-efficiently in 2019/20.

Currently, 16 and 17-year-olds actually get two ISA allowances, as they’re able to open a Junior ISA (which for 2019/20 has a limit of £4,368) and an adult Cash ISA. This means that you can put away up to £24,368 in your child’s name tax efficiently this tax year.

People aged 18–39 can open a Lifetime ISA, which entitles them to save up to £4,000 a year until they’re 50. The Government will top up the savings by 25%, up to a maximum of
£1,000 a year.

Pension Contributions

The annual pensions allowance enables you to contribute up to £40,000 in 2019/20. If your adjusted income exceeds £150,000 in 2019/20, your annual allowance will be reduced by £1 for every £2 that exceeds this threshold down to a limit of £10,000.

Any unused pensions annual allowance can be carried forward for three tax years, providing you were a member of a registered pension schemeduring that period. This unused allowance can be added to your 2019/20 annual allowance, giving a maximum pension contribution of £160,000, all of which will attract personal tax relief if you have the required level of relevant earnings.

You can also increase your basic State Pension by paying voluntary Class 3 National Insurance Contributions (NICs).

Consider contributing up to £2,880 towards a pension for your non-earning spouse or children. Tax relief is added to your contribution, so if you contribute £2,880, a total of £3,600 a year will be paid into the pension scheme, even if you earn less than this or have no income at all.

You begin to lose your personal allowance once your adjusted net income exceeds £100,000, such that the allowance reduces to £0 when adjusted net income reaches £125,000.

Inheritance Tax

You can act at any time to help reduce a potential Inheritance Tax (IHT) bill when you’re no longer around.

Gifts of up to £3,000 per year can be made on an IHT-free basis. The limit increases to £6,000 if the previous year’s annual exemption was not used.

A married couple can therefore make IHT exempt gifts totalling £12,000 – if unused, the annual allowance can be carried forward to the next tax year only. This simple technique could save a possible IHT bill of £4,800 in the event of your untimely death.

You should also consider using other annual gifts such as gifts in consideration of marriage or £250 small gifts.

Business Relief (BR) is a valuable IHT relief, with business property potentially receiving up to 100% relief if certain criteria are met. BR is an important part of succession planning, but due to the complexity of the BR rules, the relief may not be due even though you expect to meet the conditions.

It is important to regularly review your BR position to ensure that it continues to apply and that your business activities do not jeopardise your BR position.

Capital Gain Tax Allowance

Capital Gains Tax (CGT) is a tax on the gains and profits you make when you sell something, such as an investment portfolio or second home.

Everyone has an annual allowance of £12,000 (in 2019/20) before CGT applies. Like the ISA allowance, it doesn’t roll over – so if you don’t use it, you’ll lose out. And you may have to pay more CGT in the future.

Also, it’s worth remembering the allowance is for individuals, so couples have a joint allowance for 2019/20 of £24,000. In some situations, it may be appropriate to transfer assets into your joint names so you both stay within your individual allowances. However, this is only effective if the gift is a genuine gift of beneficial ownership, and the transferor does not continue to benefit from the asset following the transfer.

Not every investment portfolio is subject to CGT. If you’re looking for a tax-efficient way to invest, a Stocks & Shares ISA could be for you. Just like any investment, it carries risk – meaning you could lose some or all of your money – but if you do make a profit due to share price increases, you won’t be required to pay CGT on it.

A Bed & ISA will allow you to utilise the current year’s ISA allowance by moving investments from an unwrapped environment to the ISA tax-efficient wrapper. This is achieved by disposing of the unwrapped investment and repurchasing it via an ISA. The disposal of the unwrapped investments may be liable to CGT, but once inside the ISA, the investments are sheltered from CGT in the future.

Don’t lose it, use it

As we make our way towards the end of the tax year, now is the ideal time to review your tax affairs to ensure that you have taken advantage of all the valuable allowances, reliefs and exemptions available to you. To discuss the planning opportunities available to help you, your family and business to reduce your tax bill, please contact us.

If you want to find out more on certain areas such as inheritance tax, book onto our February 2020 Estate Planning seminars here.