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Tax tips marked 'urgent'

23 March 2018

There are a number of important and valuable tax-planning opportunities that will be lost after Thursday 5 April.

With less than two weeks to go until the end of the tax year, there is still time to take advantage of various tax-planning ideas that can make the most of your money and help provide financial security for you and your family.

 

Boost your ISA savings

The ISA allowance of £20,000 in this tax year remains one of the simplest and most popular ways to shelter money from any further liability to Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax. It’s important not to overlook it. While Cash ISA rates have inched up over the last four months, the average no-notice account is still only paying 0.79%¹.  Individuals yet to use their ISA allowance, or with accumulated ISA savings, need to carefully consider their options to ensure that they are maximising this valuable opportunity.

By maximising allowances in this and the next tax year, a couple could potentially shelter up to £80,000, building a significant tax-efficient fund for the future. Remember that there is no tax to pay on the transfer of assets between spouses and civil partners, making it easier to ensure both allowances are used.
 

Top up your pension pot while the current allowances remain

Speculation continues over whether the government will cut back on allowances and reliefs provided to pension savers. Therefore, you should think about boosting your pension savings now by making the most of available allowances in this tax year, so that you can potentially benefit from higher rates of tax relief on your contributions.
 

Reduce your taxable estate

Inheritance Tax (IHT) is widely viewed as unfair, and even the chancellor agrees it’s complex, but only effective and early planning can minimise its impact on your estate. Lifetime gifting is one of the most underused and useful ways to help reduce your IHT bill. You can make gifts worth up to £3,000 in each tax year (£6,000 if you use the previous year’s allowance as well); money that will be immediately outside your estate. So, a couple could potentially remove £12,000 from their joint estate before 5 April, but remember that last year’s allowance will be lost after that date.
 

Give younger generations a head start

You can make contributions of up to £4,128 per child into a Junior ISA this tax year; an allowance that will be lost after 5 April. Making an early start with Junior ISA savings means that money will be locked away for a decade or more, so investing it wisely with a long-term view should help build up a more significant sum to help them with the future financial challenges they’ll face.
 

Don’t waste your annual Capital Gains Tax (CGT) exemption

CGT bills are expected to surge by 50% over the next five years. The annual tax-free allowance of £11,300 remains the most valuable, yet underused, opportunity to minimise the impact of the tax on your wealth. Gains above this figure are taxed at up to 20% (for 2017/18) on assets such as shares, and up to 28% from the sale of residential investment properties. By crystallising gains each year up to the limit of your allowance, you can reduce the risk of a larger CGT bill in the future. Better still, reinvesting the proceeds into tax-exempt wrappers such as ISAs and pensions can avoid any future CGT liability all together. Don’t forget that assets can be transferred tax-free between spouses to utilise both allowances.
 

Review your taxable income

High earners could take steps to bring their taxable income down by making pension contributions or charitable donations. These can help individuals to:

  • Bring their income to below the additional rate tax band, which starts at £150,000.
  • Regain their Personal Allowance, which starts to be withdrawn for incomes over £100,000.
  • Avoid losing Child Benefit, which is gradually removed if one person in the household earns more than £50,000.
     

Take income from savings tax-efficiently

If you’re thinking of making a large pension withdrawal, it could make sense to spread the withdrawal over two or more tax years to minimise your Income Tax liability. Alternatively, if you expect the amount you draw from your pension pot to tip you into a higher tax bracket, you could use ISA savings instead. ISAs don’t attract Income Tax no matter how much you take.

 

The value of an investment with St. James's Place will be directly linked to the performance of the funds you select and the value can therefore go down as well as up. You may get back less than you invested.

An investment in a Stocks & Shares ISA will not provide the same security of capital associated with a Cash ISA.

The favourable tax treatment of ISAs may be subject to changes in legislation in the future.

The levels and bases of taxation, and reliefs from taxation, can change at any time. The value of any tax relief depends on individual circumstances.

 

¹ Moneyfacts, March 2018

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