Posts Tagged ‘Tax’

Chaos warning over real-time PAYE

The Sunday Telegraph has warned that businesses face a nightmare of red tape following the introduction of Real Time Information for PAYE.

Though the scheme will not apply to smaller companies until the autumn, tax experts believe the complex system required to handle real-time data for employers will result in chaos.

The Sunday Telegraph claimed that many employees in receipt of benefits would have any Christmas bonus clawed back by reductions in tax credits or benefits in the same pay packet.

Up to a quarter of smaller firms are not even aware of the introduction of the scheme.

Steve Clark

Financial planning for the end of the tax year

    The nights are finally starting to get a little lighter – maybe we can start looking forward to Spring after all. In financial services, Spring means two things; the Budget (on March 20th this year) and the end of the tax year on Friday April 5th.

    This article gives some suggestions on financial planning steps to take before the end of the tax year, so that you can make the most of your tax allowances and organise your affairs as tax efficiently as possible. However, the first point to make is a practical one.

    Easter is early this year, with Good Friday on March 29th and Easter Monday on April 1st. With holidays bound to impact on administration at some financial institutions, our first suggestion is that if you’re going to act before the end of the financial year, don’t leave it until the last minute. If you want to make sure your transactions are processed in time, look on the week commencing March 25th as the last practical week.

    Individual Savings Accounts

    The overall personal limit for an Individual Savings Account (ISA) for the current tax year is £11,280 and this will increase to £11,520 for the new tax year commencing on April 6th. It’s important to note that if you are only contributing to a cash ISA then the maximum is exactly half the overall allowance – so £5,640 and £5,760 respectively. The other key point is that if you don’t use your ISA allowances for this tax year then they are lost – they can’t be ‘carried forward’ to the next tax year.

    We’d always recommend making use of your ISA allowances if you can – you pay no tax on capital gains which you make within an ISA or income you take from it. For long term investment there is a huge range of funds available within an ISA ‘wrapper’ from the very cautious to the very adventurous: as always, we’d be happy to discuss all the options with you if you’d like some advice.

    Capital Gains Tax

    Accountants will tell you that CGT is the ‘forgotten’ tax relief – people who religiously use their full ISA allowance completely fail to utilise their CGT allowance. For the current tax year everyone has a CGT allowance of £10,600 – meaning that capital gains made on investments such as shares are free of tax if they are within this limit. Husbands and wives can gift assets to each other without incurring a CGT charge, effectively giving a married couple a limit of £21,200. Like the ISA allowance though, the CGT allowance is an annual one, and cannot be carried forward to a subsequent tax year.

    Inheritance Tax

    The current individual limit for Inheritance Tax is £325,000 and this will remain the same for the tax year 2013/2014. Remember though, that you can make gifts during a tax year and these will be exempt from IHT if they fall within the Revenue limits: the limit is £3,000 per person, so £6,000 for a married couple. Although these amounts are small they can still help to reduce the value of an estate.

    There are, of course, far more complex and sophisticated Inheritance Tax planning measures such as the use of trusts; if you feel that you would like specialist advice in this area then we will be happy to help.


    Why have we left pensions to (almost) the end? For a simple reason – because whilst there is enormous scope to make tax efficient investments through your pension (especially for higher-rate taxpayers) the legislation and rules are complex and it is an area where specialist financial planning advice is almost always required.

    The top rate of tax is shortly being reduced from 50% to 45%, so many very high earners will be motivated to make pension contributions now, and as usual there is the chance to make use of reliefs and allowances which haven’t been used from previous tax years.

    Equally, those people who are self-employed or directors of companies may need to think about making sure their pensions are as tax efficient as possible, and set up to ensure that they receive the maximum benefits from the business they are running. It all adds up to an area where specialist advice is essential and we are always ready to sit down with clients and use our expertise and experience to make sure they have exactly the right pension planning.

    Hopefully that’s a useful overview of the planning steps you should take before the year end.

    The key message is simple: “talk to us.” We’re never more than a phone call or an e-mail away and we’re happy to explain any of the subjects above in much greater detail.

    *The Financial Services Authority does not regulate taxation advice or trusts.

    Tartan Taxation–Celtic chaos for pensions?

    Being a Scotsman (albeit having lived in England for most of my life) the question of will we, won’t we have independence has cropped up since, in my case, 1976.

    Well it now seems that the Scotland Bill – which is currently making its way through Parliament – may well cause further turmoil in an already downtrodden pensions world.

    We thank Louisa Knox of law firm Shepherd and Wedderburn, for her recent article that draws attention to the problems the current Scotland Bill would pose for the pensions industry. It is an excellent and thought provoking piece. You can click through to the article here.

    The last thing the pensions world needs is more uncertainty and red tape. It would seem as if the Holyrood and Westminster politicians need to get their heads together to think this one through. What is the chance of that happening?

    Steve Clark

    Pension Snakes & Ladders – are you protected?

    You may remember, back in the days when we thought that Pension Simplification would be just that, the government introduced a limit on the amount of money you could build up in registered pension schemes. This is known as the lifetime allowance. It started off at £1.5m in 2006 and has gradually grown to £1.8m in this tax year.

    If you were affected by this limit, or thought you might be in the future, you could apply for protection. Not the type of protection you get from guys with sharp suits, wide lapels and violin cases but protection from the nasty tax charges that bite when you exceed the lifetime allowance.

    In thSnakes & Ladders sezzle flickris new era of financial austerity high earners are bearing their share of the financial pain. The Finance Bill 2011 will introduce a new lifetime allowance of £1.5m from 2012. It’s the Treasury’s version of pension snakes and ladders.

    So basically we are back where we started? No, not quite. The government have said that a new type of protection will be introduced. They’ve called it Fixed Protection. It will allow individuals to take advantage of the current £1.8 million lifetime allowance so long as they build up any further benefits. If you’ve claimed protection under the 2006 rules you can still have up to the £1.8m limit.

    If you employ high earners with substantial pension benefits it’s worth looking at those whose pension values are between £1.5m and £1.8m

    If you are an employee and you think that you may be affected you really should get some specialist advice.

    Well there you have it. Pensions Simplification? As if!