As there are now less than two months until the end of the tax year, we thought it would be a great idea to share our top 5 things to consider before the 5 April deadline.
1 – Use your ISA and pension annual allowances
ISAs and pensions are a great way to save for the future because any income and capital gains made on investments held in both are free from income tax and capital gains tax.
Everyone over the age of 16 can save £20,000 each year in a cash ISA and anyone over the age of 18 can save the same amount in a Stocks and Shares ISA. Those aged 18 to 39 can open a Lifetime ISA and save up to £4,000 each year.
The crucial thing with ISAs is if you do not use all the allowance it cannot be carried forward to future tax years. Investors with spare money they plan to save and any unused ISA allowance for this year should consider using it before the 5 April deadline.
The pension annual allowance for this tax year is £40,000 or 100% of earnings if that is lower – this includes both contributions made by you and your employer. The annual allowance can be carried forward for up to three years, so investors should consider whether they have made as much use of their pension annual allowance as possible ahead of the end of the tax year. Note that anyone with a very high income or who has already started to take taxable income from their pension will have a restricted annual pension limit.
If you want to carry forward any previously unused pension allowance, you will only get tax relief on personal contributions up to 100% of your earnings for that year. People with no earnings (including children) can still save up to £3,600 a year in a pension (including basic rate tax relief).
2 – Use your capital gains allowance to cut your future tax bill
Any investments held outside an ISA or pension will be subject to capital gains tax (CGT), which means the annual tax-free allowance is very valuable. Investors can make investment gains of up to £12,300 in 2021-22 without paying any tax.
Gains over that amount are added to income and if they fall in the basic rate tax band are taxed at 10% and at 20% for the higher rate tax band. An additional 8% is added to the tax rate if the gains are from a second property.
The annual capital gains tax-free allowance cannot be carried forward into future years so if you do not use it, you lose it. If you have investments with gains outside of an ISA or pension you should consider whether to realise some of that gain before the end the tax year to make the most of your tax-free allowance.
If you’re in a couple you can get double this allowance as you can transfer investments to your spouse to use their annual CGT allowance too. This means that for the current tax year you can lock-in up to £24,600 of gains before you face any tax.
3 – Avoid getting caught in a tax trap!
The tax-free personal allowance for most people is currently £12,570. When your taxable income reaches £100,000, your personal allowance is cut by £1 for every £2 of your income, which means you lose it completely once your income reaches £125,140.
If you are in this position, you could consider reducing your taxable income so that it falls below the £100,000 level where the personal allowance starts to be eroded. There are two ways you can do this: by making charity donations or contributing to a pension.
By contributing to a pension, you are making tax savings in the form of getting your personal allowance back whilst also saving for your future and benefiting from pension tax relief at 40%, so you wipe out the 60% effective tax rate completely.
4 – Don’t miss out on child benefit
In a similar way as above, people will start to lose their child benefit when one half of the couple earns more than £50,000 – and the benefit will be wiped out entirely when they hit £60,000. The frustrating factor for many parents is that the rule applies if one parent is earning more than £50,000, regardless of their partner’s income. So, you could have both parents earning £48,000 each and have no problem, but if one earns nothing and the other earns £60,000 you’ll lose the benefit.
A parent with two children will get £1,828 a year in child benefit, but for every £1,000 they earn over £50,000 they will lose 10% of their child benefit – so someone earning £51,000 will lose £183.
However, parents who have just tipped over the threshold can get around this by increasing their pension contributions. What’s counted for the purposes of the child benefit high income charge is your salary after any pension deductions. This means if you contribute enough to your pension to get your salary back to £49,999 then you’ll get the full child benefit again.
Another option is to make charitable donations from any income over the £50,000 limit, which you’ll need to declare to HMRC on your tax return.
5 – Start saving for your children
Like adults, children also have tax allowances that can be used each year. The Junior ISA allowance is now a very generous £9,000 a year, which means that if you have spare cash you can start building a very healthy fund for your children’s future. They won’t be able to access the money until they are 18, at which point it automatically turns into a normal ISA and transfers into their name, giving them full access.
For many families putting the full £9,000 into the pot isn’t realistic, particularly if you have more than one child. But even a more modest £50 a month, earning 5% returns a year, would give your child a £16,000 present on their 18th birthday.
You can also pay up to £2,880 into a Junior SIPP each year, with government tax relief automatically boosting that to £3,600. Your child will not be able to access the money until they are at least age 57, maybe later if the government increases the age limit, which means there’s plenty of time for them to benefit from compound investment returns.
If you paid in the maximum each year until your child turns 18 and they don’t contribute anything else, assuming 5% investment returns each year after charges, the pot would be worth £713,000 by the time they turn 57 or just over £1.1m by the time they hit the current state pension age of 66.
Want to know more?
No problem, we’d love to help! Contact our expert team today on 0330 22 33 660, we are always here to have a chat on questions, queries or advice you may be in need of.