Maximise Income Tax Allowances
Everyone has a personal allowance of £12,570 for the tax year. This is the amount that you can earn without paying any tax.
Anyone earning over £100,000 will start to lose their personal allowance at a rate of £1 for every £2 over the threshold. This creates an effective 60% tax band on earnings between £100,000 and £125,140. You can bring your income under the threshold by making pension contributions or charitable donations.
If you are a basic rate taxpayer and your spouse earns under £12,570, they can transfer some of their unused personal allowance to you. Marriage allowance is limited to £1,260, resulting in a saving of £252 for each household that claims it.
If you earn interest from your savings, the first £1,000 is tax-free if you are basic-rate taxpayer. This is reduced to £500 for a higher-rate taxpayer. Additional rate taxpayers do not benefit from this allowance. If you earn under £17,570, you might also be eligible for the starting rate for savings, which allows you to receive up to £5,000 in tax-free interest. Spouses can divide their savings to ensure that they make the most of this tax-free income.
Gains from investment bonds can also be set against these savings allowances. By splitting a withdrawal between spouses, and over two tax years, you can maximise the allowances available to set against the gain.
Use Your ISA Allowance
ISAs are extremely efficient as you do not pay any tax on income, gains, or withdrawals.
You can contribute up to £20,000 to your ISA each year. If you don’t use your allowance in the current tax year, it can’t be carried forward.
If you’re not sure about your plans, you may wish to contribute to a cash ISA as it won’t fluctuate with the market. You can always withdraw the money if you need to, or you can transfer it into a stocks and shares ISA for longer-term growth.
Utilise Your Capital Gains Tax (CGT) Exemption
You can realise capital gains of up to £12,300 in 2021/2022 without paying tax.
If you have an investment portfolio, making use of your exemption every year can help to avoid large gains rolling up and becoming taxable later on. You can utilise your exemption by switching investments or transferring funds to your ISA.
If you need to realise a large gain, it can be worth transferring some of the assets into your spouse’s name. There are no CGT consequences for this and it means that you will have two exemptions (£24,600) to set against the gain.
Top Up Your Pension
Pensions are one of the most tax-efficient investments you can make, but the contribution rules can be complex. To summarise:
You can use pension contributions to reduce the amount of tax you pay. It’s worth reviewing your pension contributions towards the end of the tax year to ensure that you are maximising your allowances without breaching any limits.
Check Your National Insurance Record
You need to build up a 35 year National Insurance record to qualify for the full State Pension. This can be achieved through employment, self-employment, or receiving credits, for example if you are unemployed or have caring responsibilities.
If you are not working but do not qualify for credits, you may be able to top up your record by making voluntary contributions.
You can find out more here.
Use Your Gift Exemptions
You can gift up to £3,000 per year, which is immediately outside your estate for Inheritance Tax (IHT) purposes. You can carry this allowance forward by up to one tax year. This means that a couple who had not made any previous gifts could give away up to £12,000 without IHT consequences.
If you do plan to make gifts, it’s worth using this exemption every year.
Draw Company Dividends
If you receive dividend income, the first £2,000 is tax-free.
If you own a share portfolio, you might not be in control of how and when the dividends are paid. However, you can transfer some of your shares to a spouse to benefit from both allowances.
Company directors have greater control over their dividend income. It can be worthwhile to take some (or even most) of your income in the form of dividends. Not only will you benefit from the allowance, but dividends are also exempt from National Insurance contributions. If your spouse owns shares in the company they will also benefit from their own dividend allowance.
Claim Eligible Expenses
If you run a business, you will be able to reduce your tax bill by claiming expenses. This might include equipment, supplies, travel, training, and staff costs.
While you don’t need to submit your tax return until the following January, it’s worth ensuring you have all your records and receipts in order before the end of the tax year.
Remember, there is a time limit on most of your tax allowances, which means that if you don’t use them, they will be wasted. Over your lifetime, you can save several thousand pounds by doing some simple tax planning.
Please do not hesitate to contact a member of the team if you would like to find out more about tax planning.