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Month: February 2020

National Insurance contributions for 2020/21

National Insurance contributions for 2020/21

The starting point for paying National Insurance is to increase to £9,500 for 2020/21 for employees and for Class 4 contributions payable by the self-employed. This is in line with a Government commitment to increase the starting threshold to £12,500 – the level of the personal allowance for tax purposes.

Employees and Employers

Class 1 National Insurance contributions are payable on an employee’s earnings by the employee (primary contributions) and by the employer (secondary contributions). The rates and thresholds applying for 2020/21 are shown in the table below.

Class 1
Weekly lower earnings limit (LEL)£120 per week £520 per month £6,240 per year
Primary threshold (PT)£183 per week £792 per month £9,500 per year
Secondary threshold (ST)£169 per week £732 per month £9,500 per year
Upper earnings limit (UEL)£962 per week £4,167 per month £50,000 per year
Upper secondary threshold for under 21s£962 per week £4,167 per month £50,000 per year
Apprentice upper secondary rate (AUST)£962 per week £4,167 per month £50,000 per year
Employee’s primary rate (payable on earnings between the PT and UEL)12%
Employee’s additional rate (payable on earnings above the UEL)2%
Secondary rate (payable on earnings above the relevant secondary threshold)13.8%
Reduced rate for certain married women (on earnings between the PT and UEL)5.85%

For 2020/21, the primary and secondary thresholds are no longer aligned. This means that the point at which employer contributions for employees over the age 21 kicks in is £169 per week (£732 per month), while employee contributions are not payable until earnings reach £183 per week (£792 per month). On earnings between these limits, employer contributions are payable but not employee contributions.

The rate of Class 1A contributions (payable on benefits in kind) and Class 1B contributions (payable on items included in a PAYE settlement agreement) remains at 13.8%.

The self employed

The self-employed pay flat-rate Class 2 contributions and also Class 4 contributions on their profits.

For 2020/21, Class 2 contributions increase by 5p per week to £3.05 per week. Contributions are only mandatory if profits exceed the small profits threshold. This is set at £6,475 for 2020/21. However, they can be paid voluntarily where profits are less than this level.

As with employees, the starting point at which Class 4 contributions become payable on the profits of the self-employed – the lower profits limit – increases to £9,500 for 2020/21. Contributions are payable at the main rate of 9% on profits between this level and the upper profits limit, which remains at £50,000 for 2020/21. Above this, contributions are payable at the rate of 2%.

Voluntary contributions

Voluntary (Class 3) contributions can be paid to make up a shortfall in your contributions record and preserve your entitlement to the state pension. Class 3 contributions rise to £15.30 per week for 2020/21.

Check your contributions record

Speak to us about whether you need to pay additional contributions to ensure that you will qualify for the full state pension when you reach state pension age. You can obtain a pension forecast online.

February 10, 2020

Using capital losses

Using capital losses

Where capital gains tax would be payable on a gain made on the disposal of an asset, if the disposal results in a loss, the loss is an allowable loss for capital gains tax purposes.

Gains in the same tax year

In the event that capital gains are made in the same tax year as an allowable loss, the loss is first set against those gains. This may mean that the annual exempt amount is lost as this is set against net gains for the tax year (chargeable gains less allowable losses).

Carry forward unused losses

If there are no gains in the tax year, or allowable losses exceed chargeable gains, the unused losses can be carried forward to a future tax year.

There is no requirement to use them against the first available chargeable gains; rather you can choose when to use them. And unlike the set-off against gains of the same year, they can be set against net gains to the extent that they exceed the annual exempt amount, so that this is not wasted. Any losses remaining unused can be carried forward to a future tax year.

Report the loss

Remember to report capital losses to HMRC. This can be done on your tax return, or by writing to HMRC if you do not need to complete a tax return. You have four years from the end of the tax year in which to claim your losses. We can help you plan your disposals in a tax-efficient manner.

February 7, 2020

Personal allowances – use them or lose them

Personal allowances – use them or lose them

With the end of the 2019/20 tax year approaching, now is a good time to review your available personal allowances for 2019/20 and make sure that they are not wasted.

Personal allowance

For 2019/20, the personal allowance is £12,500. However, where income is more than £100,000, the allowance is reduced by £1 for every £2 by which income exceeds £100,000. This means that individuals with income of £125,000 or more in 2019/20 do not have a personal allowance. If your income is between £100,000 and £125,000, you will receive a reduced personal allowance.

At the lower end of the income scale, if you are married or in a civil partnership and if you are not able to use all of your personal allowance or your partner is unable to use all of their personal allowance, you can claim the marriage allowance. This works by allowing the person who is unable to use all of their allowance to transfer 10% of their personal allowance — £1,250 for 2019/20 – to their spouse or civil partner. However, this is only allowed if the recipient is a basic rate taxpayer. The marriage allowance is worth £250 to a couple for 2019/20. It can be claimed online.

At the other end of the scale, taxpayers whose income exceeds £100,000 could consider taking steps to reduce their income to below £100,000 to preserve their full personal allowance. Options include making pension contributions or gift aid donations or delaying taking salary or dividends until after 5 April 2020.

Dividend allowance

All individuals, regardless of the rate at which they pay tax, are entitled to a dividend allowance of £2,000 for 2019/20. In a family company scenario, where family members have not yet used their allowance, paying dividends by 5 April 2020 to mop up the allowances can be a tax-efficient way to extract profits. The use of an alphabet share structure will enable dividends to be tailored to the circumstances of the recipient.

Pensions annual allowance

Making contributions to a registered pension scheme can be tax efficient. You can make pension contributions to the higher of 100% of your earnings and £3,600 (gross), as long as you have sufficient annual allowance available. The annual allowance is set at £40,000 for 2019/20, but is reduced for high earners. If you have already accessed a money purchase pension, you have a reduced allowance of £4,000.

The annual allowance can be carried forwarded for up to three years. However, before using brought forward allowances (earliest year first), you must use the allowance for the current year. Any allowances unused for 2016/17 will be lost if they are not used by 5 April 2020.

Capital gains tax annual exempt amount

Capital gains tax is only payable where net gains and losses for the tax year exceed the annual exempt amount. This is set at £12,000 for 2019/20. Spouses and civil partners have their own annual exempt amount.

Where a disposal is on the cards which will give rise to a capital gain, if the annual exempt amount for 2019/20 has not been used up yet, consider making the disposal before 6 April 2020 to utilise this. Remember, where a spouse or civil partner has an unused exempt amount, assets can be transferred between them on a no gain/no loss basis, making it possible to make use of their annual exempt amount too.

Inheritance tax annual exemption

The inheritance tax annual exemption allows you to give away £3,000 each year without the gift counting as part of your estate for inheritance tax purposes. If it is not used, it can be carried forward to the next tax year, but is then lost. If you do not use your exemption for 2018/19 by 5 April 2020, you will lose it. There are also various other gifts that you can make IHT-free each tax year.

Act now

Why not speak to us to find out what action you need to take to make sure your allowances are not wasted.

February 3, 2020