Client access Client access

Category: Tax Planning

Deadline to catch up on National Insurance contributions extended

Deadline to catch up on National Insurance contributions extended

Anyone with an incomplete National Insurance contributions (NICs) record between April 2006 and April 2016 now has until July 31 to add to their NICs to qualify for a full State Pension after HMRC extended the deadline.

Thousands of taxpayers have incomplete years in their NICs record who could get a higher State Pension if they make voluntary payments to top up incomplete or missing years, according to the Treasury.

The original deadline for voluntary payments to fill any gaps was April 5, 2023, but this was extended after members of the public voiced concerns that this did not give them enough time.

Victoria Atkins, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said: “We’ve listened to concerned members of the public and have acted. We recognise how important State Pensions are for retired individuals, which is why we are giving people more time to fill any gaps in their National Insurance record to help bolster their entitlement.”

How would I know if I’m affected?

The easiest way to find out if you have any missing NICs years is to ask for a Pensions Forecast from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The relevant information to get a State Pension forecast, and to decide if making a voluntary National Insurance contribution is the best course of action for you, plus how to make a payment, is available on GOV.UK.

You can also check your National Insurance record, via the HMRC app or your Personal Tax Account. If you aren’t sure how to do this, your accountant will be able to help you. If you choose to make additional voluntary payments, these would be at the existing rates for 2022/23.

NICs to qualify for a full State Pension

To get the full State Pension, you will need to have paid 35 full years of NICs. To get any State Pension, you will need to have paid 10 full years of NICs. If you have paid between 10 and 35 full years of NICs, you will get a proportion of the full State Pension.

This is why it’s important to find out how many full years of contributions you have made. The full State Pension amount is currently £203.85 per week. So, if you had 25 full qualifying years, you would divide £203.85 by 35 and then multiply by 25 to see what you would get. In this example, you would receive £145.61 per week at the current rate.

Remember, you should get advice to see if it is worth making additional voluntary contributions to complete your NICs record. So, speak to your accountant before you make any payments.

Let us help you

Pensions – and especially the State Pension – can be complex to navigate. If you are concerned you haven’t got enough qualifying years for your full State Pension, then please get in touch with us and we will advise you on the best course of action.

June 5, 2023

Pension Carry Forward rules are now more beneficial

Pension Carry Forward rules are now more beneficial

The Chancellor made some major changes to the pension rules in the March Budget, and one key amendment has made using something called ‘Carry Forward’ rules much more beneficial for pension savers.

How does Carry Forward work?

The Carry Forward rules allow you to use up any unused pension allowance from the last three tax years in a single year, which can give a big boost to your pension pot. There is a limit on the maximum amount you can put into your pension each tax year and receive tax relief. For the last three tax years prior to 2023/24 the annual allowance has been £40,000. However, the Chancellor raised this allowance for this tax year to £60,000.

What does this mean for me?

If you haven’t used your entire £40,000 annual allowance for the last three years – 2020/21, 2021/22 and 2022/23 – then you can make additional contributions this year to use up any remainder of the £120,000 worth of contributions you could have made during that period.

Let’s say you made £20,000 worth of contributions in each of these tax years. This would leave £60,000 of the remaining allowances you can now ‘carry forward’. Remember, this figure includes tax relief at your highest level from the taxman. If you are a 40% taxpayer, for example, then adding £40,000 to your pension would cost you just £24,000 with the remaining £16,000 being added by HMRC from the tax you would pay for that year.

You also have a £60,000 annual allowance for the 2023/24 tax year. If you hadn’t put anything into your pension for the previous three years, then this year you could add £180,000 in one go, providing you earn enough to do this. HMRC won’t give you more tax relief in a single year than the tax you have to pay. You would need to earn at least £180,000 this year to qualify for this much tax relief.

If you can’t use all of your allowance for this year, then you can always use the Carry Forward rules next year.

Don’t I have to be careful how large my pension pot gets during my lifetime?

Well, there is still theoretically a Lifetime Allowance of £1,073,100 which was the maximum you could have in your pension fund before you were hit with charges as high as 55% on amounts over this limit. But during the Budget, the Chancellor removed the penalty on this Lifetime Allowance, meaning there is no problem now for breaching it. Legislation is needed to remove the limit completely.

The change applies from April 6 this year. The only thing you can’t do is take more than £268,275 as your tax-free lump sum no matter how big your pension pot gets – which is 25% of the current Lifetime Allowance.

We can help you

Using Carry Forward is a great way to catch up on pension contributions you didn’t make in previous years. It can be especially useful if you are getting close to retirement and want to put more into your pension. If you want to explore Carry Forward, please get in touch and we will be happy to help.

May 22, 2023

Could you benefit from a free Government midlife MOT?

Could you benefit from a free Government midlife MOT?

Our cars go through MOTs each year once they reach a certain age, but have you ever thought of giving yourself an MOT? The Government is offering a free midlife MOT for those in their 40s, 50s and 60s to help them make the right financial decisions for retirement.

The midlife MOT provides free online support to those in the private sector, and can be done face-to-face with Department for Work and Pensions staff in job centres for those looking for work. The aim is to ensure you are giving sufficient thought to your money, work and wellbeing as you head into the later stages of your life.

What’s involved?

The online midlife MOT provides a series of prompts to make you think more carefully about what you may need to do as you get older. For example, will you be able to continue in your current job as you get older? Or will you need to learn new skills to continue to provide for yourself and your family?

You are also prompted to consider whether you have enough money to live on to maintain your current lifestyle? Or whether you might need to examine your pension saving and put some extra aside to enjoy your retirement more comfortably.

The specific questions on the midlife MOT site are:

My work: Am I confident I can continue in my current job, or do I need to protect myself by reskilling? Will caring responsibilities or other priorities mean I need to work more flexibly?

My health: Am I taking the right steps to maintain or improve my health? Would workplace adjustments make it easier for me to stay in my job for longer?

My money: Do I have enough savings to maintain my current lifestyle? I’m confused about pensions, what are my options?

My work and skills: As your situation changes as you get older, you may find that flexible working arrangements can make a difference.

Source: https://www.yourpension.gov.uk/mid-life-mot/

Is this relevant to employers or just individuals?

There is a specific section of the website that highlights what employers can do to help their staff access the midlife MOT for their workplace. There are details on how this could work for both larger companies and smaller employers and you can also download toolkits to use within your business for relevant staff.

There are also a number of useful links within the YourPension.gov.uk/mid-life-mot/ webpage to help people navigate to the relevant information they need to check all aspects of their life are on track as they reach this point in their life.

Let us help you

Do you feel like you need a midlife MOT but would rather talk things through with someone than simply navigate this on your own? If so, then we can help you understand whether you are financially ready for the next chapter of your life. Just contact us and we will guide you through everything you need to know.

May 15, 2023

Make the most of the new tax year by acting now

Make the most of the new tax year by acting now

The new tax year started on April 6 and while many people will wait until the last minute to maximise the tax benefits available to them, there is a lot to be said for starting your tax housekeeping sooner rather than later.

There are many ways we can benefit from the tax breaks available each tax year. But trying to cram everything into the month before the tax year ends means you are likely to miss out on some of them. Planning ahead from the start of the tax year means you can mop up any allowances you can access.

Use your ISA allowance early

One of the most beneficial allowances to start using early in the tax year is your Individual Savings Account (ISA) allowance. Each tax year – which runs from April 6 to April 5 – we all have the option of putting up to £20,000 into an ISA. You can put as much as you want into any type of ISA, providing you don’t breach the £20,000 threshold in a single tax year. The money grows free of Capital Gains Tax and Income Tax, plus in a cash ISA you will not pay any tax on savings interest.

Using your ISA allowance at the beginning of the year can generate significant benefits, even if you can’t put the whole £20,000 in at once. For example, if you calculate the difference in the value of an ISA with just £3,000 invested at the beginning of every tax year since 1999 compared with the same amount invested on the last day of the tax year over the same period, the early birds will have more than £9,000 extra in their pot based on the performance of the average global equity fund.

If you and your spouse have both used up your £20,000 allowance and you have children, you can also put up to £9,000 for each child into a Junior ISA. This is a perfect way to put money aside throughout their childhood to pay for school fees, university or even to build a deposit to help them buy their first home.

Use your Capital Gains Tax allowance

This tax year – 2023/24 – the Capital Gains Tax allowance has been more than halved, from £12,300 in 2022/23 to just £6,000. So, anyone crystallising gains of more than £6,000 in this tax year will need to pay CGT on any amount above this limit. The rate you pay will depend on your marginal rate of income tax and what type of asset the gain has been crystallised on.

As we all have the same CGT allowance, it is possible for spouses to shelter up to £12,000 from CGT this year, but that will take some planning. So, speak to your accountant to make sure you are making the right decisions at the right time.

Maximise your Inheritance Tax planning by using your annual allowances

Inheritance tax (IHT) is often considered to be a tax just for the rich. But as house prices have risen and the threshold for paying this tax has remained static at £325,000 since 2009, and is likely to remain at this level until 2028, more people than ever are paying IHT. In fact, the latest figures released by HMRC show IHT receipts have soared by £1 billion to £7.1 billion from April 2022 to March 2023, largely due to house price increases, especially in the South East of England.

So, if you own your home, you may want to think about how you can use the annual allowances to reduce your liability when you pass away.

Any amount you have in your estate at death above this Nil Rate Band – which includes all your assets such as your home, cars, antiques, jewellery, collections and so on – will be taxed at 40%. There is an additional allowance of £175,000 per person, called the Residence Nil Rate Band, if you are passing your home to a direct descendant, such as a child or grandchild. But this is not available to those without children.

Spouses or civil partners passing assets between them on death will not be subject to IHT. So, any unused allowance remaining can be used by the second spouse or civil partner on their death, giving a maximum threshold of £1m if none of the Nil Rate Band or RNRB was used on the first death. The allowance can be passed automatically, you would just need to let the executor of the estate on the second death know this as they would need to make the claim when they apply for probate. So, a letter with your will would be a good way to do this, or by discussing this with the person who writes your will with you.

If your estate would still exceed this level, then you can legally reduce your estate’s value each year by making gifts to loved ones. For example, you can make gifts of up to £3,000 each year which will be free of IHT when you die.

You can also make other gifts of any amount you like, and providing you survive those by seven years, they will no longer be within your estate for IHT purposes. But the rules can be complex, so get advice from your accountant if you think you could be affected by IHT.

Contact us

These are just a few of the ways you can reduce your tax bills this tax year. We can help you make the most of these and other allowances before you lose them. So, please get in touch with us and we will help you make the right financial decisions for you and your family.

May 3, 2023

Pension changes make retirement saving more attractive

Pension changes make retirement saving more attractive

Pensions got a major overhaul in the Chancellor’s Budget announcements, with an increase in the amount you can put into your pension each year and an effective removal of the limit that your pension can reach before facing significant penalties of as much as 55%.

Rise in Annual Allowances

From April, the Annual Allowance – the amount you can put into your pension each year and receive tax relief, providing you have paid enough in tax in a year to warrant it, as the taxman will not give you more in relief than you have paid – will rise from £40,000 to £60,000.

There is also a rise in the Money Purchase Annual Allowance, which is the amount you can pay into a money purchase pension each year once you have vested part of it. This rises from £4,000 to £10,000 for the 2023/24 tax year – taking it back to its previous level.

The Tapered Annual Allowance is also going up from £4,000 back to its original level of £10,000. This taper kicked in at an ‘adjusted income’ level of £240,000, but this also rises to £260,000 for the 2023/24 tax year.

Lifetime Allowance effectively removed from April 2023

One of the most eye-catching measures in the Budget was the effective removal of the Lifetime Allowance, which limited the amount a pension fund could grow to £1,0731,000 before charges of up to 55% were applied on the additional amounts unless someone had a ‘protected pension’.

From April 6, these penalties will no longer apply, meaning there is no longer a penalty for passing this limit. This renders the Lifetime Allowance irrelevant as there will not be a penalty for breaching it. But it will take separate legislation to remove the Lifetime Allowance itself completely.

This is something that will be valuable particularly for some senior NHS doctors, as there has been a rising trend in them leaving the profession through early retirement, in part at least to prevent their pension going over the Lifetime Allowance.

Limit on the tax-free lump sum

However, there is a cap on the amount that someone can take from their pension as a 25% tax-free lump sum, thanks to the removal of the penalties being removed for breaching the Lifetime Allowance.

From April 6, you will only be able to take a maximum of £268,275 tax-free from your pension, which is the same as the maximum you could take under the Lifetime Allowance.

These measures combined are expected to cost the Treasury around £4 billion over the next five years.

We can help you

These pension changes are wide ranging and could significantly change your retirement planning, so if you want to know more about how you can make the most of these changes, then please get in touch and we will be happy to help.

April 24, 2023

Additional tax rate threshold to be lowered – take advantage with your pension contributions

Additional tax rate threshold to be lowered – take advantage with your pension contributions

The 45% additional tax rate was briefly removed by Kwasi Kwarteng, then reinstated by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, and in the latest twist, Mr Hunt announced that the point at which people would start paying this highest rate of tax would fall from £150,000 to £125,140 from April 2023.

This may seem a strange figure to move the threshold to, but it relates to the point at which the entire personal allowance for higher-rate taxpayers is removed once they hit the £100,000 income level. The personal allowance of £12,570 is reduced at a rate of £1 for every £2 you earn above £100,000. So, the entire allowance has been removed at £125,140. At present, you are taxed at 40% on this amount and above until you reach £150,000 when the rate rises to 45%. But from April, you will pay 45% from £125,140 onwards.

The unofficial 60% income tax rate

The way that the personal allowance is chipped away once you reach the £100,000 threshold means that for the money you are taxed on between this level and the £125,140, you are actually paying 60% in tax. This is not easy to follow, but it works like this:

You earn £101,000 this tax year. This means that you pay tax at 40% on this income. But because you lose the personal allowance at a rate of £1 for every £2 you earn over this figure you will lose £500 of your personal allowance on the £1,000 above the £100,000 threshold. So, you will also pay 40% tax on this additional £500, which gives a bill of £200. Since you are also taxed at 40% on that £101,000, the £1,000 over the £100,000 will give the taxman £400. Add that to the £200 you are paying on the relative loss of the personal allowance, and you have paid £600 in tax on that £1,000, which means you have paid 60% in tax.

Maximise the benefit of the tax change when it happens

While losing money in income tax because of the threshold moving to the lower level of £125,140 from April, it does mean you can benefit from higher tax relief on your pension contributions if you are pulled into the 45% tax bracket.

This is because no matter how much you pay into your pension pot, you get tax relief at your highest marginal rate. For those on the highest rate of tax, this is 45%. So, adding £100 to your pension pot will cost you £55 as the tax relief will provide the remaining £45.

Let us help you

If you think you will be negatively affected by this change or any of the frozen tax thresholds, or you want to take advantage of putting money into your pension and getting the benefit of the additional tax relief no matter which tax band you fall into, then please get in touch with us and we can go through the various options you have.

December 19, 2022

Landlords, what should you be doing now?

Landlords, what should you be doing now?

Changes to the Capital Gains Tax (CGT) allowances announced in the Autumn Statement mean that from next April, the current £12,300 allowance will fall to £6,000 and then to £3,000 in 2024. This is a major concern for landlords with rental property, as this will make a significant dent in the gains they can make on property before they pay tax.

It could mean that any landlord currently holding a considerable gain on a property may want to think about whether now is a good time for them to sell, especially as property values are expected to stagnate or fall, in the coming months.

Private residence relief

However, there are some ways you can reduce your CGT bill. If you have lived in the property at any point, you can get some relief from CGT under the ‘private residence relief’ rules. You can get relief for the number of years you have lived in the property, plus nine months at the end of the ownership whether you lived in the property then or not.

The example on the Gov.uk website highlights a property with a gain of £120,000 when you sell, which you have owned for 15 years. But for 7.5 years you lived in the whole property, and then rented out your property for the remaining 7.5 years. The Private Residence Relief applies for the 7.5 years you lived there plus the last nine months you owned the property.

This means you get a total of 8.25 years of Private Residence Relief, which amounts to 55% of the time you have owned it. So, you will not pay tax on 55% of the £120,000 gain, but you will on the remaining 45% – which means you will pay CGT on £54,000.

The reduction in CGT allowances could prompt landlords to sell

The more than halving of the CGT allowance from April next year means some landlords may attempt to sell some of their properties before the CGT allowance reduces. It will not be the right decision for everyone, but if a landlord is already considering this, now might be a good time to press the button.

Zaid Patel, director of London-based estate and lettings agents, Highcastle Estates: “With the CGT tax allowance to be halved to £6,000 from April 2023, we may see an increase in landlords selling up and second homeowners listing their properties with the hope of completing before April. Landlords, who own property as part of a limited company, will be further penalised as they’ll pay more tax on dividends.

“This, coupled with the rise in corporation tax, will likely lead to more landlords trying to sell their properties. However, with the rising cost of living, first-time buyers will continue to find it challenging to save for a house, which may mean demand will stifle.

“I expect house prices to drop slightly until late 2024, when there will be a rush of buyers hoping to complete before the stamp duty cuts end. It means estate agents will struggle over the next two years and cutting the dividend tax relief while increasing corporation tax could mean estate agents may start selling their businesses or winding up during this recession.”

Landlords have been hit hard

Landlords have been hit hard by various changes to what they can claim and the way in which they are taxed in recent years, especially if they do not hold the properties within a limited company. For example, if someone is getting rental income of £15,000 a year but having to pay mortgage interest amounting to, say, £8,000 a year, then previously they would be able to offset the entire interest against their rental income before tax. This would mean paying tax on just £7,000 of income.

Now, unless they own their properties within a limited company, they are not able to offset the mortgage interest against their income before tax. So, they would pay tax on the full £15,000 of income. If they were 40% taxpayers and all their allowances had already been used, this would give a tax bill of £6,000 when they are also paying £8,000 in mortgage interest. This would leave just £1,000 for the landlord. Paying 40% on the same basis on the £7,000 of income after accounting for the mortgage interest would give a bill of £2,800 – leaving £4,200 for the landlord.

This is one reason that the number of buy-to-let properties being held within a limited company has reached a record level of 300,000 according to estate agent Hamptons.

We can help you

If you have concerns about your buy-to-let property or you want to find out if you would be better off using a limited company structure, then contact us and we will work with you to help you make any necessary changes.

December 5, 2022

The Plastic Packaging Tax – what you need to know

The Plastic Packaging Tax – what you need to know

The Plastic Packaging Tax came into effect in April this year, and if your business deals with any kind of plastic packaging in relation to your products, you may need to be registered for this.

Anyone importing or manufacturing more than 10 tonnes of plastic packaging each year to the UK will be subject to this tax. Those businesses below this threshold are exempt, but if you breach this threshold, there are a number of things you need to know. For example, if the plastic you manufacture or import has at least 30% of recycled plastic by weight, you will also be exempt from this tax. The tax is designed to encourage manufacturers both here and abroad to use more recycled plastic in their processes.

When do I need to notify HMRC?

If your business has imported or produced more than 10 tonnes of plastic since April 1 this year, you need to register within 30 days of breaching this limit. If you have already missed this deadline, then get in touch with your accountant or HMRC as soon as possible. Around 20,000 businesses are estimated to be affected by this, with an additional £400,000 as an annual cost burden on these businesses, mostly for the additional administrative requirements of this tax.

The fee charged is £200 per metric tonne used or manufactured, but what is considered ‘plastic’ is a moot point and there is more information in the HMRC guidance. There are other things to consider too, such as the plastics that qualify are those which are considered single use by the end consumer, or those used in the supply chain. For example, if plastic punnets of strawberries are imported, then the punnets themselves may be subject to this tax.

This is a complex area, so get some help

However, it is a very complex tax, and you will need specialist guidance to navigate it. You can find out more information on Gov.uk, or by speaking to your accountant who can help you.

If you need to register, you can do this online with some exceptions – or again, speak to your accountant and ask him or her to deal with this for you.

We can help you meet your obligations

If you think you need to register for the Plastic Packaging Tax, please get in touch with us and we can help you navigate this incredibly complex area.

November 21, 2022

Act now to maximise your pension contributions

Act now to maximise your pension contributions

The changes to income tax rates are going to benefit all taxpayers from April next year as they get to keep more of the money they have earned. But one knock-on effect is that the amount of tax relief you can get on your pension will be reduced for both 20% and 45% taxpayers, as it is based on your highest marginal rate of tax.

This means that you have just shy of six months to maximise any pension contributions you want to make to ensure you benefit from a slightly larger contribution in tax relief from the Government. For example, anyone earning more than £150,000 this year will be able to get tax relief on pension contributions at 45%. From April 2023, this will fall to 40%.

Will this only apply to higher earners?

While higher earners have the most to lose by not maximising pension contributions before the income tax rates change next year, there is also a fall in the basic rate of income tax from 20% to 19%. So, if you are currently a 20% taxpayer, there is still a benefit to acting before April 2023 to maximise your pension contributions. At present, putting £100 into your pension will cost you £80 as a 20% taxpayer. When this falls to 19%, it will cost you £81 to achieve the same contribution.

Is there anything I need to watch out for?

If you are putting money into your pension, there are some limits you need to be aware of. The most you can put into your pension each year and receive tax relief on is £40,000 – but remember, you cannot claim more tax in a single year than you have paid.

For higher earners, there are a few other things to consider. For example, once you reach an earning level of £240,000, that £40,000 a year allowance is reduced incrementally until you reach £312,000 or more. At this point, the amount you can put into your pension reduces to just £4,000.

Beware of the Lifetime Allowance

The other consideration for everyone – but it is more likely to apply to the highest earners – is the Lifetime Allowance. This is currently set at £1,073,100 and anyone with a combined pension pot that breaches this limit will face additional tax charges on their pension.

So, if you think you may hit or breach this limit, then you need to take advice sooner rather than later to ensure you use the money you have in a different way to save for your retirement. This could, perhaps, include maximising your individual savings account (ISA) allowance of £20,000 per year or making other investments that can be used to generate retirement income.

We can help you

If you want to maximise your pension contributions before the income tax bands change, then please get in touch with us and we will help you to get the most from your money without facing additional tax charges.

October 24, 2022

Can your business claim a super deduction?

Can your business claim a super deduction?

If your business has spent money on plant and machinery and it is subject to corporation tax, then it may qualify for a super deduction which is a temporary allowance you do not want to miss.

Qualifying purchases will need to have been made between April 1, 2021, and April 1, 2023, and will be valid as long as you did not buy the plant or machinery due to a contract you entered into before March 3, 2021.

It is also possible to claim a special rate first year capital allowance – which is another temporary allowance – if you have bought qualifying or plant machinery as above.

Qualifying plant and machinery

There are a few rules, as you might expect, that your business needs to comply with to ensure your plant or machinery qualifies for these allowances. One of the key rules is that the machinery must be new, not used or second-hand.

It also cannot be given to you as a gift, it cannot be a car as these will not qualify for this allowance, and it cannot be bought to be leased to someone else. The exception to this final rule is if it is background plant or machinery within a building. It also cannot be purchased during the period in which the business ceases activity.

What can I claim a super deduction for?

A super deduction can be claimed on a variety of work tools, including:

  • Machines such as computers, printers, lathes and planers.
  • Office equipment such as desks and chairs
  • Vehicles such as vans, lorries and tractors – but not cars.
  • Warehouse equipment such as forklift or pallet trucks and stackers.
  • Tools such as ladders or drills.
  • Construction equipment, such as excavators, compactors and bulldozers.
  • Some fixtures, including kitchen and bathroom fittings and fire alarm systems.

Source: Gov.uk

There are some other rules to be aware of, which is why it is best to speak to your accountant to help you make the most of this super deduction, rather than trying to go it alone.

To see how much a business can claim, let’s look at an example which is on Gov.uk. A company called Alpha Ltd bought a lathe for £10,000 on December 1, 2021. It has a calendar year end accounting period.

In the accounting period ending December 31, 2021, Alpha Ltd can claim a super deduction of 130% for this expenditure, giving them a claim of £13,000.

What about the special rate first year allowance?

If a company buys a qualifying item in its first year, then it can claim the special rate first year allowance. Again, there is an example of how much this is worth on Gov.uk. A company called Bravo Ltd buys a solar panel for £10,000 on December 1, 2021, which is for installation at its business premises and will be used in its business.

In the calendar year ending December 31, 2021, Bravo Ltd can claim the 50% special first year allowance, which gives a rebate of £5,000 for this expenditure. The remaining balance can be added to the special rate pool in the following accounting period and writing down allowances can also be claimed, according to the Gov.uk information.

Again, there are specific rules about what items qualify for the special rate first year allowance, so it is best to work with an accountant to ensure you only claim what you are allowed to.

Let us help you

Both allowances can be complex to navigate, especially as there are a number of specific rules surrounding what type of plant and machinery you can claim for. So, let us do the hard work for you and get in touch. We will make sure you are getting everything you are entitled to, so you can legitimately reduce your tax bill.

July 18, 2022

Deal with your tax return early and help with your cashflow

Deal with your tax return early and help with your cashflow

There is a tendency for many of us to leave our tax returns until the last minute. It’s human nature to want to delay dealing with something we find uncomfortable.

However, if you get your tax return for the 2021/22 tax year completed sooner rather than later, you will have some benefits that could help you through the cost-of-living crisis.

Benefits

A primary benefit to dealing with your tax return early is knowing it is out of the way. For some this may be less of an issue, but as accountants get busier as the tax payment deadlines approach, it can be difficult to give a return as much attention as we could at other times.

By getting your tax return calculations done early, not only are you helping your accountant to spread his or her workload in a more manageable way, more importantly for you, you will know exactly what your bill is going to be early in the year. This may make it possible to free up some of the money you had set aside to pay the bill if it is lower than you had expected.

For businesses, this could mean having extra cash to invest in expanding the business, paying off debt, or hiring an extra full or part-time employee to move the business forwards. For individuals, this money could help offset the current cost-of-living crisis we are in by giving you extra cash to cover rising energy or food bills.

Paying tax early

Remember, just because you have had the tax return completed, it does not mean you have to file it with HMRC straightaway. If you want your accountant to hold off on this part and file it later in the year – especially if you think there may be any changes necessary to the tax return down the line – then that is not a problem.

If you prefer to pay early and get it out of the way, then that is also fine. The big benefit to you is that you have the option. It may be that you do not have enough money put aside for your tax bill when you find out what it is. So, the extra time you have built in before the tax needs to be paid means you have time to get those funds together. It could be the difference between setting aside an extra amount each month to pay the bill while storing money for the next tax year or having to saddle your company with a loan that will cost in interest payments too.

Tax reliefs

It will also ensure your accountant can maximise any tax reliefs you or your business can benefit from. This could include pension payments or offsetting costs against tax that may otherwise be difficult to include if the information is not given to him or her in a timely manner, in the last-minute rush to get the data to the accountant.

It may also mean, depending on how your accountant works, that you could benefit from having more time to pay your accountant’s bill too. Spreading this cost will also help with cashflow.

Take your time

Overall, it will mean that tax is a much more leisurely affair than it often is and that is never a bad feeling. Stress is not good for any of us and building in time to deal with something that is – for many – inherently stressful anyway is a good plan.

Contact us

If you want us to start working on your tax return now or have a question about ways in which we can make your tax less taxing, please get in touch.

June 13, 2022

Payments on account due July 31

Payments on account due July 31

Some taxpayers must pay a tax more than once a year, and if this is you then you are facing a second tax bill before July 31.

Those exempt from making a payment on account in July include those who had a self-assessment tax bill of less than £1,000 for the previous tax year, or if you have paid more than 80% of your tax bill through your tax code or your bank has deducted interest from your savings.

It is easy to forget the July 31 deadline

While most of us think of the January 31 payment deadline as the main one, it is easy to forget that there is another payment due on July 31 – and now is the time to consider how much you need to have set aside to cover it.

How the payment on account works

Example:

Your bill for the 2020 to 2021 tax year is £3,000. You made two payments on account last year of £900 each (£1,800 in total).

The total tax to pay by midnight on January 31, 2022 is £2,700. This includes:

  • your ‘balancing payment’ of £1,200 for the 2020 to 2021 tax year (£3,000 minus £1,800)
  • the first payment on account of £1,500 (half your 2020 to 2021 tax bill) towards your 2021 to 2022 tax bill

You then make a second payment on account of £1,500 on July 31, 2022.

If your tax bill for the 2021 to 2022 tax year is more than £3,000 (the total of your two payments on account), you’ll need to make a ‘balancing payment’ by January 31, 2023.

Source: Gov.UK

We can help you meet your obligations

If you have to make a payment on account, then please get in touch with us soon so we can let you know how much it is going to be to help you ensure you have enough money set aside to make the payment.

May 30, 2022

Use up your tax allowances early in the tax year

Use up your tax allowances early in the tax year

If you are one of those people who is always racing to use up your tax allowances, such as Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) at the last minute before the end of April 5, then you are not alone. But you could be making a big mistake.

When it comes to mopping up tax allowances, it is best to use your allowances at the beginning of each tax year than the end. If you have not managed to use all or any of your allowance coming up to April 5, well, it is better late than never. But if you can take advantage of using your ISA allowance, for example, at the start of the tax year, then you will benefit from an additional year of investment growth.

Benefit from an extra year of growth

It may not seem like it matters that much, but that extra period of growth – assuming markets rise over the year – will add up over time. Even if the markets dip, the adage ‘it’s about time in the markets, not timing the markets’ still holds because trying to time the market is usually not a good idea.

In addition, you get a full year of growth that is free of capital gains tax and free of income tax. By holding your assets outside of an ISA for the year, you could face a tax charge on any dividend payments from equities.

Early use gives other benefits

Starting to use your allowance at the start of the tax year also gives you other benefits. You can choose whether you put the entire £20,000 allowance into your ISA in one go, or whether you ‘drip feed’ money into the market over the full 12 months.

The latter can be an effective method to help smooth out ups and downs in the stock market, known in the trade as ‘pound-cost averaging’. Let’s take an example of you putting money into a unit trust. If you are buying units every month with the same amount of money, you will be buying more or fewer depending on the value of the units you are buying that month.

Market performance is affected by a range of factors

These values will go up and down depending on a number of factors that impact the stock markets – everything from political will to social and economic changes.

The same principle applies to your pension allowance – most people can put up to £40,000 a year into a pension and get tax relief – if you can put money aside to go into your pension each month, you are benefiting from the same investment smoothing process outlined above.

The other drawback of waiting until the end of the tax year to use your allowances, is that you are forced to put a lump sum into markets at what could be a terrible time. So, giving yourself a head start means you can benefit from the highs and the lows over the year.

Let us help you

If you want to find out more about how you can benefit from your ISA and pension allowances by taking action early, get in touch with us now and see how we can help you.

May 23, 2022

Get a business health check at the start of the tax year

Get a business health check at the start of the tax year

Using up personal allowances is not the only reason you should see your accountant at the start of the tax year, it is also the best time to get a health and wealth check for your business too.

The end of the tax year is the busiest time for your business and your accountant, meaning devoting time and effort to checking whether your business is on track is sadly lacking.

Take the time while you have the time

However, the complete opposite is the case at the start of the tax year, so now is the time to make the most of the chance to review your business strategy, cashflow and plans for the coming year to ensure your company has the best chance of success.

What can your accountant help you with?

Your accountant is perfectly placed to help you put an effective plan in place to give your business the boost it needs at the start of the tax year. He or she can help you with everything from saving tax and paying the right amount of tax, right the way through to helping you comply with relevant regulations and improving your cashflow.

Accessing funding

A good accountant can also help you access relevant funding – whether that is a grant that your business would qualify for or an investor that would help your business to grow.

Setting out an effective business plan at the beginning of your financial year is like creating a road map for the coming months, allowing you to follow that map to achieve your goals.

We can help your business run smoothly

When things get tough, your accountant is there to help you with everything from advice to reality checks so your business can continue to run smoothly.

If you want help to set your business on the right path for this tax year, then please get in touch and find out how we can help you.

May 9, 2022

Reclaim Married Couple’s Allowance

Reclaim Married Couple’s Allowance

Married Couple’s Allowance can be transferred between spouses and civil partners, and while 2m couples have claimed this since it was introduced back in 2015, there are many more people who are entitled to claim it.

Go back four years

The allowance, which is worth up to £1,220 for each year, can be reclaimed back for every year to the 2017/18 tax year right the way through to the 2021/22 tax year. For those entitled to the maximum amount, this could create a windfall of £4,880.

Claim it now

However, these payments need to be claimed before 5 April 2022. Married couples and those in civil partnerships can transfer 10% of their personal allowance to their spouse or partner if one is a non-taxpayer and the other is a basic-rate taxpayer. This could apply if one partner loses hours or sees a significant reduction in their salary due to reduced hours – entirely possible during the Covid-19 pandemic – retirement or a change of job. It also applies if someone takes a career or study break.

Who claims?

The lowest earning spouse or partner would make the claim for this transfer of personal allowance, and even if your spouse or civil partner has died since 5 April 2017, then the remaining spouse or partner can still claim this allowance. This is done via the income tax helpline. If the claim is made via the online service, they will automatically roll on to the following years.

But if you make the claim via a self-assessment, this does not automatically roll on. If a couple no longer qualifies, then they need to cancel their claim.

We can help you reclaim what is due

If you think you are entitled to the Married Couple’s Allowance or any other benefit, such as the Blind Person’s Allowance, Tax Relief for Employment Expenses – which includes the £6 per week allowance for employees required to work from home in 2020/21 and 2021/22 – and could benefit from going back up to four years with your claim, then please contact us for more information.

April 4, 2022

End of year tax planning – what you need to consider

End of year tax planning – what you need to consider

The new tax year on April 6 is accelerating quickly towards us, and now is the time to make sure that any last-minute allowances you may not have made the most of in the 2021/22 tax year are mopped up.

There are plenty of allowances that have a time limit on each tax year, and if you can use these last few days to maximise the benefits, then it would be a good deed done.

Individual Savings Account (ISA) Allowance

Each year, we can put up to £20,000 into an ISA, and if you have not put the full amount into your ISA for this year, then consider adding any additional funds to it before April 5.

Putting your savings and investments into an ISA wrapper allows the funds to grow free of tax, and when you take those funds out at the other end, you don’t pay any tax on them then either. You can spread this across a number of different types of ISAs – for example a cash ISA, Stocks and Shares ISA, Innovative Finance ISA, which is peer-to-peer lending, or a Lifetime ISA (although you can only invest £4,000 in this type as a maximum, which would leave you £16,000 of your allowance to invest elsewhere).

If you fail to use your full ISA allowance within the tax year, then you will lose it once we hit April 6, so make sure you maximise this tax benefit.

Avoiding a 60% effective tax rate for higher earners

Once you reach £100,000 of earnings, you begin to lose your personal allowance at a rate of £1 for every £2 of earnings above this threshold. This means that by the time you reach £125,140 you no longer have a personal allowance. Between £100,000 and £125,140, your effective tax rate is 60%.

However, you can reduce the impact of this by making payments into your pension, or by donating money and benefiting from Gift Aid on the payments. Pension contributions and Gift Aid payments are made from gross income, which means you reduce the amount of taxable income you have. You cannot put more than £40,000 into your pension each year and receive tax relief, and you cannot reclaim more in tax in a single year than you would have paid.

This annual allowance as it is known will also reduce by £1 for every £2 earned above £240,000 and will stop reducing at £312,000 – leaving everyone with a minimum annual allowance of £4,000.

Carry forward

If you have any unused allowance from any of the three previous tax years, then you can carry this forward for one year to help you reduce your tax liabilities and maximise your pension contributions.

There are a few caveats to this, including:

  • You must have been in a registered pension scheme for each of these previous three years.
  • You must have already used all your allowance for the current tax year.
  • The carried forward annual allowance from the first year must be used first.
  • The amount you can carry forward may be subject to the tapered allowance if your earnings were high enough for this to apply in any of the previous three years.

Taking more than your tax-free lump sum out of a money-purchase pension scheme will also mean your annual allowance is reduced to £4,000.

However, if you have any annual allowance available from the three previous tax years and have used your full allowance for the current tax year, then this is another way you can reduce your taxable income and put extra into your pension pot. But make sure you remain within the Lifetime Allowance, which is currently set at £1,073,100.

Dividend Income

If you take dividends from your company, then you can take up to £2,000 each year at 0% tax, but if you miss this within a tax year, it is not possible to roll this over to the next year. Any dividend income after this between £12,570 and £50,270 is subject to 7.5% tax up to April 5 and 8.25% from April 6 – due to the addition of the equivalent of the 1.25% Health and Social Care Levy – so if you can bring any dividend payments into the current tax year, you may be able to avoid the additional tax.

Corporation Tax

The Corporation Tax rate is set to increase from 1 April 2023, and while this is a year away, it makes sense to plan ahead to make sure you make the most of the lower rate of 19% for the coming year.

Companies with profits between £50,000 and £250,000 will continue to pay corporation tax at 19% even after 1 April 2023, but companies with profits above this will face a tapered rate up to 25%.

For this reason, it would be wise to plan ahead for the next trading year to consider how you may be able to effectively mitigate this tax. But it is not something you should do without expert advice.

Contact us

If you are interested in benefiting from either personal or business tax advice, then please contact us and we will be happy to help you make the most of your tax breaks.

April 1, 2022

IHT receipts up by £700m – but why you should see this as a ‘voluntary’ tax

IHT receipts up by £700m – but why you should see this as a ‘voluntary’ tax

Inheritance tax (IHT) is one of the most hated taxes there is, mainly because for many people their estate faces a 40% tax rate which is higher than they would have paid during their lifetime.

HMRC’s latest figures reveal there has been a £700m increase in IHT receipts in the financial year to January 2022, with £5 billion going into Treasury coffers. Much of this additional revenue will have come from property price inflation, which has increased the value of many estates, especially as the £325,000 personal IHT allowance has stayed at the same level since 2009. Had it been left to rise with inflation, it would have been worth £428,000 in 2022/23 according to Quilter.

Transfer of allowances

Any remaining allowance can be transferred on the first death between spouses or civil partners, meaning a married couple where the first spouse or civil partner uses none of his or her NRB leaves a £650,000 allowance for the second spouse or civil partner.

The Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB) of £175,000 is also available – and can also be transferred in the same way as above – but this has added complexity to IHT. In fact, for those who have no children, the RNRB cannot be used at all, which increases the complexity around advising on this.

However, with the average house price now at £288,000 – just £37,000 shy of the £325,000 threshold – many more people look likely to get drawn into this tax net without some prior planning.

You can mitigate this tax

Given the ways that IHT can be mitigated during our lifetimes, this can be considered a ‘voluntary tax’ and one that richer people have been planning to mitigate for years. Yet it is still considered solely a tax on the rich by many, even though those with relatively modest estates that include a property can be caught in this trap.

So, using every available way you can reduce your estate’s exposure to IHT before you pass makes sense, even if you feel you are someone of relatively modest means.

Ways to reduce your IHT liability

There are a number of ways you can lower your IHT bill, including making gifts during your lifetime to reduce your estate to below these thresholds so there is no IHT for your beneficiaries to pay.

You can make gifts to spouses or civil partners without any IHT, but you can also gift up to £3,000 a year to other people using your annual exemption. For a couple, this means they can gift up to £6,000 a year with no IHT impact.

You can also gift unlimited amounts above your normal expenditure, providing it does not alter your standard of living. If you want to make larger gifts, then providing you survive them by seven years, it will be considered a potentially exempt transfer and free of IHT.

If you die within this seven-year period, a tapered amount of IHT would be applied.

We can help you mitigate IHT

There are many more ways you can reduce your IHT liabilities, but IHT planning is a complex area, and you can easily fall foul of the rules without expert help. So, if you would like to find out more about how you can reduce your liabilities for your beneficiaries, then please do get in touch.

March 14, 2022

NI to increase by 1.25% this April to fund the Health and Care Levy – what you can do about it

NI to increase by 1.25% this April to fund the Health and Care Levy – what you can do about it

The Government is set to increase National Insurance Contributions (NICs) by 1.25% from April to fund the Health and Social Care Levy, and while this may be a laudable aim, it is going to hit all of us in the pocket.

Costly increase when finances are being squeezed

The NICs hike means that someone earning £30,000 a year will pay an additional £255 into Government coffers – equivalent to 10% more than they are currently paying – while someone earning £50,000 will pay an extra £505. The lowest earners are set to be hit hardest because of the point at which NICs is applied on lower wages.

Despite numerous calls to delay this rise, especially as the cost of living is increasing at rates not seen in nearly 30 years – the Consumer Prices Index rose to 5.5% in January – the Government has insisted it is ploughing ahead with the change.

What can you do?

Unless we see a change of heart in the Spring Statement, this further reach into the pocket of employers and employees is going to sting. But there are some things you can do. For example, as the NICs are paid on your salary, if your employer has – or can offer – the option to do salary sacrifice for another benefit, you may be able to reduce the impact this has.

Salary sacrifice schemes involve your employer cutting your salary in return for paying the equivalent amount into benefits which have both tax and NICs benefits. These can include pensions, pension advice, car leasing schemes, and even cycle to work schemes.

While you get less money in your hand at the end of the month, overall you will be better off because you are getting benefits that make up that value difference, and you will pay less tax and NICs.

Dealing with a benefit in kind

For example, if you leased an electric car through your employer, the payments can be made direct from your gross salary, which means your salary is reduced, cutting the cost of the 1.25% rise. The other benefit is that there will be less income tax to pay too, while you benefit from the use of the car.

There is, of course, the benefit in kind cost to consider. But for electric cars this is only 2% from April 2022, compared to as much as 25% for even a relatively low-emission non-electric car, according to calculations from Loveelectric.cars. So, it might make financial sense to explore this with your employer or employees.

While electric cars can be expensive, the salary sacrifice scheme can make them more appealing. For example, a higher-rate taxpayer earning £60,000 a year chooses a Tesla Model 3 with a lease term of 48 months and annual agreed mileage of 5,000 miles.

Typically, the lease price would be around £524 per month, but combining the price of a lease with salary sacrifice could reduce this to £267 per month, making it much more affordable.

Company owners or directors who may not be primarily paid via a salary can use a business contract hire option which allows them to deduct the full cost of a rental from profits and then recover half of the VAT paid if it is used for personal use, or 100% if it is solely used for business purposes.

Contact us

If you are interested in taking advantage of salary sacrifice or discussing other ways you can mitigate the impact of the 1.25% rise in NICs, please get in touch with us.

March 1, 2022

Plan ahead for increases in the dividend tax rates

Plan ahead for increases in the dividend tax rates

As part of the Government’s funding strategy for health and social care, the dividend tax rates are to be increased from April 2022, alongside the temporary increases in National Insurance, and, from April 2023, the introduction of the Health and Social Care Levy. The increases in the dividend tax rates will affect you if you operate your business through a personal or family company and extract profits in the form of dividends. It will also affect you if you receive dividends from investments in shares.

Dividend tax rates from April 2022

The dividend tax rates are to increase by 1.25% from 6 April 2022. Once the dividend allowance (currently set at £2,000) and the personal allowance have been utilised, dividends are currently taxed at 7.5% where they fall within the basic rate band, at 32.5% to the extent that they fall within the higher rate band, and at 38.1% where they fall within the additional rate band.

Where the strategy is to extract profits in the form of a small salary plus dividends, typically little or no National Insurance is payable. To ensure that those extracting profits as dividends contribute towards the cost of social care, from 6 April 2022, the dividend tax rates are increased by 1.25%, in line with the temporary increases in National Insurance contributions and the rate of the Health and Social Care Levy. From 6 April 2022, once the dividend allowance and the personal allowance have been used up, dividends will be taxed at 8.75% where they fall within the basic rate band, at 33.75% where they fall within the higher rate band, and at 39.35% where they fall within the additional rate band.

Plan ahead for the increases

As the increases in the dividend rates of tax do not take effect until 6 April 2022, you have time to plan ahead. If you have sufficient retained profits, you may want to consider extracting further profits as dividends in 2021/22, rather than waiting until after 6 April 2022. This will enable you to take advantage of the current, lower, rates of dividend tax. This is likely to be advantageous if you have not used up all of your basic rate band for 2021/22. If you have an alphabet share structure, dividends can be tailored to take advantage of any unused dividend allowances and basic rate bands of other family shareholders.

In deciding whether to extract additional dividends in 2021/22, you will, however, need to take account of your marginal rate of tax. If taking additional dividends now means that they will be taxed at the upper dividend rate of 32.5%, but taking those dividends in 2022/23 would mean that they will fall within the basic rate band, it will be better to take them in 2022/23 despite the rate increase as they will be taxed at 8.75% rather than 32.5%.

Speak to us

We can help you formulate a tax-efficient profit extraction policy for your business. Please get in touch.

October 19, 2021

Claim relief for shares of negligible value

Claim relief for shares of negligible value

If you have some shares that have become worthless, you can make a negligible value claim. This will allow you to set the associated loss against any chargeable gains that you make in the same, or a later, tax year, potentially reducing the amount of capital gains tax that you pay.

Making a claim

A claim can be made either in your self-assessment tax return or by writing to HMRC.

If you are making a claim in respect of unquoted shares, you will need to provide the following information in support of your claim:

  • a statement of affairs for the company and any subsidiaries;
  • a letter from the liquidator or receiver showing whether any return will be made to the shareholders;
  • details of how this decision was reached (for example, a balance sheet where liabilities are significantly greater than assets); and
  • evidence that no recovery or rescue is likely (for example, a statement that the company has ceased trading).

If your claim is in respect of shares in a company that is not in liquidation or receivership, comprehensive evidence to support the claim that the shares are of negligible value should be provided.

For quoted shares, HMRC produce a list of shares that they accept being of negligible value.

Talk to us

Talk to us to find out how you can benefit from making a negligible value claim for shares that have become worthless.

June 14, 2021

Family companies and the optimal salary for 2021/22

Family companies and the optimal salary for 2021/22

If you run your business as a personal or family company, you will need to decide how best to extract profits for your personal use. A typical tax-efficient strategy is to pay yourself a small salary and then extract any further profits as dividends. Where this approach is adopted, you will need to determine your optimal salary level of 2021/22.

Benefits of paying a salary

Unless you already have the 35 qualifying years needed for the full single-tier state pension when you reach state pension age, paying yourself a salary that is at least equal to the lower earnings limit for Class 1 National Insurance purposes (set at £6,240 for 2021/22) will ensure that the year is a qualifying year for state pension and contributory benefit purposes. A further benefit of this approach is that employee contributions between the lower earnings limit and the primary threshold (set at £9,568 for 2021/22) are payable at a zero rate (although employer contributions are payable on earnings in excess of the secondary threshold (set at £8,840 for 2021/22)).

Determining the optimal salary level

The optimal salary level (from a tax and National Insurance perspective) for 2021/22 will depend on whether your personal allowance remains available, and also on whether your company is able to claim the National Insurance Employment Allowance. The Employment Allowance is set against your employer’s Class 1 National Insurance liability.

The Employment Allowance is not available to companies where the sole employee is also a director. This means that if you operate as a personal company where you are the only employee and director, you will be unable to claim the allowance. However, if you operate as a family company and have more than one employee (or the only employee is not also a director), you should be able to claim the allowance. The allowance is set at £4,000 for 2021/22. It is not available where the Class 1 National Insurance bill for 2020/21 was £100,000 or more.

Optimal salary where the Employment Allowance is unavailable

If you are operating a personal company or if the Employment Allowance is otherwise unavailable, assuming that you have not used your personal allowance elsewhere, your optimal salary for 2021/22 is one equal to the primary threshold of £9,568. Remember, that as a director, you have an annual earnings period for National Insurance purposes. However, if you opt to pay yourself a monthly salary, the equivalent is £797 per month.

As the secondary threshold for 2021/22 is lower than the primary threshold, employer’s National Insurance contributions will be payable to the extent that your salary exceeds £8,840. If you pay yourself a salary of £9,568 for 2021/22, your company will need to pay employer’s National Insurance contributions on that salary of £100.46 (13.8% (£9,568 – £8,840)).

Although it is possible to pay a salary equal to the secondary threshold of £8,840 free of tax and National Insurance, it is worthwhile paying a higher salary of £9,568. The salary and the associated employer’s National Insurance contributions are deductible in calculating your company’s taxable profits for corporation tax purposes. As the rate of corporation tax at 19% is higher than the rate of employer’s National Insurance at 13.8%, the corporation tax relief obtained on the higher salary outweighs the cost of the employer’s National Insurance. However, once your salary exceeds the primary threshold of £9,568, you will need to pay primary contributions on the excess at the rate of 12%. As the combined National Insurance hit at 25.8% outweighs the rate of corporation tax relief (at 19%), this is not worthwhile.

Optimal salary where the Employment Allowance is available

The Employment Allowance reduces your employer’s Class 1 National Insurance bill by up to £4,000. Where this is available, your optimal salary for 2021/22 is one equal to your personal allowance. This will normally be £12,570.

As the Employment Allowance will offset any employer’s Class 1 National Insurance contributions that would otherwise be payable to the extent that your salary exceeds £8,840, you will not need to pay any tax or National Insurance until your salary level reaches the primary threshold of £9,568. Once this level is reached, it is worth paying additional salary of £3,002 for the year to take your salary up to the level of the personal allowance of £12,570. Although you will pay employee’s National Insurance contributions of £360.24 (£3,002 @ 12%) on the additional salary, as the salary is deductible for corporation tax purposes, you will reduce the corporation tax payable by your company by £570.38 (£3,002 @ 19%), delivering a net saving of £210.14.

However, once your salary exceeds the personal allowance of £12,570, tax will also be payable at the basic rate of 20%, meaning the pendulum swings the other way and the combined tax and employee’s National Insurance payable on any further salary will outweigh the associated corporation tax deduction.

Get in touch

Your optimal salary will depend on your individual circumstances. We can help you decide on your 2021/22 salary level.

May 10, 2021

Extracting funds from a family company without retained profits

Extracting funds from a family company without retained profits

Many family companies have struggled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and may no longer have any retained profits. Where this is the case, they may need to rethink how they extract funds from their company to meet their personal bills.

Dividend problem

A popular and tax-efficient strategy is to pay family members a salary equal to the primary threshold, set at £9,500 for 2020/21, or, if the employment allowance is available, a salary equal to the personal allowance of £12,500, and to extract further profits as dividends.

Requirement to pay dividends from retained profits

Under company law, dividends can only be paid from retained profits. This means that if a company lacks sufficient retained profits to pay a proposed dividend, they will not be able to pay that dividend legally. The ability to pay a dividend is constrained by the available retained profits.

Dividends must also be paid in proportion to shareholdings; however, the use of an alphabet share structure can provide flexibility.

Other options

Despite not having any retained profits, your company may have money in the bank. This may provide options for taking funds from the company where dividends are not an option.

Unlike dividends, salaries and bonus payments can be made where the company lacks profits, even if this results in a loss. Funds can also be extracted in the form of benefits in kind or, if the business is run from home, rent.

This will not always be ideal, from a tax perspective, but may be necessary. However, the directors must be wary of inadvertently trading while insolvent.

The company could also consider making a loan to the director. This can be a useful short-term option and it is possible for a director to borrow up to £10,000 for up to 21 months tax-free. However, there will be tax implications if the loan remains outstanding nine months and one day after the end of the accounting period in which it was made.

Talk to us

We can discuss ways to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and extract funds from an unprofitable family company.

September 30, 2020

Optimal salary for 2020/21

Optimal salary for 2020/21

A popular profit extraction strategy for personal and family companies is to pay a small salary and to extract further profits as dividends. With new National Insurance thresholds applying for 2020/21, what is the optimal salary for the new tax year?

Starting point – what can be paid free of tax and National Insurance?

Assuming the director has the full personal allowance for 2020/21 of £12,500 available, the optimal salary will be dictated by National Insurance considerations. Unless the director already has the 35 qualifying years needed to secure a full single tier state pension, it is worthwhile paying a salary at least equal to the lower earnings limit, set at £6,240 for 2020/21, to ensure that the year counts for state pension and contributory benefits purposes.

For 2020/21, the point at which employer contributions start (the secondary threshold) is lower than the point at which employee contributions start (the primary threshold). The secondary threshold is set at £8,788 for 2020/21 (£169 per week; £732 per month), whereas the primary threshold is set at £9,500 (£183 per month; £792 per month).

Assuming that the director is over the age of 21 and the employment allowance is not available (as is the case where the sole employee is also a director), the maximum salary that can be paid free of tax and National Insurance is £8,788 – equal to the secondary threshold.

Employer contributions for under 21s do not start until the upper secondary threshold for under 21s is reached (set at £50,000 for 2020/21). Thus, where the director is under 21, a salary equal to the primary threshold of £9,500 per year can be paid free of tax and National Insurance. This is also the case if the employment allowance is available (for example, in a family company scenario).

Is it beneficial to pay a higher salary?

Salary costs and any associated National Insurance are deductible in computing the company’s profits for corporation tax purposes. Thus, if the corporation tax deduction (at 19%) is more than any National Insurance or tax paid on the additional salary, paying a higher salary can be worthwhile.

If the director is 21 or over and the employment allowance is not available, it is worthwhile paying a salary up to the primary threshold of £9,500. On earnings between £8,788 and £9,500, employer National Insurance contributions of 13.8% are due, but this is outweighed by the corporation tax deduction on the additional salary and the associated employer’s National Insurance. However, once the primary threshold is reached, both employer and employee contributions are due (at 13.8% and 12% respectively) on further earnings. As these outweigh the corporation tax deduction, it is not worth paying a salary above £9,500 a year. So, where the director is aged 21 or over and the employment allowance is not available, the optimal salary for 2020/21 is £9,500 a year (£792 per month).

If the director is under 21 or the employment allowance is available, as seen above, a salary of £9,500 (equal to the primary threshold) can be paid free of tax and National Insurance. Above this level, primary National Insurance contributions are payable at 12% until the personal allowance of £12,500 is reached. As the associated corporation tax deduction is higher than the National Insurance cost, it is worth paying a salary of £12,500. Above this, however, income tax at 20% is also payable, outweighing the corporation tax deduction. Consequently, in these circumstances, the optimal salary is equal to the personal allowance of £12,500 a year.

Determine your optimal salary

As shown above, the optimal salary depends on personal circumstances. Speak to us for help in crunching the number and determining the optimal salary for your situation.

April 8, 2020

Entrepreneurs’ relief – reduction in lifetime limit

Entrepreneurs’ relief – reduction in lifetime limit

Prior to the Budget, there had been much speculation that that entrepreneurs’ relief would be abolished. In the event it stayed – albeit with the new name of ‘Business Asset Disposal Relief’ – and a much-reduced lifetime limit.

New £1 million lifetime limit

The lifetime limit is reduced from £10 million to £1 million with immediate effect for disposal on or after 11 March 2020 (Budget Day). Disposals prior to Budget day that qualified for entrepreneurs’ relief count towards the new £1 million limit, and where this has already been reached, the relief will not be forthcoming on future disposals, even if the qualifying conditions are met.

Anti-forestalling

Anti-forestalling measures were announced which may negate protective action taken ahead of the Budget in an attempt to preserve availability of the relief as it applied at that time.

Where arrangements were entered into before Budget day, the old £10 million lifetime limit will only apply if:

  • the parties to the contract are able to demonstrate that they did not enter into the contract for the purposes of obtaining a tax advantage by virtue of the capital gains tax rules setting the contract date as the date of the disposal; and
  • where the parties to the contract are connected, the contract was entered into for wholly commercial reasons.

If the above conditions are not met, the reduced lifetime allowance of £1 million applies.

Anti-forestalling rules also apply in certain circumstances where between 6 April 2019 and 11 March 2020, shares were exchanged for those in another company, and both companies are owned or controlled by substantially the same person.

Plan ahead

If you are planning on disposing of business assets or shares in a personal company, it is important to plan ahead to maximise relief. We can help you. Remember, spouses and civil partners each have their own lifetime limit.

Guidance on the changes is available on the Gov.uk website.

March 16, 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