The end of the financial tax year is fast approaching (5th April) and time is almost up to complete those tax year sensitive tasks. The end of tax year obviously is of particular significance when managing your finances and investments and offers planning opportunities for each individual. Therefore I have compiled an end of year checklist to help you get your finances in order and make the most of the available tax breaks.
- Pay into your pension – pensions offer a tax-efficient way to invest for your retirement. A pension fund grows tax-free and any contributions you make into the plan also receive income tax relief at your highest marginal rate. But you can not access your pension fund until you are 55. You receive tax relief on any contributions up to 100% of your earnings (capped at the current Annual Allowance of £40,000) or £3,600, whichever is greater. Making pension contributions can lower your income tax bill, restore lost personal allowances or help you avoid the child benefit tax charge.
- Carry forward pension contributions - unused pension contribution Annual Allowances can be carried forward, and used, from the previous 3 years.
- Pay into your spouse’s pension – even non-earners can get tax relief on pension contributions. A non-earner can pay £2,880 each tax year into a pension and receive an additional £720 from HMRC.
- Boost your state pension - by topping up any shortfall in your National Insurance contributions. Normally you have to do this within six years of the end of the tax year for which the contributions are being paid. Full details of time limits, rates and exemptions can be found on the HMRC website.
- If you're unsure how much you need to be paying into your pension each month to be comfortable in your retirement use our pension calculator to find out.
- Use your annual ISA allowance - You can shelter up to £20,000 this tax year in a Stocks and Shares ISA (also called an investment ISA), cash ISA, Lifetime ISA (up to a maximum of £4,000) or an Innovative Finance ISA. But you must stay within the overall £20,000 limit. All income, interest or capital gains are tax-free within an ISA. Here is a roundup of the best cash ISA rates and best investment ISAs available at the moment.
- If a person is under 18, they may invest in a cash or stocks and shares Junior ISA, which has an annual allowance of £4,368 for the 2019/20 tax year
- Utilise your Capital Gains Tax (CGT) allowance – If the value of your investments has increased enough during the current tax year to exceed the capital gains tax allowance of £12,000 for the 2019/20 tax year, you may want to consider selling enough of your units or shares to use that allowance, as well as consider splitting this over more than one tax year. You can also take advantage of Bed and Breakfasting rules.
- Pay money into your child’s Junior ISA - up to the maximum of £4,368 for the 2019/20 tax year. Unused allowances are lost and can’t be carried over to the new tax year. Here is our roundup of the Best Stocks and Shares Junior ISAs.
- Consider tax incentivised investments - certain legitimate investments, such as Venture Capital Trusts (VCT’s), attract generous tax reliefs which are tax year sensitive. However, these investments are only suitable for sophisticated investors. But never make an investment just for tax reasons and always seek independent financial advice.
Consider disposing of any capital losses to offset against capital gains made elsewhere which may be liable to capital gains tax. You can also carry forward excess capital losses but you must declare them on your tax return within four years.
Marriage tax allowance - if your spouse has unused tax allowance then you may be able to use it by moving assets into their name. If you have not claimed Marriage tax allowance before you can backdate your claim for up to 5 years, providing you qualified in each of those tax years. Our article ‘Marriage tax allowance - are you missing out on £1,125 (and how to claim)’ explains more.
Be generous and reduce your Inheritance Tax (IHT) bill – there are a number of annual IHT allowances which are tax year sensitive. By using them you can reduce any potential IHT bill payable on your death. IHT is charged at 40% on estates over £325,000. Each tax year you can give away :
- £3,000 and if you don’t make full use of your exemption in one year you can carry it forward to the next year, for one year only.
- up to £250 a person (but not in conjunction with any other inheritance tax allowance).
- £5,000 to a child who is getting married and £2,500 to a grandchild or great-grandchild getting married.
- regular gifts from income which are IHT free. Size is irrelevant as long you can maintain your normal lifestyle after making them. But grandparents could use these to fund a pension for a grandchild which is obviously tax year sensitive.
- For other ways that to reduce your tax bill see my article how to avoid inheritance tax.
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