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Financial planning in your forties

Posts Tagged ‘tax’

Financial planning in your forties

Thursday, August 16th, 2018

It’s well known life begins at forty. Doesn’t it?

It should be an exciting decade, full of plans and aspirations. It’s also likely to be a time of optimum earning potential.

What’s more, it’s a crucial decade to take a step back and make sure your finances are on track to meet your goals.

There’ll be some decisions you’ll already have taken in your twenties or thirties, which will have had an impact. You may have bought your own home, for example, or put some savings away in cash, investments or pensions.

If things don’t look quite as rosy as you’d hoped, though, your forties are a good time to take stock, as there’s still time to make adjustments and give your investments time to grow.

Don’t forget, whatever savings you can make now will enable you to pursue your dreams later on.

Here are four key tips for shrewd financial planning at this important time of life.

Budget ruthlessly

Just because life may feel comfortable with regular pay rises and bonuses don’t fall into the temptation of spending more than you need. Do you really need that Costa coffee or M&S lunch every day?

Apps like Money Dashboard or Moneyhub can be helpful in showing you where your money’s going. Simple steps like cancelling subscriptions or switching bill providers can make a significant difference.

Historic studies show that investments usually outperform cash savings so any disposable income you can invest will be beneficial. If you can put money aside in a pension you’ll also be taking advantage of the tax relief available. Make sure you use your ISA allowance too for more accessible funds.

Carry out a protection audit

Think about what if the unexpected happened. Your forties are a time of life where you may find yourself part of what’s known as ‘the sandwich generation’ i.e. caring for elderly parents at the same time as looking after young children. This can put extra pressure on you. Make sure you’re protected should the worst happen by ensuring you have a good emergency fund in place. Also think about critical illness cover and life insurance.

Property plans

Your home will be a fundamental part of your financial planning at this time of life. If you feel you need a larger property, these are likely to be your peak earning years so now is the time to secure the best mortgage you can and find your dream home. On the other hand, if you’re quite happy where you are, it may be a good time to remortgage to get a better deal.

Family spending

Everyone’s situation is different. You may have children at university or you may still be having to pay for nursery fees. Whatever your position, make sure you budget accordingly and allow for inflation, especially if you’re paying private school fees. Work out the priorities for your family – the best education now or a house deposit in the future. It’s important not to derail your own life savings for the sake of your children as no one will benefit in the long run.

By doing some sound financial planning now, you’ll have more hope of continuing in the style you want to live, well beyond your forties.

The investment process: science, not art

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Do you understand the way in which an investment portfolio is designed? If not, read on…

There are typically six stages before your investment portfolio can be created:

1) Risk profiling: All investment involves risk and understanding your risk profile is a key starting point.

2) Goal setting: Investment is ultimately a means to an end. There is always a reason – and often more than one – for investing.

3) Asset allocation: This stage sets the appropriate broad types of investment and within each category the individual sectors.

4) Fund selection: Once the high level choices are made, the next decision is which funds to use in each chosen sector.

5) Tax considerations: Tax should never dictate investment, but it can determine how and where investments are held – the so-called investment wrappers.

6) Platform selection: The final part of the process before implementation is the selection of a platform through which to make the investment.

Please get in touch with us if you need more information about investment platforms.

The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Investing in shares should be regarded as a long-term investment and should fit in with your overall attitude to risk and financial circumstances. The value of tax reliefs depends on your individual circumstances. Tax laws can change. The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate tax advice.

The £1,000,000 inheritance tax exemption

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Mr Osborne has made good his manifesto commitment to ease the burden of inheritance tax, but his approach is not simple. We take a closer look.

One of the surprises in the Conservative manifesto was the proposal to create a new transferable main residence band of £175,000 per person for inheritance tax (IHT). The idea was criticised by many, including the Institute for Fiscal Studies which said “it would have been much simpler and arguably fairer” to just increase the nil rate band to £500,000. In a leaked paper published by The Guardian, even the Treasury, said that “there are not strong economic arguments for introducing an inheritance tax exemption specifically related to main residences”.

Nevertheless the Chancellor has gone ahead with the plan, but it is rather more complicated than the manifesto suggested:

  • The initial band will be £100,000 in 2017/18, rising by £25,000 a year until it reaches £175,000 in 2020/21. It will then increase in line with CPI from 2021/22 onwards.
  • The band will generally only apply to gifts of main residences (not second homes) to direct descendants.
  • The transferability is only between spouses and civil partners – as applies to the existing nil rate band.
  • A taper will apply to the allowance for estates valued at over £2m: the allowance will drop by £1 for each £2 over this threshold.
  • There will be special provisions for those who downsize or cease to own a home on or after 8 July 2015.
  • The legislation introducing the new band will extend the current IHT nil rate band freeze until the end of 2020/21.

The leaked Treasury paper estimated that the measure would still leave 6% of estates liable to IHT by 2020, so you cannot forget the tax completely. To discuss what impact the measures will have on your long term estate planning and what actions you should consider, please contact us.

The value of tax reliefs depends on your individual circumstances. Tax laws can change. The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate tax advice.

Emergency Budget Summary

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

The Chancellor promised a radical Budget and we got one. But will it radically change the advice our clients need? The following summarises the changes likely to be of most interest to our clients:

Pension Annual Allowance cut for high earners from 2016 – get it while you can

Those with ‘adjusted income’ over £150k will have their Annual Allowance (AA) cut from the 2016/17 tax year, creating a ‘get it while you can’ pension funding window this tax year.

The standard £40k AA will be cut by £1 for every £2 of ‘adjusted income’ over £150k in a tax year. The maximum AA reduction is £30k, giving those with income of £210k or above a £10k AA. Carry forward of unused AA will still be available, but only the balance of the reduced AA can be carried forward from any year where a reduced AA applied.

The ‘adjusted income’ the £150k test is based on is broadly the total of:

  • the individual’s income (without deducting their own pension contributions); plus
  • the value of any employer pension contributions made for them.

The reduced AA won’t however apply where an individual’s net income for the tax year plus the value of any income given up for an employer pension contribution via a salary sacrifice arrangement entered into after 8 July 2015, is £110k or less.

More changes to come? The Government has kicked off a fundamental review of the pension tax framework to ensure it remains fit for purpose, and sustainable, for a changing society. In a consultation launched today, HM Treasury is seeking views on a range of very open questions around what changes (if any) would simplify pensions and increase engagement.

Other pension news

  • Lifetime allowance: The proposed reduction in the Lifetime Allowance from £1.25M to £1M will go ahead as planned from the 2016/17 tax year. It will be indexed in line with CPI from 2018/19. Details are awaited of a new transitional protection option for those with existing pension savings already over £1M who would otherwise face a retrospective tax hit.
  • Death tax: As promised as part of the ‘freedom and choice’ reforms, all pension lump sum death benefits paid after 5 April 2016 in relation to a death at age 75 or above will be taxed as the recipient’s income (removing the flat 45% tax that applies in the 2015/16 tax year).
  • Salary sacrifice: Despite wide pre-Budget rumours, there are no changes to salary sacrifice rules. The Government will, however, be monitoring the growth of such schemes and their impact on tax take.
  • Transfers: To improve consumer access to ‘freedom and choice’, the Government will consult about how to improve the pension transfer process and, potentially, cap charges for over 55s.
  • Annuities: The ability for pensioners to sell their annuities will be delayed until 2017. This allows more time to ensure the related consumer safeguards are in place. More details will be announced in the autumn.

Individual tax allowances

Both the personal allowance and higher rate income tax thresholds will increase over the next two years as follows:

2016/17:

  • Personal Allowance increases to £11,000;
  • Higher rate threshold increases to £43,000.

A basic rate taxpayer will be better off by £80. Higher rate taxpayers will be better off by £203.

2017/18:

  • Personal Allowance increases to £11,200;
  • Higher rate threshold increases to £43,600.

A basic rate taxpayer will be better off by a further £40, and higher rate taxpayers by £160.

These increases are on the way to meeting government pledges to raise the personal allowance to £12,500 and the higher rate threshold to £50,000 during this Parliament.

New dividend allowance

The system of dividend tax credits will be abolished from April 2016. It will be replaced by a new tax free dividend allowance of £5,000. Dividends in excess of this allowance will be taxed at the following rates, depending on which tax band they fall in:

  • Basic rate – 7.5%;
  • Higher rate – 32.5%;
  • Additional rate – 38.1%.

This means that from April 2016, a basic rate taxpayer could have tax free income of up to £17,000 pa when added to the personal allowance of £11,000 and the new ‘personal savings allowance’ announced in the Spring Budget of £1,000. Higher rate taxpayers could have up to £16,500 (as the personal savings allowance is restricted to £500 for these individuals).

Certain individuals may also have savings income falling into the £5,000 savings rate ‘band’, currently taxed at 0%. There is no mention of any change to this band, in which case certain individuals may have tax free income of up to £22,000, depending on the sources of their income.

Making full use of these new allowances can make savings last longer in retirement and potentially leave a larger legacy for loved ones. And strengthens the case for holistic multiple wrapper retirement income planning.

Inheritance Tax: family home nil rate band – but not yet

The Government will introduce a new IHT nil rate band of up to £175,000 where the family home is passed to children or grandchildren. This is in addition to the current nil rate band of £325,000 which has been frozen since 2009 and will remain frozen for the next 5 tax years, until the end of 2020/21.

Who will benefit
The extra nil rate band will be fully available to anyone who:

  • passes the family home to their children or grandchildren on death; or
  • or had a family home, then downsized (passing on assets of equivalent value to children/grandchildren); and
  • has an estate below £2M.

However, the full £175,000 won’t be available until 2020/21. The allowance will first become available in 2017/18 at £100,000 and increase to £125,000 in 2018/19, £150,000 in 2019/20 and £175,000 in 2020/21. It will then increase in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Like the existing nil rate band the new property nil rate band can be transferred between spouses or civil partners. This means a married couple could pass £1M in 2020/21 to their children tax free on death provided the family home is worth at least £350,000, saving £140,000 in IHT.

Who may miss out
But not everyone will benefit from the additional IHT free allowance. Anyone with a net estate over £2M will begin to see their property nil rate band reduced until it is completely lost once the estate is over £2.2m (2017/18) £2.25m (2018/19), £2.3m (2019/20) or £2.35m (2020/21).

It will only apply to transfers to children and grandchildren. Meaning those without children will miss out. And it is not possible to use the exemption for lifetime transfers which may discourage some clients from passing on their wealth during their lifetime.

Clients who could benefit from the property nil rate band may need to revisit their existing wills to ensure they continue to reflect their wishes and remain as tax efficient as possible.

ISA changes

Replacing withdrawals
The proposed changes to ISA, allowing savers to dip into the savings and replace them without it affecting their annual subscription limits, will go ahead from 6 April 2016.

The new contributions would have to be paid within the same tax year as the withdrawal for it not to be counted. These new flexible funding rules will only apply to cash ISAs and any cash element within a stocks and shares ISA. However, it is now possible to move ISA holdings between cash and stocks and shares without restriction, so clients in stocks and shares will be able to benefit provided they move into cash first.

Buy To Let landlords – restriction on interest relief from April 2017

Under current legislation, individuals who use debt to finance the acquisition of residential buy to let properties can claim a tax deduction for finance costs incurred in servicing that debt.

From April 2017, tax relief for interest and finance costs will be restricted for residential buy to let individual landlords. The changes will not affect qualifying furnished holiday lets. The restrictions will be phased in over four years, resulting in tax relief only being available for finance costs at the basic rate of income tax (currently 20%) from April 2020. The restrictions will be phased in as set out below:

Tax Year % Fully Deductible Finance cost % Restricted to Basic rate of tax
2017/18 75 25
2018/19 50 50
2019/20 25 75
2020/21 0 100

With thanks to Standard Life technical department for some of the background. The value of tax reliefs depends on your individual circumstances. Tax law can change. The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate tax advice.

Millions snared by tax traps

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

The UK tax code keeps getting more complicated, says the Financial Times, which is why millions of people get caught in tax traps that cost them hundreds or thousands of pounds.

The FT’s analysis focused on three big anomalies: For households where one parent earns over £50,000, the loss of child benefit results in an effective rate much higher than the 40% official rate of income tax. The same applies to those earning over £100,000 who lose their personal income tax allowance and pay an effective rate of 60%. The transfer of up to £1,060 of the personal allowance from a low-earning to a high-earning spouse is complicated and unfair. All three require taxpayers to engage in equally complicated strategies if they want to avoid penal tax rates.

The value of tax reliefs depends on your individual circumstances. Tax laws can change. The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate tax advice.