For those aged 55 and over and with a SIPP or other money purchase schemes, the new flexible pension rules commence on 6 April 2015. The new rules allow such pensioners to withdraw as much or as little income as they like from their fund but the income drawn will be taxed at their marginal tax rate.
Those affected should discuss the options with an Independent Financial Adviser who will need to work closely with us as the tax payable on the pension will depend upon their level of other income.
For every £2 that your adjusted net income exceeds £100,000, the £10,000 personal allowance is reduced by £1. Pension contributions and Gift Aid can help to reduce adjusted net income and save tax at an effective rate of 60%.
Higher rate taxpayers should make any charitable payments under Gift Aid so that you obtain additional tax relief. The charity will also be able to reclaim the basic rate tax from HMRC.
Have you used your 2014/15 annual exemption of £11,000? Consider selling shares where the gain is less than £11,000 before 6 April 2015. Also, if you have any worthless shares consider a negligible value claim to establish a capital loss. You may even be able to set off the capital loss against your income under certain circumstances.
Your maximum annual investment in ISAs for 2013/14 is £15,000. Your investment needs to be made before 6 April 2015. In addition, have you thought about investing for your children or grandchildren by setting up junior ISAs or pensions? In the 2014/15 tax year, you can invest £4,000 into a Junior ISA for any child under 18 who does not have a Child Trust Fund.
If you are looking for investment opportunities, have you considered the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), which offers income tax relief of 30 per cent as well as capital gains tax relief when you buy shares in certain qualifying companies? An even more generous tax break is available for investment in a qualifying Seed EIS company where income tax relief at 50 per cent is available. It is possible to shelter 50% of your capital gains in 2014/15 and there is a capital gains tax exemption when the shares are sold. Note however that qualifying Seed EIS companies tend to be risky investments so professional advice should be taken.
A 30% income tax break is also available by investing in a Venture Capital Trust.
Have you made use of your annual inheritance tax exemptions? The general annual exemption is £3,000 per donor (plus last year’s £3,000 exemption if you did not use it). Also consider making regular gifts out of your income to minimise the growth of your estate that will be liable to IHT.
A Government policy to reduce the number of school leavers not in employment, education or training is to abolish employers NIC for those under the age of 21. This exemption starts 6 April 2015 and will not apply to those earning more than the Upper Earnings Limit (UEL), Employers NIC will be charged as normal beyond that limit.
Those running a business should take advantage of the temporary increase in the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) to £500,000. 5th April 2015 is not relevant for this tax break as the limit continues until 31 December 2015 when it is scheduled to reduce to just £25,000. AIA provides a 100% tax write off for plant and equipment used in your business. This tax relief extends to fixtures and fittings within business premises such as electrical, water and heating systems.
Take advantage of the pension carry forward rules in order to benefit from any unused allowances from the previous three tax years. This is generally the difference between the old £50,000 limit and the pension input each year and can be added to your relief for 2014/15. Note that the annual pension allowance is £40,000 from 6 April 2015.
For example if your pension input was £20,000 in the 2011/12 tax year, then there is potentially up to £30,000 unused relief from that year available to add to your £40,000 2014/15 pension allowance. You would need to make gross pension contributions of at least £70,000 (£40,000 plus £30,000) to avoid losing this generous relief.