YEAR END CAPITAL TAX PLANNING

Have you used your 2018/19 £11,700 annual capital gains exemption?  Consider selling shares where the gain is less than £11,700 before 6 April 2019. In addition, if you have any worthless shares, consider a negligible value claim to establish a capital loss. You may even be able to set off that capital loss against your income under certain circumstances which could save income tax of up to 45% of the loss.

As far as Inheritance Tax (IHT) planning is concerned, all individuals have a £3,000 annual allowance which means that gifts up to that amount each year are exempt from IHT. If you have not used your £3,000 allowance from 2017/18 you can make gifts of up to £6,000 before 6 April 2019 without the gift being liable to IHT. Also consider making regular gifts out of your income to minimise the growth of your estate that will be liable to IHT. Gifts out of your surplus income are not subject to IHT if properly structured but obviously advice should be sought.

PENSION PLANNING

For most taxpayers the maximum pension contribution is £40,000 each tax year, although this depends on their earnings. This limit covers contributions by both the individual and their employer.  Note that the unused allowance for a particular tax year may be carried forward for three years and can be added to the relief for the current year, but then lapses if unused. Hence the unused pension allowance for 2015/16 will lapse on 5 April 2019 if unused.  Note that under the current rules the net after tax cost of saving £10,000 in a personal pension for a higher rate taxpayer is only £6,000 but there are rumours that this generous relief may be reduced in future.

2015/16 PENSION ANNUAL ALLOWANCE LAPSES ON 5 APRIL 2019

To utilize the 2015/16 unused relief any additional pension savings would need to be paid to the pension fund by 5 April 2019, otherwise the relief from 2015/16 will lapse.

Note however that for some taxpayers the method of calculating unused relief for 2015/16 is extremely complicated as the Government changed the pension rules part way through the year on 8 July 2015. The amount of pension allowance will depend on the pension input period of your scheme.

CONSIDER OTHER TAX EFFICIENT INVESTMENTS

If you are looking for investment opportunities, have you considered the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS)? These investments in certain qualifying companies allow you to set off of 30% of the amount invested against your income tax bill as well as the ability to defer Capital Gains Tax (CGT) until the shares are sold.

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 and in addition it is possible to obtain relief against your 2018/19 capital gains. Both EIS and Seed EIS also provide a CGT exemption when the shares themselves are sold after 3 years.  Note however that qualifying EIS and Seed EIS companies tend to be risky investments so professional investment advice should be taken.

A 30% income tax break is also available by investing in a Venture Capital Trust.

BUY NEW EQUIPMENT BEFORE 6 APRIL?

Your business year end, not 5 April, is relevant for capital allowances purposes. If however you are running a business and making up accounts to 31 March or 5 April, you should consider buying plant and machinery to take advantage of the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA).  Note that the AIA was increased from £200,000 to £1 million on 1 January 2019, so the allowance for year ended 31 March 2019 would be £400,000, not the full £1 million (£200,000 x 9/12 plus £1 million x 3/12).

The AIA provides a 100% tax write off for equipment used in your business. This tax relief extends to fixtures and fittings within business premises such as electrical, water and heating systems. AIA does not apply to motor cars but there is a special 100% tax relief if you buy a new car that emits no more than 50g CO2 per kilometer.

NEW WORKPLACE PENSION LIMITS FROM 6 APRIL 2019

The amounts that employers and workers will be required to pay into workplace pensions are due to increase from 6 April unless the worker opts out. The new limits will be 5% from the worker and 3% from the employer. The total minimum contribution will therefore increase from the current 5% overall to 8%.

In some schemes, your employer has the option to pay in more than the legal minimum. In these schemes, you can pay in less as long as your employer puts in enough to meet the total minimum contribution of 8%.

YEAR END PENSION PLANNING

For most taxpayers the maximum pension contribution is £40,000 each tax year, although this depends on their earnings. This limit covers both contributions by the individual and their employer.

Note that the unused allowance for a particular tax year may be carried forward for three years and can be added to the relief for the current, but then lapses if unused. Hence the unused pension allowance for 2015/16 will lapse on 5 April 2019 if unused. Note that under the current rules the net after tax cost of saving £10,000 in a personal pension for a higher rate taxpayer is only £6,000 but there continue to be rumours that this generous relief may be reduced in future.