Adopting healthier, more efficient tax habits as the Clock Ticks Towards April
Are you prepared for this year’s tax deadline? As we near the end of the current tax year, the importance of a proactive approach to tax planning becomes increasingly apparent. With the end of the tax year on 5 April 2024, this is now the perfect opportunity to take advantage of various tax reliefs and allowances, and to have a “detox” of bad habits from years gone by. Failure to use tax reliefs could lead to unnecessary tax liabilities that affect your overall financial health.
Understanding Your Tax Profile
The complexity of the UK tax system can be daunting, but understanding and navigating it effectively is crucial to maximise your wealth and ensure a secure financial future. Are you aware of your personal tax situation? Is your tax structure optimised for efficiency? Conducting a comprehensive review of your finances and tax obligations as we approach the 2023 / 24 year end can uncover opportunities for increased tax efficiency.
Leveraging Tax Reliefs and Allowances
The tax landscape is constantly evolving, and keeping up with these changes is crucial for every taxpayer. When you assess your tax position, remember that 5 April 2024 not only marks the end of the tax year, but also the end of your personal income year. This knowledge is crucial to understanding your tax band and ensuring that you maximise potential relief and allowances.
Key Planning Tips
Do you or your spouse earn less than the personal allowance threshold (£12,570)? If so, the marriage allowance allows the lower earner to transfer £1,260 of his allowance to his partner, potentially saving up to £252. It is an often overlooked quick opportunity that can provide immediate tax relief, and is particularly beneficial for couples where a partner does not fully use their personal allowance.
Employee Tax Reliefs
Evaluate all work-related expenses in order to determine your eligibility for tax relief. This includes the professional subscriptions required for your job, the costs of working from home, and even travel costs for business purposes. To claim, you must keep records and possibly receipts, depending on the nature of the expense. Understanding and using these benefits can significantly reduce your taxable income.
Trading and Property Allowances
If you earn small amounts by selling goods, services or renting out part of your property, you may not have to pay tax on the first £1,000. This is particularly useful for side hustles or tenant rental payments. If your income from these sources is less than £1,000, you automatically receive this relief, but if it’s more, you’ll need to declare it. Understanding these nuances can ensure you do not pay unnecessary taxes.
Individual Savings Account (ISA) Allowance
Your ISA allowance of £20,000 is a powerful tool in tax planning. It is vital to consider how you use your ISA, whether you invest in stocks and shares, cash, innovative financing or a combination. For couples, the combination of allowances means up to £40,000 can be protected from tax. Discussing the best use of this allowance with a financial adviser can significantly increase your long-term savings.
Junior ISA (JISA) and Lifetime ISA (LISA) Allowances
For those planning for their children’s or their own future, JISA and LISA offer significant tax-efficient savings opportunities. The JISA allows £9,000 a year to be put away for a child’s future, while the LISA, with its 25% government bonus on contributions up to £4,000 a year, is ideal for first-time homebuyers or retirement planning. Understanding these products and their criteria is essential for effective long-term planning.
Maximising your pension contributions can offer immediate tax relief and serve as a long-term investment. The ability to carry forward unused allowances over the last three years can significantly increase your pension pot. However, you need to be aware of the tapered annual allowance for high-income individuals, which can reduce the amount you can contribute. Regular review of your pension contributions, especially towards the end of the tax year, is a crucial step in tax planning.
Capital Gains Tax Allowance
Use your £6000 annual exemption to make tax-free gains up to that amount. Consider selling assets or shares and then repurchasing them to increase base costs, known as “Bed and ISA” or “Bed and Pension.” Time is crucial, as you have to wait 30 days to repurchase the asset to avoid the “share matching rules.”
Alternatively, your spouse or civil partner can immediately repurchase the assets in their name to use both exemptions effectively.
With a tax-free dividend allowance of £1,000, it is crucial for investors to understand how dividends are taxed above this threshold. Planning how and when you take dividends can have a significant impact on your tax liability, especially with changes in tax rates. The balance between dividend income and other forms of income can optimise your tax position.
Understanding the various gift exemptions, from small gifts of £250 to larger wedding gifts, can play a crucial role in reducing your future inheritance tax liability. Regular use of your annual £3,000 exemption and any carry-forward allowance can gradually reduce the value of your estate. It is important to keep records of all gifts as part of your estate planning.
Other Available Allowances
Do not overlook your Personal Savings Allowance (PSA) and the starting rate of savings. The PSA allows basic taxpayers to earn up to £1,000 in savings interest tax-free, while the starting rate for savings offers up to £5,000 in tax-free interest depending on your other income. Maximising these allowances can be an important part of your income strategy.
Act Now for a Secure Future
As the tax year ends, it is not just about meeting deadlines, but also about seizing opportunities to improve your financial well-being. Don’t leave your financial health to chance. Engaging with a professional adviser can ensure that your personal, family and business affairs are arranged as tax-efficiently as possible.
THE VALUE OF INVESTMENTS AND ANY INCOME FROM THEM CAN FALL AS WELL AS RISE AND YOU MAY NOT GET BACK THE ORIGINAL AMOUNT INVESTED.
AN ISA IS A MEDIUM TO LONG TERM INVESTMENT, WHICH AIMS TO INCREASE THE VALUE OF THE MONEY, YOU INVEST FOR GROWTH OR INCOME OR BOTH.
HM REVENUE AND CUSTOMS PRACTISE AND THE LAW RELATING TO TAXATION ARE COMPLEX AND SUBJECT TO INDIVIDUAL CIRCUMSTANCES AND CHANGES WHICH CANNOT BE FORESEEN.