How to kill two taxes with one stone (ok, maybe not kill exactly)
I am under no illusions that an article on tax is going to capture the imagination but please bear with me!
Now that we are at the start of a new tax year, there is one particular area I wanted to bring to your attention. Don’t worry I have no intention of staring into a tax crystal ball and predicting what may change in the future.
There are however two well-established tax traps that are all too easily missed but, in many cases, can be equally easily avoided if you know where to look. It is also possible to help a child or other family member avoid them which creates a win-win against both Income Tax and Inheritance Tax.
The first is the snazzily titled ‘High Income Child Benefit Tax Charge’. Imagine, if you will, someone a bit like me but only in so far as they are married and have 2 young children. If either my wife or I earned over £50,000 then not only would we start paying higher rate tax but we would also have to start paying back child benefit.
Now, imagine my wife earns £60,000. If she did then not only would she have paid 40% income tax on the income between £50,000 and £60,000 but she would have to repay the child benefit in full which is another £1,820 giving a total effective tax rate of 58.2% and leaving her walking away with just £4,180 in her pocket from £10,000.
Imagine, instead that you could turn that £4,180 back into £10,000 and the only catch is that it was in a pension to help fund her retirement. That’s a pretty attractive 239% return!*
The detail of how this works is below but I think it is important to make people aware of this. From experience, if that were indeed my wife, cashflow can be tight with 2 children but there is no reason why a parent couldn’t make this contribution on behalf of an adult child. If this were treated as a gift either out of income or by using the £3,000 annual Inheritance Tax (IHT) exemption then it is win-win as it also helps pass money to the next generation efficiently as far as IHT is concerned.
The second trap I want to cover is the loss of Personal Allowance for income exceeding £100,000. The ‘trap’ in this case exists for people earning between £100,000 and £125,140. For every £2 of income above £100,000 then £1 of personal allowance is lost.
This creates a punitive tax rate of 60% for this section of income. This comes from 40% income tax and an 20% extra tax for the amount of lost personal allowance.
I’m sure you get the idea now with pension contributions, but this can be another point at which pension contributions become incredibly tax efficient.
I will leave it there for now. If you think this could affect you, a family member or someone you know why not get in touch with your Planner and see if we can help.
*In practice the individual would make an £8,000 initial outlay into the pension. The scheme would reclaim £2,000 within the scheme giving a total of £10,000 in the pension. Higher rate tax (a further £2,000) would be reclaimed via a tax return taking the net cost to £6,000 and the Child Benefit of £1,820 can be kept making the net cost £4,180.
Financial Planning Director & Chartered Financial Planner
I must confess to having had a bit of a dilemma last Friday evening. France hosted Scotland in the final game of the Six Nations and who to support as an Englishman? The first emotion of “get behind the Sweaty Socks” was then swiftly followed up with a stronger emotion “Allez les Blues” because a France win by a certain margin meant Wales would come second overall and there would be much crying and gnashing of teeth down in the valleys.
Growing up in the 70s on the back of countless Welsh hidings has instilled in me such an unwholesome knee jerk reaction of ‘anyone but Wales’, which I am the first to agree with is not to my credit. But there you go – you get emotional about matters and you invariably make the wrong decision. Having had a stern word with myself I painted my face blue, sang Flower of Scotland like a warrior from Brave Heart, and watched an epic game to crown an epic tournament. Well done Wales (yes really) and well done Scotland who won the game at the death in dramatic style and came of age.
Many get emotional over investments both on the upside and on the downside, and indeed if they drift for too long. Emotion and investments become a heady cocktail, which leads to poor decision making. We have begun planning for the May rebalance when all portfolios are realigned back to their original asset allocation, an exercise that happens twice a year. Having zero emotion about such an important decision means that there is no soul searching about market timing or navel gazing about how much to sell and how much to buy. We have etched the investment process into tablets of stone and implement it at specific dates in the year. We complete comprehensive ongoing research and due diligence on the portfolios but will not be sucked into short term tactical decisions.
True to our word though when we stated earlier this year that any changes in our portfolios would have to favour a sustainable mandate, we will be adding the Liontrust Sustainable UK Growth fund to the IronBright Core Satellite range and introducing the Stewart Investors Asia Pacific Sustainability fund to the IronBright Sustainable range at the rebalance. We like both Liontrust’s and Stewart Investors basic belief that those companies that will survive and thrive are those which improve people’s quality of life, be it through medical, technological, or educational advances.
Most clients who I have spoken with over the past year have accumulated surplus cash, partly I would like to think down to our investment prowess, but probably more so because there has been very little to spend it on. With the Easter break only a few days away, the prospect of Summer on the horizon and the joyful promise of further relaxing of ‘The Rules’ even I am, on reflection, becoming a bit emotional …. nearly time to go face down in an enormous chocolate egg and spend a bit of accumulated cash planning a family holiday…. what could possibly go wrong!
From me and all of my colleagues may I wish you a very happy Easter.