Category Archives: UK Government

Inheritance Tax – Could there be a better alternative?

Inheritance tax is enormously unpopular to say the least. A YouGov poll found that 59% of the public deemed it unfair, making it the least popular of Britain’s 11 major taxes. What’s more, the tax has a limited revenue raising ability, with the ‘well advised’ often using gifts, trusts, business property relief and agricultural relief to avoid paying so much.

 

As it stands, the tax affects just 4% of British estates and contributes only 77p of every £100 of total taxation. This puts the tax in the awkward position of being both highly unpopular and raising very little revenue. At the moment, the inheritance tax threshold stands at £325,000 per person. If you own your own home and are leaving it to a direct descendant in your will, this lifts the threshold by an additional £125,000 in the 2018-19 tax year (the nil-rate band), to £450,000. Anything above this is subject to a 40% tax.

Continue reading

The longevity challenge and how to tackle it

In the UK, we are faced with the challenge of an ageing population. Many of us will live longer than we might have expected. Already, 2.4% of the population is aged over 85. Because of improvements in healthcare and nutrition, this figure only looks set to rise.

The Office of National Statistics currently estimates that 10.1% of men and 14.8% of women born in 1981 will live to 100. A demographic shift to an older population brings unprecedented change to the way the country would operate, from the healthcare system to the world of work.

In addition, a long life and subsequently a long retirement, bring challenges of their own from a personal financial planning perspective.

Continue reading

Could your business be claiming more tax relief?

Whatever your business, you might be eligible to claim more tax incentives than you currently do. Sometimes tax incentives are available on things you might consider to be mundane in your business, so it would be wrong to assume that your business won’t qualify.

Here is a list of the most common incentives you could be missing out on:

Research and Development

You might think this would only apply to companies with multi-million pound research operations, but this is often not the case. As long as your business researches or develops new processes, products or services in science or technology, you might be eligible.

SMEs with less than 500 staff and a turnover of under €100m or a balance sheet total under €86m can be eligible for R&D tax relief. If you qualify, you can deduct an extra 130% of your qualifying costs from your yearly profit, as well as the normal 100% deduction, to make an overall 230% deduction. As well as this, you can claim a tax credit if your company is loss making. This is worth up to 14.5% of surrenderable loss.

Annual Investment Allowance

You can get tax relief on the plant and machinery you purchase in the year before you purchase them. If you’re eligible, relief will be on 100% of the cost. You can also claim on the demolition cost and alterations to plant and machinery. It’s important to note that this tax relief doesn’t apply to repairs.

In his recent Budget, Philip Hammond announced the annual investment allowance has increased from £200,000 to £1 million. This comes into effect on January 1 2019 and is aimed at preventing investments in British businesses stagnating because of Brexit.

Tax relief on green equipment

In order to encourage businesses to be greener, the government’s Energy Technology List (ETL) and Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECA) offer relief on high-performance energy efficient equipment. Products on the ETL deliver a high standard of efficiency, defined as performing within the top 25% of all similar equipment available in the UK market. ECA lets you claim 100% capital allowance on products on the ETL.

Employment Allowance

Employers can get up to £3,000 a year off their National Insurance bill. The allowance will reduce your (secondary) Class 1 National Insurance payments each time you run your payroll until the £3,000 has gone or April, when the tax year ends (whichever is sooner).

Speaking to a qualified accountant will give you your best bet of finding what relief applies to you. Often the processes for claiming aren’t very transparent, so getting some expert help is recommended.

What do you need to consider regarding a defined benefits pension transfer?

Pensions freedoms introduced three years ago mean that people are able to do what they like with their retirement savings. If you are on a defined benefit (DB) pension scheme you may be offered the opportunity to transfer out of your pension scheme in return for a fixed sum.

DB schemes promise savers a certain level of income after retirement, such as a final salary. Transferring out means that you will usually be offered between 25 to 30 times your annual pension value as a lump sum. However, it could be as much as 40 times. For instance, someone on a £10,000-per-year pension could be offered between £250,000 and £400,000. Continue reading

October Market Commentary

On Tuesday, 3rd November 2020 the United States will go to the polls to elect its next President. All the indications are that Donald Trump will stand for a second term and if the words of Bill Clinton – “It’s the economy, stupid” – are to be believed, he will win.

While not wanting to make a political comment or endorse his policies in any way that be welcome to some extent – he does provide plenty of news and entertainment for these commentaries, after all. September was no exception, as he ramped up the trade war with China, ordering tariffs on a further $200bn (£154bn) of Chinese imports, which will include electronic products and consumer goods such as handbags. Continue reading

Funding care home costs with a care home ISA

If you’re under 60, funding your future care might not be top of your agenda. Garden improvements, good restaurants and holidays probably rank slightly higher, as well as saving for your pension if you’ve not yet retired.

However, the government could be proposing a new ISA in order to encourage people to start saving for their later life care. Recent leaked government documents suggest that the government is considering a Care ISA as part of its forthcoming green paper on social care. Continue reading

What might be in the Autumn Budget?

In normal years, the Autumn Budget (formerly the Autumn Statement) is announced in November. However, with less than 6 months left on the countdown to Brexit, this year is far from a normal year.

At the end of September, Chancellor Philip Hammond revealed that the Autumn Budget would be released on 29 October which is also, unusually, a Monday – traditionally budgets are announced on a Wednesday. Since the Wednesday would’ve been Halloween, perhaps the Chancellor moved the budget forward by two days to avoid a potential Budget horror show. Continue reading

END OF SUMMER REVIEW 2018

This time last year we produced our first End of Summer Review. We described it as a ‘reflection on some key events over the last few months’: would they, we wondered, ‘give us an idea of what might happen in the run up to Christmas?’

First of all, let’s reflect on what the world looked like 12 months ago. Continue reading

September Market Commentary

August used to be known as the ‘silly season’. Everyone who made the news was away on holiday, nothing happened and newspapers were desperate to fill their pages. So rather more obscure stories made it into print…

That, of course, was before Donald Trump. And Brexit. And Venezuela, Argentina and Greece. And…

In short, August is now just another month and this year it saw the world’s two most powerful economies, the USA and China, continuing their trade war as the US imposed an additional round of tariffs on Chinese imports and Beijing inevitably retaliated. Domestically, there were more woes for Donald Trump as more members of his former inner-circle decided they would rather do a deal with the prosecutors than the President. Could he be impeached? At this stage it would seem unlikely but the net is tightening. Continue reading

The end of LISA? Time to get your lifetime ISA before it disappears

The new girl on the block, in terms of saving products, seems like she may not actually be around for much longer. LISA, or the lifetime ISA, is being threatened with abolition by a Treasury committee, having only been on the market for 16 months.

The LISA allows those aged between 18 and 50 to save up to £4,000 a year towards a pension or a first home tax free, with the promise of a 25% government bonus capped at £1,000 a year. Continue reading