You can, when you plan…

BLOG9th Mar 2015

Time is ticking away if you want to do some serious tax planning in this financial year…

With a general election on the horizon, taxation – and each party’s various policies regarding wealth – will be high on the agenda in the coming weeks and months. You may therefore be forgiven for thinking that the money that remains in your pocket is entirely decided by those in power. In reality, you might be more in control than you imagine.

At this stage, we can only guess what changes to legislation will be introduced in the future. As such, planning can only be based on the here and now, starting with the approach of the end of the tax year.

It’s hard to believe, so soon after the 31st January self-assessment bombardment, that there are only two months remaining of the 2015 tax year to plan and adapt.

Tax planning itself will vary in complexity between individuals, but there are a number of things that we all should look at before 5th April 2015 in order to ensure we don’t miss out:

Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs)

Have you taken advantage of your full annual entitlement to these tax-free accounts? The regulations for 2014/15 were relaxed last summer, meaning that you have an annual allowance of £15,000 which can be invested however you choose. The ability to select between cash and/or stocks and shares gives you much greater flexibility than ever before.

Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) or Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS)

Investments in these schemes may bring an increased risk, but the tax breaks are attractive. Is now the time to consider whether the relief offered is worth the additional risk?

Pension Contributions

Have you used your full annual allowance of £40,000? Is there any unused allowance from the previous three tax years that you could take advantage of too? Remember, relief from 2011/12 tax year must be used by 5th April 2015.

Personal Allowance

With a tax free earnings allowance of £10,000 per person, it may well be that planning between spouses is necessary in order to obtain maximum advantage. At the other end of the scale, the personal allowance decreases by £1 for every £2 that your adjusted net income exceeds £100,000, giving nil allowances to an individual earning £120,000 or above. Could your adjusted net income perhaps be reduced via pension contributions and gift aid?

Capital Gains

Remember to make use of your Annual Exemption of £11,000 before the end of the tax year. This exemption is per individual, so think carefully about the ownership of any assets that you intend to sell.

Capital Allowances

Consider the timing of asset purchases. Would it be beneficial to buy earlier, in order to take advantage of the allowances at the earliest possible point in time?

It’s easy to see that it’s a really great time to take careful stock of your finances, but the suggestions above are only a starting point. Are you doing everything that you can to help yourself? Why not sit down with your accountant and draw up a plan for maximum tax efficiency?