(Time Sensitive): Tax Year End Changes for Pension Allowances

The start of the new Tax Year on 6 April 2014 – just 6½ weeks away at time of writing – will see two very important changes in relation to pensions allowances.

The first change will affect the ‘Annual Allowance’ (or ‘AA’) which is the annual limit on pension savings attracting tax relief. This limit will be reduced from £50k to £40k (having been as high as £255k back in 2010/11) and includes contributions made by anyone into your pension whether that’s you or your employer. Should your pension savings be greater than this amount then you will have to pay a tax charge and include such information on your Self Assessment tax return. A calculator is available to work out whether you have any unused annual allowance available, this being particularly useful because you are eligible to carry forwards any unused allowance if it exists from the 3 previous tax years. If present the unused allowance can be used to offset against any tax charge.

The second change will affect the ‘Lifetime Allowance‘ (or ‘LTA’) which is the amount payable from a private and/or work pension scheme (excludes State pension) before tax also becomes payable. Having already recently been cut from £1.8 million the LTA is currently set at £1.5 million but will be reduced to £1.25 million from 6 April 2014. The LTA is only applied to pension savings when you actually take your pension benefits, or at certain key events such as reaching the age of 75. Other examples of applicable key events are explained here. Read more

Time for ‘tax year end planning’ (pre-Budget)

The budget will take place on March 19th 2014 so that gives us all just 5 weeks (at time of writing) for ‘tax year end planning’. So perhaps now is the time to start reviewing investments.

N.B. We’re not financial advisers (we are tax agents and accountants) so we can’t give advice on investments. But let us simply point out that if a portfolio shows signs of some gains, one can usually realise up to £10,900 in capital gains for the tax year 2013/2014, without a capital gains tax (CGT) liability coming into force.

It might also be worth considering making the most of ISA allowances before the tax year ends (April 5th). £11,520 can currently be invested into an ISA for the tax year 2013/2014, of which £5,760 maximum can be in a ‘Cash ISA’. Because you cannot carry forward ISA allowances into a new tax year, there is only very limited time remaining to make the most of the current ISA allowance. Tax benefits in relation to ISAs are well recognised in the UK, so much so that the Treasury has already looked at the possibility of capping their total value … and who knows what news the coming Budget will bring in this regard, particularly bearing in mind the continued need for austerity measures to reduce the budget deficit during these troubled economic times.

If you would like independent financial advice, Read more

So are you one of the 6.6% who missed the tax return deadline?

Despite it being an all time record year for receipt, on-line, of ‘on time’ tax returns this year, of the 10.74 million tax returns which were due by 31 January 2013, about 708,740 were – or still are – late. That represents a shortfall of 6.6% and, at a starting penalty of £100 per late return, that’s quite a hefty total penalty. However, one could argue that an additional £71 million in the HMRC coffers in these troubled economic times is very welcome for the exchequer, even if it’s small change in the big scheme of things.

So did you miss the deadline? Here’s what you can expect in terms of additional penalties:

Late return penalties by HMRC

Remember: you still have to submit a tax return even if you do not owe any tax. Taxfile are Read more

New opening hours for Feb-March

Please note that Taxfile’s opening hours for February and March 2013 are:

  • Mondays & Tuesdays: 9.00am-6.00pm
  • Wednesdays & Thursdays: 9.00am-5.00pm
  • Fridays: 9.00am-3.00pm
  • Saturdays & Sundays: closed (answerphone service)

Please contact us if you need accounting help or tax-related assistance.