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(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

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

It’s official: thousands are on the wrong tax code!

With the tax return deadline being only hours away (midnight 31 January 2014) there is still time to get professional help if you need it – particularly because HMRC  often get it wrong according to new research by UHY Hacker Young.

In just one example, HMRC sent a tax bill to a pensioner which demanded over £576k in tax! With an income of only £11k per annum this was clearly incorrect but what if it had been only hundreds of pounds wrong – would the pensioner have noticed and, if so, would he have been confident enough to question it with the might of HMRC?

According to the research, HMRC employees have been making ‘basic’ errors which have led to problems such as people being on the wrong tax code and consequently underpaying or overpaying tax. While underpaying it may sound attractive on the face of it, chances are the system will catch up and then a correction will need to be made later on, leaving the taxpayer with an unforeseen bill to pay – a real blow for cashflow.

While the UHY Hacker Young research cites an error rate in 2013 of 37% in the sample tested, HMRC are arguing that the research is wrong and that their PAYE coding notices are 99% accurate. Either way, when you consider that Read more

Tax return help 7 days a week!

By midnight on 31st January 2014, you will need to have submitted your self-assessment tax return to HMRC and have paid them any tax due for the 2012-13 financial year. It doesn’t matter if you have zero tax to pay – you still need to submit your tax return on time or you will be hit with an automatic penalty of £100 (delaying even further can, in the worst case scenario, increase this fine to as much as £1,600).

In view of this, for the month of January you can get help 7 days a week from Taxfile in Tulse Hill, South London.

Our team of tax advisers and accountants can help you with your return whatever your employment status. We can help you register with HMRC if you are not already registered, check your form and help fill it in where necessary, make sure you’ve claimed for any allowable expenses to offset tax, make sure you haven’t missed anything or claimed for something you shouldn’t have claimed, compute any tax due (or due to be refunded), and submit your tax return on-line (the only option available this late into January – paper returns are already too late!). Read more