End of Year Tax Checklist

By Caroline Shaw

Inheritance Tax 

Have you used all of your possible allowances?

»The annual exemption is £3,000 for each of us. This allows us to make a gift which is immediately exempt from Inheritance Tax (IHT). We can carry forward any unused allowance from the previous tax year. An increasing number of clients are using this (as an alternative to the ‘normal expenditure out of income’ exemption) for making pension contributions for a child or grandchild. Remember, even if the child has no income, Basic Rate Income Tax relief is rewarded on contributions up to £2,880 net per tax year.

»Small gifts exemption. You can make IHT free gifts of up to £250 to any number of individuals each year. 

»Normal expenditure out of income. Although not an annual exemption, I think it’s worth reminding you that regular patterns of gifts from your regular income that don’t reduce your standard of living would be immediately outside of your estate for IHT purposes.

ISAs                                                                                                                                                                             In the current tax year, you can save £10,680 in ISAs. Up to half of this can go in a Cash ISA. The remaining balance (up to £10,680 if you don’t take a Cash ISA) can be invested in a Stocks & Shares ISA.

Remember to review your Cash ISAs annually, as many banks and building societies offer 1 year incentives/ bonuses. They are relying on our inertia for these products to be profitable.

Pension Contributions
As you know, the government spends big on welfare, Armed Forces, State Pension and pension tax relief. You will also be aware that the Chancellor is working to reduce the UK’s debt.

Some industry commentators are starting to speculate that a reduction in pension tax relief would have the least impact on economic growth and so, might be on the cards.

I therefore suggest that you try to maximise pension contributions before the budget on 21st March 2012. Remember that you can invest up to 100% of your earned income into a pension. This is capped at £50,000. You can also carry forward any unused £50,000s from the last 3 years.
PeYour Personal Allowance will reduce by £1 for every £2 over £100,000.
Income over £150,000 is now taxed at 50%.Pension tax relief is particularly attractive for those earning over £100,000 because:

»Your Personal Allowance will reduce by £1 for every £2 over £100,000.
»Income over £150,000 is now taxed at 50%.

If you expect your income to increase beyond £100,000 next year, you may prefer to delay making contributions until then to achieve more tax relief.

Allocating Savings
For married couples and those in civil partnerships, it is legitimate to transfer assets from one partner to the other.

If one of you is in a higher Income Tax band than the other, consider transferring savings to mitigate tax.

Capital Gains Tax
We each have an annual Capital Gains Tax (CGT) allowance of £10,600 in year 2011/12 and it is frozen for 2012/13.

If you are sitting on capital gains that can be fairly easily realised, it is certainly worthwhile utilising this valuable allowance.

It is not too difficult to imagine this allowance remaining frozen for several years, particularly given that the rate charged on realised gains above the allowance is only 18% (for Basic Rate taxpayers) and 28% (for Higher Rate taxpayers) compared to the highest Income Tax rate of 50%.

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