Budget 2013

George Osborne budget

George Osborne revealed his mid-term budget on Wednesday 20th. Here is our summary of the most relevant points for your future financial planning:

Inheritance tax – As mentioned in our blog recently, the amount of an estate that can be passed to the next generation tax free will remain at £325,000 until April 2018 (anything above being taxed at 40%). Another 5,000 estates are expected to become taxpaying estates by this time. If this is you, careful use of allowances today can reduce your bill.

State pension – this will rise by 2.5% to £110.15 per week. The Basic State pension and State Second Pension will be combined in April 2016 to a flat £144 per week (in today’s money). This should make it easier to plan for the future.

Pension drawdown – From Tuesday 26th March capped income drawdown rates will rise from 100% to 120% of GAD. While this could be useful for those of you that need more income, please be aware there is no guarantee your pension fund can sustain this. GAD is also set to be overhauled which should lead to good news in the future.

Capital gains tax allowance – the amount of gains that you can make on disposal of assets before having to pay tax increases to £10,900 for 2013/14. The rate remains at 18% for non and basic rate taxpayers, 28% for higher rate taxpayers.

ISA (tax free savings vehicle) – The stocks and shares ISA allowance will be £11,520 and the cash ISA allowance will be £5,760 in 2013/14. Please contact us for details of how you could use these depending on your circumstances. If you are yet to use your £11,280 allowance for 2012/13 contact us ASAP!

Income Tax – The personal allowance, currently £8,105, will increase to £9,440 in April this year and then £10,000 in April 2014.

Pension allowances will be cut next year – Personal annual contribution allowance down from £50,000 to £40,000 and lifetime allowance down to £1.25m.

Abusive tax avoidance – The Government will publish a report on how it will tackle tax avoidance and evasion this week. Needless to say, any tax mitigation strategies recommended by OAM are not abusive and are a key part of good financial planning.

That concludes our non-exhaustive list of points to be taken from Wednesday’s budget. The above points are based solely on our understanding of intended HMRC rules and should not be used to influence planning decisions on their own.

If you are a current client and require any clarification on how the above might affect you then please get in touch.

If you are not, then we would be happy to give you a second opinion on any aspect of your planning. There’s never been a better time to contact us.

Malcolm Stewart


Inheritance Tax Nil Rate Band to stay at £325,000 after all

After the last budget we had been expecting the inheritance tax nil rate band to increase from £325,000 to £329,000 in 2015. This has now been set back to 2018, by which time it will have been frozen for 10 years. This means the potential saving of £1,600 per estate (40% of £4,000) in each of those years is lost.

The extra tax revenue for the Government will go towards paying for the imminent capping of long term care costs at £75,000.

These two decisions together form an interesting blend from an advice point of view.

The introduction of the cap is designed to encourage individuals to begin saving towards the possibility of needing care in later life. Long term care costs are currently both unpredictable and uncapped, and as a result there’s been little focus on saving for it. When a target is both unknown and unlimited it is hard to turn it into a realistic goal.

The cap will allow planning with greater certainty and with a known funding target. In addition, if care isn’t needed, individuals would still have access to their savings or they could be passed on through their estate.

So, from a holistic advice point of view, it makes sense to mark this down as something to work towards.

In terms of the change in the planned IHT band, careful planning can more than offset the £1,600. The use of allowances and exemptions over time, for example regular income gifts or one off larger gifts can help wealthier clients stay on track to minimise or remove inheritance tax as a problem. Of course this is better started sooner rather than later, as these allowances do not accrue year by year.

If you have any questions about planning for later life, be it covering the costs of long term care or passing your estate on to the next generation, please get in touch and we will be happy to advise.


Modelling Your Estate and Inheritance Tax

We are currently carrying out a large exercise for a client to ensure that the inheritance tax on her estate is mitigated as much as possible.

As well as taxation and trust work, the use of our cash flow modelling system has become an important part of this.

We are able to enter all of the client’s assets into the system and simulate an immediate estate scenario (a nice way of putting it!). This provides balance sheet style view of everything that needs to be taken into account, and performs the appropriate calculations. Any beneficiaries of the estate can also be entered into the planning, as well as potentially exempt transfers.

Please click on the image below for a basic example of this.

In this case, the estate will be distributed to two children, John and Jen. The system automatically collects anything that would be part of the estate and performs the calculations. This can be as simple or as complicated as necessary to correctly simulate your planning. The detail can drive down into the way certain policies are set up. For example, the Whole of Life insurance policy that the example client above holds is written in trust, and therefore the payment is outside of the estate.

The example above shows one solution in inheritance tax planning, whereby the £100,000 Whole of Life policy in trust pays out enough to cover the inheritance tax charge of £94,140.

For a detailed look at your inheritance tax position and to see what we can do for you please get in touch.



Working for the Government?

I had a friend that years ago had worked out that with his given rate of tax and National Insurance, he was effectively working for the Government until mid afternoon on a Tuesday before he made any money for himself.

Given our current levels of tax, I wonder what he’d make of things now?

He could well be working until late Thursday with top rates of tax being 50%.

We know that reducing the tax burden is one of the 5 key concerns of our clients and that this has never been more acute. I hear from people on a daily basis that they are looking for ways to pay less tax.

Interestingly, they always want to look to the esoteric methods rather than the tried and tested.

So please speak to your adviser and make sure you’re maximising your ISA allowance, pension contributions, CGT annual exemptions, IHT allowances – use a relevant life policy through your limited company if your able and save corporation tax on your life cover premiums.

If you want more, then certainly look at the improved tax breaks Venture Capital Trusts & Enterprise Investment Schemes offer since the last budget (be well aware of the higher levels of risk that might be involved here.)

In short, pay your tax but make sure you take full advantage of the ways you can pay less.

I’ll be discussing the ways you can use financial planning tools to save tax in more detail in the coming weeks.

Call me anytime to discuss this further or any other aspect of your financial planning needs.

Roland Oliver