Tax and financial strategies 2016/17
Certax have a wealth of experience in advising businesses and individuals on a range of key tax and financial planning issues. Here we consider strategies to help you to minimise your tax bill, maximise your profitability and boost your wealth.
For all the media controversy about the tax arrangements of multinational corporations, sensible tax planning within the law remains a perfectly legitimate practice for normal businesses and individuals.
There are numerous allowances and incentives in place, and this guide is designed to help make you aware of the main opportunities for minimising tax, so that you might incorporate them into your financial strategy.
However, the sheer complexity of the UK tax system means that you need expert advice and planning strategies in order to remain compliant, while also ensuring that you don't pay more tax than is necessary. We therefore recommend that you view this guide as a starting point, and contact us for specific advice. Every individual and every business situation is different, and what works for one party may not be appropriate for another.
Remember also that minimising your tax liability should form just one part of your financial planning or business development strategy, and it should not be viewed as an end in itself to the detriment of your wider goals.
As your advisers, we can help you to meet those goals - do contact us for one-to-one advice tailored to your individual circumstances.
How to benefit from our services:
Please read those chapters which are relevant to you as soon as possible.
Take note of the key points arising from this guide, and any action you may wish to consider
Contact us to discuss your action points, and to evaluate your long-term financial plans.
We would welcome the opportunity to assist you.
The general effect of the Civil Partnership Act is to treat registered civil partners on a consistent basis with married couples. For the purposes of this guide we have on occasions referred only to spouses.
'HMRC' refers to HM Revenue & Customs.
This guide is based on current understanding of legislation and the Government's proposals at the time of publication and under no circumstances should action be taken without first seeking appropriate professional advice.
With ongoing concerns about the risks presented by a weak global outlook, proper forward planning remains the best way of ensuring that you are on course to achieve your business and financial goals.
Planning for your business
A sound business tax strategy will include such things as:
making the most of the available incentives, allowances and reliefs
choosing the most appropriate structure for your business
claiming tax deductible expenses
deciding on the best year end date
minimising your liability to capital gains tax (CGT)
optimising the roles of family members
a tax-efficient business exit strategy.
Planning for your personal finances
A good personal tax strategy will focus on helping to ensure that you, your family and your dependents are financially secure in the long term. It will typically include such elements as:
a tax-efficient remuneration package
tax-efficient ways to extract profit from your business
tax-efficient saving and investment strategies
retirement planning strategies
estate and inheritance tax (IHT) planning
tax-efficient gifting strategies.
Recent tax and business measures
A number of significant measures affecting businesses and individuals have recently taken effect.
All change for dividends
Historically, it has been favourable for a director-shareholder to take dividends rather than a salary. A salary or bonus carries up to 25.8% in combined employer and employee national insurance contributions (NICs) and dividends are paid free of NICs, and the low tax rates on dividends made them a cheaper option.
The start of the tax year saw significant changes to the taxation of dividends, and although the amount of tax saved is likely to be reduced, there may still be a tax benefit for a director-shareholder in taking a dividend over a salary. The decision on whether to pay a dividend is complex and it is important to consider the wider implications. Please speak to us about the best course of action.
The new National Living Wage
The Government's new compulsory National Living Wage (NLW) has now come into effect, with the rate of pay for workers aged 25 and over initially set at a rate of £7.20 an hour. The NLW is expected to rise to around £9 an hour by 2020. Alongside the introduction of the NLW, tougher penalties have also been introduced for non-compliance with payment of the NLW and National Minimum Wage rates.
Single-tier State Pension
The new 'flat rate', or single-tier, State Pension has now come into effect for those reaching State Pension age (SPa) on or after 6 April 2016; those who had already reached SPa continue to receive the Basic and Additional State Pensions. Weekly payments have been set at a rate of £155.65. The new pensions entitlement sees an end to the ability to contract out of the Additional State Pension, leading to an increase in the NIC liability for some.
Abolition of employer NICs for young apprentices
The new tax year saw the introduction of a 'zero rate' for qualifying apprentices on weekly earnings up to the Upper Secondary Threshold, removing the requirement for employers to pay Class 1 secondary NICs on earnings up to £827 for apprentices aged under 25 who are in a government-recognised apprenticeship within the UK.
Increase in the Employment Allowance
Most businesses, charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs can now reduce their Class 1 NICs by means of the Employment Allowance, which for 2016/17 has been increased from £2,000 to £3,000. However, companies where the director is the sole employee are no longer able to claim the allowance.
The 3% stamp duty land tax (SDLT) surcharge
1 April 2016 saw the introduction of a new additional 3% SDLT surcharge on the purchase of additional residential properties in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The surcharge applies to additional properties costing £40,000 or more, such as buy-to-let properties and second homes. The Scottish Government has introduced a similar 3% levy on top of the existing Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) in Scotland.
The new Personal Savings Allowance (PSA)
Many savers can now benefit from the new PSA, which allows basic rate taxpayers to earn up to £1,000 each year in tax-free savings income (such as interest on bank and building society savings). Higher rate taxpayers can receive up to £500 before paying tax, but the PSA is not available to additional rate taxpayers.
If you would like advice on tax planning strategies, please contact Certax.
Strategies for your business
At Certax we are often asked for advice on key tax planning strategies for business owners. Whether you’re a new or established business, we can help you.
Starting a business
Starting your own business is one of the most fulfilling things you can do in life, but it usually also carries a degree of risk. During the start-up phase you will need to make all kinds of decisions that could be critical to the long-term success of the enterprise. You'll need to consider such things as: the type of business and its attributes; your target market and competition; profit potential and how you will extract those profits; the rate of business growth; and the impact of running the business on your personal life. At some point, you'll also need to consider how you will exit the business when the time comes, and realise its value. We can provide expert, tailored advice and help you avoid the common mistakes.
Making a business plan
One of the first things you need to consider is your business plan. This is not only for the benefit of potential investors, but to help you stay on the right course in the short, medium and long-term. It should include: the business structure that best meets your needs (such as: sole trader, partnership, limited liability partnership or limited company); your intended funding sources; tax-efficient borrowings; whether a PAYE scheme is necessary; and whether the business should be VAT registered.
We can guide you through these important decisions, and help you to complete the appropriate registrations. We can assist with cash flow forecasts, helping you to spot potential cash shortfalls, and provide regular updates so you can monitor your business's performance.
Choosing a business structure
Deciding on the most appropriate structure for your business isn't necessarily straightforward. Sole traders, partnerships, limited companies and limited liability partnerships all have their own pros and cons, with different implications for control, perception, support and costs. For example, careful consideration is needed regarding whether or not to retain personal ownership of any freehold property on incorporation. We can help you to decide on the best structure for your business.
Deciding on a year end
It's also important to choose a year end that suits your business. Is there a time of year when it will be more convenient to close off your accounting records, ready for us? What time of year would be best for stock-taking? Is your trading seasonal? From a tax perspective, choosing a year end early in the tax year for an unincorporated business usually means that an increase in profits is more slowly reflected in an increased tax bill, and over time the delay between earning profits and paying the tax can create a source of working capital for the business. On the other hand, a decrease in profits will more slowly result in a lower tax bill. Speak to us for advice about choosing your year end.
Registering with HMRC
When you start a business, it is important to inform HMRC of your new self-employed status as soon as possible. If and when you take on employees you need to register for and set up a PAYE scheme and accept all the responsibilities and obligations that go with it, including compliance with Real Time Information reporting (and remember for this purpose you will most likely be an employee of your limited company, if you incorporate). You will also now have to comply with the pensions auto-enrolment obligations, although exemptions apply to director-only companies so do get in touch for advice in this area.
Please talk to us as soon as you envisage having employees so we can help you set up a PAYE scheme and comply with your payroll obligations, or take on the task on your behalf.
Starting a Business - Action plan
- Prepare a robust business plan
- Ensure that you have access to suitable funding
- Check your right to use your chosen trading name
- Choose the right business structure
- Register with HMRC
- Register for VAT
- Register your business name
- Trade and professional registrations
- Choose your year end
- Plan to reduce your tax liability
- Develop your branding
- Involve the family
- Plan to avoid fines and penalties
Claiming deductible expenses
As your accountants and tax advisers, our job is to help ensure that you benefit from all of the allowances and reliefs available to you. You will pay tax on your taxable profits, so a crucial element of tax planning is to claim all deductible expenses, many of which will be included in your accounting records.
If you are self-employed and carry on your business from home you can claim tax relief on part of your household expenses, including insurance, repairs and utilities. You may also be able to claim for the cost of travel and accommodation when you are working away from your main place of business, so you should keep adequate business records, such as a log of business journeys. In addition to ensuring that your accounts are accurate, these records may also be requested by HMRC. An appropriate computer package might be worth considering, to aid concise and effective record-keeping.
You may also wish to consider the voluntary cash basis for calculating taxable income for small businesses, which allows eligible self-employed individuals and partnerships to calculate their profits on the basis of the cash that passes through their business. Businesses are eligible if they have annual receipts of up to £83,000 and they will be able to continue to use the cash basis until receipts reach £166,000. This is something we should discuss with you in detail if you are eligible. Allowable payments include most purchases of plant and machinery, when paid, rather than claiming capital allowances.
Unincorporated businesses are able to choose to deduct certain expenses on a flat rate basis. However, this is worth discussing before opting for it, as the flat rates are not generous.
Claiming capital allowances
'Capital allowances' is the term used to describe the deduction we are able to claim on your behalf for expenditure on business equipment, in lieu of depreciation.
Annual Investment Allowance (AIA)
The maximum annual amount of the AIA has been set at a new permanent rate of £200,000 from 1 January 2016. This means up to £200,000 of the year's investment in plant and machinery, except for cars, is allowed at 100%. The AIA applies to businesses of any size and most business structures, but there are provisions to prevent multiple claims. Businesses are able to allocate their AIA in any way they wish; so it is quite acceptable for them to set their allowance against expenditure qualifying for a lower rate of allowances (such as integral features) - see more on this below.
Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECAs)
In addition to the AIA, a 100% first year allowance is also available on new energy saving or environmentally friendly equipment. Where companies (only) have losses arising from ECAs, they may choose how much they wish to carry forward and how much they wish to surrender for a cash payment (tax credit is payable at 19% but subject to limits).
A separate ECA scheme is available for new electric and low carbon dioxide (CO2) emission (up to 75g/km) cars, new zero emissions goods vehicles (up to 31 March 2018 (corporates) or 5 April 2018 (others)). They still qualify for the 100% first year allowance, but do not qualify for the payable ECA regime.
Writing Down Allowance (WDA)
Any expenditure not covered by the AIA (or ECAs) enters either the main rate pool or the special rate pool, attracting WDA at the appropriate rate - 18% and 8% respectively. The special rate 8% pool applies to higher emission cars, long-life assets and integral features of buildings, specifically:
- electrical systems (including lighting systems)
- cold water systems
- space or water heating systems, powered systems of ventilation, air cooling or purification and any floor or ceiling comprised in such systems
- lifts, escalators and moving walkways
- external solar shading.
For most other plant and equipment, including some cars (see below), the main rate applies.
A WDA of up to £1,000 may be claimed by businesses, where the unrelieved expenditure in the main pool or the special rate pool is £1,000 or less.
The Enterprise Zones in assisted areas qualify for enhanced capital allowances. In these areas, 100% First Year Allowances will be available for expenditure incurred by trading companies on qualifying plant or machinery.
Currently for cars purchased with CO2 emissions exceeding 75g/km, the main rate of 18% applies. However, cars with CO2 emissions above 130g/km will be restricted to the special rate of 8%. For non-corporates, cars with a non-business use element continue to be dealt with in single asset pools, so the correct private use adjustments can be made but the rate of WDA will be determined by the car's CO2 emissions. Remember cars do not qualify for the AIA.
When a building is purchased for business use, capital allowances can be claimed on plant elements contained therein, eg. air conditioning, subject to certain conditions. A maximum 100% initial business premises renovation allowance is available for converting or renovating unused business premises within designated assisted areas, until 31 March 2017 for corporation tax and 5 April 2017 for income tax. Please contact us for further details. WDA of 25% (on a straight line basis) applies to expenditure on which an initial allowance is not claimed.
Research and Development (R&D) investment
Tax relief is available on R&D revenue expenditure at varying rates. The current rates of relief are as follows:
- for small and medium-sized companies paying corporation tax at 20%, the effective rate of tax relief is 46% (that is a tax deduction of 230% on the expenditure). For small and medium-sized companies not yet in profit, the relief can be converted into a tax credit payment effectively worth 33.35% of the expenditure
- for larger companies, the effective rate of relief is 26% (that is tax relief on 130% of the expenditure)
- an alternative 11% 'Above the Line' (ATL) credit exists for large company R&D expenditure. The credit is fully payable, net of tax, to companies with no corporation tax liability. The ATL credit scheme was optional until it became mandatory on 1 April 2016
- SMEs barred from claiming SME R&D tax credit by virtue of receiving some other form of state aid (usually a grant) for the same project will be able to claim the large company R&D tax credit. Therefore they will qualify for relief on 130% of their R&D expenditure. An SME may also be entitled to the large company R&D tax credit for certain work that has been subcontracted to it.
Bringing family members into the business
As long as it can be justified commercially, you can employ family members in your business. They can be remunerated with a salary, and possibly also with benefits such as a company car or medical insurance. You can also make payments into a registered pension scheme.
Family members may also be taken into partnership, thereby gaining more flexibility in profit allocation. Taking your non-minor children into partnership and gradually reducing your own involvement as their contribution increases can be a very tax-efficient way of passing on the family business. Of course, you should be aware that this could put your whole family wealth at risk, if the business were to fail.
It is worth noting that HMRC may challenge excessive remuneration packages or profit shares for family members, so seek our advice first. In most cases, if you operate your business through a trading limited company, under current tax law you can pass shares on to other family members and thus gradually transfer the business with no immediate tax liability.
However, a tax saving for the donor usually impacts on the donee, and you need to steer clear of the 'settlements legislation', so again, contact us for advice before taking any action.
Business profits are charged to income tax and Class 4 national insurance contributions (NICs) on the current year basis. This means that the profits 'taxed' for each tax year (ending 5 April) are those earned in the accounting period ending in the tax year.
For example, in the case of a sole trader who draws up his accounts to 31 July each year, his profits for the year ended 31 July 2016 will normally be taxed in 2016/17.
There are special rules for the early and final years of a business, and for partnership joiners and leavers.
Numerous 'fines' are being administered for those who fail to comply with the rules and regulations set by government departments. We have already mentioned income tax but other possible 'traps' to avoid are:
- late VAT registration and late filing penalties
- late payment penalties and interest
- penalties for errors in returns
- penalties for late PAYE returns
- penalties for failing to operate a PAYE or sub-contractors scheme
- penalties for failing to comply with pensions auto-enrolment regulations.
In order to help you to steer clear of these pitfalls, we must receive all of the details for your accounts and Tax Returns in good time, and be kept informed of any changes in your business, financial and personal circumstances.
Determining employment status
There is no statutory definition of 'employment' or 'self-employment', so determining whether someone is employed or self-employed is not straightforward.
Instead, HMRC applies a series of 'tests' in order to ascertain whether someone is classified correctly. As large amounts of both tax and NICs can be at stake, HMRC often takes quite an aggressive line with regard to this issue, and errors can be costly, so seeking advice that is tailored to your situation is essential. Please contact us for assistance in this matter.
Under the 'IR35' rules, companies and partnerships providing the personal services of the 'owners' of the business must consider each and every contract they enter into for the provision of personal services. The test is whether or not the contract is one which, had it been between the owner or partner and the customer, would have required the customer to treat the owner or partner as an employee and therefore be subject to PAYE.
The contract 'passes' if the owner/partner would have been classified as self-employed; it fails if the owner/partner would have been classified as an employee. If the contract 'fails', the business is required to account for PAYE and NICs on the 'deemed' employment income from the contract at the end of the tax year. This is done using specific rules. We can advise you about these, so please contact us for further information.
If the question is whether an individual is an employee or self-employed, the risk lies with the 'engager' or payer - with a potential liability for the PAYE which should have been paid over without right of recourse to the 'employee'. If the question is whether or not IR35 applies, the question (and any liability due) is for the individual and his/her company (the payee). The position for individuals working through their own company in the public sector is to change from April 2017. The intention is that the public sector employer, agency, or third party that pays the worker's intermediary will have to decide if the IR35 rules apply to a contract, and if so, account for and pay the relevant tax and NICs.
Debtors and unbilled work
As explained above, small businesses may opt into the cash basis and calculate their profits on the basis of the cash passing through the business. However, it is a feature of the tax system that other businesses (including all corporates) must include in their turnover for the year the value of incomplete work, of unpaid bills (debtors) and of work completed but not yet billed, all as at the end of the year.
We will need to discuss with you exactly what needs to be identified and the basis of valuation. Keeping an eye on debtors and unbilled work is very important to your cash flow.
Forming a limited company may be a consideration if the limitation of liability is important, but it should be noted that banks and other creditors often require personal guarantees from directors for company borrowings.
Trading through a limited company can be an effective way of sheltering profits. Profits paid out in the form of salaries, bonuses, or dividends may be liable to top tax rates, whereas profits retained in the company will be taxed at 20%.
Funds retained by the company can be used to buy equipment or to provide for pensions - both of which can be eligible for tax relief. They could be used to fund dividends when profits are scarce (spreading income into years when you might be liable to a lower rate of income tax) or capitalised and potentially taxed at 10% and/or 20% on a liquidation or sale.
From April 2016, a new system of taxation applies to dividends and this has reduced the potential tax savings available. We would be happy to discuss the implications of incorporation with you, before you decide whether or not to incorporate your business.
National insurance contributions (NICs)
Leaving profits in the company may be tax-efficient, but you will of course need money to live on, so you should consider the best ways to extract profits from your business.
A salary will meet most of your needs, but you should not overlook the use of benefits, which could save income tax and could also result in a lower NIC liability.
Five NIC-saving strategies:
- Increasing the amount the employer contributes to company pension schemes. Care should be taken however as there are limits on the amount of pension contributions an individual can make both annually and over their lifetime
- Share incentive plans (shares bought out of pre-tax and pre-NIC income)
- For some companies, disincorporation and instead operating as a sole trader or partnership may be beneficial
- Instead of an increased salary, paying a bonus to reduce employee (not director) contributions
- Paying dividends instead of bonuses to owner-directors.
Increasing your net income as an owner-director
As an example, consider how much you might save if, as an owner-director, you wanted to extract £10,000 profit (pre-tax) your company makes in 2016/17 by way of a dividend rather than a bonus. We have assumed in this scenario that the director has already taken salary in excess of the upper earnings limit for NIC, is a 40% taxpayer, and the £5,000 dividend tax allowance has already been utilised.
As you can see in this case study, the net income is increased by 6% by opting to declare a dividend. Be sure to discuss this with us, as this is a complex area of tax law.
Bonus £ Dividend £ Profit to extract 10,000 10,000 Employers' NICs (13.8% on gross bonus) -1,213 Gross bonus 8,787 Corporation tax (20% - dividend is not deductible for corporation tax) -2,000 Dividend 8,000 Employees' NICs (2% on gross bonus) -176 Income tax (40% on gross bonus) -3,515 Income tax on dividend -2,600 Net amount extracted 5,096 5,400
Remember that dividends are usually payable to all shareholders and are not earnings for pension contributions and certain other purposes. It is possible to waive dividends, although this can result in tax complications. Finally, you need to consider with us the effect of regular dividend payments on the valuation of shares in your company.
Preparing for the year end
Tax and financial planning should be undertaken before the end of your business year, rather than left until the end of the tax or financial year. Some of the issues to consider include:
- the impact that accelerating expenditure into the current financial year, or deferring it into the next, might have on your tax position and financial results
- making additional pension contributions or reviewing your pension arrangements
- how you might take profits from your business at the smallest tax cost, and how the timing of payment of dividends and bonuses can reduce or defer tax
- improvements to your billing systems and record keeping system, or a general review of your current systems to improve profitability and cash flow
- national insurance efficiency and employee remuneration.
Avoiding late filing penalties
It is important to keep your tax affairs in order so that you avoid incurring any late filing penalties. The cut-off dates are shown in the calendar, but the current penalties are:
- Return one day late - £100
- Return up to 3 months late - An additional £10 for each following day up to 90 days
- Return up to 6 months late - Add £300 or 5% of the tax due
- Up to one year late - Add £300 or 5% of the tax due*
* In more serious cases, this penalty may be increased to 100% of the tax due.
The timetable for making tax payments is relatively straightforward for the self-employed:
- 31 January in the tax year, first payment on account
- 31 July after the tax year, second payment on account
- 31 January after the tax year, balancing payment.
Again, a system of interest and penalties applies. For example, if any balance of tax due for 2015/16 is not paid within 30 days after 31 January 2017, HMRC will add a 5% late payment penalty as well as the interest that will be charged from 1 February 2017.
A further 5% penalty will be added to any 2015/16 tax unpaid after 31 July 2017, with a final 5% penalty added to any 2015/16 tax still unpaid after 31 January 2018. Interest is also charged on outstanding penalties, as well as on unpaid tax and NICs.
If your business is incorporated, it will be liable to corporation tax. Corporation tax is usually payable nine months and one day after the end of the company's accounting period.
If there are cash flow issues, HMRC might be persuaded to accept a spreading of your next business tax payment - you will have to pay interest at the HMRC rate, but keep to the agreed schedule and late payment penalties will be waived. Arrangements need to be put in place before the due date for paying the tax, so talk to us in good time if you wish to apply.
Payments on account
Payments on account are normally equal to 50% of the previous year's net liability. A claim can be made to reduce your payments on account, if appropriate, although interest will be charged if your actual liability is more than the reduced amount paid on account.
There is no equivalent mechanism to make increased payments on account when the year's tax will be higher, so you should ensure that you build a reserve of money to pay the balance of tax due.
Don't wait until it's too late if you have difficulties! Please tell us in good time about any issues facing your business, as we may be able to offer solutions.
Payments on account are not due where the relevant amount is less than £1,000 or if more than 80% of the total tax liability is met by income tax deducted at source. In these cases, the balance of tax due for the year, including capital gains tax, is payable on the 31 January following the end of the tax year.
Raul is self-employed. His accounts are made up to 31 August each year. When we prepare the 2016 Return we will be including his profit for the year ended 31 August 2015, and that is the profit which will be taxed for 2015/16.
Raul's payments on account for 2016/17 will automatically be based on the 2015/16 liability.Providing we know that Raul's profits for the year to 31 August 2016 are significantly less than the previous year, we can examine the figures, perhaps even prepare the annual accounts and, taking into account any other sources of taxable income, make a claim to reduce Raul's 2016/17 payments on account, easing his cash flow by reducing the tax payments due in January and July 2017.
Your next steps: contact us to discuss…
- Starting up a new business
- Raising finance for your venture
- Timing capital and revenue expenditure to maximum tax advantage
- Minimising employer and employee NIC costs
- Improving profitability and developing a plan for tax-efficient profit extraction
If you would like advice on tax planning strategies for your business, please contact Certax.
Exiting your Business
However you plan to exit your business, Certax can help you to minimise your liability tax.
Developing an exit plan
At some point you will want to stop working in your business and either sell up - in which case business exit planning is a crucial element part of your financial strategy, and could make all the difference to your long-term personal finances - or hand over the reins to your successors, in which case good planning will also help to ensure a smooth transition.
Important issues to consider include:
- passing on your business to your children or other family members, or to a family trust
- selling your share in the business to your co-owners or partners
- selling your business to some or all of the workforce
- selling the business to a third party
- public flotation or sale to a public company
- winding up
- minimising your tax liability
- what you will do when you no longer own the business.
Selling the business
If your business has a market value, or if you are looking to your business to provide you with a lump sum on sale, it is important to start planning in advance, especially if you envisage realising the value of your business in the next 20 years. Selling your business is a major personal decision and it is very important to plan now if you want to maximise the net proceeds from its sale.
You will need to consider:
- the timing of the sale
- the prospective purchasers
- the opportunities for reducing the tax due following a sale.
We can help with these considerations.
Getting the best price
Up-to-date management accounts and forecasts for the next 12 months and beyond will be close to the top of the list of the information which you will need to make available to prospective purchasers.
Anyone who is considering buying your business will want to be clear about the underlying profitability trends. Are profits on the increase or declining? Historical profits drive the value attributable to many businesses, and therefore a rising trend in profitability should result in an increase in the business's value.
This means that profitability planning is particularly important in the years leading up to the sale. So, what is the range of values for your business?
A professional valuation will put you on more solid ground than educated guesswork. We can work with you to determine how you can add value to your business.
Valuing a business
When considering business valuations, some of the key questions to ask are:
- Are sales declining, flat, growing only at the rate of inflation, or exceeding it?
- Are stock and equipment a large part of your business's value, or is yours a service business with limited fixed assets?
- To what extent does your business depend on the health of other industries?
- To what extent does your business depend on the health of the economy in general?
- What is the outlook for your line of business as a whole?
- Are your business's products and services diversified?
- How up-to-date is your technology?
- Do you have an effective research and development programme?
- How competitive is the market for your business's goods or services?
- Does your business have to contend with extensive regulation?
- What are your competitors doing that you should be doing, or could do better?
- How strong is the business's staff base that would remain after the sale?
- Have you conducted a thorough review of your overheads, to identify areas where costs can be reduced?
- Have contracts with your suppliers and customers been formalised?
When is the best time to sell?
It is important to consider a number of factors when deciding on the best time to sell your business. These could be factors that may influence potential buyers as well as your own personal circumstances.
Personal factors to consider might include:
- When are you planning to retire?
- Do you have any health issues?
- Do you still relish the challenges of running your business?
- Does your business have an heir apparent?
- Will your income stream and wealth be adequate, post-sale?
Meanwhile, business questions might be:
- What are the current trends in the stock market?
- To what extent is your business 'trendy' or at the leading edge?
- Is your business forecasting increases to the top and bottom lines?
- How well is your business performing when compared to other, similar businesses?
- Is your business running at, or near, its full potential?
Minimising the impact of capital gains tax
Taxes are one of the less welcome, but nevertheless inevitable aspects of a business person's life. When you raise that final sales invoice and realise the proceeds from the sale of your business, you should be completing one of the last steps in a strategy aimed at maximising the net return by minimising the capital gains tax (CGT) on sale.
As a basic rule, CGT is charged on the difference between what you paid for an asset and what you receive when you sell it, less your annual CGT exemption if this has not been set against other gains. There are several other provisions, which may also need to be factored into the calculation of any CGT liability.
It is possible that reliefs can reduce a 20% CGT bill significantly. To maximise your net proceeds it is vital that you consult with us about the timing of a sale, and the CGT reliefs and exemptions to which you might be entitled.
The governing rules for CGT
The taxable gain is measured simply by comparing net proceeds with total cost (including costs of acquisition and enhancement expenditure). The rate of tax depends on your overall income and gains position for 2016/17. Gains will be taxed at 10% to the extent that your taxable income and gains fall within the upper limit of the income tax basic rate band and 20% thereafter. These CGT rates are increased to 18% and 28% for carried interest and gains on residential property.
A special tax relief, Entrepreneurs' Relief, is available for those in business, which may reduce the tax rate on the first £10m of qualifying lifetime gains to 10%. Generally, the relief will be available to individuals on the disposal (after at least one complete qualifying year) of:
- all or part of a trading business carried on alone or in partnership
- the assets of a trading business after cessation
- shares in the individual's 'personal' trading company
- assets owned by the individual used by the individual's personal trading company or trading partnership where the disposal is associated with a qualifying disposal of shares or partnership interest.
All planned transactions require careful scrutiny to ensure that the available Entrepreneurs' Relief is maximised. Remember to keep us in the picture - we are best placed to help and advise if you involve us at an early stage.
CGT and non-residents
CGT is normally only chargeable where the taxpayer is resident in the UK in the tax year the gain arose, though the provisions of any double taxation treaty need to be checked. CGT may be avoided, provided the taxpayer becomes non-UK resident before the disposal and remains non-resident for tax purposes for five complete tax years.
CGT and death
There is no liability to CGT on any asset appreciation at your death.
The legacy of inheritance tax (IHT)
- Lifetime transfer(s)
- For the business owner, the vital elements in the IHT regime are the reliefs on business and agricultural property (up to 100%), which continue to afford exemption on the transfer of qualifying property, or a qualifying shareholding.
- Transfers on your death
- Remember to take into account your business interests when you draw up your Will. While reliefs may mean that there is little or no IHT to pay on your death, your Will is your route to directing the value of your business to your chosen heir(s) unless the disposition of your business interest on your death is covered by your partnership or shareholders' agreement.
Your next steps: contact us to discuss…
- Getting your business ready for sale and minimising the tax due
- Identifying successors within the business
- Exploring possible purchasers
- Valuing your business
- Timing the sale and maximising the sale price
- Planning your transition to your next venture
- Providing for a transfer of your business interests at your death or if you become incapacitated
If you would like advice on tax planning strategies for your business, including business exit strategies, please contact Certax.
Tax and employment
At Certax we can help employers with a variety of tax and employment matters. From PAYE to business motoring, we would be happy to advise you in any way we can.
In this section we look at some of the key tax issues for employers and employees.
Your PAYE code
The purpose of the PAYE system is to collect the right amount of tax from your earnings throughout the course of the year. Your tax code - or sometimes a series of tax codes - is used by your employer to work out how much tax to deduct from your earnings.
However, many people can go for years paying the wrong amount of tax - either too much or, perhaps more worryingly, too little - because they have an incorrect tax code. In particular, they may not have notified the tax office of changes in their circumstances that would affect their tax position, such as a change in jobs or acquiring or losing the benefit of a company car, or they may have started or stopped investing in a personal pension plan.
It is important that we check your PAYE code now, because it is much easier to rectify mistakes before the tax year ends. As a first step, though, you can look at your salary slip to see which code is currently being applied.
The letter in the code tells us whether your code includes one of the standard allowances, and you can see if this is right for your circumstances:
L - includes the basic personal allowance
N - taxpayers who are 'transferors' under the Transferable Tax Allowance
M - taxpayers who are 'recipients' under the Transferable Tax Allowance
T - there is usually an adjustment in your code which requires manual checking by HMRC each year - for example, you might have a tax underpayment being 'coded out'
K - HMRC may try to increase the tax you pay on one source of income to cover the tax due on another source which cannot be taxed directly - for example, the tax due on your taxable employment benefits might be collected by increasing the amount of tax you would otherwise pay on your company salary. A 'K' code applies when the 'other income' adjustment reduces your allowances to less than zero - in effect, it means that the payer has to add notional income to your real income for PAYE purposes.
The maximum tax which can be deducted is 50% of the source income.
HMRC will often try to collect tax on other income through your PAYE code but you may prefer to pay the tax through self assessment - contact us, as we can arrange for the adjustment to be removed.
From April 2016, you will pay the Scottish rate of income tax if you live in Scotland. In such cases your code will start with an S to tell your employer to deduct tax at the Scottish rate.
Loans from an employer
Where loans from an employer total more than £10,000 at any point during the tax year, tax is chargeable on the difference between any interest actually paid and interest calculated at the official rate (currently 3%).
Up until the 2015/16 tax year your employer is required to report expense payments to HMRC using form P11D each year. To avoid paying tax on these payments you have to claim a deduction on your Tax Return - your employer should provide you with a copy of your 2015/16 P11D no later than 6 July 2016.
From 6 April 2016 expense payments are exempt and no longer need to be reported. Expense payments will still be subject to review from time to time, including during an employer compliance visit from HMRC.
You may be able to claim tax relief for other expenses you incur in connection with your job, but the rules are fairly restrictive.
An attractive remuneration package might include any of the following:
- Bonus schemes and performance-related pay
- Reimbursement of expenses
- Pension provision
- Life assurance and/or healthcare
- A mobile phone
- Salary sacrifice options
- Share incentive arrangements
- Trivial benefits in kind (worth no more than £50 each)
- Choice of a company car or additional salary and reimbursement of car expenses for business travel in your own car
- Contributions to the additional costs of working at home
- Other benefits including, for example, an annual function costing not more than £150 (including VAT) per head, or long service awards.
Most benefits are fully taxable, but some attract specific tax breaks.
Combining benefits with a properly arranged salary sacrifice can mean considerable savings for both employer and employee. If you get the package right, it can be very beneficial - especially for those with income of more than £100,000 who will lose their personal allowances. If you fall into this marginal category, please talk to us to find out how we can help.
Pension scheme contributions
Employer contributions to a registered employer pension scheme or your own personal pension policies are not liable for tax or NICs.
Please be aware that while your employer can contribute to your personal pension scheme, these contributions are combined with your own for the purpose of measuring your total pension input against the 'annual allowance'. Further information is provided in this guide.
Deductions for travel and subsistence
Site-based employees may be able to claim a deduction for travel to and from the site at which they are working, plus subsistence costs when they stay at or near the site.
Employees working away from their normal place of work can claim a deduction for the cost of travel to and from their temporary place of work, subject to a maximum period.
Approved business mileage allowances - own vehicle
Vehicle First 10,000 miles Thereafter Car/van 45p 25p Motorcycle 24p 24p Bicycle 20p 20p
The company car continues to be an important part of the remuneration package for many employees, despite the increases in the taxable benefit rates over the last few years.
Employees and directors pay tax on the provision of the car and on the provision of fuel by employers for private mileage. Employers pay Class 1A NICs at 13.8% on the same amount.
This is payable by the 19 July following the end of the tax year.
The amount on which tax and Class 1A NICs are paid in respect of a company car depends on a number of factors. Essentially, the amount charged is calculated by multiplying the list price of the car, including most accessories, by a percentage. The percentage is set by reference to the rate at which the car emits CO2 - please see the table below.
Pooling your resources
Some employers find it convenient to have one or more cars that are readily available for business use by a number of employees. The cars are only available for genuine business use and are not allocated to any one employee. Such cars are usually known as pool cars. The definition of a pool car is very restrictive, but if a car qualifies there is no tax or NIC liability.
CO2 emissions (g/km) Appropriate percentage Petrol % Diesel % 1 - 50 7 10 51 - 75 11 14 76 - 94 15 18 95 - 99 16 19 100 - 104 17 20 105 - 109 18 21 110 - 114 19 22 115 - 119 20 23 120 - 124 21 24 125 - 129 22 25 130 - 134 23 26 135 - 139 24 27 140 - 144 25 28 145 - 149 26 29 150 - 154 27 30 155 - 159 28 31 160 - 164 29 32 165 - 169 30 33 170 - 174 31 34 175 - 179 32 35 180 - 184 33 36 185 - 189 34 37 190 - 194 35 195 - 199 36 200 and above 37
Car - fuel only advisory rates
Engine size Petrol Diesel LPG Rate per mile Rate per mile Rate per mile 1400cc or less 11p 9p 7p 1401 – 1600cc 14p 9p 9p 1601 – 2000cc 14p 11p 9p Over 2000cc 21p 13p 13p
Rates from 1 December 2016 and are subject to change. Note the advisory fuel rates are revised in March, June, September and December. Please contact us for any updated rates.
Mileage allowance versus free fuel
A frequently asked question is: would I be better off giving up the company car and instead claiming mileage allowance for the business travel I do in a car that I buy myself? The rule of thumb answer to this is that you are more likely to be better off if your annual business mileage is high.
Another frequent question is: would I be better off having my employer provide me with fuel for private journeys, free of charge, and paying tax on the benefit, or bearing the cost myself? In this case, the rule of thumb answer is that you are only likely to be better off taking the free fuel if your annual private mileage is high. However the cost to the employer of providing this benefit is likely to be high.
Every case should be judged on its own merits, and considered from both the employee's and the employer's point of view. While cost is an important factor, it is not the only one. As an employee, using a company car removes the need to worry about bills or the cost of replacement. As an employer, running company cars allows you to retain control over what may, for your business, be key operating assets.
If your employer provides fuel for any private travel, there is a taxable benefit, calculated by applying the same percentage used to calculate the car benefit to the fuel benefit charge multiplier of £22,200.
You can avoid the car fuel charge either by paying for all fuel yourself and claiming the cost of fuel for business journeys at HMRC's fuel only advisory rates, or by reimbursing your employer for fuel used privately using the same rates.
From 6 April 2017 there will be a 2% increase in the percentage applied by each company car band up to the maximum of 37%, with a similar increase in 2018/19. The 3% diesel supplement was set to be removed in April 2016. However, it will now be retained until April 2021, when EU-wide testing procedures will ensure new diesel cars meet air quality standards even under strict real world driving conditions.
What about a company van?
Many employers and employees have benefitted from significant savings by replacing company cars with employee-owned cars part-funded by mileage allowances at HMRC rates. Where a company vehicle is still appropriate, a van rather than a car is worth considering.
Unrestricted use of a company van results in a taxable benefit of £3,170, with a further £598 benefit if free fuel is also provided. Limiting the employee's private use to only home to work travel could reduce both figures to zero.
Mila is an owner-director. For her company car she had chosen one with a list price of £25,785. The car runs on petrol and emits CO2 at a rate of 148g/km. The resulting tax bill can be up to £5,614, with an NIC bill for the employer of £1,722.
Mila's company is successful and she pays tax at 45%. Her 2016/17 tax bill on the car is therefore £3,017 (£25,785 x 26% x 45%). Mila's company will pay Class 1A NICs of £925 (£25,785 x 26% x 13.8%).
The company also pays for all of Mila's petrol. Because she does not reimburse the cost of fuel for private journeys, she will pay tax of £2,597 (£22,200 x 26% x 45%) and the company will pay Class 1A NICs of £797 (£22,200 x 26% x 13.8%).
The total tax and NIC cost is £7,336. Furthermore, as well as paying for the fuel, the company will also need to pay a gross amount of over £10,592 to provide Mila with the funds to pay the tax and employee NICs.When employers' national insurance is taken into account, the gross cost before tax relief of funding Mila's tax and the NIC liabilities will be over £13,776.
The Government will begin rolling out the new Tax-Free Childcare scheme from early 2017. Until then, childcare vouchers offer working parents a way of reducing childcare costs, and there is still an opportunity to join an employer scheme before the new system comes fully into effect. The childcare voucher system will close to new entrants in April 2018.
From 6 April 2016, a statutory exemption from income tax and NICs applies to qualifying trivial benefits in kind costing £50 or less. The new exemption does not apply to benefits provided under a relevant salary sacrifice arrangement.
Such benefits provided to directors and other office holders of close companies, or members of their families or households, are subject to an annual cap of £300.
Your next steps: contact us to discuss…
- PAYE and payroll issues
- Ensuring you have the correct PAYE code
- Putting together an attractive and tax-efficient remuneration package
- Cutting the cost of company cars, and reviewing the alternatives
- Minimising NIC costs and understanding the tax implications of company cars
If you would like advice on tax planning strategies for your business, tax and employment issues, please contact Certax.
Planning for yourself and your family
At Certax we can advise on tax planning strategies for yourself and your family.
Your long-term goals
Every client is different and will have unique financial needs and goals. You might simply want to maximise your wealth so that you can enjoy more of your hard-earned money now and in retirement. You might need to pay for your children's education, or to help support ageing parents. Or perhaps all of the above apply. As your accountants, we can suggest practical ways to help make these objectives become reality.
Exemptions and allowances
Each individual within your family is taxed separately, and is entitled to his or her own allowances and exemptions. The basic personal allowance for 2016/17 is £11,000, while the capital gains tax annual allowance for 2016/17 is £11,100.
A series of rate bands and allowances are assigned first to your earned income (this may include income from wages, self-employment, property income and pensions), then to your savings income, and finally to any UK dividend income.
Planning within the family
By using the available personal allowances and gains exemptions, a couple and their two children could have income and gains of at least £88,400 tax-free, and income up to £172,000 before paying any higher rate tax. Through careful tax planning, we could help you and your family to benefit from more of your wealth.
Your tax planning objectives should include taking advantage of tax-free opportunities, keeping marginal tax rates as low as possible, and maintaining a spread between income and capital.
Income tax rates 2016/17 Basic rate band - income up to £32,000 Starting rate for savings income *0% Basic rate 20% Dividend ordinary rate **7.5% Higher rate - income over £32,000 Higher rate 40% Dividend upper rate **32.5% Additional rate - income over £150,000 Additional rate 45% Dividend additional rate **38.1% Starting rate limit (savings income) *£5,000
For 2016/17, Scottish taxpayers are effectively subject to the same income tax rates as the rest of the UK.
*There is a 0% starting rate for savings income up to the starting rate limit (£5,000) within the basic rate band. Where taxable non-savings income does not fully occupy the starting rate limit the remainder of the starting rate limit is available for savings income. For 2016/17, £1,000 of savings income for basic rate taxpayers (£500 for higher rate) may be tax-free.
**For 2016/17, the first £5,000 of dividends are tax-free.
Capital gains tax 2016/17 Total taxable income and gains First £11,100 Tax-free Up to £32,000 10%* From £32,001 20%* Trust rate 20%*
*Depends on the level of income and gains. The rates are increased to 18% and 28% for carried interest and gains on residential property.
Transferable Tax Allowance (Marriage Allowance)
Some married couples and civil partners are eligible for a Transferable Tax Allowance, enabling spouses to transfer a fixed amount of their personal allowance to their spouse. The option to transfer is available to couples where neither pays tax at the higher or additional rate. If eligible, one partner will be able to transfer 10% of their personal allowance to the other partner (£1,100 for the 2016/17 tax year). For those couples where one person does not use all of their personal allowance the benefit will be up to £220 (20% of £1,100).
Personal Savings Allowance
From 6 April 2016 a new Personal Savings Allowance (PSA) applies to income such as bank and building society interest. The allowance applies for up to £1,000 of a basic rate taxpayer's savings income, and up to £500 of a higher rate taxpayer's savings income each year. The PSA will provide basic and higher rate taxpayers with a tax saving of up to £200 each year. The allowance will not be available for additional rate taxpayers and will be in addition to the tax advantages currently available to savers from ISAs.
Dividend Tax Allowance
From 2016/17, a new Dividend Tax Allowance (DTA) of £5,000 per annum has been introduced. The new allowance does not change the amount of income that is brought into the income tax computation. Instead it charges £5,000 of the dividend income at 0% tax - the dividend nil rate. The DTA will not reduce total income for tax purposes, and dividends within the allowance will still count towards the appropriate basic or higher rate bands.
Kaya is a single person with a gross 2016/17 income of £56,000 (made up of £26,000 earnings, £5,000 of interest and UK dividends of £25,000) and capital gains of £11,200 (assuming no other reliefs, etc). She would have a tax liability of £8,670.
Earnings Interest UK Dividends Gains Income and gains 26,000 5,000 25,000 11,200 Deduct: Personal allowance -11,000 Deduct: CGT exemption -11,100 Taxable 15,000 5,000 25,000 100 Tax at: 0% the PSA and DTA 0 500 5,000 20% on 15,000 4,500 7.5% on 7,000 32.5% on 13,000 20% on 100 Totals £3,000.00 £900.00 £4,750.00 £20.00 Total tax liability £8,670
Planning can be hindered by the potential for tax charges to arise when assets are moved between members of the family. Most gifts are potentially taxable as if they were disposals at market value, with a resulting exposure to CGT and IHT. However, special rules govern the transfer of assets between spouses. In many cases for both CGT and IHT there is no tax charge, but there are some exceptions - please contact us for further advice. In addition, gifts must be outright to be effective for tax, and must not comprise a right only to income. Careful timing and advance discussion with us are essential.
The 45% and 60% effective tax rates
The top rate of income tax, for those with taxable income in excess of £150,000, is 45% (38.1% for dividends). Personal allowances are scaled back if 'adjusted net income' exceeds £100,000. The personal allowance is reduced by £1 for every £2 of income in excess of that limit. This means that an individual with total taxable income of £122,000 or more will not be entitled to any personal allowance. This gives an effective tax rate on this slice of income of 60%. It may be possible to reduce your taxable income and retain your allowances, if approached with due consideration, eg. by making pension contributions or Gift Aid donations. Contact us now for advice on minimising the impact of the top tax rates.
Child Benefit: another 'hidden' tax rate
A charge arises on a taxpayer who has adjusted net income over £50,000 in a tax year where either they or their partner are in receipt of Child Benefit for the year. Where both partners have adjusted net income in excess of £50,000 the charge applies to the partner with the higher income.
The income tax charge applies at a rate of 1% of the full Child Benefit award for each £100 of income between £50,000 and £60,000. The charge on taxpayers with income above £60,000 will be equal to the amount of Child Benefit paid. Claimants may elect not to receive Child Benefit if they or their partner do not wish to pay the charge. Equalising income can help to reduce the charge for some families.
Nathan and Debbie have two children and receive £1,789 Child Benefit for 2015/16. Debbie has little income. Nathan's income is over £60,000 for the 2015/16 tax year. So the tax charge on Nathan is £1,789. For 2016/17 the Child Benefit for two children also amounts to £1,789 per annum. Nathan expects his adjusted net income to be £55,000. On this basis the tax charge will be £895. This is calculated as £1,789 x 50% (£55,000 - £50,000 = £5,000/£100 x 1%).If Nathan can reduce his income by a further £5,000 no charge would arise. This could be achieved by transferring investments to Debbie or by making additional pension or Gift Aid payments.
Cap on reliefs
There is a 'cap' on certain otherwise unlimited tax reliefs (excluding charitable donations) of the greater of £50,000 and 25% of your income. This cap applies to relief for trading losses and certain types of qualifying interest.
Giving your children a head start in life
Funding a university course and saving up a deposit for a first home are expensive prospects, so the sooner you start planning, the better. All children have their own personal allowance, so income up to £11,000 escapes tax this year, as long as it does not originate from parental gifts. If income from parental gifts exceeds £100 (gross), the parent is taxed on it unless the child has reached 18, or married. Parental gifts should perhaps be invested to produce tax-free income, or in a Cash or Stocks and Shares Junior Individual Savings Account (JISA) to help build a fund to help offset university expenses and minimise debt at the start of the child's working life. The £100 limit does not apply to gifts into JISAs or National Savings Children's Bonds.
If your child is grown up and financially secure, it may be worth 'skipping' a generation as income from capital gifted by grandparents or more remote relatives will usually be taxed as the child's, as will income distributions from a trust funded by such capital.
Maintenance payments do not usually qualify for tax relief. The special CGT and IHT treatment for transfers between spouses applies throughout the tax year in which a separation occurs. For CGT, transfers in subsequent years are dealt with under the rules for disposals between connected persons, with the disposal treated as a sale at market value, which could result in substantial chargeable gains. For IHT, transfers remain exempt until the decree absolute. The timing of such transfers is crucial. We can assist in this area.
Planning for the worst
Contingency planning could help to ensure that your family are financially secure if you died or were incapacitated. A first step might be to take out adequate insurance cover, perhaps with life assurance written into trust for your spouse or children to ensure quick access to funds. It is also important to make a Will. We also strongly recommend that you and your spouse:
- Make a living Will (also called 'advance decisions')
- so that your wishes are clear with regard to medical treatment in the event that, for example, you were seriously injured following an accident
- Execute a lasting power of attorney
- so that if you become incapacitated and unable to manage your affairs, whether as a result of an accident or illness, responsibility will pass to a trusted person of your choosing.
Remember to tell your spouse, your parents, and your business partners where your Will and any related documents are kept. It is your choice whether to discuss your affairs in detail, but if you are passing on responsibility for managing your affairs, it might be advisable to talk matters through with them.
Billions of pounds worth of assets lie unclaimed in the UK. To see if you have any lost assets contact the Unclaimed Assets Register on 0844 481 8180 or visit www.uar.co.uk. Please note that a charge applies for this service. To find out whether you have an unclaimed Premium Bond prize, call 0500 007 007 or visit www.nsandi.com.
Non UK domiciles
A UK resident and domiciled individual is taxed on worldwide income and gains. Non-UK domiciles who are UK resident are currently able to claim the remittance basis of taxation in respect of foreign income and gains and are only taxed if foreign income and gains are brought into the UK. The non-UK domicile is also favourably treated for IHT as they only pay IHT in respect of UK assets as opposed to their worldwide assets.
However, the Government intends to abolish non-UK domicile status for certain long term residents from April 2017. This will only apply where an individual has been resident for at least 15 out of the last 20 tax years. Such individuals will be treated as deemed UK domiciled for all tax purposes. In addition, those who had a domicile in the UK at the date of their birth will revert to having a UK domicile for tax purposes whenever they are resident in the UK, even if under general law they have acquired a domicile in another country.
Checklist: Financial protection strategies Self Spouse Essential: Will Living Will Lasting power of attorney Life assurance Keep papers in a safe place - and make sure other people know where they are! Seriously consider: Income, mortgage and loan protection insurance Tax-efficient estate planning Planning for the transfer of your business Funeral arrangements and expenses A tax-efficient gift strategy
Your next steps: contact us to discuss...
- Making the most of allowances and reliefs
- Ensuring that your tax liability is kept to a minimum within the law
- Using savings, capital and other vehicles to give your children a better start in life
- Writing a Will
- Life insurance and obtaining disability and critical illness insurance
- Tax-efficient savings and investments
If you would like advice on personal and family tax planning strategies, please contact Certax.
Making the most of savings and investments
If you’re looking for information on making the most of savings and investments, Certax can help.
An investment strategy might focus on pension savings, alternative savings and investment strategies, or a combination of these - but whatever your preference may be, it makes sense to start planning early. Planning is a continuous process and your financial plans should be monitored regularly, with any necessary adjustments being made to reflect changes in your circumstances. Careful planning now can help to keep you on the path to financial success.
Being realistic about your objectives is important when putting together any financial plan. This requires a balancing act between your head (financially prudent strategies) and your heart (emotionally acceptable thresholds). We can help you bridge the gap between what you can expect financially and what you dream of achieving. One approach is to set a number of short, medium and long-term goals and prioritise them within each category, in order to meet your objectives.
Typical financial goals
- be able to retire comfortably
- have sufficient funds and insurance cover in the event of serious illness or loss
- accumulate a sizeable estate to pass on to your heirs
- increase the assets going to your heirs by using various estate planning techniques, perhaps including a lifetime gifts strategy
- tie in charitable aims with your own family goals
- raise sufficient wealth to buy a business, a holiday home, etc
- develop an investment plan that may provide a hedge against market fluctuations and inflation
- minimise taxes on income and capital.
An investment strategy
Records show that in the long term share investments outperform bank and building society accounts in terms of the total returns they generate. However, it is important to remember that shares can go down in value as well as up, and dividend income can fluctuate. If you choose the wrong investment you could get back less than you invested. You will need to consider the most important factors that apply to you, as part of your investment strategy.
Tax-efficient savings and investments
Paying tax on your savings and investment earnings is obviously to be avoided if at all possible. There are a number of investment products that produce tax-free income.
Premium bonds offer a modest 'interest equivalent', but there is a chance of winning a tax-free million! The Premium bonds investment limit is £50,000.
If you have a lump sum to invest long term, you might consider an investment bond. An annual sum equal to 5% of the original investment can be taken for 20 years without triggering an immediate tax liability. However, income and gains accumulating within the fund are subject to tax (equivalent to basic rate tax). On maturity, usually after 20 years, any surplus is taxable, but with a credit for basic rate tax. Higher rate tax might be payable, but a special relief (known as 'top slicing' relief) may be available to reduce or eliminate the burden.
Stocks and shares
Investment in stocks and shares has historically provided the best chance of long term growth. Investment in open ended investment companies (OEICs), investment trusts and exchange traded funds are designed to spread the risk compared to holding a small number of shares directly. Capital gains and dividends are charged to tax. From April 2016 the Dividend Tax Credit has been abolished and a new Dividend Tax Allowance of £5,000 a year has been introduced. The new rates of tax on dividend income above the allowance are 7.5% for basic rate taxpayers, 32.5% for higher rate taxpayers and 38.1% for additional rate taxpayers.
Bank and building society accounts
Bank and building society accounts do offer (a) a higher degree of certainty over investment return (spread large amounts over several banks, though) and (b) (usually) ready access to your funds. From 2016/17 the Personal Savings Allowance (PSA) will remove some income from income tax - up to £1,000 of a basic rate taxpayer's savings income and up to £500 of a higher rate taxpayer's income. No PSA is available to additional rate taxpayers. Additionally some taxpayers with amounts of non-savings income no more than the personal allowance also benefit from the £5,000 starting rate for savings band, with a rate of tax of 0%.
Property is generally considered a long-term investment. 'Buy-to-let' mortgages will generally be available to fund as much as 75% of the cost or property valuation, whichever is the lower. Those investing in property seek a net return from rent which is greater than the interest on the loan, while the risk of the investment is weighed against the prospect of capital growth.
The Government has announced future plans to restrict the amount of income tax relief landlords receive on residential property finance costs to the basic rate of income tax. Landlords will no longer be able to deduct all of their finance costs from their property income. They will instead receive a basic rate reduction from their income tax liability. The Government will introduce this change gradually from April 2017, over four years. This restriction will not apply to landlords of furnished holiday lettings.
Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs)
The overall annual subscription limit for ISAs is £15,240 for 2016/17. Individuals can invest in a combination of Cash or Stocks and Shares up to this limit, and may involve a single plan manager or separate managers, handling separate elements. However, a saver may only pay into one Cash ISA and one Stocks and Shares ISA each year.
16 and 17-year-olds are able to invest in an adult Cash ISA. A tax-free Junior ISA (JISA) is available to all UK resident children under the age of 18 as a Cash or Stocks and Shares product or both. Total annual contributions are capped at £4,080. Funds placed in a JISA will be owned by the child but investments will be locked in until the child reaches adulthood.
All investments held in ISAs are free of CGT. There is no minimum investment period for funds invested in ISAs - withdrawals can be made at any time without loss of tax relief. However, some plan managers offer incentives, such as better rates of interest, in return for a commitment to restrictions such as a 90-day notice period for withdrawals and it is worth shopping around.
Help to Buy ISA
Help to Buy ISAs provide a tax-free savings account for first time buyers wishing to save for a home. Savings are limited to a monthly maximum of £200, with an opportunity to deposit an additional £1,000 when the account is first opened.
The Government will provide a 25% bonus on the total amount saved including interest, capped at a maximum of £3,000 on savings of £12,000, which is tax-free. Interest received on the account will be tax-free. The bonus can only be put towards a first home located in the UK with a purchase value of £450,000 or less in London and £250,000 or less in the rest of the UK. Once an account is opened there is no limit on how long an individual can save into it and no time limit on when they can use their bonus.
The Innovative Finance ISA
The new Innovative Finance ISA is designed to encourage peer-to-peer lending. It can be offered by qualifying peer-to-peer lending platforms in accordance with the ISA Regulations. Loan repayments, interest and gains from peer-to-peer loans will be eligible to be held within an Innovative Finance ISA, without being subject to tax. Returns on Innovative Finance ISAs have the potential to be significantly greater than on Cash ISAs, but they will carry a greater degree of risk.
Alternative investment schemes
Although generally higher risk, the tax breaks aimed at encouraging new risk capital mean that the following schemes could have a place in your investment strategy.
Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS)
Subject to various conditions, such investments attract income tax relief, limited to a maximum 30% relief on £1m of investment per annum. The effective maximum investment for 2016/17 is £2m, if £1m is carried back for relief in 2015/16 and no EIS investment has been made in the previous year. In addition, a deferral relief is available to rollover chargeable gains where all or part of the gain is invested in the EIS shares (within the required period).
Although increases in the value of shares acquired under the EIS up to the £1m limit are not chargeable to CGT (as long as the shares are held for the required period), relief against chargeable gains or income is available for losses.
The gross value of the company must not exceed £16m after the investment and there are many restrictions to ensure that investment is targeted at new risk capital. Companies must also have fewer than 250 full-time employees (or the equivalent), and have raised less than £5m under any of the venture capital schemes in the 12 months ending with the date of the relevant investment.
Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs)
These bodies invest in the shares of unquoted trading companies which would qualify for receipt of investment under the EIS. An investor in the shares of a VCT will be exempt from tax on dividends and on any capital gain arising from disposal of the shares in the VCT. Income tax relief of 30% is available on subscriptions for VCT shares, up to £200,000 per tax year, as long as the shares are held for at least five years.
Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS)
This provides income tax relief of 50% for individuals who invest in shares in qualifying companies, with an annual investment limit for individuals of £100,000 and a cumulative investment limit for companies of £150,000, and provides a 50% CGT relief on gains realised on disposal of an asset and invested through the SEIS. A gain on the disposal of SEIS shares will be exempt from CGT as long as the shares obtained income tax relief, which has not been withdrawn, and are held for at least three years.
Your next steps: contact us to discuss…
- Creating a savings and investment strategy
- Establishing and achieving your savings goals
- Tax on income and gains
- Investing for your retirement
- Tax-free investments
- The tax consequences of different investments
If you would like advice on personal tax planning strategies, please contact Certax.
A comfortable retirement
In this section we consider some key strategies to help with your retirement planning, but please contact Certax for advice tailored to your circumstances.
As a result of recent changes to the pensions regime, there are many more choices available to people when it comes to using the money they have saved for retirement. However, if you want to make the most of these options, it is of course vital that you have put aside sufficient funds during your working life.
While retirement may not currently be high on your priority list, you should take steps now to ensure that you will have the freedom and the means to achieve a comfortable retirement when the time comes. You could spend a third of your life as a retired person, and by taking action now, you can help to make this period as financially secure as possible.
Your retirement planning strategy will be determined by a number of factors, including your age and the number of years before retirement. However, there are some other key issues to consider:
- Do you have an employer pension scheme?
- Are you self-employed?
- How much can you invest for your retirement?
- How much State Pension will you receive?
Individuals who reach State Pension age after 5 April 2016 receive a flat-rate pension, worth £155.65 per week where they have 35 years of national insurance contributions.
Those who reach State Pension age before 6 April 2016 will continue to claim their basic State Pension (plus any additional state pension that they may be entitled to). The basic State Pension in 2016/17 is £119.30 a week. For a full State Pension, it was necessary to have made 30 years of national insurance contributions (NICs). You may also have an entitlement to some additional State Pension. However, as this may be worth less than the new flat-rate pension, there is an opportunity to make additional NICs - please ask us for details and note that this option is only available until 5 April 2017.
To receive a State Pension forecast phone the Future Pension Centre on 0345 3000 168.
Employer pension schemes
There are two kinds of employer pension scheme, into which you and your employer may make contributions. A defined benefit scheme pays a retirement income related to the amount of your earnings, while a defined contribution scheme instead reflects the amount invested and the underlying investment fund performance. In both cases, you will have access to tax-free cash as well as to the actual pension.
The impact of the stock market downturn in the 2000s was one key factor that resulted in many final salary schemes being underfunded and a decision was taken by many firms to close such defined benefit schemes. Many experts consider that this type of scheme will cease to exist over the next few years. Where firms do provide employer pensions these are now almost always defined contribution schemes.
The amount of personal contributions that can qualify for tax relief is limited to the greater of £3,600 and total UK relevant earnings, subject to scheme rules.
In order to encourage more people to save for their retirement, the Government has been gradually phasing in compulsory workplace pensions for eligible workers. Under the scheme, all employers will have to enrol automatically all eligible workers into a qualifying pension scheme. There will ultimately be a minimum overall contribution rate of 8% of each employee's qualifying earnings, of which at least 3% must come from the employer. The balance is made up of employees' contributions and associated tax relief.
Relying on the State Pension will not be adequate for a comfortable retirement, so if you are not in a good employer scheme, you should make your own arrangements.
To qualify for income tax relief, investments in personal pensions are limited to the greater of £3,600 and the amount of your UK relevant earnings, but subject also to the annual allowance. The annual allowance is normally £40,000 but due to changes to the annual allowance system from April 2016, some individuals may escape a tax charge if annual contributions in 2015/16 were below £80,000 and significant contributions were made before 9 July. As from April 2016 the £40,000 allowance will be tapered for individuals who have both income over £110,000 and adjusted annual income (their income plus their own and employer's pension contributions) over £150,000. For every £2 of adjusted income over £150,000, an individual's annual allowance will be reduced by £1, down to a minimum of £10,000.
Where pension savings in any of the last three years' pension input periods (PIPs) were less than the annual allowance, the 'unused relief' is brought forward, but you must have been a pension scheme member during a tax year to bring forward unused relief from that year. The unused relief for any particular year must be used within three years.
Gary has not made any contribution into his pension policy so far in 2016/17.
Gary has unused annual allowances of £30,000 from 2013/14, £5,000 from 2014/15 and £20,000 from 2015/16 (total £55,000). Gary's income is less than £110,000.Gary's maximum pension investment is therefore set at £95,000 (£40,000 plus £55,000) for his 2016/17 PIP. He needs to make a pension contribution of £70,000 (current year allowance £40,000 and £30,000 unused relief from 2013/14) in order to avoid the loss of the relief brought forward from 2013/14.
If contributions are paid in excess of the annual allowance, a charge - the annual allowance charge - is payable. The effect of the annual allowance charge is to claw back all tax relief on premiums in excess of the maximum. Where the charge exceeds £2,000, arrangements can be made for the charge to be paid by the pension trustees and recovered by adjustment to policy benefits.
Tax relief on personal pension policies
Premiums on personal pension policies are payable net of basic rate tax relief at source, with any appropriate higher or additional rate relief usually being claimed via the PAYE code or self assessment Tax Return.
Tori will earn £60,000 in 2016/17. She will invest £12,500 into her personal pension policy. She is entitled to the basic personal allowance and has no other income.
Tori will pay her pension provider a premium, net of basic rate tax relief of £10,000. She is also entitled to higher rate tax relief on the gross premium, amounting to £2,500.As Tori is an employee, we can ask HMRC to give the relief through her PAYE code. Otherwise, we would claim in Tori's 2017 Tax Return. Thus the net cost to Tori of a £12,500 contribution to her pension policy is just £7,500.
The lifetime allowance
Where total pension savings exceed the £1m lifetime allowance at retirement (and fixed, primary or enhanced protection is not available) a tax charge arises:
(excess paid as annuity)
(excess paid as lump sum)
25% on excess value, then up to 45% on annuity 55% on excess value
The lifetime allowance was £1.25m in 2015/16. If appropriate, you can apply to HMRC for protection from the reduction to £1m.
Access to personal pension funds
Taxpayers have always had the option of taking a tax-free lump sum of 25% of the fund value and purchasing an annuity with the remaining fund, or opting for income drawdown where limits generally applied. An annuity is taxable income in the year of receipt.
Similarly any monies received from the income drawdown fund are taxable income in the year of receipt.
Since 6 April 2015, the ability to take a tax-free lump sum and a lifetime annuity remains but some of the previous restrictions on a lifetime annuity have been removed, allowing more choice on the type of annuity taken out.
There is now total freedom to access a pension fund from the age of 55. Access to the fund may be achieved in one of two ways:
- allocation of a pension fund (or part of a pension fund) into a 'flexi-access drawdown account' from which any amount can be taken, over whatever period the person decides
- taking a single or series of lump sums from a pension fund (known as an 'uncrystallised funds pension lump sum').
When an allocation of funds into a flexi-access account is made the member typically will take the opportunity of taking a tax-free lump sum from the fund.
The person will then decide how much or how little to take from the flexi-access account. Any amounts that are taken will count as taxable income in the year of receipt.
Access to some or all of a pension fund without first allocating to a flexi-access account can be achieved by taking an uncrystallised funds pension lump sum.
The tax effect will be:
- 25% is tax-free
- the remainder is taxable as income.
Downsizing and equity release
Although they might not suit everyone, there are at least two ways to boost your retirement finances through your home. The first option is down-sizing - selling your current home and buying something cheaper, to release value tied up in your property for other purposes. 'Equity release' might be an alternative approach. However, you should discuss all of the implications with us and your other financial advisers before deciding whether this is a suitable avenue to take.
Your next steps: contact us to discuss…
- Calculating how much you need to save to ensure you enjoy a comfortable retirement
- Tax-advantaged saving for your pension
- Saving in parallel to provide more readily accessible funds
- Saving in employer and personal pension schemes
- Using your business to help fund your retirement
- Releasing capital now tied up in your home to help fund your retirement
If you would like advice on personal tax planning strategies, please contact Certax.
Tax-efficient estate planning
It is never too early to plan your estate. At Certax, we have helped many individuals to minimise their tax liability and maximise the value of their estate.
Inheritance tax planning
Formulating an estate plan that minimises your tax liability is essential. The more you have, the less you should leave to chance. If your estate is large it could be subject to inheritance tax (IHT), which is currently payable where a person's taxable estate is in excess of £325,000. However, even if it is small, planning and a well-drafted Will can help to ensure that your assets will be distributed in accordance with your wishes. We can work with you to ensure that more of your wealth passes to the people you love, through planned lifetime gifts and a tax-efficient Will.Print
Estimate the tax on your estate £ Value of: Your home (and contents) Your business1 Bank/savings account(s) Stocks and shares Insurance policies Other assets Total assets Deduct: Mortgage, loans and other debts Net value of assets Add: Gifts in last seven years2 Less: Legacies to charities Deduct - 325,000 Taxable estate £ Tax at 40%/36%3 is £
- If you are not sure what your business is worth, we can help you value it. Most business assets currently qualify for IHT reliefs
- Exclude exempt gifts (eg. spouse, civil partner, annual exemption)
- IHT rate may be 36% if sufficient legacies left to charities (see later). The tax on gifts between 3 and 7 years before death may benefit from a taper relief.
If you own such possessions as a home, car, investments, business interests, retirement savings or collectables, then you need a Will. A Will allows you to specify who will distribute your property after your death, and the people who will benefit. Many individuals either do not appreciate its importance, or do not see it as a priority. However, if you have no Will, your property could be distributed according to the intestacy laws.
You should start by considering some key questions:
- Who do you want to benefit from your wealth? What do you need to provide for your spouse? Should your children share equally in your estate - does one or more have special needs? Do you wish to include grandchildren? Would you like to give to charity?
- Should your business pass to all of your children, or only to those who have become involved in the business, and should you compensate the others with assets of comparable value? Consider the implications of multiple ownership.
- Consider the age and maturity of your beneficiaries. Should assets be placed into a trust restricting access to income and/or capital? Or should gifts wait until your death?
Making use of IHT exemptions
You should ensure that you make the best use of the available lifetime IHT exemptions, which include:
- the £3,000 annual exemption
- normal expenditure gifts out of after tax income
- gifts in consideration of marriage (up to specified limits)
- gifts you make of up to £250 per person per annum
- gifts to charities
- gifts between spouses, facilitating equalisation of estates (special rules apply if one spouse is non-UK domiciled).
Spouses and civil partners
On the first death, it is often the case that the bulk of the deceased spouse's (or civil partner's) assets pass to the survivor. The percentage of the nil-rate band not used on the first death is added to the nil-rate band for the second death.
Nigel and Dora were married. Nigel died in May 2008, leaving £50,000 to his more distant family but the bulk of his estate to Dora. If Dora dies in 2016/17 her estate will qualify for a nil-rate band of:
Nil-rate band on Nigel's death £312,000 Used on Nigel's death £50,000 Unused band £262,000 Unused percentage 83.97% Nil-rate band at the time of Dora's death £325,000 Entitlement 183.97% Nil-rate band for Dora's estate £597,902
If you die within seven years of making substantial lifetime gifts, they will be added back into your estate and may result in a significant IHT liability. You can take out a life assurance policy to cover this tax risk if you wish. However, you can make substantial gifts out of your taxable estate into trust now, and as a trustee retain control over the assets (this may well be subject to CGT or IHT charges).
IHT and the main residence nil-rate band
An additional nil-rate band is to be introduced where a residence is passed on death to direct descendants such as a child or a grandchild. This will initially be £100,000 in 2017/18, rising each year thereafter to reach £175,000 in 2020/21, and will increase in line with CPI from 2021/22. The additional band can only be used in respect of one residential property which has, at some point, been a residence of the deceased.
Any unused nil-rate band may be transferred to a surviving spouse or civil partner. It will also be available when a person downsizes or ceases to own a home on or after 8 July 2015 and assets of an equivalent value, up to the value of the additional nil-rate band, are passed on death to direct descendants.
There will also be a tapered withdrawal of the additional nil-rate band for estates with a net value (after deducting any liabilities but before reliefs and exemptions) of more than £2 million. This will be at a withdrawal rate of £1 for every £2 over this threshold.
Under current rules, there will be no CGT and perhaps little or no IHT to pay if you retain business property until your death. This is fine, as long as you wish to continue to hold your business interests until death, and recognise that the rules may change.
Alternatively, you may wish to hand your business over to the next generation. A gift of business property today will probably qualify for up to 100% IHT relief, and any capital gain can more than likely be held over to the new owner, so there will be no current CGT liability. If business or agricultural property is included in the estate, it may be appropriate to leave it to someone other than your spouse; otherwise the benefit of the special reliefs may be lost.
Gifts do not have to be in cash. You could save more IHT and/or CGT by gifting assets with the potential for growth in value. Gift while the asset has a lower value, and the appreciation then accrues outside your estate.
Another way to build up capital outside your own estate is to make regular gifts out of income, perhaps by way of premiums on an insurance policy written in trust for your heirs. Regular payments of this type will be exempt from IHT, but please note that your executors may need to be able to prove the payments were (a) regular and (b) out of surplus income, so you will need to keep some records to support the claim.
Gifts to charity can take many forms and result in significant tax reliefs for both lifetime giving and on death. Perhaps you are already making regular donations to one or more charities, coupled with one-off donations in response to natural disasters or televised appeals. Here we look at some of the ways you can increase the value of your gift to your chosen charities through the various forms of tax relief available.
Donations made under Gift Aid are made net of tax. What that means is that for every £1 you donate, the charity can recover 25p from HMRC. Furthermore, if you are paying tax at the 40% higher (or 45% additional) rate, you can claim tax relief equal to 25p (31p). Consequently, at a net cost to you of only 75p (69p additional rate), the charity receives £1.25.
A payment made in the current tax year can, subject to certain deadlines, be treated for tax purposes as if it had been made in 2015/16. This may not appear important to many people, but if you paid additional rate tax in 2015/16 and do not expect to do so this year, a claim will allow you to obtain relief at last year's rate. (Note: The carry-back election must be made before we file your 2016 Tax Return - another example of the importance of keeping us informed!) You must pay enough tax in the relevant year to cover the tax the charity will recover (that is, 25p for every £1 you gift).
You can make regular donations to charity through your payroll, if your employer agrees to operate the scheme. It operates by deducting an amount from your gross pay equal to the net cost to you of the monthly net donation you want to make.
Gifts of assets
Not all donations need to be money. You can make a gift of assets, and if the assets fall within the approved categories the gift can obtain a triple tax relief. Any gain which would accrue on the gift is exempt from CGT and the asset is removed from your estate for IHT. In addition the value of the asset is deductible against your income for the purposes of calculating your income tax liability.
Charitable legacies on death
A reduced rate of IHT applies where 10% or more of a deceased's net estate (after deducting IHT exemptions, reliefs and the nil-rate band) is left to charity. In those cases the 40% rate will be reduced to 36%.
Estate planning for single people?
Single people might not have given much thought to estate planning, but you should make a Will to set out your preferred funeral arrangements, how you want your estate to devolve on your death, and who will have responsibility for it.
Your estate might pass to your parents or your siblings, but would you perhaps prefer to leave your wealth to your nieces and nephews - with the bonus of potential IHT savings through 'generation skipping'? A Will is also vital for anyone who, although legally 'single', has a partner who they wish to benefit from the estate on their death.
A second marriage
Parents face a different set of challenges in second (or subsequent) marriages. If both partners are wealthy, you might want to direct more of your own wealth to children of your first marriage. If your partner is not wealthy, you might wish to protect him or her by either a direct bequest or a life interest trust (allowing your assets to devolve on their death according to your wishes). Should younger children receive a bigger share than grown up children, already making their own way in the world, and should your partner's children from the previous marriage benefit equally with your own?
If you are concerned about your former spouse gaining control of your wealth, consider creating a trust to ensure maximum flexibility in the hands of people you choose. You also need to plan to ensure that your partner is properly provided for. Look at your Will, pension provisions, life insurance and joint tenancies.
Your children may be grown up and financially secure. If your assets pass to them, you will be adding to their estate, and to the IHT which will be charged on their deaths. Instead, it might be worth considering leaving something to your grandchildren.
Revising your estate plan
Estate plans can quickly become out of date. Revisions could be due if any of the following events have occurred since you last updated your estate plan:
- the birth of a child or grandchild
- the death of your spouse, another beneficiary, your executor or your children's guardian
- marriages or divorces in the family
- a substantial increase or decrease in the value of your estate
- the formation, purchase or sale of a business
- changes in tax law.
The Will as a planning tool
A Will can be a powerful planning tool, which enables you to:
- protect your family by making provisions to meet their future financial needs
- minimise taxes that might reduce the size of your estate
- name an experienced executor who is capable of ensuring that your wishes are carried out
- name a trusted guardian for your children
- provide for any special needs of specific family members
- include gifts to charity
- establish trusts to manage the deferral of the inheritance of any beneficiaries
- secure the peace of mind of knowing that your family and other heirs will receive according to your express wishes.
Having taken the time to make a Will and prepare an estate plan, you must review them regularly to reflect changes in family and financial circumstances as well as changes in tax law. Wills can also be re-written by others within the two years after your death, in the event that some changes are agreed by all concerned to be appropriate.
With regular reviews we can help you to ensure that you make the most of estate planning tax breaks.
Your next steps: contact us to discuss…
- Inheritance tax planning and writing a Will
- Gifts to charity, and minimising tax on gifts and inheritances
- Disposition of your assets on death
- Using trusts in lifetime and estate tax planning
- Your choice of an executor
- Inheritance tax reduction planning and life assurance to cover any liabilities
- Naming a guardian for your children
- Lifetime gifts of assets, including business interests
- How your business interests should devolve if you die or become incapacitated
If you would like advice on inheritance tax planning strategies, please contact Certax.