The Autumn Statement 2016

The Autumn Statement 2016

With a few hours to go Philip Hammond will be delivering his first Autumn statement, perhaps his last too if reports are to be believed that he will scrap them… who knows. In any event here is my quick wish list for the Autumn Statement

My Autumn Statement Wish List

(from a financial services perspective)

Abolish the Lifetime Allowance, which is currently £1m – if you hold more than this in pensions and you haven’t already “protected it” you will suffer an excess charge. Utterly pointless and discourages people from saving for their financial independence. This would also imply scrapping all previous protections.

Abolish Taper Relief – the new rule that has caused a raft of problems for those earning over £150,000 who can end up able to pay less into a pension (and still may suffer a penalty) than can be invested into an ISA. Utter lunacy, creating enormous headache for some.

Abolish Higher Rate Tax Relief – not what you might expect me to say and on the caveat that the two previous points are met. This saves the UK considerable sums, yet continues to offer an incentive to save for a pension.

Abolish Tapered Personal Allowance – either everyone gets one or nobody gets one. At the moment if you earn over £100,000 your personal allowance reduces by 50p for every £1 over £100,000.

Scrap the new Main Residence IHT allowance – just give everyone an allowance of £500,000 and have done with it. What former Chancellor George Osborne created is a shambles of smoke and mirrors.

Re-establish the different systems for Final Salary (Defined Benefits) pension schemes without any annual allowance, restricting total contributions to any pension to a fixed % of income by the employee (it used to be 15%). Vast sums and energy is used by departments in the NHS, Teachers, Local Government etc all creating utterly pointless, time sucking reports about the Annual Allowance and Lifetime Allowance. This is completely unnecessary.

Abolish LISA – another attempt to hit pensions with the high exit charges and daft array of decisions. Scrap this and other utterly pointless versions of an ISA. Have the single ISA allowance of £20,000 invest it however you like.

Stamp Duty – introduced to calm the property market which is now largely locked up with anxiety about Brexit etc. Huge tax take by Government and feels like a mugging. This needs reduced dramatically.

Fair Taxation

Earn it and tax it here. If you or your business generate income here in the UK it should be taxed at UK Corporation tax rates. Take note Google, Starbucks and Mr Green (et al). So all that nonsense for cross transfer pricing must end.

Genuinely Seeking Transparency and Tax Simplification? Have three rates of personal tax 0%, 20%, 40%. Whatever the source (dividends, capital gains, income etc). Huge sums are wasted on preparing numbers for a system that is designed to confuse. People break the rules deliberately or without knowing.

Corporations

Businesses pay corporation tax, this could be the same rates, with different allowances as personal taxation… this might mean busineses would use their revenue to reduce profits, either through inward innovative investments, expenses, employing people or redistributing to shareholders. More innovation creates more value, wealth, jobs….more tax take.

Means-Testing

If you are retired and have an income in excess of say £100,000 you forefeit your State Pension. You also forfeit free travel on public services and also the Winter fuel allowance…. come on, if you have a £100,000 income and don’t work any more, you aren’t going to need it or miss it and a relatively small number of retired people have £100,000 pension.. but really if you are a celeb you can give up your State pension and bus pass.

Landlords

Being a landlord is just like being a business. You have power over where people live. Some vetting is clearly needed (obviously not all landlords are bad). Landlords should have to apply to be a landlord license and register properties and all those living in them. Property has to be inspected every 3 years to ensure it is suitable for real people to live in. The new rules introduced about CGT, Stamp Duty and interest relief need reviewing, fair rents and fair offsets.

Ok, highly unlikely these will happen, but I really think some better ideas from Chancellors are required…

Our APP will be updated by the end of the day with all the relevant changes. It is FREE to have simply search for Solomons Financial Planning on either APP platform. There are loads of free tools and calculators to try out including an expenses tracker.

 

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

The Autumn Statement 20162017-01-06T14:39:12+00:00

Autumn Statement 2015

The Autumn Statement 2015

As ever, the Chancellor said a lot, made some unexpected changes and announced things that will happen and re-announced those that were already planned (all Chancellors seem to do this). In any event, the short story for most is that landlords are on the radar. Stamp Duty will be rising by an extra 3% for those buying a second property (or more) in addition to the changes already announced about interest relief.

In addition capital gains tax looks set to be something that is now much more closely inspected by HMRC and the payment for Capital Gains Tax on property appears to be moving to a pay at the time, rather than wait until the following January, which in some instances means bringing forwards the payment date to HMRC by potentially 22 months. The details are to be finalised.

The rumours about changes to tax relief on pensions changing were given further credibility with research into the impact of changes to the current 20%, 40% and 45% relief being finalised by March next year, so we would expect an announcement in the Budget next March. If I were a betting man (I’m not) I’d suspect that tax relief will become a single rate, of either 25% (which would be more logical – at least this has some link with the 25% tax-free cash) or 33% (you pay £2 we [Govt] pay £1).

In any event, our APP – the one you and your friends can have for free on iPad, iPhone or android platforms has been updated with changes appropriately.

Solomons Financial Planning APPSolomons Financial Planning APP

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

Autumn Statement 20152017-01-06T14:39:22+00:00

Business Owners and EIS

Business Owners and EIS

This item is aimed at business owners and how an EIS might be of use.

Many business owners are growing increasingly frustrated about the tax associated with extracting profit from their companies. Often referred to as “double taxation”, a company owner must first face corporation tax on profits made by their business and again when they decide to pay themselves a dividend/salary. It can at times, feel like you are working for HMRC.

An Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) can be used to extract profit from a business tax efficiently. EIS was introduced by the UK Government in 1994 in order to induce investment into UK smaller companies. In order to make investing in smaller companies more attractive, compensating the additional risks, there are a number of tax reliefs available through EIS investments (providing you hold your investment for at least three years).

Income Tax Relief CGT deferral IHT relief
Reduction in income tax liabilities amounting to 30% of the total investment Facility to defer paying CGT on all, or part, of a chargeable gain by investing the gain into EIS qualifying shares EIS companies qualify for Business Property Relief (BPR)
Relief can be applied to the current or previous tax year Investors can defer CGT by using EIS up to 12 months before crystallising gains or up to 36 months afterwards As long as shares have been held for 2 of the last 5 years and are held at time of death and remain BPR qualifying, the value of the EIS investment will count as part of your estate but will have a nil value for IHT purposes
The maximum amount of income tax that can be claimed is £300,000 for the current tax year and £300,000 for the previous tax year
Relief cannot exceed the amount which reduces an investor’s income tax liability to nil

Business Owner – Double Tax

Mr Williams, normally a higher rate tax payer, owns a small business. He pays himself a £10,600 salary per year in order to stay within his personal allowance; no income tax is paid on this amount. In addition to this salary he pays himself a dividend each year which attracts an income tax liability. However, he is still frustrated with the amount of tax paid on the dividends.

If Mr Williams pays himself a £50,000 dividend, he will owe 25% (£12,500) in income tax on this (once we take the tax credits into account). This will leave him with £37,500 of net funds in his account after paying the tax.

If Mr Williams invested £50,000 into an EIS, he will be entitled to 30% income tax relief (£15,000). This tax rebate can be used to wipe out the £12,500 due on the dividend. It also leaves him with an extra £2,500 of income tax relief to set against other income tax he has paid across the current and/or previous tax year.

He is left with a £50,000 EIS investment, which he can liquidate once he has held the investment for three years. Providing the EIS investment has, at least, preserved its value Mr Williams has saved £15,000 in tax as a result of this investment.

Any growth within his EIS investment is tax free, as per the EIS rules.

My example, implies that Mr Williams has adequate resources elsewhere, so that he can invest £50,000 rather than it being needed for income. The word or note of caution, is that an EIS is obviously an investment and at the higher end of the risk spectrum (though running your own business obviously carries risk). Whilst investing in smaller companies often involves higher levels of risk and worse levels of liquidity, many investment companies offer EIS investments that target capital preservation. These investments involve companies with long-term, index-linked and stable cash flows.

Want to know more? – get in touch.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

Business Owners and EIS2017-01-06T14:39:22+00:00

Estates: Your Will online forever

Estates: Your Will online forever

You may not be aware that the Government has now made it possible to search for Wills online. So once you are gone, your last Will and testament is available for anyone to see, should they wish to. Essentially it is nothing more than a searchable database which enables anyone to pay £10 to obtain an electronic copy of historic Wills, assuming the system works, you will receive your copy within about 10 days. It is free to search, but the Will itself costs £10.

It is estimated that there are over 41 million Wills and Grants of Probate on the database, which are compiled from 1858 onwards for England and Wales. I’m reminded of the film “Waking Ned Devine” which is a comedy about a man who wins the lottery but dies from shock, to collect his winnings, he has to be alive, leaving his community to concoct some creative solutions.

Implications

There will be some people who certainly won’t relish the prospect of their Will being published online – perhaps a few celebrities or even Royalty. Remember that for some people a Will reveals the state of family relationships at the point the Will was made.

HMRC better informed?

Perhaps the more important point about a Will or Grant of Probate is that assets are valued and those that are inherited ought to be more visible. This essentially provides a money trail for HMRC to follow. Remember evading tax is illegal, but with this approach it really ought to be the case that HMRC are able to now close in on those that don’t declare sufficient assets in their estate.

There are also implications for capital gains tax too – if you inherit an asset, then unless you sell it, or gift it, there is reasonable grounds to assume that you still own it. If it disappears from your asset inventory, surely questions would be asked which have a knock on effect for prospect of unpaid capital gains tax and perhaps even income tax (if the asset generated income). In short, anyone that isn’t being crystal clear about  their assets is likely to come under greater scrutiny.

Other implications also revolve around more “joined up thinking” in that your DVLA licence and car insurance are connected and if you now try to rent or hire a car, you need to input your NI number so that a DVLA permission certificate can be generated. This could be used to link to your investments (pensions and ISAs in particular) but why not your household insurance policy, meant to insure your physical assets.

All in all, I think this will lead to deeper and better information about us all, which will to some extent be publicly available, but more importantly available to HMRC. So make sure you declare your assets and taxes properly. Above all make sure your Will is current and reflects your wishes.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

Estates: Your Will online forever2017-01-06T14:39:27+00:00

“A-List” you don’t want to be on

Solomons-financial-advisor-wimbledon-blogger

“A-List” you don’t want to be on

The Inland Revenue, these days known as HMRC, yesterday published its list of 1,172 “aggressive tax avoidance schemes” which are under investigation. These are the sort of schemes that the media has been providing significant coverage and delighting in the opportunity to have a pop at an “A-List” celebrity or two… or rather more. The list is a 2 page document of numbers, looking rather like a sequence from the film “The Matrix” which I asked my design team to parody to make the point. Like it?

Solomons-IFA-Twitter-HMRC

Tax avoidance is perfectly legal, tax evasion is not. Tax avoidance includes everything from investing in an ISA, pension or using your annual capital gains allowance. It would also include moving savings into a lower or non-taxpayer’s name to avoid a higher rate of tax on an albeit puny amount of interest. These are of course “schemes” that are manufactured by the Chancellor and HM Treasury to satisfy number of aims. Firstly, to provide a tax-break for voters. Secondly to encourage saving and therefore reduce reliance on State support and finally to encourage trade, which is how we create jobs, raise taxes and pay our way. Most people with a modicum of intelligence will use tax avoidance schemes if they can.

Tax evasion is illegal, it always has been. Tax evasion is the deliberate and wilful, non-payment of owed taxes. This is effectively the running away to Rio with your millions out of the reach of HMRC. Society loses out and society is cheated and if the tax gap figures are to be believed this amounts to between £31-£35billion each year.

Aggressive tax avoidance schemes are a grey area, hence we are in this mess. To suggest that they sail close to the edge of the rules is fair. Some schemes deliberately creating or manufacturing losses, or moving money around offshore to avoid the UK tax system. As with most things, some of this is more obviously close to evasion than others. The motivation behind it all is to pay less tax, not necessarily to have a fantastic investment return. However in the context of 45% or 50% tax rates, the tax saving is of course a very healthy return. Invariably those that market and manufacture these schemes are paid handsomely (some might say excessively) for their cut of the scheme. For example on £100,000 investment, which might save £100,000 of tax a charge of £15,000 is not uncommon. The motivation is to save tax, because some people pay huge amounts, which they believe is unfair. This is probably due to a belief that Government has no real idea about how to spend wisely. It is often coupled with the idea that personal control over personal wealth is a defining feature of real freedom.

My view is simple. It isn‘t surprising that people want to reduce their tax bill. The tax system could be both simple and fair, but it is highly complex. I believe that this is deliberate. Complexity serves the very wealthy, who are also those with power. However some of these schemes are used by more “ordinary people” not simply the super-rich. People that fundamentally believe that they pay more than their fair share of tax. This is where the debate or argument needs to be had, as there is little real prospect of Governments (of any persuasion) having a simple Tax and Trust system, despite deceptive terms like “Simplification”.

Whatever your view, HMRC are now investigating a huge number of schemes, each of the numbers represents a scheme number. HMRC now has the power to simply take money from your bank account. This process is very much a case of guilty until proven innocent and whilst some will be, not all are, yet this approach could have a very damaging impact. Of course, those that peddle the schemes are usually covered by water-tight contracts with clauses waiving any responsibility and point to “Queen’s Council” as opinion not “fact”. Hmmm.

Anyway, we will not use schemes that “sail close to the edge” of tax rules. We will use allowances and avoidance tools of course, but not the type that land you in trouble with HMRC. There will be no need to dodge bullets…

Dominic Thomas: Solomons


References:

HMRC Avoidance: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/avoidance/

HMRC strategy: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/budget2013/evade-avoid.htm

“A-List” you don’t want to be on2017-01-06T14:39:35+00:00

Those shares you have…

Tax may be due on those shares that you have

As you know, shares are an asset (well they should be) and many provide income in the form of a dividend. This is taxable. Dividends are generally taxed at source at 10% but sadly the tax does not stop there. You have to declare the income so that any additional tax, based upon your other UK income is paid across to HMRC which could be 32.5% or 42.5% depending whether you are a higher rate taxpayer or additional rate (50%) taxpayer. You submit this information via your self assessment return. Anyhow, you may have a few shares that you bought or were “given” many years ago. It is entirely possible that the share is in a company that no longer has the same name. You may have found some old certificates in a dusty old box and assumed that they were worthless.

Checking if “old shares” still exist

It is entirely possible that they are worthless. However it is definitely worth checking first. Despite the advent of technology, tracing shares is a little tricky. Shares listed on the London Stock Exchange are invariably held by one of three registrars. These are Equiniti, Capita and Computershare. If you click on their name it will take you to their website. You can then find out if they look after the company you hold shares in. Alternatively do a search for the original company or check with the LSE, who may be able to provide some assistance (depending on the age of the shares).

Think carefully – CGT may apply

If you decide that the few shares you hold are more hassle than they are worth, please remember that as an asset, they are subject to capital gains tax. In essence you need to know the price you paid for them and the price you sell them for, the difference (the gain or loss) may be taxable. You have a personal capital gains allowance (CGT) which in 2012/13 is £10,600 and would need to be used by 5th April 2013.  This allowance means that you can realise gains of £10,600 and pay no tax. The vast majority of people in Britain rarely use their CGT allowance, yet it is highly valuable. The maths is complicated if you have used dividend income to buy more shares automatically, as you will have a series of purchase prices and different “chunks” of shares. You are now in Accountancy dreamland.

There are other options for your shares besides simply selling them, but you should seek personal advice about this as it will depend on the sums involved, your appetite for risk and your requirements for income and capital.

Those shares you have…2017-01-06T14:39:49+00:00
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