INHERITANCE TAX UPDATE

Inheritance Tax Update

Inheritance tax has sometimes been described as a voluntary tax. This may ruffle your feathers a little, but is of course true in principle. That is to say that you can plan for inheritance tax. You do so by arranging your affairs in such a way that you either pay minimal tax, none or ensure that you have resources aside to make no significant difference. Despite this between April 2018 and the end of the summer (August 2018) a whopping £2.357bn was paid to the Treasury in the form of inheritance tax. This is almost as much as was collected in the whole of 2010-11.

The Office of Tax Simplification has completed (8 June) a survey of the review of inheritance tax. This is currently being contemplated. The last Chancellor introduced a more complicated way to increase the inheritance tax allowance. What appeared reasonably generous, was actually conditional.  The extra benefit, under certain condition could be lost. Those that remember “Yes Minister” might smile at the notion of the OTS asking how to do their job. That is to say, the Office of Tax Simplifcation, asking “how do we simplify IHT?”. For starters, do what you are meant to do and make it simple. The debate about whether IHT is “moral” or “political” is probably a secondary issue to it being at least “simple” which currently… it is not.

Asking the Questions…

The survey poses more questions, which largely seem to be concerned with record keeping rather than adjusting the rate or rules. However as only around 5% of estates pay IHT, perhaps the issue is one that most people are not as bothered by as the news outlets suggest. However, the survey makes an interesting read, highlighting all the current “issues”. See the survey here.

You may have noticed that I wrote a series of pieces on inheritance tax, three years ago how gifts are recorded and the forms that you could even download and prepare for your beneficiaries. You can find these here.

What if you had died yesterday?

Where are you originally from?

Marriage is not an IHT exemption

How does HMRC know about gifts?

As safe as houses

Paying inheritance tax when someone dies is not always straight-forward. The term “estate” is perhaps misused, it should really mean “death” and when one person in a marriage dies, there is no inheritance tax by default.

The amount of IHT collected continues to rise each year. Consider each of these tax years.

2010-11 £2,724m

2011-12 £2,917m

2012-13 £3,147m

2013-14 £3,417m

2014-15 £3,825m

2015-16 £4,673m

2016-17 £4,840m

2017-18 £5,228m

Folks, it doesn’t have to be this way… you have the power to plan for the certainty of death

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

INHERITANCE TAX UPDATE2023-12-01T12:17:49+00:00

DOCTOR, DOCTOR… IN THE TELEGRAPH

TODAY’S BLOG

DOCTOR DOCTOR… IN THE TELEGRAPH

You may have come across my details in a piece in The Telegraph on Monday 10 September 2018 by financial journalist Laura Miller. Laura outlines a problem that is being observed in hospitals around the UK, in that some doctors are in the ludicrous position of effectively being forced to reduce their available hours due to the additional taxes that they will suffer for additional income. This has the inevitable potential to create longer waiting lists.

Before we go any further, let me say that Laura asked me to check some sums from a Consultant doctor who was making the point about the annual allowance excess taxes. I have made no secret of the fact that I believe the tapered annual allowance is an utterly stupid Government policy. It isn’t the first and of course will not be the last.

THIS IS GOING TO HURT

My only concern is that some may interpret the information as “greedy doctors worry about tax and so work less”. So I wish to make one point crystal clear. I have advised medics for over 25 years. I have met hundreds of them. I have never, NEVER, not even once met one that was motivated by money as a career choice. The early career of a junior doctor is particularly traumatic and frankly the NHS and Department of Health should be ashamed of the working pressures and timetables that they put them under. If you need any convincing, simply have a look at Adam Kay’s Book – “This is Going To Hurt”. Yet the system continues, because it is always under strain and there are not enough doctors to do the work within “normal” working hours or shifts.

DOCTORS EARNINGS

It is true that some doctors can earn very good incomes. The £10,000 annual allowance only applies to those with income over £210,000 – which is a lot of money by most standards. However, these are people that are highly skilled and at the top of their profession, have given way more than their pound of flesh and are constantly scrutinised for errors and lambasted by politicians and media whenever it suits. For the record, this is not Laura’s intent.

The rather ludicrous rules also impact any doctor whose pension income improves by more than £2,106 in a year. This too would push them over the standard annual allowance and potentially suffer excess tax charges. The tax charge is treated effectively as income tax at the highest rate, despite the fact that the pension has not actually been paid to them, conceivably might never be paid to them if they were to die before retirement. In essence a tax on future, yet to be received income. This sort of rise in pension benefit could come from something as innocuous as moving up the grades, or perhaps for impressive work in the form of Clinical Excellence Awards – or even returning to a full-time post.

HEARING PROBLEM

This is all to do with the way in which the Annual Allowance is calculated for those in final salary schemes. I wrote to the previous Chancellor, twice, without reply on this subject when he presided over the introduced rules. Perhaps Laura will have more success.

Suffice to say this is a complex piece of pension planning, a headache that neither the doctor, nor the NHS really should have to waste time on. Yet my advice is to all doctors is to request a Pension Annual Savings Statement as well as their Total Rewards Statement and ensure all payslips are carefully retained – as well as information about any and every form of income they receive from all possible sources. This is more unpaid work, increased stress and bureaucracy to satisfy some utterly numpty thinking at HM Treasury…. Nothing new in that though is there.

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

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk 
Call – 020 8542 8084

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk    Call – 020 8542 8084

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

DOCTOR, DOCTOR… IN THE TELEGRAPH2023-12-01T12:17:52+00:00

The Future of Pensions

The Future of Pensions

I am currently at my annual conference in Wales – the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investments (CISI) with whom the IFP – Institute of Financial Planning merged last year. Yesterday we covered a number of valuable topics, but the talk that resonated most with me was from former Pensions Minister MP Steve Webb, who talked about the future of pensions – amongst other things.

I had to admit that my BS radar is usually on hyperdrive when listening to any politician these days, which is probably a sad reflection on me, however I was very impressed by what he had to say, albeit he did not paint a terribly pleasant picture of the future. Of course, only time will tell if his predictions come about and in fairness, he was quick to remind us of the problems with predicting the future, particularly in a climate where since the last general election all of the major political parties have changed their leaders and the country has voted to leave the EU.

Book cover of Yes Minister - A Very Courageous Decision

Play it again Sam…(or Phil)

Webb was clear that changing pensions is pretty difficult and appears to be a low priority to either the Government of Civil Service. He gave an insight into the slow turning wheels of Whitehall, sounding much like an episode from Yes Minister. Given all the change that we have had (State Pension, Auto Enrolment, Pension Freedoms, Annual Allowance Taper, Lifetime Allowance…) he suspects and urges a period of quiet inaction from the Chancellor, Philip Hammond. This is particularly pertinent to those concerned about the loss or reductions of tax relief on pension contributions or changes to the tax free cash entitlement. He made the case that the public and financial planners could not plan ahead in confidence if the rules are changed every year, yet warned at Chancellors are easily tempted by ideas to collect more tax, however short-sighted.

Whilst on the subject of tax he made it clear that the Treasury are naturally inclined to taxing now rather than in the years ahead, so there is a very real pressure to take the view that tax relief reductions in the short-term outweigh the advantages of taxed incomes in the future, so by inference, a system of loss of tax relief and no taxation of pension income is a genuine prospect. He argued that this was evidenced by the Treasury’s love for ISAs and obvious contempt for pensions with the Lifetime Allowance reductions (and associated tax penalties) and the new tapered annual allowance. Personally he would scrap the LTA but retain a cap on annual pension contributions (which I certainly agree with). He did point out that of course putting trust in future Chancellors to honour a commitment not to tax pension income in the future required a high degree of faith, which  deliberately provoked some mirth from the audience.

Turning to Brexit, he simply outlined his view that interest rates are likely to be very low for a long time, which would place pressure on people to look for better returns than the puny sums they achieve from their savings. He argued that this would likely lead to yet more scams as people fall for yet more illusory promises of high returns. He also warned of the impact on final salary pension schemes which, because of the assets that they hold and the way calculations are performed, would have larger deficits in their pensions (due to low interest rates) probably leading to some, or perhaps a majority of companies trimming their dividend payments.. which in turn makes the task of achieving investment income harder still.

He seemed to have little regard for our regulator of whom he said was “not fit for purpose” and thought the new LISA was perhaps the most badly constructed investment idea for years. If you follow me on social media, you will know my thoughts on this already.

So, whilst Steve Webb found a receptive audience, I was left with the sinking feeling that there was little hope for common sense to return to the Treasury… but who knows… we all get to find out in a few weeks time for the Autumn Statement.

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 Future of Pensions2023-12-01T12:19:06+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 on2023-12-01T12:39:25+00:00
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