Inflammatory budget?

Dominic Thomas
March 2023  •  10 min read

Inflammatory budget?

These are the days of being offended. It seems that, unsurprisingly, opposition parties and in particular the Labour party are having kittens about announcements around pensions in the Budget. The criticism is that this helps the rich and not the poor. There is some truth in this of course, but this goes to the political heart of wealth redistribution. In case you are concerned about my political bias, I don’t like any of them.

A million pounds seems like a lot, (it is!) but it’s not as much as it was. The sense we have of £1m is due to ‘anchoring’ as most of us grew up believing that £1m was a lot of money; a millionaire was a very rich person. Search for a home online in the south east and quickly you appreciate that perhaps a million doesn’t buy very much. The TV show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” with the prize of £1m was first aired in April 1998, almost 25 years ago. £1m then bought you rather more than the same prize fund does today. In fact in real terms, the prize should be adjusted to £1,776,802 … but that doesn’t really fit with the show’s title.

An adult approach is of course to recognise the impact of inflation. I’m going to speculate that politicians know this, but are always selective about the things that vex them. Your house is worth more perhaps because you have done some refurbishment, but also due to inflation. Anyone living in the South East (or indeed swathes of the country) knows that house prices are eye-watering and this is a problem for those trying to buy and for those paying inheritance tax. Inflation in house prices has been higher.

THE PENSION REFORMS WERE REALLY ABOUT NHS CONSULTANTS

The main thrust of the pension reforms are aimed at NHS Consultants, because they have been leaving in droves, because simply by working a normal week they end up owing tax on income that they have not had, in a pension they dont get until 67 at best. Ask any doctor. If we assume health and the NHS is important, it would seem that Labour politicians suggesting that they will reverse pension changes announced in the Spring Budget 2023 have not understood very much at all. If Labour are serious about looking after the health of the nation, we need to rethink pension rules that basically punish them from working. Sadly, few politicians understand the true impact of pension rules.

An alternative would perhaps be to have a simplistic approach, cut doctors and those in similar schemes out of the annual allowance tax calculations entirely. I suspect this would make them happy, it would certainly make my life easier. However the NHS pension is a Defined Benefit or Final Salary scheme, what you do for one, legally you have to do for others. The only other group of people with excellent “old school” final salary pensions are people with long service in big companies or institutions and almost certainly on high incomes – precisely the sort of people that Labour seem to loathe along with their multinational employers. So such a “cut out the problem” isnt actually a solution.

Reality is always an irritation for an MP or political party of any persuasion. A few non-partisan (I hope) facts for you to consider. The last time Labour won an election was in 2005. David Cameron formed a Coalition Government following the election in May 2010 (tax year 2010/11).

  1. Under the new proposals, those earning £200,000 or more do not get an automatic allowance of £60,000 into pensions. This is the threshold at which a lot of calculations need to be done, some doctors will still have to do this. As a result, they may well suffer a reduced annual allowance (how much they can put into a pension).
  2. Those earning £260,000 or more will certainly have a reduced (tapered) annual allowance from £60,000 and will need to do some sums.
  3. Those earning £360,000 or more can only contribute £10,000 gross into pensions, which is less than they can pay into an ISA. So these three facts would suggest that Labour are not happy that people paying 45% tax and have no personal allowance are somehow able to load pensions like a kid in a sweet shop. Its not true.
  4. The tax-free cash from a pension is capped at 25% of today’s lifetime allowance (£268,275). That means those retiring in the future have an allowance that does not keep pace with inflation, meaning in real-terms lower tax-free cash sums will be available. Tax-free cash of 25% of £1.8m or Primary/Enhanced protection, was higher under the last Labour Government than at any point since. Pension income is taxable, it is a future revenue for HMRC. It is also a possible solution to care costs rather than the State paying, I digress.
  5. The last Labour Government had an annual allowance (how much can be paid into a pension) of £255,000, there was no Tapered or reduced Annual Allowance.
  6. The main gripe of Labour about salary austerity wage inflation would appear not to apply to pension benefits being inflation/austerity-repaired since 2010. In short, the LTA would be £1.8m+ inflation, the Annual Allowance would be £255,000+inflation. Tax-free cash from pensions would be higher at a minimum of £450,000+ inflation. Additionally, the £100,000 income threshold for loss of the personal allowance has reduced in real terms. In short they are using the same facts to argue for higher wages, but not higher allowances that benefit… well, taxpayers.
  7. A-Day was introduced by Labour and will turn adult (18) on 6/4/2023. Perhaps adults should be allowed to save for their own financial independence rather than penalised/restricted on both what you can pay in and what you can take out. The original intention of pension simplification and A-Day was to increase the Lifetime Allowance, it started at £1.5m and increased substantially each year until 2010.
  8. The current Government will, from 6/4/2023 take more tax, starting the 45% rate of tax at £125,140 rather than £150,000. There are more people are paying additional rate tax.
  9. The personal allowance is currently £12,570 (up substantially from 2010 but removed from those earning over £100,000. In tax year 2009/10 it was £6,475, the rule to gradually remove the personal allowance for those earning £100,000+ came into effect in 2010/11 set by Labour, in the likely event of a change of Government and in light of the credit crunch.
  10. According to the Bank of England’s own inflation calculator, £100 in 2010 would be £141.10 now. If this were applied the following might be observed.
  • The £6,475 personal allowance would be lower at £9,155.82 (its actually £12,570, so brownie points for Conservatives?)
  • £100,000 income before loss of personal allowance would be £141,402 (it’s still £100,000)
  • The Lifetime allowance of £1,800,000 would be £2,545,248 (its currently £1,073,100 and about to be abolished, this is what they are complaining about)
  • 25% tax free cash would be £636,312 but it is not even half that amount, capped at £268,275, reducing in real terms every year.
  • The annual allowance of £255,000 would have become £360,576, yet apparently it is act of serving the wealthy to increase it from 6/4/23 from £40,000 to £60,000. Note that those “rich people” earning over £360,000 will be able to put in £10,000 as opposed to £4,000 into their pension, which has been the case for several years now. Just for the record someone earning £360,000 pays a lot of income tax.
  • In Labour’s last tax year, the basic rate of income tax (20%) applied to £37,400 if this had been linked to inflation, it would now be £52,885, the higher rate extended up to £150,000, which would otherwise be £212,104. In short, Conservatives have evidently cut allowances and increased tax

Chancellors of all persuasions have a knack are implying positive changes are their own doing all whilst completely ignoring the impact of inflation. You think you have been paying more tax? Well, clearly you have. We all have paid for the mismanagement of the economy by our underqualified political masters. Despite what is said in the media, even by supposed pension experts, if you earn more than £360,000 you can only place £10,000 into a pension and get tax relief, for the record a minor (child) can place £9,000 into a tax free Junior ISA.

We will have to see if Labour really will win an election and then change the lifetime allowance again. It seems entirely unhelpful to keep messing around with people’s planning for retirement and financial independence, apparently this is democracy in action. It would seem that politicians from both parties do not really like you benefitting from earning more, particularly if you earn between £100,000 and £200,000 or have I missed something? As for the media, well they don’t like you either unless you own the newspaper you are reading.

Inflammatory budget?2023-12-01T12:12:35+00:00

Golden handcuffs

Dominic Thomas
Jan 2023  •  6 min read

Golden handcuffs…

For many employees, a key reason to remain with their employer is because of pension benefits, however the playing field of employer pension schemes is far from level and the cynic in me questions whether Government tax policy is deliberately attempting to reduce the cost of pensions to employers, particularly the State employers such as the NHS.

Firstly, it’s important to understand the two basic types of pension. The clue to what they are is in the unusually straight-forward name.

1 – Defined Benefit (DB) or Final Salary Scheme

Your pension (benefit) is based on your final salary when you leave the scheme, whenever that is at the scheme normal retirement date (NRD).

The amount you get is a fraction of your final salary, your membership of the scheme and work for the employer builds your entitlement. So a scheme with a 1/60th rate of “Accrual” 25 years of membership would provide 25/60ths  (41.6%) of your final salary. This will be inflation-linked within parameters set by the scheme.

The amount you receive has nothing to do with how much you contribute, that can be any amount (sometimes nothing). It is your employers duty to honour the agreement not simply for the remainder of your life but likely the remainder of your spouse’s life as well.

According to ONS data to 2019 (the most recent at the time of writing) there are about 7.6m active members (people still building benefits)  of DB schemes, of these 6.6m are in Public Sector schemes.

2 – Defined Contribution (DC) or Money Purchase Scheme

These schemes are more straightforward in that they are investment-based schemes and the only guaranteed definitions are how much the employer is going to contribute as a percentage of pensionable salary (and the employee). How much this is ultimately worth will depend on how well the money is invested and the charges applied. Many employers use fairly cautious investment strategies in the misguided belief that this is better, yet as most people will save for their retirement for three or four decades, this will be rather like driving with the handbrake on.

The Auto Enrolment pensions that were introduced to automatically add staff to a pension rather than ask them if they wanted to join are essentially defined contribution schemes. They have been a success in the sense that more people are now saving into a pension.

The majority of employers do not offer a DB scheme, in fact hundreds have been closed over the years. There are barely any open DB schemes in the private sector, because they cost an awful lot to run and provide. There are roughly 10.4m people drawing a pension from a DB scheme and it’s fairly evenly split between private and public sector pensions. Remember that these are pensions payable for many years with a degree of inflation-proofing. Back in 2006 there were about 3m members of private sector DB schemes, half of them were closed, but by 2019 only 0.6m members were actively building benefits due to the number of closed schemes, deemed too expensive. Contrast this to the 0.9m members of open private sector DC schemes in 2006 which has risen to a whopping 10.6m.

To put a little more ‘flesh on the bones’ of the open private sector DB schemes, employers contribute a weighted average of 19.1% with employees adding a further 6.5%. Compare this to the weighted average private sector DC scheme where employers contribute 3.5% and employees just 1.6%. It doesn’t take a maths genius to work out that its much cheaper (by a country mile) for employers to provide a DC scheme, for which they pay annual contributions when their member of staff works for them and not a penny more thereafter.

Stating the obvious, if you are running any business, profit is what sustains a future; reducing costs increases profits (or should). The Public Sector cannot generally make quick and substantial changes like this. Generally the approach has been to alter existing DB schemes, with pensions starting later (65, 67, 68 as opposed to 60). Member employee contribution rates have increased – doubling in many cases. Finally, the rate of accrual has also been changed, often dressed up as better, but invariably forfeiting other benefits such as a lump sum. This is where most Union and legal challenges have been directed.

So taking a typical doctor who began their career paying 6% into a 1/80th pension scheme that would provide a pension for life from age 60 and a one-off tax-free lump sum. If they started working without any career breaks they might build 36 years of service (36/80ths) providing a 45% pension of their final salary (say £130,000) of £58,500 a year and a one off lump sum of £175,500.

If we exclude inflation, a same salary doctor will need to work an extra 7 years to get their pension at 67. They pay closer to 13.5% of salary to the pension and build it as 43/54ths of 79% of their salary (no lump sum)… but the Government was smarter than that, the maths isn’t really 1/54th of final salary, it’s of each year … the term ‘career average earnings’ captures this.  A doctor starting out is obviously paid substantially less than one at the peak of their expertise and career earnings – so it’s nothing like a final salary but an average salary over 43 years.  Taking the midpoint as an example, 21 years into a career – or retiring on a salary that you had 21 years ago. In fairness it isn’t quite like that, there is some inflation-linking, but this is detail you don’t need to know right now. The principle is how pensions in the Public Sector have been sliced and diced to save money.

When you add in draconian Government/HMRC rules about the Lifetime Allowance (a tax charge of 25% or 55% for those with pensions valued at over £1,073,100 and the Annual Allowance formula used, (which for many triggers a substantial tax on a pension income they have not yet had), it is very hard to conclude anything other than a deliberate strategy to remove higher paid long-term employees … like doctors.

So quite apart from the awful treatment medics often get in the media and utterly fictional suggestions of Consultants barely breaking from a round of golf to turn up for work occasionally, there is little wonder that most of them feel betrayed by a nation that they chose to serve. I can certainly tell you that from three decades of working with NHS doctors, I’ve not met any that became multi-millionaires through their work within healthcare. Some are certainly more entrepreneurial than others, but most of them simply love medicine and get satisfaction making a real difference in people’s lives, more likely describing it as a ‘calling’.

The reasons for the NHS being in crisis are complex and many, but part of the reason is that many doctors are being forced to reduce the number of sessions that they work or retire early so as to avoid a scenario where they are essentially paying more tax than the income they earn … actually paying to work. It is down to the Government and policymakers to have an adult approach to pensions and scrapping many of the really very badly thought through self-defeating rules.

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

Golden handcuffs2023-12-01T12:12:39+00:00

THE AUTUMN BUDGET 2021

TODAY’S BLOG

THE AUTUMN BUDGET 2021

In terms of your personal finance, not a lot has changed. Indeed, most of the announcements merely confirmed previous announcements, such is the way of our politicians. As a reminder, the next tax year begins on 6th April 2022. The main changes for most are really for those that receive dividends or pay National Insurance

iNCOME TAX RATE ON DIVIDENDS 2022/23 2021/22 (NOW)
Basic rate taxpayer 8.75% 7.50%
Higher rate taxpayer 33.75% 32.50%
Additional rate taxpayer 39.45% 38.10%
Rate for Trusts 39.35% 38.10%

National Insurance for employers increases from 13.8% to 15.05% which basically makes it more expensive to employ people. Employees will also pay rather more at the main rate, rising from 12% to 13.25% and then at the upper or higher rate increased from 2% to 3.25%. Remember the thing about National Insurance is that there is a threshold for the main rate after which you simply pay a flat, reduced rate (currently 2% but increasing to 3.25%). The self-employed main rate increases from 9% to 10.25%. Self-employed people do not fully enjoy the same benefits for their NI payments.

MAIN ALLOWANCES

For those of you using your pensions, the annual allowance remains at £40,000 but if you have begun drawing income from investment-based pensions it is restricted to £4,000 the delightfully named “Money Purchase Annual Allowance” or MPAA. The Lifetime Allowance (the total value of your pensions permitted before excess charges) remains frozen as previously indicated at £1,073,100. This is equivalent to a pension income of £53,655.

ISA and JISA limits remain as they were (£20,000 and £9,000) which are fairly substantial allowances but indicate a “kick the can down the road” policy of Government worrying about tax in the future. Capital Gains Tax (CGT) allowances and rates remain as they are (which is daft).

If you own a second property or inherit one, the capital gains rate and requirement for payment are important to understand. However, one small improvement is that you now have 60 days to pay the liability rather than 30 (with immediate effect). I imagine one of Rishi’s friends was offloading and was worried about an extra charge (surely not!).

As for inheritance, the nil rate remains at £325,000 per person and those with children inheriting the family home the residential nil rate band adds a further £175,000. However, this is tapered when an estate is worth more than £2m.

In short, for all the bluff and thunder and 200 pages, not much is in it for you and I. Remember – death and taxes.

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?

THE AUTUMN BUDGET 20212023-12-01T12:13:01+00:00

HOW MUCH FOR A HAPPY RETIREMENT?

TODAY’S BLOG

HOW MUCH FOR A HAPPY RETIREMENT?

Doubtless your will have heard of Which? Magazine. They conducted a survey recently in an attempt to understand how much is really enough for people to have a comfortable retirement. They concluded that a two-person household needs an average annual income of £26,000 for a comfortable retirement.

However you have coped with the pandemic, many people have not been able to spend money in the way they normally would. Many have saved the sums that would have been spent on holidays, travel, commuting, work clothes, weekday lunches, meals out and so on. This has given many of us the opportunity to pause for thought and reflect on how much we spend and the lifestyles we lead.

Some people have elected to retire earlier than they had planned, some have had this forced upon them. In practice, the warning signs for higher unemployment have been around for some time. We shall all begin to see the reality of things once the lockdown ends properly and the furlough system comes to an end. I do not see this going well. I implied, no… I stated that the Budget in March worked on the assumption of unemployment rising by 500,000 over the next 2 years with the largest increase in the current 2021/22 tax year.

A BREAD & BUTTER LIFESTYLE

£26,000 OR £19,000

Anyway, many have been giving thought to how much income they are likely to need when they stop earning. In February, Which? asked around 7,000 retirees about their spending.

The findings can be used as a guide to how much people are likely to spend and how much they might need to save, factoring in the state pension and tax bills. Couples need a pot of around £155,000 alongside their state pension to produce the annual income for a comfortable retirement of £26,000 via pension drawdown – or just over £265,000 through a joint-life annuity. Two-person households would need around £442,000 in a drawdown plan to fund the luxury retirement target (£41,000 per year) – or £589,000 if they’ve taken the full 25% tax-free lump sum available at the outset. If you opt for the guaranteed income provided by a joint-life annuity, you’ll require an initial fund of around £757,000.

For single-person households, achieving a comfortable retirement would mean a pot of around £192,290 alongside the state pension to get to an annual income of £19,000 via pension drawdown, or £305,710 through an annuity. For a retirement at the ‘essential’ level, single-person households would need £77,350 in a pension drawdown or £123,365 to buy an annuity plan to meet an annual target income of £13,000. A couple receiving the current average amount of £155 each per week will get just over £16,000 a year to add to private pensions. Pension drawdown figures are based on the savers withdrawing all of their income over 20 years from the age of 65, with investment growth of 3%, inflation at 1% and charges levied at 0.75%.

TWADDLE – THAT THING ABOUT ASSUMPTIONS

So let me respond by clearly saying “twaddle!” but it’s a helpful guide.That is all it is, there are huge holes in the assumptions and thinking, for starters, assuming a 2 decade retirement. Life rarely happens so “neatly”.

Over the years our processes have evolved with the technology that is available. We stress test your financial plan each week. Considering the likelihood of your life expectancy to the tenth percentile… which means the 1 in 10 chance you live a really long time. We consider sustainable income levels that fluctuate with inflation and changing investment returns based upon historical facts rather than regulatory unicorn utopias.

In any event, why would you care about a survey where your lifestyle is dictated? Surely your financial plan should be about protecting and ensuring that your current lifestyle endures as long as you do…. Or do you want less?

That’s why it is important, no – why its vital to have your own plan, based on sensible assumptions that we review together. Unless you have some mind-blowing news for me, you get one life and the clock is ticking. So have your own plan, know what you want and check with us that you are on track.

Need help? Know someone that does? get in touch... share the truth. It won’t hurt.

Its Your Lifestyle: how much is enough?

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?

HOW MUCH FOR A HAPPY RETIREMENT?2023-12-01T12:13:06+00:00

TAX YEAR END PLANNING PART 2

TODAY’S BLOG

TAX YEAR END PLANNING PART 2 – CAPITAL GAINS

2019 was a good year for nearly all investors in share or bond-based funds. Even the Brexit-buffeted UK stock market, something of laggard in global terms, grew by over 14%. If your portfolio does not show some decent capital gains for the year, it is probably in need of a serious review.

As a general rule, it makes sense to realise gains up to the Capital Gains Tax (CGT) annual exempt amount each tax year. The exemption, covering £12,000 of gains in 2019/20, cannot be carried forward: use it by 3 April (the tax year ends on Sunday 5 April), or you lose it. Systematically using the exemption can help avoid building up large gains over the years which attract tax. Currently, the maximum tax rate on gains is 20% for higher and additional rate taxpayers (28% for gains involving residential property and carried interest).

If you want to crystallise gains to use your exemption, but would prefer to retain the same investments, you cannot simply sell them one day and buy them back the next. Anti-avoidance rules prevent this from being effective, but there are alternatives that achieve a similar result, such as reinvesting in an ISA or self-invested personal pension.

CAPITAL GAIN

CAPITAL GAINS TAX IN PRACTICE

CGT applies to nearly all forms of investment, the notable exceptions being ISAs, Pensions and Investment Bonds. In simple terms, you want to trigger gains by selling an asset that has increased in value. Ideally you want to trigger as close to the allowance (£12,000) as possible. Thats a gain. So by way of example, if you invested £10,000 in 2010 and the investment is now worth £22,000 you would need to sell the entire investment to trigger a gain of £12,000.

The important issue is to know when you invested and how much. This is often more complicated than it appears because funds or holdings may well generate income which might have been paid to you, but may well have been re-invested. Over time the sums get very complicated.

We do a lot of work for clients that have a portfolio that we gradually convert into ISAs. Each year we trigger gains to move over into your ISA, ideally until the taxable investment has nothing left as it has all been moved into a tax-free ISA pot. This is a good way to gradually convert a portfolio into a tax-free portfolio.

A married couple have their own allowance each, but this is only relevant if the investment is jointly owned. Trusts also have a CGT allowance, but only at half the rate of the personal allowance (£6,000 in 2019/20).

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?

TAX YEAR END PLANNING PART 22023-12-01T12:13:24+00:00

Assumption

Assumption

You will have probably heard the saying “assume – makes an ass of u and me”. Whilst this holds some truth, it naturally requires context. As financial planners, we make assumptions about the future all the time, but equally we review these on a regular basis.

Watergate Bay

Like most people, I have picked up the occasional parking fine in the course of my driving lifetime, most, on reflection, were fair. One more recent experience, where I paid and displayed, resulted in a fine as my ticket “wasn’t seen”. I didn’t keep the original ticket, (does anyone?) so I had no evidence to affirm my claim. Reluctantly I paid the fine, which left me with a fairly bitter feeling towards the car park at Watergate Bay in Cornwall and its fine dining (yes, I have an irrational streak).

Court Orders Woman to pay £24,500 in parking fines

The headline above grabbed my attention. You can read the full story here about how Carly Mackie managed to accumulate fines that she could have avoided fairly easily – if only she had paid a small monthly fee. This would have permitted her to park in exactly the same spot, but ensuring that she could do with peace of mind, legitimately.

Price and Value

This reminded me of the mess that people can get in because they don’t see the value of a maintenance agreement. OK, it doesn’t necessarily hold true all the time, (electric goods “service agreement”) but it made me think about our services to clients. We provide an ongoing service to look after your financial “stuff”. We keep you posted about changes to rules and your arrangements. The purpose in doing so is to help prevent a larger expense later, because something was missed or not known. The problem with any such service is that most people see the price not the value. They assume that this aspect of life is all very straight-forward and any such service is an unnecessary cost. In fairness, it doesn’t help that the point of the service agreement is to do precisely that – to avoid unnecessary cost and making things appear to be simple.

Are you still paying attention?

I don’t wish to overstate, but a phrase that comes to mind is “those that pay, pay attention”. In other words, if you don’t really pay (enough) for something you tend not to value it. If you don’t value it, you probably ignore it….which can lead to problems.

Whilst some aspects of financial planning are “blindingly obvious” – such as spending less than you earn. Some are not (think new tax on annual pension allowance excess). Also, if nobody is around to challenge you on some “obvious” stuff, who will keep you on track? There are some “basic” traps that most people fall into…. Ready for it? (this is basic, but uncomfortable)…. If you spend more on your car each month than you put towards your pension, you are set for a miserable retirement. Most cars are monthly payment plans. It’s true of your holiday spending and so on… your pension is your future income stream, not an optional extra.

How is that coffee smelling?

All of which reminds me of one of the short films (Bombita) within “Wild Tales” (one of my favourite) about a demolition manager who takes the law into his own hands after dealing with the city parking bureaucrats.

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

Assumption2023-12-01T12:18:37+00:00

Estates: Inheritance Tax

Estates: Inheritance Tax

So it’s 8th July already and into the second half of the Wimbledon  Championships. Looking at your own life, which half do you imagine you are in? (ouch… didn’t see that coming!). Like most people inheritance tax (often referred to as IHT) probably isn’t something that is top of your current concerns (you don’t pay it) however it is a tax that generates more ire than most. In essence, inheritance tax is paid by the Executors of an estate following someone’s death. The amount of tax due will depend on the value of the estate and how it was arranged.

Today the Chancellor will give yet another Budget, but this one, the first as a Conservative Government. Like many I shall be waiting to hear what he says and see how he plans to deliver it. One of the pre-election manifesto promises was to increase the threshold for inheritance tax, perhaps to £1,000,000 for a couples main residence.

He may be less willing to follow through with this now as it was announced that in April HMRC collected £397m as inheritance tax payments, the largest in a single month and way above the longer term average of £260m a month. In fact March, April and May 2015 saw over £1bn of inheritance tax paid to HMRC. If interested, you can see the various taxes collected by HMRC from the data they published at the start of the month, just click here.

The Budget 8 July 2015

We shall simply have to wait for the Chancellor to tell us how and if he intends to adjust the nil rate band (the amount an estate can be worth before any inheritance tax is payable). The nil rate band has been frozen at £325,000 since 2009 and had historically increased with inflation each year, but of course that was before the credit crunch. As ever our APP will be updated with all the changes as quickly as possible (usually before the end of the day). Don’t forget it’s free and easy to use.

Pensions and ISAs are now IHT friendly

The main gripe is that property has continued to soar in value and is invariably the main asset that is left once someone dies. The pension freedom rules have enabled pension funds to be exempt from inheritance tax (though some taxes may apply) and ISAs are able to be passed on to a surviving spouse (previously they would have lost the tax-free status of an ISA).

As a result more people, or rather estates have been brought into the inheritance tax threshold, probably not the original intention of the tax. However the Chancellor will be seeking some wriggle room to keep things as they are given that it raises such significant sums for the Treasury.

A 40% tax rate

As of this morning, inheritance tax is charged at 40% on the excess value of estates worth £325,000. Each individual has a nil rate band and so a couple effectively has a nil rate band of £650,000. In addition, for those that have been previously married to someone now deceased, it is possible to use part of their allowance too.

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: Inheritance Tax2023-12-01T12:40:17+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

What is great financial planning?

What is great Financial Planning?

Financial planning is something that I have a real passion for. It is my belief and assertion that when done well, proper financial planning is akin to a light bulb moment or a bit of an epiphany. In essence as a financial planner I address the fundamental question that clients ask (even when it isn’t verbalised)… will I run out of money?

Living Deliberately

A financial plan is essentially your lifetime goals, perhaps aspirations, but clear, well defined and thought-through goals. This process can take some time to get right – not because the process is difficult, but because most people simply don’t know what they want out of life. American life coaches probably call this “living deliberately” rather than “living by accident”. In other words – if you don’t have a lifeplan, how can you make good decisions.

Treasure the questions

The questions can be fairly straight-forward – “Can I afford to buy this house and pay off a mortgage, run it and still afford to live in it when I retire?” or perhaps “I’d like to retire from my job at 60 not 65, but can I afford to do so with all of my commitments?” or “I have worked hard to build my business, what I need to know is what is the sale price I must achieve to do all the things I am working for?”.

Sometimes the questions are less clear – “Can I afford to start giving money away to my children or will I need it later?” “Can I really afford to spend all this money in my retirement? will it run out?”… “What investment return must my savings and investments achieve as a minimum?”

Yes there are lots of assumptions, proper financial planning will involve use of some type of cash flow modelling – certainly assumptions about the future, but these are reasoned, reasonable and reviewed.

Seeing is believing… take it from a doubting Thomas

A great financial plan, will provide answers to the questions that you have thought of and hopefully quite a number that you didn’t. Seeing this graphically represented is a very powerful and profound experience, something that enables you to make better decisions and understand why a financial planner is no more interested in financial products than you are – we are interested in solutions.

What’s your passion? your dream?

Salmon Fishing In the Yemen” is a really great “little” British film which seems to capture an aspect of current times. I won’t give the plot away, (its well worth seeing with a fantastic cast and director) but in essence stereotyped cultural barriers need to be crossed in order to achieve an ambition… a vision, which sometimes means going against the flow.

Vision is more than eyes to see

To some, what on the surface seems daft, ludicrous or mad really poses the question – do you understand the vision? not just the “head-stuff” but the “heart-stuff” too? Great financial planning must connect with what’s in your heart, not just in your head, after all, we’re talking about your life, not a hypothetical one. As one of my favourite dance bands “Faithless” suggest “you don’t need eyes to see, you need vision” (Reverence track from the 1996 album of the same name).

Here is the trailer for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, a movie that I really enjoyed.

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

What is great financial planning?2017-01-06T14:40:06+00:00
Go to Top