Tax Free Allowances
In the current tax year 2019/20. Joan has a personal allowance of £12,500 before she pays any income tax. Her State Pension will use up a lot of this. Income up to £50,000 is taxed at 20% (when the personal allowance is considered).
The VCT is a fairly “high-risk” type of investment, she isn’t paying any money into it any longer, but does enjoy income from it of 3% a year, this is tax free within a VCT. That’s £2,400 a year.
Her ISA is doing well, she has set up a monthly payment from it to her of £4,000 a quarter (£16,000 a year). As this is an ISA, the income that she takes (or capital) is tax free. By way of note £16,000 4% of £400,000.
The State Pension – Joan is caught by equalisation.
Joan originally expected her State Pension to start when she was 60, but following various rule changes and seeking advice in the early 2000’s she realised that it would be later than that. Joan’s State Pension actually began this summer on 6 July 2019. Over the full remainder of the tax year she will have 38 payments of £168 (£6,384) normally in a full tax year it would obviously be 52 weeks (£8,736) but she is one of many women that saw their State Pension Age increased. She’s a little miffed at having an extra 5 years to wait and wanted to know how she can minimise her tax payments.
Joan would like to know how much she could take from her pension without paying any tax. As her other investments are tax free, the only taxable income she has is money from her State pension (£6,384 in 2019/20) the personal allowance is £12,500. She puts £8,154 of her pension into a Flexible Access Drawdown pension. This enables her to take £2,038.50 as a tax free lump sum (25%) and £6,115 as taxable income. So rather like this:
- State Pension £6,384 (taxable at 0%)
- Drawdown Pension £6,115 (taxable at 0%)
- Tax Free lump sum from pension £2,038 (tax free)
- VCT income £2,400 (tax free)
- ISA income £16,000 (tax free)
- TOTAL income £32,927 and NO INCOME TAX
More and Less
The first point to make is that the above is not the maximum income that Joan could have. I simply want to identify some options. She could take more from her ISA, she is entitled to tax free interest on her money at the bank. She could take more from her pension (a larger tax free lump sum and no income from the pension if she was so minded). As an employed income £32,927 in 2019/20 would for most people result in about £7,000 paid in tax and national insurance.
Joan will need advice to adjust her portfolios and determine the most suitable way for her to draw income. Next year she will have a larger State pension, using more of her personal allowance as it will be a full year of income for her (and a likely increase in April).
When she retired at the start of the year at 65, Joan had investigated using her pension to buy an annuity. She was going to simply take the 25% from her fund and put it in the bank and then use the £300,000 to buy an annuity. As a single person in very good health, she wanted an inflation-proofed income. The best annuity available would guarantee that she receives £9,851 a year rising by 3% a year. Job done. That’s an annuity rate of roughly 3.2%, but the income is taxable. In the first year she would have total income of £16,255 from the annuity and her State Pension, paying tax of £747. Her VCT and ISA income remain the same at £18,400 in all. So her total income would be £34,655 (more) but with tax of £747 (net £33,908) She has £300,000 less on her personal balance sheet and has £981 extra income in the year.
In the second year, she would expect £10,146 from the annuity and a State Pension of £8,736 a total of £18,882, which if the personal allowance remains at £12,500 would mean that £6,382 is taxed at 20% (£1,276.40 tax). Whilst there are good things about an annuity (it’s a guaranteed income) this is also a problem for tax planning as the income cannot be switched off and is taxable.
The purpose of this fictional case study is simply meant to highlight the issues involved, everyone’s circumstances will be different. I have not considered that Joan may live a very long time and whether taking 4% from her ISA is a good idea or indeed if she has a suitable globally diverse portfolio. I have done no inheritance tax planning and no contributions to anything that might get tax relief. Had Joan had other investments, she could also use her capital gains tax allowance. There are lots of options.
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