This content is for information and inspiration purposes only. It should not be taken as financial or investment advice. To receive personalised, regulated financial advice regarding your affairs please consult us here at WMM (financial planning in Oxford).
Chancellor Rishi Sunak was expected to deliver a new Budget in the Autumn, yet this has now been officially called off. Many pundits were speculating a large tax raid – especially upon higher earners – in an attempt to start balancing the books in light of large coronavirus spending earlier in the year. It’s important to note the significance of this delay. Holding a budget in the autumn allows civil servants, accountants and the wider public time to implement large changes to the UK tax regime before the end of the financial year in April.
As such, a budget in the spring of 2020 could leave many people with insufficient time to make adjustments to their financial plan (to optimise their tax position). In light of this, our financial planning team here at WMM in Oxford wish to stress the importance of taking advantage of the existing rules to put your wealth and finances in the best position. Below, we offer some ideas on how to do that for you to discuss with your financial planner.
Plan your estate carefully
There are many misconceptions about inheritance tax (IHT) – which is understandable, since it’s such a complex area. One myth that’s important to bust straight away is the idea that IHT is only payable when you die. Bear in mind that transfers into a trust can also incur a 20% charge when above the available nil rate band. Moreover, be careful not to assume that shares on alternative investments (AIM shares) are exempt from IHT. Check these areas with your financial adviser.
Regarding gifts, the “7-year-rule” is currently still in place during the 2020-21 year. Some are suggesting that this rule could be axed in the coming months (which is possible). Yet it’s crucial to not simply make a gift now in an attempt to leverage the rule before it possibly changes. Bear in mind that taper relief applies on gifts applies at 20% after three years. Unless the gift exceeds your nil rate band (i.e. £325,000) it is unlikely that you will save any IHT.
Also, be careful with ISAs (individual savings accounts). Unlike pensions, these are not exempt from IHT. Assets outside of the UK can also be subject to IHT! Finally, make sure your executors are aware of some of the nuanced IHT rules which might catch you both out. For instance, your unused nil rate band is not automatically transferred to your spouse/civil partner. Rather, this must be claimed by your executors using the relevant forms. Also, remember that executors are personally liable to pay IHT. As such, it’s crucial to make sure they have access to the funds they need to do this in the future.
A number of measures introduced by the UK government earlier in 2020 are set to expire at some point soon. The Stamp Duty holiday, for example, is currently set to conclude in March 2021. Many landlords with Buy To Let properties are thinking about taking advantage of this window, but should remember that CGT has to be paid much earlier now on residential property sales.
Finally, investors with property investments should consider ways to optimise their tax position in the coming months. For instance, it might make sense to transfer ownership of a property to a spouse/civil partner so that rental income is charged at their lower, marginal rate of tax. Bear in mind that property transfers in 2020 can still be done between members of such couples without a tax charge. This is a decision with important implications, however, so seek advice first.
Interested in finding out how we can optimise your financial plan? Get in touch today to arrange a free, no-commitment consultation with a member of our team here at WMM.
You can call us on 01869 331469