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Planning for +£50,000 tax-free annually

6 minutes read
Last updated on 6th Apr 2020

Nobody likes paying tax, but luckily our tax system offers legitimate opportunities to diminish tax payments. Clients can enjoy a substantial level of tax-free income and capital by taking advantage of the various allowances within the tax system…and it’s not that technical.

By carefully preparing and planning a multi-wrapper solution for clients with capital/disposable income to invest, we can help them achieve in excess of £50,000pa tax-free.

Let’s look at the allowances for 2020/21:

Income Tax Personal Allowance and Basic Rate Limits

  • Personal Allowance (PA) is £12,500, income limit for the PA remained at £100,000
  • Income tax rates stay at 20%/40%/45%
  • Basic rate tax band remained at £37,500 except in Scotland, where differing rates apply for non-savings, non-dividend income, for more information on this please refer to this page
  • Additional rate tax band remained at £150,000.

Additional rate tax band remained at £150,000.

Capital Gains Tax

The CGT Annual Exempt Amount increased to £12,300 but the rates remained at 10% for gains within any remaining basic rate band & 20% thereafter. Capital gains on residential properties (not qualifying for Private Residence Relief) and the receipt of carried interest have rates of 18% & 28%.

Dividend Nil Rate

The first £2,000 of dividend income is taxed at 0%, although this does still count towards your client’s Adjusted Net Income and uses up the tax band it falls into. Dividend income above £2,000 is taxed at 7.5% at basic rate, 32.5% at higher and 38.1% at additional.

Personal Savings ‘Allowance’ (PSA)

The PSA allows tax free savings income of up to £1,000 depending on the client’s tax position.

Starting Rate for Savings

Starting rate limit (savings income) remains at £5,000 – it’s restricted by non-savings taxable income so that none of the band will be available if that income is above the client’s  personal allowance plus the £5,000 starting rate.

Personal Allowance (PA) – £12,500 pa tax free

Unless your client has Adjusted Net Income in excess of £100,000pa, the first £12,500 of taxable income will fall within the PA and, as such, will be tax free. Keeping salary within the PA is not an option for many, so most have to accept that earnings during their working lifetime (in excess of the PA) will be taxable. Unfortunately, non-savings income (earnings) in excess of £17,500 also prevents access to the starting rate of tax for savings.

However, many business owners have the potential of setting their own salary, deriving the balance of immediate required income from dividends and taking advantage of employer pension contributions for the balance of available profits. Managing profit extraction can make a considerable difference to the level of tax to be paid both now and in the future

On retirement, the use of a flexi-access drawdown pension allows pension income to be varied, or turned on and off, as individual need requires. Use of this flexibility of income to match a changing PA, when linked to the use of Pension Commencement Lump Sum (see below), offers a very tax efficient and flexible form of income. It goes without saying that the accumulation of a pension fund is extremely tax efficient, with tax-relief on pension contributions and tax-free growth of pension funds.

Recent Finance Acts have tightened down on the amount of contributions that can be made by high earners and those flexibly accessing their pension savings, via the Money Purchase Annual Allowance and the tapered Annual Allowance, but with the appropriate advice substantial contributions can still be achievable. Furthermore, the restrictions of the Lifetime Allowance may impact on the perceived tax efficiency of pensions.

Personal Savings 'Allowance' – up to £1,000pa tax free

We can generate up to £1,000 (basic rate taxpayer) or £500 (higher rate taxpayer) of interest payments without any liability to income tax. This is available to all (except additional rate taxpayers), so will be available to ‘earners’, unlike the starting rate of tax (see below). However, given the current level of interest rates available from high street bank/building society accounts (approx. 0.1%), you’d need £1,000,000 invested to exceed this allowance (for a basic rate taxpayer), so perhaps alternative investments, such as OEICs (where the fund has more than 60% invested in assets generating interest), are worth considering if this allowance is to be fully utilised.

Starting rate of tax – up to £5,000pa tax free

Those with non-savings (earned) income in excess of £17,500 need not concern themselves with the starting rate of tax. However, if your client does not need to work, derives, income mainly from investments, can vary income as required or have non-savings income under £17,500, this is for them.

If any taxable savings income falls within the first £5,000 of the basic rate band, your client will not be liable to pay any tax on it, as the starting rate for savings income is 0%. As well as standard deposit accounts, interest-producing OEICs and chargeable gains on insurance bonds fall into this category. 

The starting rate of tax is restricted by non-savings taxable income so that none of the band will be available if that income is above their personal allowance (and blind person’s allowance if claimed) plus the £5,000 starting rate. So the starting rate of tax is more of an advantage for people living off savings or who can vary their non-savings income, rather than people living off earnings. Dividend income is taxed after savings income and therefore, dividend income will not affect eligibility for the starting rate for savings.

But remember, those currently working are likely to cease work or retire, so accumulating savings or making an investment that can provide payment of interest, when non-saving income reduces, could be a sensible proposition.

Dividend nil rate – up to £2,000pa tax free

The first £2,000 of dividend income is taxed at 0% regardless of your client’s current tax position. Based on the FTSE 100 average yield of 3.79% (as at 31/07/18), an investment of approximately £52,770 in OEICs would be required to generate this amount of dividend. So assuming that such an investment suits the risk profile, dividend-producing investments can be a useful tool in boosting the level of tax-free income irrespective of  current tax position.

Capital Gain Tax Annual Exempt Amount – up to £12,300 pa tax free

We know that we can realise gains on investments up to the value of £12,300 pa and not be liable to CGT. This could be from the same investments generating the dividends and interest mentioned above. The capital released with the gain would also boost “income”.

So in essence we are now up to +£32,800 tax free, but it need not stop there

If we include the tax-free Pension Commencement Lump sum from unvested pension funds, the 5% pa tax deferred allowance for investment bonds and the fact that clients can make tax-free withdrawals from ISAs, the sky’s the limit.

Pension Commencement Lump Sum (PCLS) - £? pa tax free

The Lifetime Allowance (LTA) is currently £1,073,100 and expected to increase by CPI each year. 25% of this can usually be drawn tax free. By phasing the PCLS over, say 20 years (i.e. taking 5% of the LTA), and assuming that the LTA increases by 2.5% per annum £13,413.75 could be taken tax free in year one and £342,649 in total could be taken over the 20 years. The taking of a PCLS requires designation of the appropriate funds to a pension income vehicle. Leaving the funds invested via flexi-access drawdown means that clients could subsequently take an income to offset against the Personal Allowance.

Individual Savings Account - £? pa tax free

Although contributions to ISAs don’t enjoy the same tax advantages as pensions, the growth within the wrapper is identical. Any money withdrawn is tax-free, without any limitations.

Summary

Appropriate planning, use of a multi-wrapper approach to investment, and learning to speak fluent ‘taxation’ (and being able to translate it to a language that a client can understand) can result in considerable tax wins for advisers’ clients.

In an environment where “sustainable income” is one of the financial planners key goals. Tax efficiency equals lower withdrawals equals capital lasting for longer!

In an overall planning scenario, the use of share investment plans, EIS, VCT etc. haven’t been considered. But availability and use of these (if appropriate) could expand the tax efficiency.

The ‘art’ of the adviser is to bring simplicity to the confusion.

"Prudential" is a trading name of Prudential Distribution Limited. Prudential Distribution Limited is registered in Scotland. Registered Office at Craigforth, Stirling FK9 4UE. Registered number SC212640. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Prudential Distribution Limited is part of the same corporate group as the Prudential Assurance Company. The Prudential Assurance Company and Prudential Distribution Limited are direct/indirect subsidiaries of M&G plc, a company incorporated in the United Kingdom. These companies are not affiliated in any manner with Prudential Financial, Inc, a company whose principal place of business is in the United States of America or Prudential plc, an international group incorporated in the United Kingdom.