There’s nothing like the looming HMRC tax return deadline on 31 January to focus the mind on quite how much of our hard-earned money gets paid out in tax… and quite what a good idea it is to make the most of your tax allowances.
If you have already submitted your tax return or you are one of the lucky people who do not need to complete one, here’s our roundup of the most useful but often overlooked tax breaks. Could you make more of yours before the end of the tax year?
ISAs – the simple option
Stocks & Shares ISAs are usually the first port of call for investing tax-efficiently. Everyone has a £15,240 ISA allowance in 2015/16, but the allowance resets at the beginning of each tax year and it can't be carried over between them. So if you want to use yours make sure you do before 6 April.
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Make the most of your pension allowances before they change
You can currently pay as much into your pension as you earn each year, up to a maximum of £40,000. But the rules are changing in April and the next few months could be the last chance to take advantage of the Government's current generous tax relief – especially for people earning more than £150,000 a year.
Pension carry forward lets you pay more than your annual allowance into your pension this year. It works by carrying over any unused allowance from the three previous tax years. So even if you don't earn more than £150,000, it could still be a good option if you want to make the most of your pension allowances this year. Find out how it works in our free pension carry forward factsheet.
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Capital Gains Tax – the forgotten allowance
If you own investments outside ISAs and pensions, when you sell or transfer them you could pay up to 28% tax on any gains you make. For some investors this can mean an unexpected tax bill when it comes to cashing in their investments if they’ve done well over a number of years.
You have an £11,100 annual allowance before you pay Capital Gains Tax but it isn't carried over between tax years. Many people forget to use it, but with regular planning you can make use of your full allowance each year and potentially save a fortune over the long term. Find out more about Capital Gains Tax in our tax-efficient investing guide or speak to a financial planner if you’re concerned about Capital Gains Tax.
Stay on top of estate planning
Many people want to leave an inheritance when they die. You currently have a £325,000 personal allowance (with an extra £175,000 allowance for the family home being phased in between 2017-20) before your beneficiaries pay any Inheritance Tax.
Estate planning involves making sure that more of your money is passed on to your loved ones, rather than the taxman. It can involve anything from simply giving away cash to setting up complex trusts in your will. Our guide to estate planning and Inheritance Tax explains the rules and shows you how to get started.
Talk to us about your tax allowances
Do you have any questions about your tax allowances and making the most of them before 6 April? Speak to one of our friendly experts on 020 7189 2400, email firstname.lastname@example.org or request a call back.