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Removal of higher rate tax relief - options on pension contributions

With the removal of higher rate tax relief on pension contributions for those with total earnings over £130,000 what options do you have?

Pensions

You can make a contribution of £20,000 (or £30,000 if you have made large single contributions in the past) this tax year , which will benefit from higher rate tax relief. The coalition government is currently consulting on pension rules and it's looking likely that from next tax year the annual allowance will be reduced which means the maximum contribution will be somewhere between £30,000 to £45,000. We'll have to wait and see.

If you are on the cusp of £130,000, look at your income sources. Consider diverting savings income to a lower earning spouse/civil partner. You can also consider gift aid to reduce your earned income (well for the moment anyway).

Can you contribute to a spouse/civil partners pension instead, eg husband and wife own company, make pension contribution in wife name only?

ISA

Max out your ISA allowance. You can invest £10,200 now in ISAs , that’s £20,400 for a couple. £5,100 in cash and £5,100 in stocks and shares ISA. It is better to do this at the beginning of the tax year as opposed to the end. Clients often think this doesn't amount to much, but if a married couple both did their ISA allowance for 10 years and achieved 6% growth during that time, you would expert a fund of c. £285,000.

Stocks an Shares ISAs grow free from Capital Gains Tax and if you take home an income, it is not added in when working out your income tax bill.

(Also useful for things like age allowance when you're retired)

Venture Capital Trusts (VCT)

Offer 30% tax relief on the contribution, maximum £200,000.

This is high risk as they are investing in SME companies, having said that some providers are catering for concerns by concentrating on structures that preserve your capital to give you the requisite return. You need to hold them for five years to keep the tax relief. A rolling plan programme is worth considering

Offshore Bonds

For lump sum investments, it can be worth considering bonds, growth is taxed as income, but the liability comes at the point when cash the investment in, so if you go from being a higher rate tax payer to a lower rate tax payer you can mitigate some of the tax, or even better assign (sign it over) it to a spouse who might not pay any tax at all, or the children when they go to university (they have got to be eighteen for this to work).

This is a snapshot as opposed to definitive list and there are other options available. The point is to explore a variety of tax wrappers, and with careful planning keep share less of your returns with the tax man.

Anne McClean is a senior Financial Adviser at Nightingale Associates. The views given in this blog are personal to the author.  If you would like to discuss the contents of this post with Anne you can call her on 020 7353 1597.

M&H LLP trading as Nightingale Associates is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

 

 

Date: 6th August, 2010
Author: Anne McClean

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