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'Do I feel lucky?'

04 March 2016

Harry Callahan (aka Dirty Harry)

There’s a good chance that most of us at some point have used this quote from Clint Eastwood’s famously gritty detective, but considering how well loved the line is, people often mis-quote it without realising, and get it wrong.  We tend to say ‘Do you feel lucky, punk?’ when the actual line is ‘You’ve got to ask yourself one question.  Do I feel lucky?  Well, do ya, punk?’.  Subtle changes, but definitely different. 

This can sometimes happen with your tax affairs – you hear about something that sounds good, but, through repetition, the important parts are mis-stated so that, over time, the original idea still exists but it seems to lose clarity.  Does this sound familiar?  It could be anything from the ubiquitous ‘man in the pub/on the bus/at the golf club’ right through to something reported in the media.

At Springfords, we like to give you the facts, in a clear and straightforward way, rather than relying on luck, or running the risk that ‘chinese whispers’ will result in the wrong answer being sought or given.  We want to help you understand your tax affairs, and the run up to the end of the tax year (on 5 April 2016) is an ideal time to combine all of this and look at tax planning ideas for both this year and next.  Here are some of the more common themes you might want to think about:

  • Personal Allowances – will you ‘use them or lose them’?
  • Capital gains – have you utilised your annual exemption where practical to do so?
  • Annual Investment Allowances – for those in business, should you take advantage of 100% tax relief?
  • Charitable donations – can you reduce higher rate tax costs and possibly carry back tax relief?
  • Tax efficient investments – have you used your ISA entitlement, and would you consider Enterprise Investment Scheme or other similar tax efficient investments
  • Inheritance Tax – have you used your £3,000 annual exemption this year/last year?
  • Married couples – could you transfer income generating assets to minimise tax costs or register to transfer allowances?
  • Business structures – if you’re self-employed, have you considered becoming a partnership or incorporating?
  • Profit extraction – are you minimising your exposure to higher rate tax, or is there a more economical way to extract income from your business?

There may be other annual tax planning topics which are of interest to you, (please feel free to give us a call if you’d like to discuss) but we’d also like to highlight some important tax changes which have effect from April 2016, and which could impact on you or your family:

  • Multiple residences – an additional 3% charge will be levied on the purchase of a second home (LBTT in Scotland and SDLT in England).
  • Incorporations – there will no longer be scope to obtain a 10% rate of tax on incorporation capital gains, but there may be other alternative routes that can be used.
  • Capital allowances – the level of Annual Investment Allowance for those in business reduced from £500k down to £200k from 1 January 2016.
  • Dividends – the new dividend tax rates will, broadly, affect anyone who receives more than £5k in dividend income (see our recent newsletter on this subject)
  • Savings income – bank interest will be paid gross, but basic and higher rate taxpayers will be entitled to a personal savings allowance of £1,000/£500 respectively.
  • Employment -  there are changes to the way that some benefits in kind are being dealt with, which could affect how your tax code is made up.
  • Pensions – the ability to obtain tax relief on pension contributions will be limited for those earning more than £150k, on a sliding scale down from £40k p/a to £10k p/a.
  • Rental property – there will be changes to the way expenses can be claimed for furnished let properties.

With the 2016 Budget less than a couple of weeks away (on 16 March 2016), you’ve got to ask yourself one question – ‘Do I feel lucky?’  We don’t want to risk leaving your affairs to luck alone, and despite what Harry might think, there’s a better way to deal with this one – just get in touch with your usual Springfords contact to find out how we can help, and keep an eye on our regular Facebook and LinkedIn posts for more ideas.  

This is a general guide which is intended to give background information and is not a substitute for taking specific advice based on your particular circumstances.

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