Exit Charge removed by Scottish Widows on Saving Plans & ISA

Scottish Widows is removing the exit charge that applies to certain Savings and Investment products. Following a review, they are removing the exit charge on the Savings and Investment products listed below by 23rd October 2017.

Scottish Widows Unit Trust Managers Ltd:
● Scottish Widows Open Ended Investment Company
● Scottish Widows Individual Savings Account

HBOS Investment Fund Managers Ltd:
● Halifax Collective Investment Plan

This will be of potential benefit to many account holders, who can now move their investments to lower cost platforms, and also access a wider range of funds with better track records.

We work with several low-cost platforms for ISA and non-ISA (Unit Trust / OEIC) funds and can help you design an optimum asset allocation and populate it with leading funds from a wide choice, giving you the portfolio you that is designed for you. We don’t force people into categories or into one of a handful of model portfolios – our portfolio design is bespoke.

Here’s a little example. For clients with both ISA and Non-ISA holdings, we design the portfolio and then split it so that the income bearing stocks are in ISA , and the growth stocks (with typically lower dividends) are in non-ISA. This is very effective in mitigating any tax from the non-ISA element, and the growth in the non-ISA element is also usually largely untaxed as as you can carefully use your CGT allowance each year (which otherwise is lost!) You’d be surprised how many high street bank “advisers” and indeed other financial advisers across the country will simply lump your money into the same portfolio across both accounts. We don’t, because to do so is poor advice.

Higher Earners – are you affected by the new tapered (restricted) tax relief on pension contributions? Read on for Possible Solutions…

My previous post November 23rd 2016 set out the rules for the tapered annual pension contributions allowance. Many higher earners are getting to grips with this and seeing that their ability to obtain (higher / additional rate) tax relief on pension contributions is severely restricted. This is bonus season, and a recent bonus may push you into this tapering calculation for your allowable pension contributions.

This is the first year of operation and  where an individual did not maximum-fund his pension contributions in previous years, they can use up available headroom from the previous three years (after first making maximum contributions in the current tax year). The maximum annual allowances are:

2016/17: (current tax year) £40,000 or as low as £10,000 if subject to tapering

2015/16: £40,000

2014/15: £40,000

2013/14: £50,000

So provided an individual was UK-based AND a member of a UK pension scheme at the time (regardless of whether  any contributions were made) in those three previous tax years, if their aggregate gross pension contributions (including employer contributions) were below the annual allowances, then the headroom can be carried forward and used in the current tax year. To do so, one must first use the current year’s, then you may go back up to three previous tax years, using the oldest first. As you can see, after we pass into a new tax year, the oldest of the three years falls away. Therefore, even if you cannot fully fund all of the headroom available, it would be sensible (where funds permit) to fund the current year and then go back and use the remaining allowance from three years ago – 2013/14 as it currently stands.

Give me a call if you have questions or need help with the calculations – 0345 013 6525.

Where carry forward is exhausted, higher earners may wish to look elsewhere for tax efficient long-term investments. These will include ISAs, Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs), (Small) Enterprise investment Schemes (SEIS and EIS),  investment bonds (onshore and offshore), maximum investment plans and other vehicles. Not all types of investment are suitable to an individual, so advice is needed when considering them.

I’ll be blogging more about these areas as we approach tax year-end, but since demand is high if you are contemplating making a last minute lump sum contribution into pension I suggest you do so several working days before April 5th, 2017 to ensure properly received and recorded by the pension provider.

The obscene lifestyles of the new global super-rich

 

High Earners – Time is Running out to Maximise Pension Funding and Guarantee your Tax Relief.

It has already been announced that high earners will see their annual allowance for tax relieved pension contributions reduced from £40,000 to as low as £10,000, commencing next tax year 2016-17.

But the impending budget on March 16, 2016 may well contain an announcement concerning the outcome of the pension tax relief review which could limit the level of tax relief which is allowed. If it does, then higher rate and additional rate taxpayers are most likely to be affected.

Whilst it is possible that no material changes will occur, it is also possible that substantial changes to the pension tax relief system may be enacted with immediate effect on March 16th. For those in a position to do so therefore, it would be prudent for higher rate and additional rate taxpayers in particular to consider maximising pension contributions between now and March 16, to obtain tax relief at the taxpayers highest marginal rate whilst it is still available.

Take advantage of carry forward to utilise contribution allowance available from 2012-13.

One must use all of this year’s remaining annual allowance, then you can look back up to three years and use earlier unused allowance. The tax relief obtained is applied in the current tax year. The example below shows how this might stack up:

PIP start PIP end Annual Allowance actual Pension input Available Notes
10-07-15 05-04-16 nil £16,500.00 £23,500.00 Special rules. Balance of 2015-16 capped at £40k. This will be available for c/fwd.
01-04-15 09-07-15 £80,000 £5,500.00 nil Up to £40k additional was available from 1-4-2015 to 9-7-2015 (only) (no c/fwd applies)
01-04-14 31-03-15 £40,000 £22,000.00 £18,000.00
01-04-13 31-03-14 £50,000 £20,000.00 £30,000.00
01-04-12 31-03-13 £50,000 £12,500.00 £37,500.00
£109,000.00 Total Allowance remaining in 2015-16
£61,000.00 Gross payment required to use all of 2012-13 allowance

In the example above, The maximum contribution which would still attract tax relief is £109,000. The lesser payment of £61,000, which comprises the remainder of the current tax year plus all of the remainder of 2012 – 13, may be attractive as it utilises that tax year’s remaining allowance before it disappears.

If you have sufficient earnings to obtain 40% or 45% tax relief on a large lump sum payment now, and have the means to do it, then you should consider this very closely.

It can even be sensible for certain individuals to pay more than they can comfortably afford at the moment, in effect paying next year’s contributions now in order to obtain the certainty of tax relief, particularly in view of the “squeezed” annual contributions allowance which applies next tax year for higher earners.

What is the new reduced annual allowance and who is affected?

I covered this in an earlier blog – see https://www.dfmadvice.co.uk/november-2015-autumn-budget-statement/ , but to summarise:

Test one: If your “adjusted income” exceeds £150,000 in a tax year, then your annual pensions contribution allowance will be reduced by £1 for every £2 of excess ” income”, until your allowance reaches £10,000. “Adjusted income” is essentially your income from all sources plus employer pension contributions.

Test two: If your “threshold income” (your income from all sources but excluding employer pension contributions) does not exceed £110,000 for the tax year then test one does not apply to you and there should be no reduction of annual pensions contribution allowance.

Therefore the ability for higher earners to make large pension contributions and obtain tax relief at their highest marginal rate is going to be severely reduced starting next tax year.

So what happens when pension contributions in excess of the annual allowance are made? The contributions can still go into your pension plan, but employee contributions will not receive tax relief on the excess, and employer contributions will be taxed on the excess.

Conclusion

Whilst the above is admittedly quite tricky to follow, what it adds up to is that higher earners should be considering making extra pension contributions between now and March 16th, to make sure of obtaining tax relief at their highest marginal rate, 45% or 40%.

 

Disclaimer: the foregoing does not constitute financial advice . We do not hold a crystal ball and do not know what the outcome of the budget review will be. And as ever we cannot state whether any particular course of action is best for one individual over another. The information offered in this blog is intended purely to inform and where necessary act as a call to action, namely to review your situation and consider whether the taking of certain steps is to your advantage. It is essential therefore that if you intend making any major pension contributions in the coming days and weeks that you seek independent financial advice.

Our New Website

Our new website is, apparently, responsive. Rather then meaning something to do with good handling, accelerates at the slightest touch of the throttle etc. it means it responds to whatever kind of viewer the user has – PC, tablet or smartphone, and displays itself accordingly.

So please let me know if you see any problems with it on your smartphone or tablet, or indeed if it refuses to render properly on IE, Firefox or Chrome on your pc, and I’ll try and get it sorted.

More to the point, please feel free to comment on this blog – the more comments the better. And please do share using the social media buttons at the foot of every blog.

Best regards

Tony