The subject of tax avoidance has seen unprecedented levels of media coverage in recent months, and HM Revenue & Customs recently heralded its victory against three tax avoidance schemes worth an estimated £200m to the Treasury in lost revenue.
However, proper tax and financial planning is more important than ever in these challenging economic times, with a recent report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development warning that the coming year will be ‘make or break’ for many UK employers.
Sensible tax planning is an essential and legitimate tool in making the most of your finances and helping to boost your business’s profitability
1. Maximise personal allowances
Ensure that you are making the most of the tax-free personal allowance (PA), which for 2012/13 is £8,105 for those aged under 65, or the higher rate age-related allowance which is up to £10,660, maximum income £25,400.
2. Pay into a pension scheme
Investing in a company or personal pension scheme will afford tax breaks on your personal pension contributions. For ‘additional rate’ taxpayers, maximising pension contributions (within limits) during 2012/13 will allow you to obtain relief at the rate of 50% (45% from April 2013).
3. Use your capital gains tax (CGT) allowance
Make the most of your CGT exemption limit each year (£10,600 in 2012/13). It may be possible to transfer assets to a spouse or civil partner or hold them in joint names prior to any sale to make full use of exemptions.
5. Review your business structure
The structure of your business can have a significant impact on your annual tax bills. While in the early years of a business it may be advisable to operate as a sole trader or partnership, as profits increase it may be more beneficial to form a limited company or put in place a hybrid structure.
6. Go for green transport
Switching to a ‘green’ company car with low CO2 emissions can reduce your tax liability, as such vehicles are taxed at a lower percentage rate.
7. Review your capital expenditure
Review your capital expenditure to maximise claims for capital allowances. The majority of businesses are able to claim a 100% Annual Investment Allowance on the first £25,000 of expenditure on most types of plant and machinery (except cars).
8. Rent out a room
Under the ‘rent a room’ scheme, income from letting furnished rooms in your main residence is exempt from tax if the gross annual rent does not exceed £4,250 (£2,125 if you share the income).
9. Write a Will and keep it up-to-date
A well-drafted Will can ensure that the wealth you have built up during your lifetime benefits the right people on your death – and it can also be structured to save tax.
10. Utilise inheritance tax (IHT) exemptions
You should make the best use of IHT allowances, including the annual exemption, which allows you to give away cash or assets up to a total value of £3,000 a year without incurring any taxes.
For advice on these and other tax-saving ideas, please contact Joe Reid on 020 7482 8878 or e-mail [email protected]