Showing posts with label pensions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pensions. Show all posts

Thursday, November 7, 2019

The different types of Pension in the UK

Before 2012, Pension Contributions were optional and for a lot of people who had never contributed to private pensions, the State Pension paid by National Insurance Contributions (currently at £130 per week if you have 30 qualifying years) was not enough to live on.  Automatic enrolment changed this, making it compulsory for employers to automatically enrol their eligible workers into a pension scheme. Currently employees need to contribute 5% of their qualifying earnings and employers 3% (at a minimum), the objective being to supplement (and potentially replace) a State Pension that cannot cope anymore with the changes in demographics.

But not every scheme behaves the same. And it's important to understand the difference between the different schemes because some of them require that you take an extra step to claim the full tax benefits you're entitled to as failure to do so means that you will leave significant tax savings on the table.

There are basically 3 schemes available:

1. Tax relief at source

This is the most common scheme. It's used by the government owned Nest scheme as well as People's Pension. It works the same way as if you were paying yourself directly into a Private Pension: whatever is put in your pension, the HMRC adds 20% to it. In other words, only 80% of your pension contribution is deducted from your after tax salary on your payslip and it means that even if you don't pay tax (because your income is below the personal allowance), you get an pension relief of 20%. The downside however is you only ever get 20% relief even if you are entitled higher relief because you are a higher rate taxpayer.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Pensions: the Lifetime Allowance time bomb

With rates at historical lows, with $9.5 trillion worth of government debt carrying negative yields and with governments around the world addicted more than ever to Quantitative Easing, fiat money around the world is losing its value faster than ever. It means that the value of a pension fund invested in hard assets (and yes Bitcoins are also an option...) is more susceptible than ever to go over the The Lifetime Allowance (LTA) at some point. Indeed, you just need an 8% annual return over 20 years to multiply the value of your pension by a factor of 5!

The Lifetime Allowance (LTA) is the overall limit a pension plan can reach before its owner is being penalised by a 55% tax upon withdrawal. The Lifetime Allowance after having reached £1,800,000 in 2011/2012 was reduced all the way down to £1,000,000 in 2016/2017 and stayed there for a couple of years before starting to increase again with the CPI (consumer price index) in 2018/2019. It is now at £1,055,000 (2019-2020).

The government tests your pension against the LTA when you take a benefit (eg you take a drawdown or an annuity) or when you reach the age of 75. It's called a benefit crystallisation event (BCE). Nowadays, the most popular way to extract money from a pension is through flexible drawdowns. When take your benefit via a drawdown, 25% of the drawdown is tax free cash and the rest goes into drawdown mode where it can continue to be reinvested tax free. The money can be taken at any point from the drawdown pot and is taxed as income on the taxpayer when it is taken. The drawdown amount (including the cash free element) is compared to the LTA at the time of the drawdown and the corresponding percentage is added to the ones from the previous drawdowns. If you end up over 100% then the additional amount above the current LTA is either taxed at 55% if you take if out of the drawdown pot immediately or 25% if you leave it there (and it will be taxed a second time as income when you take the money out of the fund).

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Managing cash in your business

With interest rates at a record low in the UK, and with dividend tax rates now going up all to way to 38.1% for additional rate tax payers, many small businesses are reluctant to extract money from their limited company and are wondering how to make that cash left in the business produce significant income. Unfortunately there is not one single answer and each available options comes with its own benefits and drawbacks.

Savings Account

The simple answer is to open a savings account for the company. Most banks will allow for that but unfortunately the rates are ridiculously low. Major banks will typically pay between 0.5% and 1% depending on how long you are willing to lock your money for. And while it's possible to find slightly better rates at smaller banks or financial institutions, one has to be aware that the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) that protects personal accounts up to £85,000 is not always available for Limited Companies.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Lifetime ISA aka LISA

With just 2 weeks left until the end of the tax year, now is the time to look at all the options available to reduce your tax bill for the year 18/19.

We have written a detailed article on the subject in the past and most taxpayers are aware of the more popular options such as pension contributions and investments into ISA or EIS.

One container however which is often overlooked is the Lifetime ISA aka LISA. It was introduced in 2017 and can be used in conjonction with the other vehicles (even though the total amount for both ISA and LISA remains capped at £20,000). As with a regular ISA, all income and gains inside the container are tax free. But as with a pension, money contributed up to £4,000 will receive a 25% top-up from the government. All the specifics are described in the article mentioned above so please refer to it for more details but here is a list of scenarios where investing in a LISA makes sense:

You plan on purchasing your first home in the near future

Obviously this is the main use case for that product and it therefore makes sense to use it in that case. The only constraint is that the house be less than £450,000.

You are a basic rate band tax payer

If you are basic rate band tax payer, i.e. you marginal tax rate is 20%, the tax benefit you get from the LISA is identical to the one you get from a pension. But with a LISA the money is blocked for a much shorter period since you can get the money out when you purchase your first home. If you don't have a property yet, this is therefore a great option for you to look at.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Pension contributions: time is running out...

It's now the time of the year to start thinking about funding savings and pensions. And all the more this year as starting next year, high earners will see their tax benefits on pensions seriously curtailed.

There are no changes this year in VCTs, EIS and SEIS funds so there is no need to talk about those. Please refer to our previous articles on the subject. So what changes to expect this year?

1. As every year, make sure to fully fund your ISA

Each of us is entitled to pay up to £15,240 prior to 5th April 2016 into our ISA. And for the 17/18 tax year the limit will increase to £20,000. Before July 1, 2014, you could only invest half your annual ISA allowance into cash. However, following changes to ISA rules, you can invest the full £15,240 allowance into a cash ISA. This is an interest-bearing account that carries no risk, although as interest rates are so low, your returns may be eroded by inflation. Also note that you can invest some of your allowance in Innovative Finance ISA, such as P2P funds.

Don't forget that your kids have an allowance as well. The Junior ISA allowance for 16/17 is £4,080.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Automatic pension enrollment starts

With life expectancy increasing, millions of people are not saving enough to have the income they are likely to need in retirement. Pension saving has fallen across all age groups, with less than one in three adults contributing to a pension, although its steepest fall is among those aged 22-29, falling from 43% in 1997 to 24% today.

To force people to start saving now, the Government has come up with a scheme that automatically enrolls those working in both the private and public sectors into a workplace pension. The scheme starts next week and you'll be automatically enrolled into a workplace pension if you:
  • Are not already in a pension at work.
  • Are aged 22 or over.
  • Are under the state pension age, which is currently 65 for men and 61 and two months for women, although this is gradually rising to 65 by 2018.
  • Earn more than £8,105 a year.