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Happy 20th birthday to ISAs

Posted: Apr 04, 2019

6th April marks the 20th birthday of the Individual Savings Account (ISA).

When the ISA was introduced in 1999, many thought it to be little more than a rebranding of the two schemes it replaced: the Personal Equity Plan (PEP) and Tax Exempt Savings Account (TESSA). The following 20 years have proved ISAs to be much more.

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Living longer, but…

Posted: Apr 04, 2019

A recent report shows that life expectancy is still improving, but not as quickly as was once expected.

“British life expectancy falls by SIX MONTHS for men and women”

That was one recent headline in response to the latest report of the Continuous Mortality Investigation (CMI) of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. While it was not inaccurate, like many such headlines it was open to misinterpretation.

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An overshadowed Spring Statement

Posted: Apr 04, 2019

The Chancellor’s Spring Statement was almost obscured by other events in mid-March.

Ever since he announced a move to an Autumn Budget in 2016, Mr Hammond has made it clear that he wanted to avoid the Spring Statement counterpart becoming a mini-Budget. His vision was that in March he would be presenting a brief response to the latest forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). As the Treasury website stressed, “there will now only be one major fiscal event each year”.

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China emerges on to the investment stage

Posted: Apr 04, 2019

The importance of China’s stock market is set to quadruple in 2019.  

China has been at the forefront of the headlines recently, whether about the protracted trade dispute with the US, the alleged dangers of using Huawei’s 5G equipment or the first landing of a spacecraft on the far side of the moon. The ‘Middle Kingdom’, as China is sometimes called, is now the world’s second largest economy. If you adjust for the Chinese currency’s purchasing power – not something the Chinese like to do – their economy comes out at number one.

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Landlords losing interest from April

Posted: Mar 14, 2019

The next step in changes to tax relief for landlords takes effect from 6 April 2019.

If you have a mortgage on a buy to let residential property, from this April only 25% of the interest can be offset against your rental income, with the remaining 75% qualifying for a 20% tax credit only.

Higher rate taxpayers will lose £50 tax relief for every £1,000 of interest in 2019/20. And from April 2020 onwards, you will only receive a 20% tax credit – another £50 cut in relief for every £1,000 of interest for 40% taxpayers.

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Know your investment mind

Posted: Mar 14, 2019

Understanding your personal biases can help you form investment strategies that work for you across good times and when the going gets tougher.

Traditional finance theory starts from the principle that markets and their investors are perfectly rational. A quick look around shows that such an idea is optimistic.

Behavioural finance studies the impact of investor psychology on financial decisions. It has developed in response to the inconsistencies between rational theory and irrational reality.

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Just in case: protecting against income cuts

Posted: Mar 14, 2019

You may assume you’ll never need it, but if you experience redundancy or illness, you may become eligible for universal credit. The government is slowly rolling out the new single payment designed to replace six existing state benefits.

Universal credit is expected to be adopted nationwide by 2023. However, there has been controversy about the changes, and delays to implementation. Universal credit replaces the following benefits:

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Self-employed pensions boost

Posted: Mar 14, 2019

The Chancellor has abandoned plans to abolish class 2 national insurance contributions (NICs).

Those registered as self-employed pay class 2 NICs if their profits are more than £6,365 a year in 2019/20. Then if profits exceed £8,632, they also have to pay class 4 NICs. Typically, these NICs are paid through the self-assessment system.

The planned abolition of class 2 NICs was proposed as a means of simplifying the tax system. But there were concerns it would push up pension costs for the self-employed, particularly those on lower incomes.

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Ringing the changes of the new tax year

Posted: Mar 14, 2019

The tax year 2018/19 ends on Friday 5 April, which means it is time to start planning for the new tax year and tie up the loose ends of the old one.

Planning for the new tax year is now affected by the shift of the Budget schedule to autumn. The result is that changes announced in October, or in Scotland’s December Budget, have now passed into legislation in time the new tax year arrives.

So, what does 2019/20 hold in store?

A higher personal allowance

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The child benefit tax trap

Posted: Mar 14, 2019

Around 1.4 million families now lose some or all of their child benefit because one of the parents earns over £50,000 a year.

As soon as one partner earns over £50,000, child benefit is gradually withdrawn via a tax charge, and once earnings exceed £60,000 the whole benefit is lost.

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