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Relief as pension tax stays untouched

Posted: Mar 08, 2016

The Chancellor's decision to defer any major changes to pension tax relief is a sensible one, with automatic enrolment at its peak and the pension freedoms still bedding in. The fact that the Government has conducted such an open debate on incentives to save has been useful though. Not least, it has reinforced how important it is to make the most of the current pension tax system.

With retirement savings very much in the news, now is a good time to recap the true value of the current incentives to save in to a pension.

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The new state pension

Posted: Feb 19, 2016

The single tier state pension starts life on 6 April 2016, but even the Pensions Minister has doubts about how much of it the public understands.

A man born after 5 April 1951, or a woman born at least two years later, will not receive a basic state pension when they reach state pension age (SPA). Nor will they receive any additional state pension, such as the state second pension (S2P). Instead, as of 6 April they will be entitled to the new single tier state pension, which begins on 6 April 2016.

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Cap set for residential care costs

Posted: Feb 19, 2016

The government has set a cap on how much you will have to spend on your long term care needs. But the cap won't now come in until April 2020 because of the cost.

The cap will mean that anything you (or your local council) spend on your eligible needs will be added together in your care account. Once it reaches £72,000, the council will pay for all your eligible needs. This proposed figure for the cap of £72,000 could be increased in line with inflation over the next four years.

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New tax rules for dividends and interest

Posted: Feb 19, 2016

The tax treatment of your savings will be changing in April with important consequences.

The two Budgets of 2015 both made changes to the 2016/17 tax treatment of investment income.

Personal Savings Allowance

This new allowance will mean that if you are a higher rate taxpayer, the first £500 of interest you earn in a tax year will be free of tax. If you are a basic rate taxpayer, your allowance is £1,000. Additional rate taxpayers will not receive any of the new allowance.

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Auto-enrolment fines rise, don't be caught out

Posted: Feb 19, 2016

As auto-enrolment into workplace pensions enters its fourth year, the Pensions Regulator (TPR) has started to hand out more reprimands and fines. In the third quarter of 2015, TPR issued more unpaid contribution notices than it had sent out over the whole of the previous 33 months and more than 100-400 fixed penalty notices for employer non-compliance.

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Should you still plan for inheritance tax?

Posted: Feb 19, 2016

Some people may have gained the impression from the last Budget that inheritance tax (IHT) is no longer an issue for most families.

After all, hasn't the IHT threshold  the nil rate band - been increased to 1 million? Unfortunately not. Since April 2009 there has been no IHT due on the first £325,000 of an estate. In the Summer Budget 2015 the Chancellor announced that this nil rate band would remain frozen at £325,000 until April 2021. This can be increased to as much as £650,000 by using the unused nil-rate band of a deceased spouse or civil partner.

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Highlights from the Autumn Statement

Posted: Feb 19, 2016

The Chancellor's third set piece of last year was almost another Budget.

After a Budget in March and another in July, it might have been thought that Mr Osborne would have little new to say in his Autumn Statement, but this proved not to be the case in two important areas.

Tax and additional homes

In his July Budget the Chancellor announced two measures aimed at individual investors in the buy-to-let market and the Autumn Statement added two more.

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The more expensive company car

Posted: Feb 19, 2016

The new tax year will again see higher company car tax scales for most drivers.

In 2016/17 the increase will be greater than in previous years for many drivers, because with few exceptions, the scale charge will rise by two percentage points rather than the normal one. Until the Autumn Statement, the tax bill for diesel cars had been due to go down from April 2016, but the Chancellor - probably with VW in mind - decided to delay this cut until 2021/22. You could be better off leasing your own car.

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Tax planning ahead of the spring Budget

Posted: Feb 19, 2016

You may want to step-up your year end tax planning in anticipation of the third Budget in the space of 12 months.

Year-end tax planning is normally best completed before Budget day and in 2016, this principle means acting before 16 March. Not only is there a risk of anti-forestalling measures, but the Easter holiday falls between the Budget and tax year end. The 2015/16 tax year end checklist is dominated by pensions, but there are other areas - both familiar and new - to consider:

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