As the end of the current tax year looms, it's an important time for high earners to maximise their tax allowances before they’re lost on 5 April.

Whether you’re employed or self-employed, if you’re a higher-rate taxpayer, taking action now could significantly reduce your tax liabilities and potentially save you money.

Remember though, the rules relating to tax are complex, subject to your individual circumstances, and can change at any time. That’s why it’s always worth seeking professional advice before making any decisions.

If you haven’t used up your £20,000 Individual Savings Account (ISA) allowance, make sure you do.

With that in mind, here are some end-of-tax year tips to think about before 5 April, to help reduce your tax liability for 23/24:

1, Maximise your ISA allowance

If you haven’t used up your £20,000 Individual Savings Account (ISA) allowance, make sure you do so before 5 April. You won’t pay any Income Tax on the interest or dividends you receive, and any profits are free of Capital Gains Tax, so it really is a no-brainer. It’s important to remember the use it or lose it rule; while you’ll be able to benefit from a new £20,000 allowance in the 24/25 tax year, failing to use the current year’s allowance means missing an opportunity to protect more of your savings from tax.

2, Maximise your children’s JISA allowance

If you want to give your kids a financial boost – towards university fees, a deposit on their first home, or just to help build a financial safety net, you should consider a Junior ISA (JISA). .

You can pay in £9,000 each year without attracting tax and your child can access the funds when they turn 18. Like an adult ISA, making the most of this allowance within the tax year is important, as you can’t carry forward any unused allowance to the following year.

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3, Top up your pension contributions

Maximising your annual pension allowance is a smart financial move for everyone, especially higher earners. You have a yearly allowance of £60,000 you can contribute to your pension without incurring a tax charge. Effectively, this means your pension contributions are made from pre-tax income, translating to a tax relief of 40% to 45% for higher and additional rate taxpayers.

However, if you earn between £100,000 and £125,140, you can inadvertently end up in a 60% tax bracket due to the tapering of the personal allowance. This effectively means that for every £100 earned in this bracket, you only keep £40, with £40 going to Income Tax and another £20 lost due to allowance tapering. A simple way to avoid falling into this trap is to increase your pension contributions before the end of the tax year. This not only lowers your taxable income below the very highest tax threshold but also enhances your retirement savings.

It’s important to note that this allowance decreases for very high earners, specifically those with a taxable income exceeding £260,000. It is reduced by £1 for every £2 of income over £260,000, with a maximum reduction of £50,000. Therefore, individuals earning £360,000 or more are limited to an annual pension contribution allowance of £10,000.

Another significant benefit is the ability to carry forward any unused pension contribution allowances from the previous three tax years. Depending on your taxable income, this means you could pay in an additional £120,000 (£40,000 x 3). When you add this to the current year, that’s a substantial total allowance of £180,000.

The government plans to reduce the Captial Gains Tax allowance to £3,000 in the 2024/25 tax year

4, Manage your Capital Gains Tax

The Capital Gains Tax (CGT) allowance for the 2023/24 tax year is £6,000 (down from the previous year’s allowance of £12,300). This means that when selling investments or properties (excluding your main residence), you can make up to £6,000 profit before incurring any CGT.

The government plans to reduce this further to £3,000 in the 2024/25 tax year. So, if you plan to sell any assets, you might want to take steps before 5 April to take advantage.

The current CGT rates are 10% for basic-rate taxpayers and 20% for those in the higher or additional tax brackets. The rates are higher for property sales not involving your main residence, at 18% and 28%, respectively.

If you plan to offload stocks and shares, spreading these sales over several years could maximise your annual CGT allowances. Additionally, leveraging the allowances of your spouse or civil partner could further reduce your tax liability.

As with your annual ISA allowance, you can’t back-date your CGT allowances. Once the tax year ends, any unused CGT allowance is forfeited, which is why timely planning is crucial.

5, Gift money tax-efficiently

Making monetary gifts to family, friends, or charitable causes is not only thoughtful and generous, but it can also help you manage your estate for Inheritance Tax (IHT) purposes.

There’s an annual tax-free gifting allowance of £3,000, which means you can give away assets or cash up to this amount every year without affecting the value of your estate for IHT. Plus, if you didn’t use your allowance in the previous tax year, you can carry it over to the next, enabling you to gift £6,000 in one year.

You can also give multiple small gifts of up to £250 per person each tax year – provided you haven’t used another exemption for the same individual.

You can actually gift more than the annual allowances, however, if you die within seven years of making the gift, the recipient might be subject to IHT.

As the end of the tax year approaches

If you’re a high earner, you should consider the broader spectrum of your financial landscape beyond maximizing your personal tax allowances. It’s important to build a comprehensive financial plan with the guidance of an independent financial planner. By doing so, you can ensure that all aspects of your financial life – from life insurance, savings and investments to tax planning and retirement – are not only well-coordinated but also proactively managed year on year.

A tailored financial plan, crafted with expert advice, is the cornerstone to reaching your financial objectives and securing a stable and prosperous future.

Amber River offers independent financial advice

At Amber River, our independent financial planners will craft a financial plan tailored to your unique set of circumstances and goals. We call this Life Landscaping® because each individual journey is unique.

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