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A wider review also allows you to consider all your circumstances and plan for the year ahead.
A key step in tax year-end planning is ensuring that you have utilised your annual allowances. As the majority of these cannot be carried forward it is often a case of ‘use it or lose it’. Therefore, the first question you should be asking yourself is; ‘have I made full use of my £12,570 personal allowance?’ If not, consider ways in which you can generate more income before the end of the tax year or you could, for example, if the relevant conditions are met, make a claim for marriage allowance which would enable you to transfer 10% of your personal allowance to your spouse, potentially reducing their tax bill by up to £252 in the current tax year.
If you are a shareholder and can take dividends from your business, consider utilising your annual dividend allowance, which provides for a 0% tax rate on the first £2,000 of dividend income. Dividend rates are set to increase by 1.25% in the 2022/23 tax year, so you may also wish to consider accelerating the payment of dividends to take advantage of the lower tax rates. The increase will take dividend rates to 8.75% for basic rate taxpayers, 33.75% for higher rate taxpayers and 39.35% for additional rate taxpayers.
Saving for retirement is another important area, which regularly forms part of pre year-end discussions. Consider utilising as much of your pension’s annual allowance entitlement as you can each year; generally, this is £40,000, however, the allowance is tapered for those considered to be ‘high-income individuals’. Your allowance can also be increased by carrying forward amounts that remain unused from the previous three tax years. That being said, now is your final chance to utilise any unused allowance from the 2018/19 tax year as after 5 April it will expire. When talking to your financial adviser it would be worthwhile to discuss tax-efficient investments and whether they would be relevant.
Finally, don’t forget, your first £12,300 of capital gains per year are tax-free. If you haven’t already used your annual exemption this year, consider whether you can realise gains to make use of it. If you have used your exemption, it may be more beneficial to postpone any further disposals into the next tax year. Spouses should consider how their combined annual allowances can be utilised most tax-efficiently.
Tax year-end planning involves putting a strategy into place which is right for you; this should evolve and develop over time. There can be huge cumulative benefits to structuring your finances tax-efficiently, and by taking action now, you will not only begin to shape your overall tax planning strategy but also ensure you are not paying any more tax this year than you need to.