Tax-efficiency is a key consideration when investing because it can make such an enormous difference to your wealth and quality of life. If you have an income of over 50,000 it doesn’t just push you into a higher income tax bracket, it also means that you’ll pay higher tax on capital gains and dividend income from your investments. So, it’s important to choose a tax-efficient investment vehicle that is appropriate for your particular investments goals and tax position.
ISAs come in various forms, including the Stocks & Shares ISA, for tax-efficient investing. You can invest up to 20,000 a year (tax year 2020/21) in a Stocks & Shares ISA, and all capital gains, interest growth and dividend income from these investments are protected from tax. If you’ve used your ISA allowance, you may wish to consider paying into accounts for your partner (who also has a 20,000 annual ISA allowance in this tax year) and your children (who have a 9,000 annual ISA allowance in this tax year). Bear in mind that the money will be in their names and will legally be theirs.
Pensions are designed primarily for retirement saving and can usually be accessed from the age of 55. Not only do pensions offer protection from tax on capital gains, interest growth and dividend income (like ISAs), but you’ll also receive tax relief on your contributions. Higher rate taxpayers receive tax relief at 40%, while additional rate taxpayers receive 45%.
There is a limit on the pension contributions you can receive tax relief on, which in the current tax year is capped at 40,000 a year (or 100% of your salary if your salary is lower). But if you have contributed less than your limit in recent tax years, you may be able to pay in more this year.
If you have an annual income of over 200,000, you may have a lower limit on contributions and should obtain professional financial advice to assess your options. If you are approaching your Lifetime Allowance on pension savings, currently 1,073,100 (tax year 2020/21), another investment vehicle may be more tax-efficient.
• The Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), for investment in early-stage companies not listed on the stock exchange.
• The Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), for investment in start-ups raising their first 150,000.
• Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs), for investment in small, expanding companies. These are listed on the London Stock Exchange.
HM Revenue & Customs offers tax incentives through these schemes, including income tax relief, to encourage investment in small businesses. The incentives vary and are only suitable for sophisticated investors. You should always obtain professional financial advice.
Tax-efficient investment schemes are some of the most effective ways for investors to save their funds, or re-invest them to generate greater returns or diversify their investment portfolios.
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