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The Budget 2017

8 Mar

For the last Spring Budget Phillip Hammond provided a few surprises from what was, on a the whole, a reasonably low key budget.


There were no pension surprises in the budget. Ordinarily, that would be a good thing, but on this occasion we had hoped for a U-turn on the reduction to the Money Purchase Annual Allowance.


We got what we expected in the form of the reduction to the Money Purchase Annual Allowance, and reform of the tax system for the self-employed has been on the agenda for some time with the Treasury concerned that the self-employed aren’t paying enough tax. The increase to Class 4 National Insurance Contributions for self-employed individuals from April 2018 goes some way to fill that estimated ‘tax gap’.


With advisers and the financial services industry just coming to terms with the impact of the removal of the dividend tax credit and introduction of the dividend tax allowance, it is somewhat concerning that this has again been changed and the amount of dividend income which can be earned tax free will be reduced to £2,000 from April 2018.


Income tax

Personal allowance
The tax-free personal allowance is being increased to £11,500 in 2017/18.


For higher rate taxpayers, the threshold above which higher earners start paying 40% tax is being increased to £45,000 in 2017/18.
Starting rate band for the starting rate of savings income tax
The Government has confirmed that the limit for the 0% starting rate for savings will remain at its current level of £5,000 for 2017/18.


Deduction of income tax at source from savings income
The Government consulted on the draft legislation, removing the requirement for tax to be deducted at source from:

interest distributions of open-ended investment companies
authorised unit trusts and investment trust companies, and
interest on peer-to-peer loans.
They have now announced that the legislation will be implemented unchanged with effect from 6 April 2017.



From 2018/19 tax year the amount of dividend income that is charged at the nil rate will be reduced to £2,000.


National Insurance

Self Employed – an increase in the rate of Class 4 National Insurance contributions (NICs)
The Government has announced that it will legislate to increase the main rate of Class 4 NICs from 9% to 10% with effect from 6 April 2018 and from 10% to 11% from 6 April 2019. This measure offsets the increased differential between the rates of NI paid by employees and the self-employed, particularly with the abolition of Class 2 NICs from April 2018.



The Money Purchase Annual Allowance (MPAA)
Regulations were introduced from 6 April 2015 to restrict money purchase pension contributions to £10,000 per annum for individuals who have flexibly accessed pension benefits. The Government consulted on reducing the MPAA to £4,000 per annum and has confirmed that this change will be made with effect from 6 April 2017.


The Government will publish its full response to the consultation on 20 March 2017.


State Pension Age
The Government will publish its first statutory review of the State Pension Age by 7 May 2017. This will take into account the independent report on the State Pension Age by John Cridland.

Master Trust Tax Registration
There has been much discussion regarding master trust pension schemes not providing sufficient protection to their members. To ensure greater member protection, the Government will amend the tax registration process for master trust pension schemes to align it with the Pensions Regulator’s new authorisation and supervision regime.


Overseas Pension Schemes
Legislation will be introduced in the Finance Bill 2017 so that:

transfers to QROPS requested on or after 9 March 2017 will be taxed at a rate of 25%, unless at least one of the following apply:


Both the individual and the QROPS are in the same country after the transfer.
The QROPS is in one country in the EEA (an EU Member State, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein) and the individual is resident in another EEA country after the transfer.
The QROPS is an occupational pension scheme sponsored by the individual’s employer.
The QROPS is an overseas public service pension scheme as defined at regulation 3(1B) of Statutory Instrument (SI) 2006 No. 206 and the individual is employed by one of the employers participating in the scheme.
The QROPS is a pension scheme established by an international organisation as defined at regulation 2(4) of SI 2006 No. 206 to provide benefits in respect of past service and the individual is employed by that international organisation.
UK tax charges will apply to a tax-free transfer if, within five tax years, an individual becomes resident in another country so that the exemptions would not have applied to the transfer UK tax will be refunded if the individual made a taxable transfer and, within five tax years, one of the exemptions applies to the transfer the scheme administrator of the registered pension scheme, or the scheme manager of the QROPS making the transfer, is jointly and severally liable (with the member) to the tax charge and, where there is a tax charge, they are required to deduct the tax charge and pay it to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). This applies to scheme managers of former QROPSs that make transfers out of funds that have had UK tax relief if the scheme is a QROPS on, or after, 14 April 2017 and at the time the transfer to the former QROPS is received payments out of funds transferred to a QROPS on, or after, 6 April 2017 will be subject to UK tax rules for five tax years after the date of transfer, regardless of where the individual is resident
It will take some time to understand how these changes work in practice.


These significant changes are in addition to the changes previously announced.


The requirement that at least 70% of a member’s fund must be used to provide an income for life will be removed from the conditions that a pension scheme has to meet to be an ‘overseas pension scheme’ or a ‘recognised overseas pension scheme’, thereby enabling such a scheme to provide flexi-access drawdown.
To limit abuse, rules are in place that a tax charge may apply to individuals who have been resident outside the UK for less than 5 years. This period is to be extended to 10 years.
Where a foreign pension or lump sum is paid to a UK resident, 100% of the pension arising will be chargeable to UK tax (to the same extent as if they had been paid from a registered pension scheme).
There is a very niche group of overseas individuals who may have pension benefits under Section 615 of ICTA 1988. No new schemes can be accepted from 6 April 2017, and no further contributions can be made to existing schemes from that date.
Tax avoidance

Promoters of tax avoidance schemes (POTAS)
The Finance Act 2015 introduced changes to legislation to ensure that promoters of such schemes could not use associated or other new entities to circumvent the intention of the POTAS legislation. The Government clearly believes that the 2015 legislation didn’t go far enough and they are therefore introducing changes to Part 5 and Schedules 34 and 36 Finance Act 2014.


The amendment introduces the term ‘significance influence’ to ensure that promoters of schemes cannot re-organise their business so that they put a person between themselves and the promoting business. The change provides greater clarity and strengthens the Government’s commitment crackdown on tax avoidance schemes.


Disclosure of indirect tax avoidance schemes
The Government will legislate in the Finance Bill 2017 to strengthen the regime for disclosure of Indirect Tax Avoidance. Scheme promoters will primarily be responsible for disclosing schemes to HMRC in respect of indirect taxes.


Strengthening Tax Avoidance sanctions and deterrents
The Government will legislate in the Finance Bill 2017 to introduce a new penalty for individuals or entities who enable the use of tax avoidance arrangements which HMRC later defeats.


Offshore evasion: requirement to correct previous non-compliance
The Government will legislate in the Finance Bill 2017 to apply a new ‘requirement to correct’ for those who have failed to declare UK tax on offshore interests. Tougher sanctions will be applied for those who fail to this so before 1 October 2018.


Other changes

Trading and property income allowances
The Government will legislate in the Finance Bill 2017 to create two new income tax allowances of £1,000 each for trading and property income. The allowances can be deducted from income instead of actual expenses.


What we already knew
The government already announced a number of changes which would come into effect from the 6 April 2017. Our article provides some detail which includes the changes to the domicile rules.





The information provided in this article is not intended to offer advice.

It is based on interpretation of the relevant law and is correct at the date shown on the title page. While we believe this interpretation to be correct, we cannot guarantee it. We cannot accept any responsibility for any action taken or refrained from being taken as a result of the information contained in this article.

Main Residence Additional Inheritance Tax Threshold

5 May

This tax information and impact note affects individuals with direct descendants and personal representatives of deceased persons with total assets above the Inheritance Tax threshold.

George Osborne revealed in July 2015’s Summer Budget that he’d scrap the duty when parents or grandparents pass on a home that is worth up to £1m (£500,000 for singles). This will be phased in gradually between 2017 and 2020.



In recent years, property prices have risen far more quickly than the Inheritance Tax (IHT) nil-rate band. As a result the number of estates subject to IHT has been increasing rapidly.

This is contrary to the aim of the current government that only the wealthiest estates should be subject to IHT. The measures announced in the Summer Budget were widely publicised beforehand and formed part of the Conservative Party manifesto.

It was commonly reported that the new measure would give an effective IHT allowance of £1 million, although we can see that the full allowance of £1 million is not scheduled to come into force until 2020/21.

Policy Objective
This measure will reduce the burden of IHT for most families by making it easier to pass on the family home to direct descendants without a tax charge.


Background to the Measure
The measure was announced at Summer Budget 2015.


Operative Date
The measure will take effect for relevant transfers on death on or after 6 April 2017. It will apply to reduce the tax payable by an estate on death; it will not apply to reduce the tax payable on lifetime transfers that are chargeable as a result of death.

The main residence nil-rate band will be transferable where the second spouse or civil partner of a couple dies on or after 6 April 2017 irrespective of when the first of the couple died.


Current Law
Section 7 of the Inheritance Tax Act 1984 (IHTA) provides for the rates of IHT to be as set out in the table in Schedule 1 to that Act. The current table provides that the nil-rate band is £325,000.

IHT is charged at a rate of 40% on the chargeable value of an estate, above the nil-rate band, after taking into account the value of any chargeable lifetime transfers. The chargeable value is the value after deducting any liabilities, reliefs and exemptions that apply.

Where an estate qualifies for spouse or civil partner exemption, the unused proportion of the nil-rate band when the first of the couple dies can be transferred to the estate of the surviving spouse or civil partner, sections 8A-C IHTA. The nil-rate band can be transferred when the surviving spouse or civil partner dies on or after 9 October 2007, irrespective of when the first of the couple died, so that the nil-rate band can be up to £650,000. There is currently no specific exemption for a residence, or for assets being transferred to children and other direct descendants.

Section 8(3) to Finance Act 2010 provides for the nil-rate band to be frozen at £325,000 up to and including 2014 to 2015. Section 117 and paragraph 2 of Schedule 25 to Finance Act 2014 extends the freeze on the nil-rate band until the end of 2017 to 2018.




How This Works in Practice

  • The current allowance whereby no inheritance tax is charged is on the first £325,000 (per person) of someone’s estate – which is the value of their total assets they leave behind when they die. This remains unchanged. Above the threshold, the charge is 40%.
  • A new tax-free ‘main residence’ band will be introduced from 2017, but it is only valid on a main residence and where the recipient of a home is a direct descendant (classed as children, step-children and grandchildren). It is being phased in gradually, starting at £100,000 from April 2017, rising by £25,000 each year till it reaches £175,000 in 2020.
  • So in 2017 the maximum that can be passed on tax-free is £850,000 for married couples or those in a civil partnership, £425,000 for others. For singles, this is made up of the existing £325,000, plus the extra £100,000. For couples, when the first one dies their allowance is passed to the survivor, so that £425,000 is doubled to £850,000.
  • In 2020, the tax-free amount will rise to £1m for couples, £500,000 for singles, as the main residence allowance rises.
  • Currently, without the ‘main residence’ additional allowance, couples can leave a home worth £650,000 without it attracting inheritance tax (singles £325,000).
  • On properties worth £2 million or more, homeowners will lose £1 of the ‘main residence’ allowance for every £2 of value above £2m. So for a couple, properties worth £2,350,000 or more will get no additional allowance.

2. It can be offset against the value of the owner’s interest in a property, which, at some point, has been occupied by the owner as a residence. It will be available when an owner dies on or after 6 April 2017 and their interest in it is transferred to direct descendants.

3. The transfer must be on death and can be made by will, under intestacy or as a result of the rule of survivorship.

4. In general, the transfer must be outright but certain other transfers into trust on death are permitted: for example, bare trusts, IPDI trusts, and 18-to-25 trusts and trusts for bereaved minors.

5. Special rules will be introduced to protect those who downsize. How this will work is currently subject to consultation.

6. Where the value of the deceased’s estate exceeds £2m (after deducting liabilities but before reliefs and exemptions) the RNRB will be reduced by £1 for every £2 excess value. It is important not to underestimate the “before reliefs” part of this condition. It means you ignore business property relief and agricultural property relief, for example, which could make quite a difference.

7. The £2m threshold and the RNRB are due to increase in line with the CPI from 6 April 2021.

8. Where death occurs after 5 April 2017, the deceased’s RNRB will be set off against any chargeable transfers of a residence before the set off against the standard nil rate band.

9. Any RNRB that is not used on first death can be transferred to a surviving spouse or civil partner. This is the case regardless of whether the deceased could have used their RNRB or not. The amount unused will be applied to uplift the survivor’s RNRB entitlement on second death


What If I Downsize?

There are measures in place to make sure the new proposals do not discourage individuals from downsizing. These measures will only apply to someone who ceases to own their main residence on or after 8 July 2015.

Initially it looks like this would only apply in a very limited number of circumstances. The example given in the Treasury policy paper is that if someone downsized from a house worth £200,000 to a home worth £100,000 they could still benefit from the maximum allowance of £175,000 in 2020/21 if they leave the home and £75,000 of other assets to direct descendants.

Where we could see the rules having more practical relevance is where someone has sold their main residence and moved into a nursing home. In these circumstances, they would be able to leave assets worth up to £175,000 (by 2020/21) to a direct descendant.


Who is likely to be affected
Individuals with direct descendants who have an estate (including a main residence) with total assets above the Inheritance Tax (IHT) threshold (or nil-rate band) of £325,000 and personal representatives of deceased persons.


General description of the measure
This measure introduces an additional nil-rate band when a residence is passed on death to a direct descendant.

This will be:

  • £100,000 in 2017 to 2018
  • £125,000 in 2018 to 2019
  • £150,000 in 2019 to 2020
  • £175,000 in 2020 to 2021

It will then increase in line with Consumer Prices Index (CPI) from 2021 to 2022 onwards.

Any unused nil-rate band will be able to be transferred to a surviving spouse or civil partner.

The additional nil-rate band will also be available when a person downsizes or ceases to own a home on or after 8 July 2015 and assets of an equivalent value, up to the value of the additional nil-rate band, are passed on death to direct descendants.

There will be a tapered withdrawal of the additional nil-rate band for estates with a net value of more than £2 million. This will be at a withdrawal rate of £1 for every £2 over this threshold.

The existing nil-rate band will remain at £325,000 from 2018 to 2019 until the end of 2020 to 2021.




Husband dies in 2020/21 and leaves his share in the residence, valued at £87,500, to his children; balance of his estate to his wife

  • £87,500 of £175,000 RNRB (Residential Nil Rate Band) set off against transfer
  • Extra 50 per cent RNRB to widow for possible set off on her subsequent death
  • Full standard NRB and transferable standard NRB also available
  • Where the first death occurrs before 6 April 2017, both the amount available for carry forward and the RNRB at the time of first death are deemed to be £100,000, thereby ensuring that, in these circumstances, the residence nil-rate band is always increased by 100 per cent on second death unless the estate of the first to die exceeded the taper threshold.
  • This is the case regardless of whether or not the estate of the first to die included a qualifying residential interest and irrespective of what dispositions occurred on their death.


Example 2.

When the first to die dies with an estate of more than £2m, entitlement to the RNRB is tapered away at the rate of £1 for every £2 of excess value. This applies on the first or second death and regardless of when the first death occurred.

Husband dies in 2021/22 with an estate valued at £2.2m

  • Husband leaves the whole estate (including an interest in the main residence) to his wife
  • RNRB on first death is reduced by £100,000 (4/7) or 57.2 per cent
  • Transferable RNRB is 42.8 per cent
  • On the subsequent death of the widow, if she dies with an estate of £1.5m, she can use all of the standard NRB, 100 per cent transferable NRB, full RNRB and 42.8 per cent transferable RNRB
  • If both deaths occur before 6 April 2017, no RNRB is available to offset against the deceased’s estate.
  • If first death occurs before 6 April 2017, the RNRB is available for transfer if the subsequent death occurs after 5 April 2017.

So, quite a lot more to it than first meets the eye – and these are just the fundamentals.


Should I Plan / Should I Take Professional Advice?

There is quite a lot more to this change in legislation than first meets the eye – and these are just the fundamentals detailed above.

There are a few basics you should think about:

  • It’s crucial to make a will
  • Take professional tax advice


Oh and finally, inheritance tax planning is important, but don’t forget, the main thing is that you (or your parents) should have financial security in old age. Don’t sacrifice everything just to plan for someone else’s future. You’ve earned your money, so let it make you comfortable.

Inheriting ISAs : Changes to the ISA Rules on Death

23 Apr


Some are still unaware of the change in legislation.

Did you know that you can inherit your partner’s ISA savings? New rules came into being in April 2015 that mean ISA assets can now be passed on to spouses or civil partners and retain their tax-friendly status, and although it may not be nice to think about, it could make a huge amount of difference should the time come.

If you save into an Isa, it means you can grow your money in a tax efficient way. Unfortunately, when you die, this benefit dies with you – unless you’re married or in a civil partnership.

New rules introduced by the government enable your surviving spouse or civil partner to inherit your Isa savings when yoU die.


Why The Change?

Under the previous system, when someone died, any savings held in an ISA automatically lost their tax-free status. This meant that the surviving partner would have to start paying tax on any returns or income earned from it, which could add up to a significant sum if the ISA holder had been saving for many years.

The system was widely thought to be unfair, particularly given the fact that couples tend to save from joint incomes – they’d have to pay tax on money they thought was protected, and thousands of people were caught by these unexpected tax charges every year. Happily, things have now changed.


Pass on the benefits

The rules mean that if an ISA holder dies, the surviving spouse or civil partner will be able to inherit the ISA and retain its tax benefits. This is in the form of an additional allowance – the surviving partner is given an ‘additional permitted subscription’ (APS), a one-off ISA allowance that’s equal to the value of the ISA at the date of the holder’s death, which won’t be counted against the normal ISA subscription limit but will instead be added on to the survivor’s own ISA limit.

In other words, you’ll be entitled to an additional allowance that would cover the value of your partner’s savings as well as your own. For example, if your partner had £50,000 in ISA savings, your ISA allowance for the year would be £65,240 (the value of your partner’s savings and your own ISA allowance for the 2016/17 tax year, which stands at £15,240).

Essentially, the rules mean that the tax-efficiency of the ISA won’t be lost, and that you’ll be able to benefit from the money that could well have been saved together. The changes have been specifically designed to ensure that bereaved individuals will be able to enjoy the tax advantages they had previously shared with their partner, offering more flexibility and a much fairer outcome.

“Approximately 150,000 married ISA holders die each year, so these changes will benefit spouses or civil partners by increasing the amount that they can save by offering the tax advantages in an ISA wrapper,” said Carol Knight, operations director at TISA. “We see it as a much fairer outcome and one we have long advocated. [Surviving partners could have] lost out significantly under the previous rules whereby investments held by deceased ISA savers lost their tax-free status… Allowing ISA savings to be transferable will enhance flexibility and will act as a further incentive to save within these vehicles.”

Rules at a glance

  • Anyone whose spouse/civil partner died on or after 3 December 2014 is eligible, and the APS could have been claimed since the start of the 2015/16 tax year.
  • The rules apply irrespective of the size of the deceased’s ISA pots – no matter how much they’d saved in an ISA, you’ll have that amount as an additional allowance.
  • In the event that more than one ISA was held by your partner, the pots will be combined to give an overall additional subscription amount that you can claim.
  • APS allowance subscriptions (referred to as payments) can be made to a cash ISA and/or a stocks & shares ISA, either with the deceased’s ISA provider or with an alternative that will accept APS subscriptions (not all will).
  • Some ISA providers will allow payments to be made in instalments whereas others only allow a lump sum, so make sure to check.
  • Chances are, arranging your new allowance won’t be at the forefront of your mind on the death of your partner. In most cases, at least for subscriptions made in cash, the allowance is available for three years after the date of death.
  • ISA providers will require key information and personal details from the spouse/civil partner to open a qualifying ISA, and they’ll also require an application form to use the APS allowance.
  • The APS allowance can be transferred to another ISA provider, subject to the new provider’s acceptance.
  • It can only be transferred once and only where no subscriptions have been made under the allowance. But, after an APS allowance payment has been made, the cash and/or investments related to that subscription can be transferred to another ISA.




How are ISA Allowances Inherited?
Anyone whose spouse or civil partner died on or after 3rd December 2014 is eligible for a one-off additional Isa allowance equivalent to the value of the deceased person’s Isa at the time of death.

This is referred to as an ‘additional permitted subscription,’ or APS allowance.

Say, for example, that you’d saved up £50,000 in your Isa when you die. Your spouse will be able to make an additional contribution to their Isa of up to £50,000, in addition to their own Isa allowance for the year (£15,240 in the 2015/16 tax year).

This allowance is regardless of what’s in your will. Which means that even if the money is left for someone else to inherit, such as your son or daughter, your partner is still entitled to an increased allowance equivalent to the value of your Isa assets on the day of death.

So if you left £50,000 worth of Isa assets to your child, your partner would still be entitled to an increased Isa allowance of £50,000, although they would be using their own money to fund it.


Where can I invest the Isa savings I’ve inherited?
The surviving partner can choose where to transfer the inherited savings. They can:

  • Keep the money with the original Isa provider
  • Put the money with their own Isa provider
  • Open up a new cash Isa or a new stocks and shares Isa and place the additional subscription there
  • An APS allowance can only be transferred once but if there is more than one Isa to inherit, you’ll have an allowance with each provider.

Under the Isa rules, you can only have one cash Isa and one stocks and shares Isa per tax year. However, you won’t breach these rules if you open up an Isa for the sole purpose of transferring inherited savings.

So, you could have some money in your own cash Isa with one bank, and place the Isa savings you’ve inherited in another bank.

Once the transfer has been made, the normal Isa rules apply and the money is treated as previous years’ subscriptions.


Do Isa providers have to accept payments?
In short, no.

Isa providers aren’t obliged to accept APS allowances – so you may not been able to deposit inherited savings with your own Isa savings.

The 11 providers below, although could change their approach and are not the only but rather a few I can detail. This could change and there will be others. It’s just to demonstrate that even though the legislation has changed ISA providers may not offer the flexibility – please check with your provider their stance on this. I have found, these do not accept the additional allowance :

  • Bath BS
  • Buckinghamshire BS
  • Harpenden BS
  • Leeds BS
  • Manchester BS
  • Mansfield BS
  • Melton BS
  • Mowbray BS
  • GE Capital Direct
  • Furness BS*
  • Al Rayan Bank*


*Furness BS and Al Rayan Bank have said they are planning to accept inherited Isa savings in the near future.


Is there a time limit for additional Isa subscriptions?
When someone dies, their estate has to be administered. This means that all of their assets have to be gathered and debts must be repaid, before it can be distributed to the people named in the deceased’s will.

During this period, interest earned on savings in their Isa is taxable, and income tax may need to be paid.

To help couples keep the tax benefits of their savings, the increased Isa allowance can be claimed by filling out an application form and is available for three years after the date of death, or if longer, 180 days after the estate has been administered.


What happens when you inherit a stocks and shares Isa?
Stocks and shares Isas are treated in the same way as cash Isas under the reforms, with surviving spouses entitled to make additional subscriptions into either a stocks and shares Isa or a cash Isa.

There are two ways for a surviving partner to use their inherited stocks and shares allowance:

  • All of the investments – such as funds and shares – could be sold, and the resulting cash can be used to open a new Isa. This is known as a ‘cash transfer.’
  • Alternatively, the investments can be transferred directly without being sold. This is known as an ‘in specie’ transfer.
  • Additional subscriptions made via an ‘in specie’ transfer must be made within 180 days of the surviving partner inheriting the funds and can only be made to the deceased Isa provider.


The Tax System Explained – Thank You David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.

14 Apr

I read this earlier and felt it was a great explanation :-


Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to £100…
If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this…

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay £1.
The sixth would pay £3.
The seventh would pay £7..
The eighth would pay £12.
The ninth would pay £18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay £59.

So, that’s what they decided to do..

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve ball.

“Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by £20”. Drinks for the ten men would now cost just £80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes.

So the first four men were unaffected.

They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men?
The paying customers?

How could they divide the £20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share?

They realised that £20 divided by six is £3.33. But if they
subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by a higher percentage the poorer he was, to follow the principle of the tax system they had been using, and he proceeded to work out the amounts he suggested that each should now pay.

And so the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% saving).

The sixth now paid £2 instead of £3 (33% saving).

The seventh now paid £5 instead of £7 (28% saving).
The eighth now paid £9 instead of £12 (25% saving).

The ninth now paid £14 instead of £18 (22% saving).

The tenth now paid £49 instead of £59 (16% saving).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings.

“I only got a pound out of the £20 saving,” declared the sixth man.

He pointed to the tenth man,”but he got £10!”

“Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a pound too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me!”

“That’s true!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get £10 back, when I got only £2? The wealthy get all the breaks!”

“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison, “we didn’t get anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor!”

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had their beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and government ministers, is how our tax system works.

The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the most benefit from a tax reduction.

Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore.

In fact, they might start drinking overseas, where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics.

For those who understand, no explanation is needed.
For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible

Investment Bulletin – October 2015

12 Nov

2015 has been a poor investment period so far, seeing the most significant losses since 2011. The question I’m asking – are we about to see a similar outcome to 2011 with the investment markets rallying and posting significant returns? The answer I have is “maybe” – no one knows but what is clear is the markets have been in the grip of panic, leading in my opinion to being oversold. I believe that this will offer opportunities in certain investment markets for the future.


In recent years, the investment markets have been “trading in a range” and this has seen a fall from the top of the range. So, if the markets follow a similar model this could realistically lead to positive returns.


It has been our strategy to position your portfolio, within your risk profile, with the focus of relative capital preservation and real total returns. Relative to the market situation, we have performed above expectations and produced pleasing returns.


Our portfolios are well diversified and where relevant, we have already made recommendations leading to changes in the asset allocation and some of the fund selections.



Market Overview

It has been impossible to ignore the recent dramatic sell-off in the Chinese markets and the subsequent falls in other equity markets around the world. Despite the opening up of the Chinese economy its impact on the developed world is fairly limited as regards first round effects, with exports of goods and services to and from China a very small part of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) for all mainstream economies.




I think it is economies that kill markets not the other way around so I believe the current decline is overstated.


On a more positive note, lower commodity prices are, of course, producing a significant boost to the western consumer and we are seeing an acceleration in consumer spending across the US, Europe and the UK in 2015. Inflationary pressures are also likely to remain muted for longer and interest rate increases which, until recently, seemed almost a certainty over the coming months could well be pushed back. The US rate increase heavily tipped for December.


It is also worth noting that although we have seen sharp falls in equity prices, the moves in bonds have been much less pronounced.


Whilst we shouldn’t be complacent, bearing in mind that equity markets can often be a good signal of trouble ahead, I think weakness in China is not sufficient to bring down the global economy. We maintain a modest preference for equity markets but do expect volatility to remain. I am inclined to think the recent drama has been a bit of an over-reaction and is unlikely to have a significant impact in a raw economic sense.




We are expecting the prospect of the first interest rate rise since June 2006 and we await the December Federal Reserve meeting. The Fed’s actions in the coming three-to-six months could have wide-reaching implications for the global economy. We expect that if (and based on the Federal Reserve’s commentary and dialog, a rate rise is imminent), this will be closely followed by the Bank of England to raise rates. In both cases, we are expecting small incremental steps based on the strength of the economies. So do not expect large or quickly followed further increases. The expectation is this will not lead to a rise in bank interest rates paid to the consumer, as banks based on recent results and the multitude of fines and legacy problems are not anticipating paying a higher base to account holders.


We do expect more volatility but anticipate buoyant equity markets in the near future but with clear risks in several sectors, themes and geographies.


Therefore, we reaffirm our focus on valuation discipline and total return strategies, where care and attention is and will always be needed. This focus has allowed us to achieve above average returns in less than average markets over a longer term, always with a clear relative focus on capital preservation, targeted returns and risk profile.


This bulletin provides information, it is not advice. Any opinions are given in good faith and may be subject to change without notice. Opinions and information included within this document does not constitute advice.

(If you require personal advice based on your circumstances, please contact me.)

Pension Freedoms – Is Buy to Let a Stupid Option With My Pension Fund?

22 May



I have been investigating this due to the discussions in the tabloids but rarely with clients. If I cash in my pension fund, pay the tax and invest the residue in a property – is this a good idea? I have heard that near a university there are student flats available with a guaranteed rental for the first 12 months, etc etc

The details below are for all of those thinking of entering this market….

Image result for buy to let pictures confused

Since the change of Pension Legislation in April 2015, the press has been fully of “spiffy” ideas – why not use your pension to buy a Property and let it out. Much better than one of those silly ‘pension’ things. How can you lose? Property prices always go up??? Hurray for pension freedom! – if I made these statements in my professional life, I’m sure I’d be strung up …. seems madness just focusing on what might go right; what about the risks??? – there I go – typical financial adviser trying to offer a balanced representation – naughty, naughty

Firstly, unless you are going to get involved in timeshare and fractional ownership, we are talking about proper money here. I’d say £200,000 and more.

At that level, we can assume that the client is a higher rate taxpayer, and will probably have other assets.

So let’s run the numbers. Let’s see what this looks like.

If we accept the premise that pensions do and will perform worse than property, and that property can never fall – ‘stupid’ assumptions, but go on – then the simplified figures go something like this

£300,000 pension pot, assuming 6% gross growth, minus 1% fund and platform charges, and 1% adviser charge. A bit high, but OK.

Value of pot in 10 years is a bit under £447,250.

Instead, attracted by the publicity, we take the £300,000 and cash it in. That makes it worth £211,250, using the ‘tax free cash’.

Not great, but we are looking at higher returns. So 4% year on year compound capital growth and 5% income yields – both gross, but 9% total return as a starting point, 50% more than a pension portfolio.

Assuming that the client is a higher rate taxpayer throughout, and that the property is always occupied, and that there are never any capital events required (boilers, roof painting), there are no legal fees, there are no ‘void’ periods, that all tenants pay their rent and look after the property, and the property is sold at the imagined market value, then the net total value returned to the client – including income is… (drum roll) …. just under £399,438. So another £47,812 loss after the original £88,750 tax take.

So I guess the revenue will be supportive of this particular brilliance. Always remember there are other fees to consider, such as, Agents fees (they can be chunky as well), Stamp Duty, Legal Fees,m Contracts, Tenant Vetting, Property Maintenance, Property and Landlord Legislation, costs due to voids and periods of the property being empty, utility costs, tenants non-payments maybe, etc.

As a point of interest, any idea what the gross return needs to be for the Buy To Let to actually break even with the pension? A ‘critical return required?

Its actually nearer 14.5%.

Can you imagine if I tried to take this plan to our compliance for approval?

“I’ve got this great idea! We take a well diversified, flexible and secure portfolio, and cash it in. The client then pays at his highest marginal income tax rate (mainly 40% tax but a bit in the additional rate of 45%) and then invests in a single illiquid asset, which may well require them to add further funds, and take time to manage the asset themselves. There may be court costs involved at some point and we get to pay lots of agents fees and tax. And to match the boring, diversified portfolio, in a low inflation, low risk environment, this single, risky asset only has to grow by at least 14.5% every year to break even!! What a great wheeze!

Excuse me, why are you ringing the FCA……?”

In all the above I have ignored the effects of Inheritance Tax. Promises have been made. They have been before. This time they may be kept. Who knows?

But the BTL is assessable for Inheritance Tax, the pension is not. So if we look at Inheritance Tax, then an additional 40% tax knocks us down by another lump. A real and substantial loss after 10 years.

If your belief is, we all need to give extra coppers to the national pot – then this could be a good option – not only a loss through initial tax payable of £88,750, relative loss in capital value net of Capital Gains Tax of £47,812 but if Inheritance Tax applies then a further £159,775. This could provide £296,337 of tax and relative losses that you could have avoided.

I believe emotionally, some clients will be vulnerable to this suggestion, and clearly some will actually do OK. The numbers are brutal for the majority and I see my role must be to make people aware and protect them from the circling speculators, who are not held responsible for their wild and ill though through counsel.

Probate Fees and Executors – Know Your Rights and What To Expect !

7 Jun

I feel there is a need to write this article as I have recently been involved in an estate, where the fees charged are wholly not reflective of the work carried out by, in this case, a local solicitor – we will call the “professional” in question Warrell Card to give the person a name. (This is not their name and in actual fact, the in question which has inspired this article is actually female. So, any similarity to any known person alive, dead and some alternative is simply coincidence and nothing more.)

Please do not be afraid or concerned getting legal advice, if selected as executor, and in most cases the work done and the fees charged are fine. I have had dealings with many solicitors over many years where their involvement was appreciated. As with all of these situations, in most cases the solicitors provide an excellent service for a fair price but as always there are a few exceptions.

Also, to all those who think it may be  better to seek the services of a Will Writer, in my opinion, don’t. I personally believe that the role of Will Writing should be carried out by a suitably qualified solicitor. My experience has been poor where Will Writers have been involved.

As for applying for Probate – worse so – yes, you can do this yourself but depending on your wish to complete the process personally or delegate the responsibility, your financial aptitude and the complexity of the estate….

Just take care and remember, you are the executor so you are “in control” – you are employing others to complete a job – so take care and make sure you are happy with the work and price for what is being done and has been done. If you were re-turfing your lawn you would ask how much and what is being done. This is the same – you are paying for a job to be done – start to finish.

Probate Solicitors Fees

Probate is the process of obtaining the official approval of a last will and testament. What is Probate? This is the process of administration of your Will when you die. It’s a detailed process and solicitors charges can be substantial.

You can avoid the probate fees that solicitors charge by gaining probate yourself. However many people find bereavement a stressful time, and some would rather not learn the intricacies of administering the estate when they are feeling the loss of someone close to them. Most choose to employ a probate solicitor or other professional. Please make sure that you use a solicitor specialising in Probate, otherwise you run the additional risk of higher fees through inexperience of the “professional” and the point that all activity and time will be fee charging.

A solicitor may be named in the will as an executor – in which case, they will generally administer the estate and the cost of probate will be charged according to their scale at the time.

The executor’s job is to gather in all your assets, and after paying off any debts, they obtain a ‘Grant of Probate’ on your estate. Finally they pay out the money from the estate according to the Will’s instructions.

What are the average probate fees?

Banks charge consistently higher fees than solicitors fees – and, in turn these are often undercut by will-writers. To confuse matters, some charge a percentage of an estate’s value, others charge for work done by the item or hour, and many charge for both.

Bank’s fees for probate can generally work out at between 4% and 5%, so in my opinion are generally not good value.

Solicitor’s Probate and Associated Administration fees are usually based on guidance from the Law Society which sets an initial fee of up to 0.75% of the value of the property, plus up to 1.5% of the value of other assets, and other charges on top of that. After totalling up all the costs, a large estate may work out closer to 0.75% to 1.00% – that’s say up to £10,000 on an estate of £1 million, while smaller estates could amount to a larger proportion. Average fees for probate and estate administration work hover around £2,500. But even for smaller estates, the probate fees don’t often to go below £2,000.

While these figures provide a guide, it is important to ask around and get prices. Lawyers can charge from £100 per hour to £250 per hour or more for probate work, depending on the seniority of the person on your case. If a simple estate took 10 hours it would be much cheaper than a more complex will taking 20 hours’ work – and a solicitor would have to quote depending on your circumstances. What’s more, solicitors’ probate fees in London can be prohibitively high. It’s certainly worth shopping round and checking out specialist firms or at least ensure you only deal with the specialist within the selected Law Firm.

The big variables in the level of fees are when a Will gives rise to a particular issue or where there is a mistake or an omission. The Will might be contested by disgruntled family members who feel they have a right to a share in the estate.

Sometimes beneficiaries cannot be traced – or assets cannot be found. If there is no will to be found, the deceased is regarded as dying ‘intestate’, and the Govenment’s rules on intestacy come into play. This too, can increase the costs.

How do you save on a probate solicitor’s fees?

First, get a fixed quote after your first meeting. Prepare well for any face to face meetings and have as much information and details to hand. Remember that letters take time, so ensure that correspondence is kept only to that which is essential. If you want, you can do some of the work yourself rather than leaving everything to the solicitor.

Lastly, if you are having your Will drawn up, there is no need to pre-pay for probate services at that point. Some will-making companies have been criticised for charging large sums in advance for services that may not turn out to be as useful as their advertising claims.

So What’s All This About Adviser Charging

29 Apr

Okay, I think it is important to talk about this. From the beginning or 2013, how advisers charge for the services provided has changed; and the service provided has now changed. There is now Independent or Restricted Advisers.

There has been so much focus on what is paid and the general terms are typically, either an hourly rate (average from what I can see around £175 per hour) or where investment advice takes place it’s typically 3% initial (based on the investment amount) and an ongoing servicing fee circa 1.0% (but some institutions will charge more and few less).

business man writing investment concept or investment plan on white board Stock Photo - 13224684

Personally, I believe the big issue is – a fair price is charged for the work done or being done –  what you receive for what you pay. Should Restricted Advice charge the same as Independent Advice? The answer to this is in the detail – so what is the difference?

What is Independent Advice?

The rules set out a new definition for independent advice, which is unbiased and unrestricted, and based on a comprehensive and fair analysis of the relevant market. This is designed to reflect the idea of genuinely independent advice being free from any restrictions that could affect their ability to recommend whatever is best for the customer. To reflect the range of products that a consumer would expect an independent firm to have knowledge of, and in line with work the European Commission has undertaken.

What is Restricted Advice?

This advice that is not independent and will need to be labelled as restricted advice; for example, advice on a limited range of products or providers.

Where a firm providing restricted advice chooses to limit their product range to certain range of investments or providers, there will be clients for whom this is not suitable. It is not acceptable for a firm to make a recommendation for a product that most closely matches the needs of the consumer, from the restricted range of products they offer when that product is not suitable.

I am an Independent Financial Adviser and have specialised in investments and tax planning with the focus on a high level of service, expertise and support. My view on the argument between the different advice type is simple but then again I am very technically focused targeting tax mitigation and investment returns, profitability and success.

My question to you is should you, as the consumer, pay the same for a Restricted Service as for an Independent Service? 

The first point is be aware of the service being provided – make sure if you are paying for the service being provided and in my opinion that should be a fully comprehensive service. Restricted advice is simply that “Restricted” and Independent is “Independent”. An IFA – Independent needs to take into consideration all available contracts, both packaged and unpackaged, available in the UK Markets – assess, consider, review and recommend from every available structure; whereas a Restricted Adviser will sell you a contract from their permitted range.

Clearly, the time and effort and expertise required under both designations should carry a cost reflective to the service provided. I personally believe that the charge for Restricted Advise should be the less expensive option. It seems that many institutions are not differentiating – I assume they are hoping/expecting the consumer not to notice the difference.

Perhaps also worryingly, a number of institutions and banks have declined to disclose their adviser charges with some saying they would not make their limits public (as reported by Citywire, Investment Adviser, Money Marketing, The Telegraph, Financial Times, amongst others).

Of those who have disclosed mandated adviser charges, there is a typical initial charge of around 3% with ongoing charges ranging up to 3% per annum.

I did think of putting together a list of the institutions and the fees paid but felt that this is not constructive. I believe it is wiser to weigh up the pros and cons of what is being offered and the price you are being asked to pay.

Remember, now you agree to a contractual fee arrangement and as with all contracts the terms are binding both ways. If you are paying for annual reviews, on-going investment advice, portfolio stress-testing and your adviser is remunerated relative to their level of success….make sure you get what you pay for. I know my clients do…and it creates very close and personal relationships where my financial interest and their financial success are aligned i.e. I need my clients to be successful and see positive returns on their investments.

All I suggest is take care and consider your options – what you receive for what you pay.

HMRC Focusing On Tackling Tax Avoidance by the Wealthy

17 Jan

HMRC Letter 480

It’s official, HM Revenue & Customs is doubling its team tackling potential tax avoidance of wealthy individuals. The number of inspectors has increased to over 200 inspectors.

The Affluent Compliance Team is to begin recruitment of 100 additional inspectors. The focus of the unit has expanded from those with annual incomes from £150,000 and accumulated wealth of £2.5 Million to £20 Million; to include those with wealth above £1 Million.

HMRC has reported that the unit had received additional tax receipts of £75 Million (by the end of December 2013). This is expected to rise to a target of £586 Million by the end of 2015.

Exchequer Secretary David Gauke says: “The team has made a great start by bringing in £75m in additional tax that would otherwise have been lost to the country…… Dodging tax is immoral, illegal and unaffordable and the minority who cheat are increasingly finding that, thanks to the work of the Affluent Team, they have made a big mistake.”

Director of the Affluent Team Roger Atkinson says: “Good quality intelligence is central to catching the cheats and so we are expanding our Affluent Intelligence Unit fourfold. This is very good news for all honest taxpayers.”

Launch of Waverley Court Consulting Ltd – Website

18 Dec

I am pleased to announce the launch of my website –

After much work, reviews, re-writing and editing my website is now live. Let me know your thoughts on the content, design and presentation. Personally, I am most pleased with the Testimonials sections – every one who kindly provided their comments presented their views of our relationship.