Archive for the ‘Pension’ Category

Plans to allow pensioners to sell annuities abandoned

Sunday, November 13th, 2016

The government has announced that it is shelving plans to allow pensioners to sell their annuities for a lump sum.

Many experts had predicted that those who sold their annuities would be likely to get a poor deal and the government has decided not to take forward the plans to introduce a secondary annuities market because the consumer protections required could undermine the market’s development.

It has become clear that creating the conditions to allow a competitive market to emerge could not be balanced with sufficient consumer protections.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Simon Kirby, said:

‘Allowing consumers to sell on their annuity income was always dependent on balancing the creation of an effective market with making sure consumers are properly protected.

It has become clear that we cannot guarantee consumers will get good value for money in a market that is likely to be small and limited.

Pursuing this policy in these circumstances would put consumers at risk – this is something that I am not prepared to do.

The government has always been clear that for the majority of people keeping their annuity incomes will be their best option, estimating that only 5% of people who currently hold an annuity would take advantage of this reform.’

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Pensions Freedom Update

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

According to HMRC figures over 230,000 people have used the new pension freedoms introduced one year ago and accessed over £4.3 million in pensions saving.

In April  2015, the government introduced significant pension reforms giving people the ability to access their pensions savings how and when they want. The statistics show that in the first year of these new rules being available, more than 232,000 people have accessed £4.3 billion flexibly from their pension pots.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Harriett Baldwin said:

‘It’s only right that people should have a choice over what they do with their money and in their first year our successful pension freedoms have already given thousands of people access and responsibility over their hard-earned savings.

We will continue to make sure that the pension freedoms work well for everyone, including through working with our partners to ensure consumers are protected and that there is simple information to help people understand their options.

The government has already taken action to ensure the new freedoms work for consumers and that they have the right information to make informed decisions.

It has announced that it will be capping early exit fees, allowing earlier access to Pension Wise guidance, and working with industry to introduce a Pensions Dashboard.

It has also announced that it is extending the popular freedoms even further, giving millions more people the right to sell their annuities if it’s best for them from April 2017.’

Since the pension flexibility rules took effect from 6 April 2015:

  • 232,000 individuals have accessed their money flexibly
  • People have flexibly accessed over £4.3 billion of their own money through 516,000 payments.
  • In the most recent quarter, 74,000 individuals withdrew £820 million. In the previous quarter, 67,000 individuals withdrew £800 million.
  • Figures are taken from information voluntarily reported to HMRC by pension scheme administrators from 6 April 2015 to 31 March 2016. It is not mandatory for scheme administrators to flag these up as pension flexibility payments until April 2016.
  • HMRC statistics cover ‘flexible payments’, which means partial or full withdrawal of the pension pot, taking money from a flexible drawdown account, or buying a flexible annuity.

If you would like advice on the tax implications of pensions freedom please contact us.

Internet links: Gov.uk Pensions flexibility Gov.uk News

Don’t get caught out with Auto Enrolment

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

Up to 500,000 small and micro employers are due to stage in 2016, with 87,000 filing Declarations of Compliance in January 2016.

The Pension Regulator has issued nearly fifteen hundred £400 fines, during the period October to December 2015. The Regulator has issued the following statement:

“Our research shows that most employers want to do the right thing by their staff but that smaller employers are more likely to leave things to the last minute. They therefore need a “nudge” to encourage them to meet their duties.

A minority still don’t comply after receiving a notice of non-compliance, but many do after receiving a fixed penalty of £400. As we deal with smaller employers, it is expected there will be more who, despite the message to prepare early, leave it too late or don’t act at all. We take this very seriously….”

The Regulator tells us that one of the main reasons for failure to comply is that employers felt that their advisor (us the Accountants) should have known to complete the information on their behalf.

Don’t get caught out…

This is one of the reasons why we have teamed up with local pensions specialists Richard Jacobs to hold a number of Auto Enrolment workshops that aim to introduce Auto Enrolment to local employers.

Click here to learn more and to book onto our next workshop on the 17th March

 

 

 

Pensioners ‘to gain’ from new single tier state pension but younger people ‘worse off’

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

A new single tier state pension is to be introduced for those reaching state pension age from 6 April 2016 onwards. According to research by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) many pensioners will receive a boost from the new single tier pension following its introduction from 6 April 2016.

Under the ‘flat-rate’ system, new pensioners could receive up to £155.65 per week, compared to the current state pension entitlement of £119.30.

The press release states:

‘The data shows the long-term impact of the new State Pension on people’s pensions, with 75% of people set to gain in the first 15 years.

The move to the new system will provide a boost to the State Pension for many women, with over 3 million women receiving an average of £11 more per week by 2030 as a result of the changes, – helping to address the gender inequalities that have persisted under the old scheme.’

To find out what your pension entitlement is visit www.gov.uk/state-pension-statement

Workplace Pensions and Auto Enrolment

Monday, February 1st, 2016

A workplace pension is a way of saving for your retirement that’s arranged by your employer.

Up until recently not all employers had to offer ‘work place pensions’, however the law on workplace pensions has changed and every employer with at least one member of staff now has new duties; they must automatically enrol workers into a workplace pension scheme and contribute to it if they meet the following criteria:

  • are aged between 22 and State Pension age
  • earn more than £10,000 a year
  • work in the UK

This is called ‘automatic enrolment’.

It’s called ‘automatic enrolment’ because it is automatic for staff – they don’t have to do anything to be enrolled into a pension scheme, but it is not automatic for employers.

Click here for some:Auto Enrolment Key Facts

Does automatic enrolment apply to you?

All employers will need to work out if automatic enrolment applies to them. However if you are an employer and have at least one member of staff who is paid via a PAYE scheme, then yes automatic enrolment duties apply to you.

What is Auto Enrolment?

You will now have to set up and offer a workplace pension to your employees. However do not panic if you haven’t already done this, you may not need to just yet.

When this law was introduced the Pensions Regulator rolled it out using a phased approached, called Staging Dates.

An employer’s staging date is determined by the number of people in the largest PAYE scheme that they use, based on the data from HM Revenue and Customs held by them on 1 April 2012.

How do you check your staging date?

The Pensions Regulator offer a staging date calculator to check  All you will need is your PAYE reference.

Click here for some additional information on the stages of setting up:Auo Enrolment

Getting the help that you need.

As Accountants it is our role to support and inform our clients about Auto Enrolment. As there is also an implication on any payroll services, where applicable we are also obligated to offer support in this area.
Jacobs Logo

To support our clients with understanding the options for them, we have teamed up with local pension and investment specialists Richard Jacobs, and have worked together to offer a short workshops on the topic.

To learn more about Auto Enrolment here are some Key Facts

 

We want to extend our support to other businesses in and around our area by inviting any employers who have not yet set up their workplace pensions along to one of our workshops.

Our workshop is designed to:

  • Provide you with an overview of what you need to know about Auto Enrolment and covers:
    • What is it.
    • Why you need to do it
    • How much it will cost you.
    • Which pension schemes are available.
  • Give you an overview of how Auto Enrolment will impact you from a payroll perspective
  • Give you an opportunity to discuss your requirements in more detail

 

Book your place

 

 

 

 

This short workshop is purely to offer and advice and make you aware of what you need to know. Whilst there will be opportunity to discuss your business at the workshop with both the Slaters and Jacobs teams, a full detailed discussion would need to take place individually.
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References:

https://www.gov.uk/workplace-pensions/about-workplace-pensions

https://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/automatic-enrolment-guide-for-business-advisers.aspx.

Work Place Pensions and Auto Enrolment

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

The Department of Work and Pensions and the Pensions Regulator have launched a new advertising campaign promoting auto enrolment which aims to change the country’s perception of pensions in the workplace.

Workie, ‘a striking physical embodiment of the workplace pension’, will be seen visiting people in different work environments over the coming months, asking them not to ignore him.

The advertisements come with a message, whilst automatic enrolment into workplace pensions has been rolling out across the UK since 2012, it is only now that 1.8 million small and micro employers need to act. In a phased process over the next three years, every employer will have to enrol their eligible staff into a pension scheme, by reference to their staging date.

Pensions Minister, Baroness Altmann, said:

‘We have made great strides forward by automatically enrolling more than 5 million people into a workplace pension – now the challenge is to make sure hardworking people with every type of employer get to enjoy this major financial benefit.

This is a fun and quirky campaign but behind it lies a very serious message. We need everyone to know they are entitled to a workplace pension – and we need all employers to understand their legal responsibility to their staff, but also to feel more positive about engaging with workplace pensions.

This government is committed to providing security for working people at every stage of their lives, and that includes giving people the chance to plan for a financially secure retirement. Automatic enrolment is a big part of that.

Since 2012, more than 5.4 million workers have been automatically enrolled into a workplace pension by almost 61,000 employers. By the time the process is complete in 2018, it is estimated that around 9 million workers will either be newly saving or saving more into a workplace pension thanks to the policy.

The new campaign will include radio, print, online and outdoor advertising and will run for the remainder of this year and into 2016. It is being coordinated jointly by the Department for Work and Pensions and The Pensions Regulator.’

 

Getting you ready for Auto Enrolment

Slaters have teamed up with local pension and investment specialists Richard Jacobs to offer Slaters clients more information on Auto Enrolment.

Our next workshop on Auto Enrolment will be in February 2016*.

The workshop will start at 9.00am until approx. 11.30am, and is designed to :

  • Provide you with all you need to know about Auto Enrolment
  • Take you through 9 easy steps to get you prepared
  • Give you an opportunity to discuss your requirements in more detail

Click here to register your interest

State Pension ‘top up’ scheme

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

A new scheme is being launched offering anyone reaching State Pension age before 6 April 2016 a chance to increase their State Pension by up to £25 a week.

People are eligible if they are entitled to a UK State Pension and have already reached their State Pension age or reach it before 6 April 2016. This includes men born before 6 April 1951 and women born before 6 April 1953.

The scheme will remain open for 18 months and those who think they can benefit will be able to buy additional State Pension, worth up to £1,300 a year. In most cases, surviving spouses and civil partners will be able to inherit at least 50% of the extra pension.

Minister for Pensions, Baroness Altmann said:

‘This government’s commitment is to provide security for working people at every stage of their lives, and that includes giving people the chance to enjoy a financially secure retirement. We have already committed to protecting pensioner incomes with the triple lock – uprating the basic State Pension by at least 2.5% each year of this Parliament. The new State Pension, coming in from April 2016, will ensure a simpler, more sustainable State Pension for the pensioners of tomorrow.

Top up is an opportunity for people already retired, or reaching State Pension age before April 2016, to boost their later life income. It won’t be right for everybody and it’s important to seek guidance or advice to check if it’s the right option for you. But it could be particularly attractive for those who haven’t had the chance to build significant amounts of State Pension, particularly many women and people who have been self-employed.’

Anyone who thinks they might benefit should seek advice and can use the online calculator to help them find out more. More information on State Pension top up and how to apply is available at www.gov.uk/statepensiontopup.

Auto enrolment ‘engagement’ and calculation tool

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

The Pensions Regulator (‘TPR’) has announced that following consultation they will develop a basic automatic enrolment tool. The basic tool should be available to download from TPR’s website by the end of 2015.

TPR consulted earlier this year on proposals to develop a basic tool to support those employers who use HMRC’s Basic PAYE Tools (BPT) to carry out their payroll function. HMRC’s BPT are used by many small employers to calculate PAYE, national insurance contributions and statutory payments such as Statutory Maternity Pay but has no pension function.

According to the TPR approximately 200,000 small and micro employers who use BPT are due to stage over the next two and half years and TPR’s experience indicates that using appropriate software either through payroll or pension provider systems helps employers to comply with their duties.

The majority of consultation responses were supportive of the TPR’s proposal, although some payroll firms and pension schemes were against the regulator developing a new tool.

Executive Director for Automatic Enrolment Charles Counsell said:

‘We will continue to recommend that BPT users consider using software with integrated automatic enrolment functionality, but by developing this basic contribution calculation tool we aim to ensure that BPT users have access to the help they need to support compliance.

The decision to develop a basic tool is recognition that significant numbers of BPT users will not seek a more integrated solution and will attempt manual calculations. This is another example of how The Pensions Regulator seeks to develop new ways to ensure we are meeting the needs of the diverse group of employers due to stage in the coming years.’

TPR has also issued the third edition of ‘Automatic enrolment: Commentary and analysis’, which reports on the impact of automatic enrolment and the increasing participation in workplace pension schemes. The commentary states:

  • By March 2015, over 5.2 million workers had been successfully automatically enrolled since the reforms began in 2012, an increase of more than 2.2 million workers from 2014, and 4.2 million from 2013.
  • Automatic enrolment is helping to turn around the decade-long decline in pension provision, with 59% of all employees now active members of a pension scheme, compared with just 47% in 2012. This increase suggests that pension saving is now becoming the norm.
  • The pensions landscape has been transformed as the majority of people are enrolled into defined contribution schemes. We have witnessed the growth in master trusts – 94% of employers who chose a trust-based scheme opted for a master trust.
  • We now expect that significantly more employers will be subject to automatic enrolment duties than originally anticipated, mainly due to an increase in the number of new companies that have started up, and fewer going out of business than was forecast. We have revised the staging profile accordingly, so that it reflects the 1.8 million employers we expect to help through the automatic enrolment process from now until 2018.

If you would like help with your payroll or advice on Pensions Auto Enrolment please contact us.

Pension Schemes for Auto Enrolment

Monday, August 24th, 2015

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has published some guidance aimed at the 1.3 million small and micro employers who are preparing for pensions auto enrolment. The guidance aims to help employers find a good quality pension scheme. TPR research suggests one in five (290,000) employers will not seek advice when choosing a pension scheme, while one in ten (130,000) do not know how to select a scheme, or think it will be difficult.

The information includes details of a list of ‘master trust’ pension schemes open to employers of all sizes, and which have been independently reviewed to help to demonstrate that they are administered to a high standard.

TPR have also made available a quick guide for small and micro employers on what to look out for when choosing a scheme suited to their needs. They have also updated their webpage guidance to advisors.

Lesley Titcomb, chief executive of The Pensions Regulator, said:

‘I strongly believe that the vast majority of the 1.3 million small and micro employers approaching automatic enrolment want to do the right thing. However, many will choose not to seek advice and will need additional support to meet their duties.

We are committed to providing them with the information they need to make confident choices when it comes to choosing a quality scheme for their employees.’

If you would like help complying with your auto enrolment duties please do get in touch.

Internet link: Press release

Summer Budget Summary

Monday, July 13th, 2015

In this post we focus on tax changes announced in the Summer 2015 Budget which outlined the tax plans of the new Conservative government to be introduced over the next 5 years.

 

New “National Living Wage” Tax Credit Changes

The most radical announcement by the Chancellor on 8th July was a significant reduction in the amount the government plans to spend on tax credits and other State benefits. At the same time he announced that there would a new national living wage to be paid by employers, rising to £9 an hour by 2020. This strategy combined with the increase in the personal allowance to £11,000 for 2016/17, and eventually £12,500, means that employees will keep more of what they earn but the tax credits received to top up their income will be significantly reduced.

Employers will need to assess the impact of this change on the profitability of their business and we can help you consider this in more detail as there are other factors such the increase in the employment allowance to £3,000 next year and the planned reductions in the corporation tax rate that may also be relevant to your business.

 

Corporation Tax Rate to be cut to 18%

The current UK corporation tax rate of 20% is the lowest rate in the G20, the 20 major trading nations. This rate continues to apply until 2017 when it has been announced that the rate will be reduced to 19% and then 18% in 2020.

This appears to make trading via a limited company more attractive but note that there are significant changes to the taxation of dividends that take effect from 6 April 2016.

 

Changes to Taxation Dividends

The Chancellor has announced that from 6 April 2016 there will no longer be a notional tax credit associated with dividends received and the following rates will apply after a £5,000 tax free dividend allowance:

Basic rate taxpayers – 7 ½%
Higher rate taxpayers – 32 ½%
Additional rate taxpayers – 38.1%

This will mean that from 2016/17 individuals will be able to receive up to £17,000 tax free:

Personal allowance £11,000
Tax free interest £1,000
Tax free dividends £5,000

 

Impact of Changes to Dividend Taxation on Family Companies

A common strategy that we often advise to family company director/shareholders is that they extract profits from their company by way of dividends instead of paying themselves a salary. This is because there are no national insurance contributions on dividend payments and where the dividend income falls within the basic rate band (up to £42,385 for 2015/16) there is currently no income tax on dividends.

Where both husband and wife are directors and shareholders they will be able to pay themselves a salary of £11,000 each and then dividends of £5,000 each tax free. However the next £27,000 of dividends up to the new £43,000 higher rate threshold would be taxed at 7 ½ % resulting in income tax of £2,025 each being payable for 2016/17. Under the current rules there would be no tax on such dividends up to £42,385.

This measure has been introduced to counter tax-motivated incorporation to level the playing field between trading via a company versus an unincorporated business.

Note that dividends received in excess of the £43,000 higher rate threshold will be taxed at 32.5 % but without a notional credit thus increasing the effective rate from the current 25% to 32.5%.

 

 

Annual Investment Allowance set permanently at £200,000

The annual investment allowance (AIA) was due to be reduced from the current temporary level of £500,000 to just £25,000 from 1 January 2016.

The Chancellor has bowed to pressure from industry to stop tinkering with this allowance for expenditure on plant and machinery and set it at a permanent level so that businesses can plan their capital expenditure. He has decided on £200,000 for the new limit and businesses should consider bringing forward expenditure to before 1 January 2016 to benefit from the current higher allowance.

 

 

Buy to Let Landlords – Interest Relief to be Restricted to Basic Rate

The Chancellor announced that the amount of income tax relief landlords can get on residential property finance costs (such as mortgage interest) will be restricted to the basic rate of tax.

To give landlords time to adjust, the change will be phased in gradually over 4 years:

2017/18 – the deduction will be restricted to 75% of finance costs, with 25% being available as a basic rate tax reduction.

2018/19 – 50% finance costs deduction and 50% given as a basic rate tax reduction

2019/20 – 25% finance costs deduction and 75% given as a basic rate tax reduction

From 2020/21 – all financing costs incurred by a landlord will be given as a basic rate tax reduction.

 

Rent a Room Limited increased to £7,500

The current £4,250 limit for tax free rental income from lodgers is to be increased to £7,500 from 6 April 2016. The relief is only available where individuals rent out a room in their main residence and the allowance includes heating and other services provided to the lodger.

 

Pension Tax Relief Restricted for Higher Earners

As mentioned in the Conservative party manifesto, tax relief for pension contributions is to be restricted for those with income in excess of £150,000 a year. We were told that this is intended to fund the increase in the inheritance allowance for passing on the family home.

The current £40,000 pension annual allowance will be reduced by £1 for every £2 of income in excess of £150,000 down to a minimum of £10,000 at £210,000 of income. So, for example, where an individual has income of £170,000 in 2016/17, the £40,000 annual allowance would be reduced to £30,000.

Note also that, as already announced, the pension lifetime allowance is due to be reduced from £1.25 million to £1 million from 6 April 2016 with transitional protection for those with pension savings in excess of the new limit.

The Chancellor also announced in the July Budget that there would be a further review of pension savings and pensions taxation.

Contact us if you need advice on pension planning and how the new pension rules will impact on you personally.

 

Inheritance Tax and the Family Home

As mentioned last month the Chancellor has confirmed the introduction of an additional inheritance allowance that will be available in addition to the current £325,000 nil rate band which will, when fully phased in, allow a couple to pass on the family home tax free up to a value of £1,000,000. The additional allowance, which will also be transferrable to the surviving spouse, will start at £100,000 for 2017/18. The allowance will then increase to £125,000 in 2018/19, £150,000 in 2019/20, and £175,000 in 2020/21.

Unfortunately the Chancellor also announced that the inheritance tax nil rate band will be frozen at £325,000 until 6 April 2021.

The main residence nil band is subject to a taper where the amount being left is more than £2,000,000 with £1 of the family home allowance being lost for every £2 of estate value over £2,000,000. This clawback is based on the value of the estate before reliefs such as business property relief and agricultural property relief and may result in some additional complications and redrafting of Wills.

If this change is likely to affect your family circumstances you may wish to arrange a meeting with us to consider the impact on your Will and your family’s inheritance tax position.

 

Changes Affecting Non-Domiciled Taxpayers

The Chancellor announced a number of important changes to the tax treatment of individuals who are resident but not domiciled in the UK. Such individuals currently benefit from a number of tax advantages such as exemption from UK inheritance tax (IHT) on assets situated outside the UK and in some cases only being taxed on overseas income and gains if those amounts are remitted to the UK.

From April 2017, IHT will be payable on all UK residential property owned by non-domiciles, regardless of their residence status for tax purposes, including property held indirectly through an offshore structure.

From April 2017, individuals who are born in the UK to parents who are domiciled here, will no longer be able to claim non-domicile status whilst they are resident in the UK.

The government will also legislate so that from April 2017 anybody who has been resident in the UK for more than 15 of the past 20 tax years will be deemed to be domiciled in the UK for all tax purposes. This is being reduced from the current 17 year deemed domicile rule for IHT.