With the 5th April fast approaching, it is time to consider the many allowances offered on a ‘use-it-or-lose-it basis’ to reduce your tax liability and assist in growing your wealth.

Individual Savings Accounts (ISA)

With interest rates at a very low level currently, it is important to understand the real value of investing savings given the tangible risks associated with record inflation. In the 12 months to December 2021 inflation rose to 5.40% 1 - its highest rate for 30 years – diminishing the spending power of your cash and savings.  The table below highlights the impact of tax and inflation on cash savings for different rates of income tax:

Impact of tax and inflation on cash savings

ISAs are a tax efficient vehicle in which the owner pays no income tax on the income received from their ISA savings. The ISA does not attract capital gains tax arising on the investment gains either. You can invest in either a Cash ISA or, given today’s low interest rates, a Stocks & Shares ISA. The latter will ensure your cash savings are placed in equity based investments which provide some protection against inflation. Of course, this carries an element of investment risk and we advise you speak to your Investment Manager further regarding this.

Contact JM Finn to discuss the ISA contributions

The adult ISA allowance is £20,000. The Junior ISA allowance is £9,000 and is available for anyone under the age of 18.

The adult ISA allowance is £20,000 

An interesting quirk in the current legislation is that 16 and 17 year old children currently have access to two ISA allowances: £9,000 for a Junior ISA in addition to £20,000 for an adult cash ISA.

Check your spouse or partner has also maximised their own ISA allowance

Consideration may also be given to converting a Child Trust Fund (CTF) into a Junior ISA, permitted since April 2015. If the CTF is not transferred, when a child reaches 18, they’ll still be able to access the money. Or they can choose to transfer it into a normal cash ISA.

The Junior ISA allowance is £9,000 and is available for anyone under the age of 18.

ISA and Junior ISA spending limits will be frozen at their current levels until at least 2023.

£9,000 per child or grandchild into Junior ISAs

Pension Contributions

The Pension Freedom Act 2015 provided investors with greater access, flexibility and control over their pension savings.

The tax incentives and efficiencies offered by pensions make them a particularly attractive means of accumulating wealth for retirement.

You can pay into a pension up to 100% of your pensionable earnings and receive tax relief, capped at the annual allowance of £40,000. Restrictions apply to individuals with income of more than £240,000 2. Where you have no income it is still possible to contribute £3,600 towards a pension.

Key benefits of making additional pension savings before the end of the tax year:

  • Boost retirement savings within a highly tax efficient investment vehicle.
  • Access pension tax relief of 20%. For example, if you contribute £32,000 (subject to allowances), the government will top up the contribution by a further £8,000 (making your total contribution £40,000)
  • Reclaim allowances. The standard tax free personal income allowance of £12,570 is reduced for incomes over £100,000 (cutting out altogether at £125,140). Pension contributions can be used to reduce an individual's taxable income and reinstate the personal allowance, providing tax relief of up to 60% on the contributions made.
  • Reduce your tax liability. Contributions made by higher rate (HRT) and additional rate (ART) taxpayers may attract tax additional tax relief of 20% and 25% respectively.
  • Contributions can also be made for non-working family members, such as a spouse, child or grandchild. If a contribution of up to £2,880 is made, the government will contribute a further £720, by way of pension tax relief.

Key benefits of making additional pension savings

Capital Gains Tax (CGT)

CGT is a tax levied on the profit when you 'dispose of' an asset that realises a gain. The gain you make is then taxed, rather than the amount of money received.

The individual tax-free capital gains allowance, known as the ‘annual exempt amount’, is currently £12,300 (21/22) and will remain frozen at this rate until 2025/26.

Where sensible, the annual capital gains allowance should be fully utilised each tax year as failure to do so will result in the benefit being lost.

The individual tax-free capital gains allowance, known as the ‘annual exempt amount’, is currently £12,300 (21/22) and will remain frozen at this rate until 2025/26.

Regular and proactive capital gains tax management will serve to reduce the impact of taxation on your wealth. Effective use of the allowance could reduce your tax liability by up to £2,460 3 each year.

Consideration may also be given to realising gains on assets and transferring them to a lower or non-taxpayer or tax effective investment, such as an ISA. This can be particularly effective with the use of inter-spousal transfers. Inter-spousal transfers (also applicable to civil partners) refers to gifts between partners for which no CGT charge generally occur. This effectively allows individuals within partnerships to utilise two tax-free allowances flexibly between one another.

Don’t miss the opportunity to potentially carry-forward previous pension allowances!

Marriage Allowance

In the UK the standard personal allowance for an individual is £12,570 (21/22). This is the amount of income on which you do not have to pay income tax.

However, if you have a husband/wife/civil partner who is on an income level below £12,570 you can apply to transfer £1,257 of their personal allowance to yourself. This is provided your income level is between £12,571 and £50,270.

This will reduce your tax bill by up to £252 in the tax year.

You can backdate your claim by four tax years to include any tax year since 5 April 2017 that you were eligible for Marriage Allowance.

Gifting to Charity

Gifting to charity also attracts relief from certain taxes such as income tax. This is done primarily via Gift Aid or Payroll Giving.

Gift Aid is a scheme run by the government in which any charity you donate to can claim a further 25p from the taxman for every £1 donated. These donations also have the effect of increasing your basic rate band and higher rate income tax bands by the grossed-up amount of your gifts. So, if you are a higher or additional rate tax payer, you can claim the difference between the higher and basic rate on your donation on your Self-Assessment tax return. Alternatively, you can ask HMRC to amend your tax code.


If your Gift Aid payments add up to £100 in 2021 to 2022 the grossed-up value of your donation to charity would be £100 × 100/80 = £125. Higher rate relief due to you would be:  

  • £25 if you pay tax at 40% (£125 at 20%)  
  • £31.25 if you pay tax at 45% (£125 at 20% plus £125 at 5%)

Payroll giving can be done through some employers or personal pension providers. This allows you to donate straight from your wages or pension towards a charity before income tax is deducted. The tax relief you get depends on the rate of tax you pay. If donating £1, you would pay:

  • 80p if you are a lower rate taxpayer
  • 60p if you are a higher rate taxpayer
  • 55p if you are an additional rate taxpayer

Additionally, the effect of gifting could have implications for your various allowances in the same way as for pension contributions. It is important that you keep records of all of your donations if you wish to deduct them from your total taxable income. 

Inheritance Tax Planning (IHT)

IHT is an unpopular tax levied on the intergenerational transfer of wealth subject to various available reliefs.

IHT is payable at a flat rate of 40% (reduced to 36% if you leave at least 10% of your net estate to charity) on estate assets in excess of £325,000 (known as the nil rate band) for a single person or £650,000 for a couple 4.

Small gifts made out of normal income do not generally attract Inheritance Tax. These are known as ‘exempted gifts’.

There may be Inheritance Tax to pay if you’ve given away more than £325,000, but only if you die within seven years. Even after three years tapered relief exists to reduce the tax liability on the gifted asset.

Whilst the ‘exempted gift’ threshold is considered by many as insignificant, it can be used as an effective means of saving/investment for grandchildren via contributions to Junior ISAs.

There is an additional main residence allowance of £175,000 per individual, introduced in the 2017/18 tax year, for main residences passed on to direct descendants.

If any of the above opportunities are of interest to you, we would encourage you to contact your JM Finn Investment Manager for further discussion.

1 www.ons.gov.uk

2 For individuals with ‘threshold income’ in excess of £200,000 and ‘adjusted income’ in excess of £240,000, your annual allowance will be reduce by £1 for every £2 above £240,000. The maximum reduction is limited to £36,000.

3 Based on £12,300 of assessable gains at rates of up to 20% (applicable to higher or additional rate taxpayers on investment gains)

4 This assumes that none of the nil-rate band is utilised on first death event through use of inter-spousal transfer exemption. Where this is used the surviving partner will inherit the remaining proportion of the nil-rate band. The maximum nil-rate band an individual may be entitled to is 2x the nil-rate band. This inheritability also applies to the residence nil-rate band subject to conditions.

This article is of a general nature and does not constitute specific advice. It is recommended that you seek advice from a qualified tax professional, which can be tailored, to your personal circumstances. Tax rates and allowances are subject to change by the HMRC. Any figures quoted are accurate at the time of publication. Where advice is required, we would be pleased to work with your existing advisers or refer you to a trusted external provider. 

Illustration by Adam Mallett


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