The most significant changes for people who are working is that they will pay less National Insurance. As of 6 January 2024, the rate will be cut by 2%, from 12% to 10%, for employed people who earn between £12,576 and £50,268. This will benefit everyone who earns more than the personal income tax allowance.
People who are self-employed will also pay less, but only as of 6th April 2024. The rate they pay will be cut by 1% and they will no longer have to pay flat rate Class 2 contributions, which will save them a further £3.45 a week or £192 a year. In addition to those who fall into the more traditional self-employed model, this could benefit people such as dentists, supply teachers, GP partners and locum doctors.
The cuts to National Insurance should amount to a saving on average of £450 a year if you are employed and £350 if you are self-employed.
Financial planning tip:
Remember that making personal pension contributions can reduce the amount of National Insurance and income tax you pay still further.
ISAs, or to give them their full name, individual savings accounts, are a highly tax-efficient way of saving. Once your money is in an ISA, there is no income or capital gains tax to pay on any growth when you take money out.
There are various types of ISAs and at the moment you are only allowed to pay into one of each type each tax year. For instance, you can pay into a cash ISA from one provider and a stocks and shares ISA from a different provider each tax year and split your £20,000 annual allowance between them, but you can’t split your allowance, for example, between two cash ISAs from different providers.
As of 6 April 2024 you will be able to pay into multiple ISAs of the same type in each tax year. This will make things simpler and is likely to be of particular benefit to people who open cash ISAs, as it will allow them to spread their money across different providers depending on the interest rates available.
While cash ISAs can be a sensible home for rainy day cash, stock and shares ISAs are likely to be more suitable for longer-term savings. Most investors, including those who use a professional financial planner, now invest via a platform. As the platform is the ISA provider – in other words it provides the ISA “wrapper” – using a platform means that you are already able to split your money across as many funds as you wish.
Transferring part of your money from one ISAs to another is also being simplified. At the moment, if you want to make a partial transfer you have to wait until the tax year following that in which you paid the money in. As of 6 April 2024 you will be able to make partial transfers regardless of when you paid in the money.
As of 6 April 2024 you will need to be 18 to open an adult ISA. Currently you need to be over 16. Junior ISAs will still be available for people up to the age of 18.
Finally, from 6 April 2024 the types of assets that can be held in ISAs are being expanded to include long-term asset funds and open-ended property funds with extended notice periods. These are specialist types of investments and it is essential to talk to a professional financial planner before investing in them.
Financial planning tips:
People who are 16 or 17 now could consider putting money into an ISA before next April – or their relatives could do so on their behalf. The ISA needs to be set up in the name of the individual who is to benefit from it but the funds can be paid in by anyone, for instance parents or grandparents. The money will be considered to be an outright gift.
When transferring money between ISAs make sure it remains within the ISA “wrapper”. If you don’t you will lose the tax-free benefits.
Venture Capital Trusts and Enterprise Investment Schemes: tax relief extended
People who invest in Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs) and Enterprise Investment Schemes (EISs) will be glad to hear that the tax reliefs these schemes offer are being extended to shares issued before 6 April 2035. Without this change the tax relief available on these products would have stopped in April 2025. This gives entrepreneurs and investors certainty regarding the future of these schemes which are a valuable source of funding for start ups.
The Chancellor announced a consultation on “pension pots for life”. This initiative will be a welcome simplification for employees and possibly for employers, although it is likely to take several years to come to fruition.
The idea is that you will have one pension pot and that you can choose where it is held. You and your employer will pay into it. This is in contrast to the current auto-enrolment model whereby employers choose the pot and employees end up with a different pot from each employer.
Financial planning tip:
You can take control of your pension now, without waiting for a pot for life. For instance, if you in your employer’s auto-enrolment scheme you could consider options other than the default funds in which you may be invested. Also, if you have a number of small pension pots from previous employers it might make sense to consolidate them into a single fund. Whether and how you should do this will depend on factors such as where the pensions are invested, how much is in them, the costs involved and your circumstances. It is essential to talk to a professional financial planner before making any changes.
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