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focusI started writing this Newsletter on the 1st January 2020. The first day of the first month of the new decade. The Romans dedicated January to their god Janus – god of Endings, Transitions, and new Beginnings. He is depicted with two faces since he looks back to learn from the past and the year that has just ended (Endings) and, having taken stock of changes and new considerations that have arisen (Transitions), he looks forward and plans for the next year (new Beginnings). We would do well to take a leaf out of his book as that is precisely what we should be doing now in respect of our financial planning.

Successful financial planning is a cyclical activity. It is very important to review your planning regularly, at least once a year, and January is a good time with the new tax year just a few weeks away.

1. Look back: Review your previously specified objectives (and risk profile).

2. Take stock: Assess the effects of any changes in circumstances (yours, those in the tax regime, and those in the investment markets) and whether they affect your goals, attitudes, assets or liabilities.

3. Look forward: Review your planning and include areas such as:

  • Income Tax: Check your Income Tax position to ensure you benefit as far as is practical from all allowances and reliefs. Can you share your allowances to reduce tax? Take another look at your tax code – are you comfortable that it is correct? Remember, HMRC makes mistakes!
  • Pension Contributions: Build for the future but remember that the rules and limits have changed over recent years – currently, £40,000, or 100% of your earnings if lower, is the annual allowance maximum that qualifies for tax relief, but that reduces to £4,000 in some situations if you have started to draw from a Defined Contribution Pension. The maximum annual allowance is also reduced if you earn more than £150,000. And don’t forget to check the total value of all of your pension funds in relation to the Lifetime Allowance that for most people is currently £1,055,000. Talk to us about all or any of this and, when doing so, check if you can benefit from carrying forward any allowances from the previous three years.
  • Capital Gains Tax: Capital gains tax is a tax on the profits you make when you sell something, such as a second home or a personal possession worth £6,000 or more (except for your car). Will you be able to benefit from this year’s CGT tax-free allowance of £12,000? Do you have any carry-forward losses to help increase the amount of gains you can take tax-free? Or can you share your gains, or split them over the year end, to reduce Capital Gains Tax? Remember that genuine gifts from a spouse or civil partner do not count towards the allowance.
  • ISAs: Are you contributing as much as you can to your ISAs? With a cash ISA or a stocks and shares ISA (or a combination of the two), you can save or invest up to £20,000 each year per person, meaning that a married couple/civil partners can invest up to £40,000 between the two of them.
  • Junior ISAs: A Junior ISA is a long-term savings account set up by a parent or guardian with a Junior ISA provider, specifically for their child’s future. Only the child can access the money, and only once they turn 18. The Junior ISA limit is set at £4,368 for this tax year. Why not consider giving your children’s savings a boost by making sure they’re at the limit?
  • Inheritance Tax: The current tax-free threshold is set at £325,000 for single individuals and £650,000 for married couples/civil partners. Do you take advantage of any of the valuable IHT annual exemptions? There are many, including the £3,000 annual ‘gift allowance’ (didn’t use it last tax year – carry it forward to this year so £6,000 could be available), other gifts up to £250 to anyone, wedding gifts, and gifts from ‘surplus’ income.
  • Your Dividend Allowance: You can earn up to £2,000 in dividends in the current tax year before you pay any dividend income tax. Do you, or can you plan to, enjoy this tax-free allowance?

4. Ensure you allow sufficient time to take action. The clock is ticking …

We have set out above what is only a brief summary of some key points that involve quite complex rules. Always take relevant professional advice before taking, or refraining from taking, any action.

And remember, do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your financial planning needs. Reviews are part of our added-value services for our existing clients – we are here to help.

Barry Fleming & Partners has grown from a tax advisory background into a broader business that encompasses investment management. Both things matter for wealth management, retention and creation. That expertise makes the company strikingly different from others.

This capability allows Barry Fleming and Partners to use its strength in tax advice to take a 360-degree-view of a financial situation to give much broader, more comprehensive advice.

We bring together up to the minute tax, estate, investment and retirement planning advice to create individual, ‘joined up’ financial strategies. This allows our clients to understand and have confidence in how they can best control, retain, and build their assets and income to achieve their objectives with least risk.

A high level of service is key to our long-term client relationships. We work collaboratively. That means our clients can benefit at all times from having ready access to our team of financial planners.

Barry Fleming & Partners are an independent financial advisor specialising in ISA’s, Pensions, Tax, Trusts, Estate Planning, Inheritance Tax Planning (IHT) and other Financial Planning areas. Please don’t hesitate to call on 01488 608 686 and ask to talk to one of our financial advisors. Alternatively use the contact form on our home page.