Interest rates back on the slopes

In September the US and European central banks cut interest rates, again. When the US central bank, the Federal Reserve, cut its main interest rate by 0.25% at the end of July, it was the first reduction in over 10 … Continue reading

Annuity rates hit 25-year record low

Annuity rates hit their lowest level since 1994 in September, with implications for those making retirement decisions. Since the introduction of pensions flexibility in 2015, annuities have become much less popular as a way of converting a pension fund into … Continue reading

Who are the top 1% of income tax payers?

A recent report looking at who pays the most income tax reveals some interesting findings. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) published a briefing note in early August with a detailed answer to the question of what it takes to … Continue reading

Cracking down on compliance pays for HMRC

New figures show HMRC’s “customer compliance” efforts are yielding substantial sums. In early August, HMRC issued its annual report and accounts for 2018/19. While not everyone’s choice of holiday reading, it did contain some eye-opening information about the “compliance yield” … Continue reading

How do you feel about taking a pension at 75?

Is a state pension age (SPA) of 75 looking more likely? RecommendationThe SPA should better reflect the longer life expectancies that we now enjoy and be used to support the fiscal balance of the nation. The SPA in the UK … Continue reading

Probate delays affecting estate settlements

There are currently long delays in gaining probate on the estates of the recently deceased. Late in 2018, the government issued a written statement announcing its intent to go ahead with controversial increases in probate fees for England and Wales. … Continue reading

A bumpy ride for August on the markets

Stock markets, as well as some family holidaymakers, experienced a rollercoaster August. The traditional holiday month proved to be anything but quiet on the world’s investment markets. As the graph of the major UK and US stock market indices shows, … Continue reading

Company car tax revisited – the new rules

The Treasury has had a rethink on company car tax rules which may make you review your company car needs. Do you know your WLTP from your NDEC? If you drive a company car, it might be useful to understand … Continue reading

Money purchase annual allowance penalties – pick a number

A Freedom of Information (FoI) request has revealed a gap in HMRC’s knowledge about how many people have been hit with penalties around the annual allowance. The annual allowance, which effectively sets the tax-efficient ceiling on annual pension contributions, used … Continue reading

Light at the end of the tunnel for inheritance tax simplification?

The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) published its long-awaited second report on inheritance tax (IHT) in July with a range of useful proposals. The report, focused on simplifying the structure of IHT, contained some surprises, not only in the recommendations … Continue reading

New prime minister, new tax policies

July ended with a new prime minister in Boris Johnson and a new chancellor in Sajid Javid, both with different ideas from their immediate predecessors. There is already speculation about what Mr Javid might produce in his first Budget and … Continue reading

Student fees may be coming down

A government-commissioned report has proposed significant changes to the funding of university students in England. Students resident in England (different rules apply in other parts of the UK) pay a maximum university tuition fee of £9,250 per year, financed by … Continue reading

Could we see the back of inheritance tax?

A paper presented to the Labour Party has suggested the abolition of inheritance tax (IHT). Labour Party proposals to kill off inheritance tax (IHT) and replace it with a gifts tax were reported across several newspapers last month. The coverage … Continue reading

When it comes to funds, the best advice is personal

The recent problems with the suspension of dealings in a heavily promoted UK equity income fund have exposed the blurred line between advice and guidance. According to the Investment Association (IA), there are around 3,500 funds on sale in the … Continue reading