Tag: bridgewater financial services

Social Care & Wealth Protection

What we gain on the swings needs to remain with us on the roundabouts

There are some interesting things afoot in the world of personal taxation. With two seemingly separate, but intertwined, taxes that all of us should be thinking about.

They are the freeze on Inheritance Tax (IHT) and the 1.25% levy and dividend tax the Prime Minister has just introduced to help fix social care. With hidden connections and implications that could directly affect your estate.

The cap on social care may generate some unforeseen problems for your estate

In order to help pay for on-going social care, on 7 September the Prime Minister announced an increase in the Dividend Rates in line with the 1.25% increase in National Insurance. This new levy will apply to everyone in work, including pensioners who had previously been exempt from NI payments after reaching state pension age.

The other significant announcement was that, coming into effect in October 2023, there will be an £86,000 cap on the cost of social care that any one person should pay during in their lifetime.

Until an individual reaches that cap, anyone with more than £100,000 in assets will be responsible for paying all their own care costs. Whilst those with assets between £100,000 and £20,000 will have their care partly subsidised, via local councils. With any individual with assets lower than £20,000 having all care costs paid for them.

While this is a long awaited reform to the current challenges concerning the funding of social care, it may have an unwelcomed knock-on effect regarding IHT.

It’s a stealthy attack on the wealthy

Retaining more of our assets could result in an increasing IHT liability.

The IHT nil rate freeze has resulted in the Government’s most recent Inheritance Tax receipts growing by £500 Million between April and July 2021. That’s a massive 33% up on the same period for 2020.

The reason for this dramatic increase in IHT revenues is simple. Whilst the IHT rate has stayed the same, asset values have continued to grow. This has been fuelled by increases in house prices, along with raises in the investment markets as the world’s economies come out of the Pandemic.

The hidden impact of this asset growth is that many of us will become unknowingly entangled in the Chancellor’s IHT net, as thresholds are silently crossed.

Add to that the impact of the Social Care cap and you’ll begin to realise why a refocusing on your IHT position is long overdue.

In an ever-changing landscape, reviews are essential

Just because there are no changes due to the IHT rate until April 2026 at the earliest, don’t fall into the trap of believing there is nothing to do with regard to IHT planning.

The increase of £0.5 Billion being collected in IHT should set the alarm bells ringing.

With the supercharged 10.2% increase in assets from March 2020-2021, that the housing market has caused, combined with the lack of access to one to one IHT planning with a financial expert, the pandemic has created the perfect storm for IHT.

As we emerge, blinking into the sunlight of the post-pandemic lockdown, now is the perfect time to re-evaluate the protection of your wealth. Not just from IHT and other stealth taxes, but also from other misfortunes that can befall your heirs, including the payment of care fees.

Depending upon your own unique circumstances, there will be all sorts of options available for you to consider. It may be as simple as revisiting your will and your gifting allowances. You may even want to explore setting up Trusts or making better use of your Pension.

According to Financial Service Industry data, in the past fiscal year alone, just 10% of clients have mitigated their IHT position. That means 90% of us are unaware that our IHT position may urgently need specialist advice to help avoid unnecessary payments. With many people unknowingly generating a large IHT legacy, because they are unaware of the impact of asset growth and don’t consider themselves as rich enough to worry about IHT.

The impact of care fees on those with estates below the IHT threshold, even allowing for the recently announced cap, can be even more severe than IHT, which only applies at 40% on joint estates over £650,000.

Protecting your wealth from IHT or care fees starts with a phone call to us. If you have any questions regarding how any of this could impact upon you, then please don’t hesitate to contact one of our team at Bridgewater Financial Services. One of our independent experts will be on hand to help in any way.

A good or bad budget for your personal finances?.. Let’s find out!

Rishi Sunak’s pandemic budget was certainly one of history’s more unusual Chancellor’s statements, given the circumstances in which it was delivered.

The Chancellor continued to focus his attention on spending in order to help keep the UK economy and businesses afloat, as we slowly come out of the Covid-19 Pandemic. It’s widely accepted that all this spending will somehow have to be paid for further down the line. So with that in mind, on 23 March The Chancellor is also planning to announce a series of tax consultations, which should shine some light on the Government’s plans to start to recoup some cash and begin the long-term book balancing exercise.

For the moment there is very little change to key tax areas that we would normally be examining at this time of year. However, there were still a few things that were mentioned that we should have a closer look at from a financial planning perspective.

What does this mean for your Pension?
Rishi Sunak has frozen the Lifetime Allowance (LTA) at £1,073,100. This means that inflationary increases to the lifetime allowance have also been frozen and will remain at the current level until April 2026.

This extended period of no inflationary increase could culminate in larger LTA charges. However, it’s important to remember that your LTA isn’t a cap on what you can put into your pension. Looking at the bigger picture, there continues to be many reasons why those who may be affected by the LTA freeze should continue to save into any active schemes; especially as withdrawing funding would mean they lose out on any contributions they currently enjoy from their employers.

An increase in your personal allowance
Although there are no changes to the rates of income tax for 2021/22, there is an increase in the basic rate band and personal allowance in line with the Consumer Price Index.
With the basic rate band increasing to £37,700 and the personal allowance climbing to £12,570 with the higher rate tax threshold also increasing to £50,270. The Chancellor also announced that both the personal allowance along with the higher rate threshold would now be fixed until 2025/26.

Capital Gains Tax
Right now, there are no immediate changes to Capital Gains Tax (CGT). With the annual exemption figure remaining unchanged at £12,300 for individuals (and personal representatives) and £6,150 for trustees of settlements. These rates have also been set until 2025/26.

However, it’s worth remembering that the Government has indicated that it will be publishing further tax consultations on 23 March. So look out for any proposed changes in CGT later this month.

Inheritance Tax
Inheritance Tax (IHT) bands remain the same, with both the nil rate band and the residence nil rate band staying put at £325,000 and £175,000 respectively. Again this locking in of the rates has been fixed until April 2026.
The implication of this five-year freeze, is that more estates will cross the IHT threshold. With that in mind, it might be worthwhile checking that your estate planning is as up-to-date as it can be, in order to mitigate any unnecessary IHT bills.
We’ll also wait until the announcement by the Government on 23 March, to see if IHT is included in the tax consultations and if they do appear, how that may have any potential implications upon wealth transfer.

Corporation Tax increase
The rate of Corporation Tax, currently set at 19% is set to rise to 25% from April 2023 onwards. There is some relief for smaller companies with profits under £50,000, as they can continue to pay the current 19% rate.
The tapering relief for businesses with profits under £250,000 will also be reintroduced, meaning that they too will not reach the 25% payment rate.

IR35 changes to be implemented
One of the largest shake-ups of the workplace economy is the implementation of the changes to off-payroll working, usually referred to as IR35. Delayed because of the pandemic, from April 2021 all large and medium sized private companies will now become legally responsible for deciding if freelance contractors are now effectively employees.
If they are deemed to be employees, then from next month it is the company’s responsibility to collect income tax and NICs from the contractor’s fee and pay it over to HMRC. This has all sorts of implications for both company owners and contractors alike.

Stay safe, we’re here if your need us
As always, were here to help with independent and expert financial advice. If you have any questions regarding the budget, or any other aspect of your finances, then please get in touch with us at Bridgewater Financial Services; where we will be delighted to help guide you through your individual options and strategies.

How safe is your cash post Brexit?

The impact of Brexit on Financial Services and the FS Compensation Scheme

As we stand right now (December 2020) The UK is leaving the European Union (EU) on 31 December 2020. EU law will continue to apply to the UK financial services regulations through the existing agreement for UK firms to do business throughout the EU without obtaining further financial services authorisation (something known as Passporting) until then. 

Passporting has allowed firms authorised in the European Economic Area (EEA) to conduct business within the EEA based upon member state authorisation. The FCA has given guidance to firms that we should NOT expect these current arrangements to remain in place once the transition period ends on 31 December 2020. As current negotiations regarding a trade deal never included any discussions regarding financial services, you should assume that any financial interests you may have abroad, will no longer be protected by the FSCS once passporting arrangements between the UK and the EU end.

You may need to take action, in order to be ready and protected following Brexit. Which is why I have outlined a number of likely scenarios that UK customer with funds invested in EU jurisdictions may be facing. Obviously this also applies to EU citizens with funds invested in the UK.

Either way, there are things you may wish to consider to ensure that you and your money remain protected from 1 January 2021 onwards. 

Financial Services Compensation Scheme post Brexit

The FSCS is there to provide protection and compensation to customers or investors of authorised financial services companies that fail or go out of business.

For UK based customers of firms authorised in the UK, the FSCS will not change post Brexit. However, for customers and/or firms based in the EEA (including Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland) there maybe changes to the protection and compensation available. 

Deposit Protection with the FSCS

Protection via the FSCS will depend upon where the firm in question is authorised and which jurisdiction the firm uses to hold your deposits. My advice is to check with the firm for more information. In order to find where a financial services provider is based or authorised, the Financial Services Register is a good place to start,

Any deposits held in a UK branch of an EEA bank will be covered by the FSCS and your funds will be protected up to £85,000 post Brexit.
Deposits held in UK branches of firms based in Gibraltar are seen differently and are not covered by the FSCS; and will continue to be the responsibility of the Gibraltar Deposit Guarantee Scheme.  

Deposit Protection outside of the FSCS

At 11pm GMT on 31 December 2020, any FSCS deposit protection for funds held in EEA branches of UK firms will cease.

Although there should be an automatic transition to protection provided by an EEA deposit guarantee scheme. However this will be dependent upon the specific rules that apply to each EEA jurisdiction. Any change in, or loss of, protection should be notified to customers by firms prior to this date, but it’s always worth being proactive and checking things out yourself. 

Post Brexit, anyone with funds in EEA-authorised firms within the EEA will see no changes in their current deposit protection, as laid out in the EEA deposit guarantee scheme. 

Further information is available by contacting the firms in question, or visiting www.efdi.eu/full-members for a full list of EEA deposit protection schemes. 

Investment protections covered by the FSCS

If you are currently a UK based customer of an EEA authorised investment firm that operates within the UK, then you are currently protected by EEA compensation schemes.  Following Brexit, the protection that the FSCS provides will be extended to customers of EEA firms with UK branches; in the same way that cover is currently provided to customers of UK firms.  

However, it’s important to note that all customers of EEA authorised firms without a UK branch will no longer have access to the FSCS. The only exception is where there is already established FSCS cover for the operations and activities of certain fund managers. If you are in any doubt, my advice would be to contact your provider and find out for sure if your investments are covered by a relevant compensatory scheme.

Whether you live in the UK or the EEA,customers of a UK branch or of a UK authorised investment firm, will continue to benefit from the protection provided by the FSCS pre and post Brexit. This is because the FSCS has no residency requirements in order for investors to qualify for cover.

Investments no longer covered by the FSCS

If you are a customer of a local EEA branch of an existing UK authorised investment firm then you may not be protected by the FSCS post Brexit.

It is probable that the FSCS will not protect customers of defaulting (insolvent) EEA branches of UK authorised firms after 31 December 2020.

However, you may be protected by the local jurisdiction’s investor compensation scheme, but it may not provide the same protections as the existing FSCS scheme (up to £85,000 of cover). If you are in any doubt, please contact the provider and seek clarification prior to the Brexit deadline.

As always, if you have any questions regarding current FSCS protections, or if you have any questions regarding any aspect of your finances, then please don’t hesitate to contact one of our team at Bridgewater Financial Services; where one of our independent experts will be on hand to help in any way.

Stay safe

 

 

 

Double Trouble with Capital Gains Tax

Double your money!

On 12 November the Government announced that they were seriously looking at a massive increase in Capital Gains Taxation.

It comes as a result of Chancellor Rishi Sunak exploring new ways to raise revenue, in order to cover the cost of the Covid-19 pandemic. Given that the public realise that we need to replace the money being spent fighting the pandemic and supporting businesses and individuals, it seems certain that there will be tax rises. With a Government commissioned report estimating that around £14 billion could be found if they doubled the rate of Capital Gains tax. 

It’s always serious when the Government spends money on it

The Government has already asked The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) for a fast-track of its review regarding Capital gains Tax (CGT). I would suggest that it’s worth pondering why the Government would require such a large report to be produced at speed, unless there was a real and pressing requirement for it.

The changes that the OTS has recommended are aligning CGT with Income Tax and slashing the current £12,300 exemption down to just £2,000. 

Now I’m not saying that these changes are absolutely on their way, but it does seem extremely likely that change is coming. 

You can’t stop it, but you can get ready for the impact

Most financial experts recognise that there is a gaping and growing hole in the country’s finances. Albeit as a result of Covid-19, it still has to be plugged; and quick tax rises seem to be one strategy that The Chancellor is advocating. So now is the time to take stock of your current position and to plan for tomorrow.

Look to the future with a boost from today

The best way of reducing any potential impact that a rise in CGT will have, is to use your current exceptions whilst they are still available to you.

If you have sufficient ISA or pension relief, then you could choose to reinvest in a tax free ISA, with up to £20,000 allowance all of which can be in cash, stocks and shares, or a combination of both. Or you could look to top up your pension. Your tax-free allowance means that a £20,000 new contribution instantly translates to a £25,000 gross contribution, with higher rate taxpayers seeing an increase to a £30,000 gross contribution. 

Stock-up on existing losses

If your investment portfolio has losses within it, you could sell the loss making stocks in order to crystallise those losses and offset them against future gains. When calculating your CGT bill, you are allowed to offset any capital losses against any gains, which means that a gain of £50,000 with a loss of £20,000 produces a bill of £30,000.

Plus, in most calculations, you can offset losses for the past four years against current gains. 

How about some bed hopping? I’m being serious!

Transferring assets between you and your spouse, or civil partner, means that they are exempt of CGT. So moving assets around means that you can take advantage of the tax-free allowance of £24,600.

Another way of minimising CGT is by one spouse or civil partner selling an asset to realise a gain, whilst the other partner buys them back. Known as the ‘Bed and Spouse’ technique, where one spouse sells some shares to a broker, the other buys them back at the same time from the same broker. However, it’s important to note that good record keeping is required and any acquired asset or cash proceeds should not pass back between spouses. 

You can also ‘Bed and ISA’. This entails you selling investment funds or shares that produce a capital gain, then immediately buying the same assets back inside an ISA. That way you can directly sell £20,000 of assets and use the proceeds to fund an identical purchase (excluding the sales charges) inside an ISA, which will be free of CGT and income tax on capital gains and income. 

Another viable sell and buyback technique is a ‘Bed and SIPP’. Where you buy back the asset under the tax-free umbrella of your Self Invested Personal Pension (SIPP). With all future income gains made within the SIPP being tax-free.

Options, options, options

Depending upon your own circumstances and your appetite for different investment and asset maintenance strategies, there are all sorts of ways that smart planning now can help eliminate big CGT payments further down the line.

You can, for example, invest in small companies through Venture Capital Trust (VCT) and Enterprise Investment Schemes (EIS). However both are risky and are possibly best left to experienced investors, or television’s dragons, all of whom have a real aptitude for this market. 

Or you could simply reduce your taxable income. As the rate of CGT is directly linked to the rate of Income tax you pay. So lowering your taxable income for a year could lower your CGT rate from 20% to 10%, or 28% to 18% if you’re disposing of residential property. 

Play the game, but play by the rules

It’s the job of every financial adviser to help clients reduce their tax bills where legally allowed. This tax planning is a constantly changing game of cat and mouse with HMRC. However there is one thing that both sides agree upon; and that’s not paying tax (tax avoidance) is never a wise course of action. So please make sure that you do declare everything to HMRC, as defrauding the taxman really isn’t worth the large fines, or worse.

As always, if you have any questions regarding current CGT or possible changes to CGT that could impact upon you, or if you have any questions regarding any aspect of your finances, then please don’t hesitate to contact one of our team at Bridgewater Financial Services; where one of our independent experts will be on hand to help in any way. 

Stay safe

Your SSAS pension can provide for your family AND future generations too

You really are never to young to join a SSAS
Your small, self-administered pension scheme (SSAS) doesn’t just provide death and retirement benefits for its members in a tax efficient way – It can do way more for you and your family. Due to their restriction of having no more than 11 members, SSAS schemes are often favoured by smaller businesses where the company directors, family members and senior executives are the beneficiaries. Especially as they allow for members of the family who don’t work for the company to also be included.

Not only that, but a SSAS pension is an asset that can be passed down the family through the generations. Best of all, as a pension it’s legally protected from personal or company creditors so it’s a safe place for the long-term storage of assets.

The big benefit to your family
As investments are held in the names of all of the SSAS trustees, this common ownership means that each member of the SSAS holds a specific portion of the SSAS’s assets. This makes ownership of assets like properties far cheaper and simpler to deal with than they would be if the asset were shared between three or more self-invested pensions (SIPP). The other big benefit of a SSAS, is that individuals can choose their own investments, which is really handy if the business is involved in property or land. Also, where individuals are saving in order to invest in property or land, a SSAS can really help fulfil that ambition (see my previous blog on SSAS property purchase).

What happens when a member retires?
Once a member of the SSAS retires, they have the same options as any other member of a defined contribution pension scheme. This means that you can secure a guaranteed income, take an income from the fund or a combination of the two. If the SSAS is invested in property that is generating and income, this can effectively be remitted out to the member to support their retirement.

Flexibility when it comes to your retirement day
A SSAS allows entrepreneurs to delay the time that they start retirement, as they often retire later than those in employment. It also allows for early retirement from the age of 55 years. Your SSAS will even let you carry on working part-time, receiving some pension and some income at the same time.

Tax Efficient Death Benefits
SSAS benefits payable on death are not normally subject to inheritance tax. If the scheme member dies before the age of 75, their family members can inherit their fund and take tax free withdrawals for life. After the age of 75, payments are subject to income tax at the beneficiary’s normal income tax rate. The fund can be passed down through the generations as long as it lasts. Unlike a conventional non-pension trust, there is no limitation on how long the trust can last. So the pension fund could be providing valuable benefits to multiple generations of the family of the original members. Beneficiaries are immediately entitled to draw benefits and they do not need to wait until they are at least 55.

Other benefits of SSAS to family businesses
Your SSAS can also be a great way to increase your purchasing power, if you’re looking to accrue assets for the future. Please see my previous blogs on using your SSAS to borrow funds for property and stock purchases.

Get it right from day one
With something as complicated as a SSAS, it’s vitally important that you get the right kind of professional advice from a qualified and expert financial adviser who knows this area well. The wrong advice, or no advice at all, could result in significant tax penalties.

As always, we at Bridgewater Financial Services are here to provide expert and independent advice on any questions you have regarding A SSAS pension, or any other financial enquiries you may have.

Stay safe

Buying Shares with your SASS Pension

Your SSAS pension provides more opportunities than you may think

Did you know that current pension regulations allow you to purchase unquoted shares, both in UK and in overseas companies, through your company pension scheme? Making your small, self-administered pension schemes (SSAS) a vehicle that can fund any share purchases you may currently be considering.

However, these investments are not as straightforward as normal share purchases and come with various restrictions. Which is why it’s so important that you seek professional advice from a suitably qualified and regulated financial adviser. 

Things you really need to consider

Investing in the stock market can be a volatile experience, especially if you are relatively new to the concept. So with something as critically important as your company’s pension scheme, there are some understandable restrictions in place.

If you are considering purchasing shares via your SSAS, then the first thing I would implore you to do, is to get proper advice; as a qualified expert will be able to steer you through the technicalities of bringing your share purchase to fruition and ensuring that you comply with the various rules and regulations associated with SSAS share purchases.

In order to give you an insight into how investing with your SSAS could work, I’ve written this blog. However – it is to be viewed as a guide only. 

What to invest in

Under the pension taxation legislation, your SSAS can make investments across the board. Please make sure you pick the right investments though, or there will be a large and very unwelcome tax consequence of investing in certain areas or where specific limits are breached.

As a general rule, investment in the following areas will not incur a penal tax charge:

  • Investment grade gold bullion
  • Trustee Investment Plans and Bonds
  • Commercial property (including hotels) and land
  • Unit Trusts/OEICS
  • Bank and Building Society Deposit Accounts
  • Stocks and shares
  • Executive Pension Plans
  • Loans to the sponsoring company
  • Copyrights.

It’s also worth noting that Trustees can borrow up to 50% of the net total asset value of the SSAS to assist with any property purchases or cash flow requirement (see my previous blogs).

Market value

At the time of purchase the market value of the shares must be below:

  • 5% of the market value of the scheme’s total assets in any one sponsoring employer
  • Or 20% of the market value of the scheme’s total assets where the shareholdings relate to more than one sponsoring employer
  • There are also limits on the total value of shareholdings that an occupational scheme can purchase.

Purchasing the shares

When buying the shares, the SSAS Trustees must ensure:

  • That the member(s) must have consulted with, and received advice, regarding the share purchase from a regulated financial adviser
  • If the shares are being purchased from or issued by a connected party (for example: a members of the scheme, their relatives, civil partners, a company controlled by someone significant to a member of the SSAS), then a professional valuation of the current market price of the shares should be obtained by the Trustees of the pension scheme. This must be provided before any purchases take place. The company’s auditor, or any other qualified person, can supply the valuations and they must be provided in writing. 

Dividends

It’s important that your investments provide a dividend, as if the shares you’ve purchased don’t provide an income or increase in value, then HMRC may deem them to be an unsuitable investment for your SSAS pension scheme.

The payment of dividends can also bring its own complications, as when the company declares a dividend, it must pay its shareholders. Dividend payments also need to go to the pension scheme, so the company should also issue a cheque for the net amount of the dividend less the advanced corporation tax, as tax cannot be reclaimed by the pension scheme. This cheque should be made payable to the Trustees of the pension scheme, with the Trustee paying it directly into the SASS scheme. 

Ongoing valuation of shares

As there is a requirement to value pension scheme assets on an annual basis, the member Trustees will need to arrange for an accountant to produce an independent valuation (at their cost) regarding the value of the share holdings.

Selling Shares

Ultimately you would expect the share to be sold at market value, in order to provide retirement or death benefits. However, if the fund has sufficient income in it from other investments, to provide the required benefits, then the shares could be retained in the fund for the next generation.

If the shares are sold to a connected party, then the Trustees must obtain a professional valuation prior to the sale in order to show that the sale price is at market value. 

Get the right advice from day one

Get professional advice on the rules of share purchase via your company pension scheme from a qualified and expert financial adviser who knows this area well. The wrong advice, or no advice at all, could leave you with a whopping great tax bill and a badly damaged pension pot.

As always, we at Bridgewater Financial Services are here to provide expert and independent advice on any questions you have regarding using your pension to acquire property, or any other financial enquiries you may have.

Stay safe

Purchasing property with your company pension

Your SSAS pension and what it can do for you right now

If you read last weeks blog you’ll know all about how your small, self-administered pension schemes (SSAS) has a loanback facility that you can use to access much needed cash flow. If you haven’t read it, please do.

Well, the joys of your SSAS don’t stop there. It can also be used to purchase property. However, please read on carefully, as there are many do’s and don’ts associated with SSAS schemes and property purchase. Getting it wrong could end up costing you a great deal in tax. 

Who can and can’t be involved in the purchase

If you wish to, your pension scheme can purchase property with other parties such as your company, yourself or another pension scheme. It can even purchase property with an unconnected party. 

However, HMRC do require that the pension trustees obtain independent professional advice to confirm the market values regarding the purchase price or rental, if there is any connection with the pension scheme with the vendor of the property. This must be undertaken in order to comply with HMRC’s ‘arms-length’ requirements regarding the transaction. 

Where there is no connection with the other party, HMRC does not require any independent valuation.

For cases of joint ownership

If your SSAS has purchased the property with a third party, then a Declaration of Trust (DOT) will be required, in order to legally recognise the proportion of ownership held by each party. As this involves your pension scheme, the DOT needs to include pre-emption rights. Where the pension scheme may have to liquidate its investment in order to pay death benefits, it’s usual to offer the co-owner(s) first refusal to buy its share.

Your business, yourself and another party can purchase property jointly. As long as any joint ownership is registered with the Land Registry, any property purchased can also be let back to your own business or an unconnected party. It is however important that the SSAS pension scheme only receives its proportion of the sale proceeds or rental income and it must also ensure that it pays its percentage of all ongoing expenses.  

Buying, selling and letting

If you are considering using your SSAS to purchase a vacant property, then you will be required to ensure that there are sufficient funds available to cover repairs, rates, maintenance and all legal and other costs, as there is no rental income immediately available. This is usually achieved by retaining the relevant sum, which is held back in the pension fund. 

You SHOULD NOT purchase residential property with your SSAS. As residential, and some other types of property, are subject to very significant and costly tax charges if held by a pension scheme. To avoid these onerous tax implications, you really should only consider the purchase of commercial property such as retail, office and industrial buildings. 

Flipping from commercial to residential can be done

As your pension scheme can’t hold residential property without facing extremely high tax charges, if you are looking to purchase a commercial property and flip it to residential, then you need to be aware of what point HMRC deems it to have converted to residential. 

From speaking with architects, it’s our current understanding that the certificate of habitation and the point at which a commercial unit becomes a residential one (as referred to by HMRC), is at the point when the Completion Certificate is issue by the architect. As such, it’s imperative that the property is taken out of the pension scheme PRIOR to the Completion certificate being issued by the architect.

Property types you should and shouldn’t consider

This is a brief list of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly when it comes to property types you can consider for purchase with your SSAS: 

The Good

  • Shops Industrial property Offices
  • Hotels
  • Care Homes
  • Pubs and Restaurants
  • Farmland Development Land
  • Car Parking

The Bad (property types not allowed)

  • Residential Property
  • Holiday lets
  • Timeshares & beach huts
  • Freehold including long leasehold residential (even if only ground rents)
  • Caravans and other moveable property
  • Log cabins
  • Leasehold property with less than 50 years (deemed a “wasting asset”)  

The Ugly (to be avoided despite being commercial)

  • Any un-lettable property that will be sold again in the short term
  • Specialist properties that are difficult to sell
  • Properties with environmental or contamination issues
  • Any property adjacent to your house or garden 

Please note that this is a guide only and you should properly research if the property you are thinking of purchasing complies with HMRC rules.

Where can you raise the finance for the purchase?

Your SSAS is allowed to borrow from any source available; just so long as the loan terms are commercial. Obviously if the source is a bank or building society, then the terms will automatically be commercial. Where the lender is a source that does not have a consumer credit licence, or is connected to you, then you may have to provide accompanying evidence that the terms are commercial. 

Repayment of borrowing

Although you may be able to prove rental income, you should also consider affordability. 

Which is why, at the initial stages of purchase, a Member Trustees should be tasked with considering this aspect. It is also important that you do not rely upon future pension contributions to meet borrowing requirements, as the future payment of contributions is not mandatory.

Borrowing limits

If you are using your SSAS to fund a purchase for the first time, then your first loan can be up to 50% of the net value of the pension scheme. 

For example: 

Pension Scheme value:                                 £100,000 

Maximum borrowing:                                     £50,000 

Amount available to purchase property:   £150,000

  

Get the right advice from day one

Get professional advice on the rules of property purchase, development, leasing, resale or any other aspect of property ownership from a qualified and expert financial adviser who knows this area well. The wrong advice, or no advice at all, could leave you with a whopping great tax bill and a badly damaged pension pot. 

As always, we at Bridgewater Financial Services are here to provide expert and independent advice on any questions you have regarding using your pension to acquire property, or any other financial enquiries you may have. 

Stay safe

 

A SSAS could be the answer to cash flow needs

SSAS – what it is and can you transfer to one today?

A SSAS is a small, self-administered pension schemes (SSAS) for up to 12 members. 

Right now you can transfer any existing pension into a SSAS, where the combined funds can be used to borrow money, up to 50% of the fund value (if needed) to buy back premises owned by the company, releasing funds to clear other debts or to finance projects (e.g. new business opportunities that have arisen out of the current situation as businesses adapt to new areas). With many companies using the loanback facility to get access to extra funds for pressing cash flow needs. 

This loanback facility that is incorporated into all SSAS has been responsible for a dramatic increase in SASS activity over the past few weeks.

According to The Whitehall Group, one of the leading SSAS providers, reported SSAS registrations increasing eightfold in just the first ten days of April 2020, compared to figures for January earlier this year. 

It’s the loanback facility that is so appealing

With borrowing rates for a SSAS at incredibly low levels, companies who have assets or properties in their SSAS are utilising them as security to borrow against, as they realise much needed cash flow for their companies. 

With more and more business owners realising that their own SSAS could provide a low-cost lifeline to keep their businesses afloat during the Covid-19 economic crisis. 

How your SASS could save your business

SSAS can work for your business in many different ways. It can provide loan finance back to the business of up to 50% of the total amount of the net market value of the business SSAS scheme’s assets, as well as 50% of the total amount of cash held.

That kind of cash injection, borrowed against rock-bottom interest rates, is providing the financial lifeline that many businesses so desperately need. With the number of loans reported having quadrupled in April, compared to January’s activity. 

A word of caution

This sudden increase in SSAS activity is a reversal of recent year’s trends, which saw the popularity of SSAS schemes decline, as they are not regulated under the Financial Conduct Authority rules and protections. 

As such a SSAS should be considered carefully and regard should be paid to the wider aspects of the scheme. Your SSAS shouldn’t just been viewed as a low cost route to answering any current and pressing borrowing needs. In fact, any loans made in a SSAS scheme should always be to ensure that the company doesn’t just survive, but also goes onto grow in the future. 

There is also an obligation by the trustees of the SSAS scheme that they do not risk pension money that is intended for retirement. Therefore proper consideration should always be given to determining if the loanback is a good investment for the pension scheme to make. 

Done properly it could be a cash flow lifeline

Although loanbacks are currently a very enticing selling point, any SSAS must be executed properly, or it runs the risk of its members losing out. HM Revenue & Customs have stated that any loans made to the sponsoring employer will qualify as an authorised payment if their key stipulations are adhered to, including:

  • A five year minimum term
  • Interest rates must be at least 1% above the current base rate
  • The loans must not exceed 50% of the SSAS’ net assets.

It’s important that trustees follow procedure and document the loanback correctly. Failure to ensure that the correct securities are in place could mean that the loan will not qualify as a loan. Instead it becomes viewed as an unauthorised payment and will incur tax charges. 

If you are in any doubts regarding the trustees obligations, or how to administer the loanback correctly talk to professional financial advisers like us, to ensure you don’t fall into any of the many pitfalls that can await unsuspecting trustees.

If you need the SSAS lifeline – act now 

The world seems full of endless financial delays during this Covid-19 downturn. Banks are taking longer to process loan applications, charging increased interest rates and asking for personal guarantees.

However applying to switch an existing pension to SSAS, or to set a SSAS up from scratch also takes time. HMRC have to accept and register a new SSAS before any money can be transferred or paid in. So the sooner you start the process, the sooner you can take advantage of the unique facilities of your SSAS. 

Remember – we’re always happy to help

As always, were here to help, whenever you need us. If you do have any further questions regarding anything I’ve raised in this blog, then please get in touch with us at Bridgewater Financial Services, where we will be delighted to help guide you through your individual options and strategies.

The 2020 Budget and what it means for you

Rishi Sunak delivered not only his first budget, after finding himself in the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer, but it’s also the Government’s first budget since winning the General Election and leaving the EU. All alongside the growing threat from coronavirus.

Hailed by the Chancellor as “the budget of a Government that gets things done” and widely seen as a change of direction from the traditional fiscal approach of established Conservatism.  

So now the dust has settled, what does it all mean for us? 

Important points for high earners
SAVINGS: In the Finance Bill 2020 the government will set the 0% band for the starting rate of savings income. This means that the rate will remain at the current value of £5,000 for the whole of the UK for 2020 – 2021. 

PENSIONS: The two tapered annual allowance thresholds for pensions will both rise by £90,000. From 6 April 2020 the minimum tapered annual allowance will decrease to £4,000 (down from £10,000). From 2020 onwards the threshold at which an individual is assessed for taper will be £200,000, with the point at which your annual allowance begins to reduce being £240,000. 

Important points for business owners
CAPITAL GAINS TAX: The Finance Bill 2020 will reduce the lifetime limit on gains that are currently eligible for Entrepreneur’s Relief, down from £10 Million to £1 Million for all qualifying disposals made on or after 11 March 2020. 

CORPORATION TAX RATES: The Corporation Tax main rate from April 2020 will stay the same at 19%; with this rate being set in legislation in the Finance Bill 2020.   

ENTREPRENEURS’ RELIEF:  Entrepreneurs’ relief is viewed by the Chancellor as ‘expensive, ineffective and unfair’ with three quarters of the relieve going to just 5,000 people. Which is why Rishi Sunakstated that he wishes to make changes to entrepreneurs’ tax relief, rather than abolish it altogether, as he said that he ‘did not want to discourage genuine entrepreneurs’. As such, he is reducing the lifetime limit for relief from £10m to £1m.  

This reform is set to save around £6bn over the next five years, with around 80% of small businesses going unaffected.

Important points for non-residents purchasing UK property through companies
The 2019 Finance Act legislated that non-UK resident companies that operate a UK property business, or have other property income will now be charged Corporation Tax on property income or profits, rather than these charges being levied as Income Tax. Following the budget, the Finance Bill 2020 will ensure that these measures and changes are smoothly implemented and that the transition of the taxation of UK property profits from Income Tax to Corporation Tax delivers a more equal playing field for UK and non-UK resident companies alike.  

Non-UK RESIDENT STAMP DUTY: As promised in the 2018 Budget, and following a consultation, there will be a change in Stamp Duty Land Tax surcharge on non-UK residents purchasing residential property in England and Northern Ireland. The Finance Bill 2020-21 will introduce a 2% surcharge to take effect from 1 April 2021. 

For the avoidance of doubt, if contracts are exchanged before 11 March 2020 but complete or are substantially performed after 1 April 2021, then transitional rules may also apply. 

Other general but important points
INDIVIDUAL SAVINGS ACCOUNTS (ISA) & JUNIOR ISA’s: The adult annual ISA subscription limit for 2020 – 2021 will remain unchanged at £20,000. Where there will be an increase to £9,000 in the annual subscription limit for Junior ISAs. Both of these measures will apply to the whole of the UK. 

CHILD TRUST FUNDS: The chancellor announced an increase to £9,000 in the annual subscription limit for Child Trust Funds for 2020-21. This measure will apply to the whole of the UK. 

LIFETIME ALLOWANCE FOR PENSIONS: The on going Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase in the lifetime allowance for pensions will increase in line with CPI, rising to £1,073,100 for the tax year 2020 to 2021.  

PERSONAL TAX: The personal tax allowance remains at £12,500. Whilst the threshold for National Insurance contributions will rise from £8,632 to £9,500. This should remove 500,000 of the workforce from NI tax eligibility.  

VAT ON SANITARY PRODUCTS: The 5% VAT levied on women’s sanitary products will be scrapped. 

PLASTIC PACKAGING TAX: A £200 per tonne charge will be levied on all manufacturers and importers on any packaging made of less than 30% of recycled plastic. 

VAT ON DIGITAL PUBLISHING: The chancellor will abolish all VAT on digital publications including books, newspapers, magazines and academic journals from 1 December. 

Alcohol, Tobacco and Fuel
ALCOHOL: All duties on spirits, beer, cider and wine have been frozen. 

TOBACCO: Tobacco taxes will continue to rise by 2% above the rate of retail price inflation. This will add 27 pence to a pack of 20 cigarettes and 14 pence to a packet of cigars. 

FUEL: Fuel duty has been frozen for the 10th consecutive year. 

Any questions? Please get in touch
As always, were here to help, whenever you need us.

If you do have any questions regarding anything that the chancellor has changed or mentioned in his budget, or any points I’ve raised in this blog, then please get in touch with us at Bridgewater Financial Services, where we will be delighted to help guide you through your individual options and strategies.

 

 

 

The CORVID 19 GOLD RUSH

Please be mindful of my recent blog on the bandwagon effect http://bridgewaterfs.co.uk/2019/12/13/2019-election/well now seems the perfect time to re-stress some of the principles that I mentioned in the blog. Especially given the very real panic that Corvid 19 is causing both in the real world as well as the financial markets.

Specifically I want to address the recent activity in the Gold Market that has seen prices soar, as investors move assets into the perceived safety of this form of asset. 

Why it’s not the right time to buy gold

The price of gold has just halted as investors who were in for the longer term are taking their profits now. However with the traditional jumping onto the gold bandwagon in times of market volatility, for the normal investor there probably won’t be any killings to be made.

There is in fact, a real danger that you’ll be jumping to gold at or near to the top of the market. Meaning that unless you’re investing vast amounts into gold, there maybe little return to be made. Plus you have the very real concern of the journey back down, as the price of gold more properly reflects its place in the grand scheme, once the markets recover – and recover they will.

 

It might be the right time to consider selling

If you’re currently in the gold market and have been prior to the Corvid 19 prompted Gold Rush, then you may well be in a position where selling your investment could result in a higher than expected return. Especially as those desperate to hop onto the bandwagon are still keen to buy your gold at the current inflated market price.

 

Markets are in it for the long term

You should be too.

There have been many triggers for a run on the gold market over the past few decades. Investors get spooked as they know that the markets hate uncertainty; and pandemic viruses spread uncertainty as fast as they spread panic.

The tourist industry suffers, large-scale events get cancelled and the crossing of borders with people and goods becomes difficult or impossible.

All of this has the effect of depressing the markets and causing many of the larger investors to opt out of their usual activities. Hence they buy gold, or other ‘safe’ commodities, and sit the storm out.

They know that the storm will blow itself out, because it always does. They also know that when they get their timing right and return to the investment markets, they’ll be able to buy back in at an advantageous price. With this rush back to the investment markets driving values back to the levels they were prior to abandoned them to buy gold in the first place.

 

Ask any comedian and they’ll tell you it’s all about timing

However, abandoning the investment market in favour of the gilt-edged bandwagon could mean that the joke’s on you.

There really is no need to panic or react, as the markets always return to normal, once whatever it is that it making them jumpy passes.

Trust the past, because the one thing history has taught us over and over again, is that these things blow themselves out. Just like they did when SARS (2003), Swine Flu (2009) and Ebola (2014) caused similar panic selling.

In fact, the only time to ever change your direction of portfolio, is when your end destination changes, not because of any temporary bumps in the road.

 

A calming influence over troubled waters

As always, were here to help, whenever you need us. If you do have any further questions regarding anything I’ve raised in this blog, then please get in touch with us at Bridgewater Financial Services, where we will be delighted to help guide you through your individual options and strategies.