Over the limit? Tax penalty!

Tax calculator and penHM Revenue & Customs have disclosed that since the 2007/8 tax year, 4,000 people have received tax bills averaging £50,000 as a result of having exceeded the lifetime allowance for pension savings. Most are assumed not to have realised that the limits have been progressively reduced.

With effect from 6 April 2014 the limit will be £1.25 million unless protection is obtained of a higher value of not more than £1.5 million.… Read the rest

Who needs annuities?

Who needs annuities?George Osborne’s statement that as a result of his changes, “no one will have to buy an annuity” triggered major falls in the shares of annuity providers. But are annuities so undesirable?

The main problem with annuities is that annuity rates, and interest rates in general, are close to historically low levels and the prospects are for rates to continue indefinitely at much lower levels than have applied in the past.

Annuities have also received bad press recently as a … Read the rest

A new deal for savers

Tax Free ISA investmentThe Chancellor’s 2014 Budget was designed to assist “the doers, the makers and the savers”, and it contained major and unexpected improvements to both pensions and savings.

Individual Savings Accounts are to be re-named New ISAs (‘NISAs’ – much nicer!) and all existing ISAs will become NISAs. As from 1 July 2014 the amount which can be invested is to be increased to £15,000 p.a. (from the current £11,520) and the range of permitted investments is to be increased.

Contributions … Read the rest

The dogs that didn’t bark

Journalists looking for a story had suggested that the Chancellor, in his Autumn statement, might place a cap on the total size of ISA savings pots or reduce the amount of tax-free cash available from pension funds. Happily, neither fear was realised.

ISAs and inheritance tax

The tax-efficiency of ISAs makes them the obvious medium for non-pension investment in stocks and shares. However, ISAs cannot be transferred by the holder or held in trust, and consequently they will suffer the full impact of inheritance tax on the death of the holder.

Protecting pension pots

The ‘Lifetime Allowance’, which limits the total sum which can be saved in a pension scheme while retaining the tax advantages, is to be reduced from £1.5m million to £1.25 million with effect from April 2014. However, investors whose funds already exceed £1.25 million in value or could do so by the time they retire can apply to HMRC to lock in to an allowance of up to £1.5 million.

Personal financial budgeting

The question on many people’s minds is “How long will the money last?” Among them are those facing the cost of long-term care; those trying to maintain a standard of living following divorce; recipients of personal injury claims; and redundant executives wondering how long their severance pay will last.


Saving for your pension is only half the battle for a comfortable retirement. As a new comparison website from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) shows, annuities — the income for life you receive in exchange for your pension pot – vary enormously between providers. Accepting what your pension company offers can leave you thousands of pounds worse off.


With the economy now getting back on track and markets improving, it could be time to review your investments to take advantage of new opportunities. Monitoring those investments can be a great deal easier if you have a platform.


Inheritance tax – once known as Estate Duty – used to be something that only troubled the seriously rich. Now, with house pricesrising in line with a recovering economy, many more people are starting to find that the taxman will take a share of their legacy before their loved ones. But there are steps you can take to help ensure your wealth goes where you want.