'Don't let the tax tail wag the dog' - could you be losing out?

How much do you know about the Government's rules on paying income tax?

How much do you know about the Government's rules on paying income tax? - Credit: BEACON WEALTH

It costs a lot of money to run the UK. With more public sector employees than any UK company, probably the best pension scheme and employee benefits.

I’ll leave others to argue who is well paid/deserves more, but it is all of us paying taxes that pay for all the employees, so called consultants and infrastructure investments – plus more.

In simple terms how much the Government spends compared to taxes received, determines the balance of payments. Any difference is covered by Government loans and public investments into things like Premium Bonds.

There is nothing wrong with this, it is how you and I cope with income and expenditure, and the aid of credit cards.

However, tax is voluntary, in that you are legally allowed to structure your Income, savings and estate to pay the least amount of tax possible.

Amongst others, the Government receives £180billion in Income Tax, £8.3billion in Capital Gains Tax, £40billion from UK and foreign shares, and £5.2billion from Inheritance Tax. While it may not be possible to avoid paying some tax, very few make the most of reducing how much they pay, and yet the Government provides many allowances and rules to assist, and even publishes online, so why is that?

Business owners can structure their income to avoid paying PAYE and National Insurance, and pay up to £2k of dividends tax-free to people who don’t own the company, but others don’t.

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Married couples can utilise allowances to save tax in many ways including allowance re-allocation, sharing/gifting assets about to be sold, or changing the seven years tax rule to two years when making a Discretionary Trust.

Many high-rate tax payers who aren’t benefiting through salary sacrifice, also fail to claim the extra 20 per cent on pensions, either because they have no idea or assume it is right. Don’t assume.

Most people know the benefits of ISA’s. But when it comes to tax and investments there is a saying of “not letting the tax tail wag the dog”. In other words, tax is not everything e.g. I’d rather pay tax on the double-digit% investment returns of our cautious risk portfolio over the last year, than avoid tax on a two per cent return.

Some people like to pay tax to help UK PLC, but isn’t it worth checking if you can pay less and enjoy more income or greater returns.

(This article does not represent advice. Speak to a reputable and qualified financial planner.)