Monthly Archives: October 2015

Villas and estates
October 2015

New EU rules about succession came into force on 17 August.

If you own a holiday home on the continent, new EU regulations on cross-border holiday homesuccession could be important to you, even though the UK has opted out of the legislation.  The new regulations will allow you to choose for your overseas property to be inherited under the laws applying in your country of ‘habitual residence’ or nationality.  As a result, for example, in theory the English owner of a French villa can avoid the forced heirship rules that would otherwise apply to French assets.

The regulations only affect the succession rules, not estate taxes.  Thus the executors of the French villa owner will still have to deal with the interaction between the French ‘droits de succession’ (at up to 60% for unrelated beneficiaries) and UK inheritance tax (at up to 40%).  However, double taxation agreements will mean that, in effect, only the higher of the two tax charges is paid.

As is often the case with new EU regulations, the machinery may not run like clockwork to begin with.  There is scope for confusion given that the UK has opted out, but the regulations can still apply to UK nationals by virtue of their ownership of foreign property.

If you have property in the EU, you should contact your legal advisers to discuss what action you should take. It may also be sensible at the same time to review your UK will and talk to us about your estate planning, given the latest freeze in the nil rate band (to April 2021) and reforms to trust taxation.

Venture Capital Trusts and dividend reinvestment
October 2015

The Finance Bill is giving venture capital pause for thought

venture capital trustOne of the attractive features of venture capital trusts (VCTs) is that their dividends are normally free of personal tax – something which will become more appealing from the 2016/17 tax year, when the new dividend tax rules begin.  Many VCTs have automatic reinvestment schemes which allow you to use the dividend to buy more shares in the trust.  With some exceptions, usually the shares are newly issued rather than bought in the market, meaning that the amount reinvested qualifies for 30% income tax relief as a fresh VCT subscription.

However, changes to the rules for VCTs which were announced in the Summer Budget have prompted some trusts to stop their dividend reinvestment schemes at short notice.  The trusts involved typically say they want to consider the impact of the proposed changes on their investment strategies.  One area which looks to be moving off-limits for VCTs is investment in management buyouts, a strategy that has proved popular with some schemes.

The actions taken by VCTs suggest that the end-of-tax-year offerings in early 2016 may be fewer in number and potentially higher risk than has been the case in the past (and VCTs have always been high risk).  If you are planning to use VCTs to cut this year’s tax bill, make sure you let us know now, so that we can alert you to what is on offer as early as possible.

The value of investments can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Investing in shares should be regarded as a long-term investment and should fit in with your overall attitude to risk and financial circumstances. The value of tax reliefs depends on your individual circumstances. Tax laws can change. The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate tax advice.

More detail on dividend changes
October 2015

HMRC has issued a factsheet about next year’s dividend tax changes.

The Summer Budget announcement of a change to the rules on dividend taxation from next April caused many furrowed brows.  The situation was not helped by the very limited detail available from HMRC on the new regime and no legislation in the Finance Bill published in July.

Last month things became a little clearer when HMRC published a “Dividend Allowance Factsheet” which it developed in conjunction with the Tax Faculty of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales.  This revealed that the new £5,000 Dividend Allowance will not be a true allowance, but rather (yet another) 0% tax band. The difference may sound academic, but it is significant. It will mean, to quote the factsheet, “The Dividend Allowance will not reduce your total income for tax purposes”.

To see the effect, suppose someone had income before dividends in 2016/17 of £2,000 below the starting point for higher rate tax.  If they receive dividends of no more than £5,000, there will be no tax to pay on those dividends.  Any dividends above £5,000 will attract 32.5% tax – the new dividend higher rate – not the new 7.5% dividend basic rate.  Had the Dividend Allowance been a true allowance, then the £2,000 of unused basic rate band would have been available to use first before higher rate applied.

The news that the Dividend Allowance is not an allowance has sent some tax experts back to their spreadsheets to re-crunch their numbers.  Sometimes the recalculations have resulted in higher projected tax bills, particularly for shareholder directors who use dividends to extract income from their companies, rather than drawing salary and/or bonus.  If you fall into that category, you need to start thinking about your 2016/17 currency options now – and maybe planning a special dividend before 6 April 2016.

If you are an individual investor in funds or shares, you should still be reviewing your strategy for next tax year, so why not give us a call now the dust is beginning to settle?

The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Investing in shares should be regarded as a long-term investment and should fit in with your overall attitude to risk and financial circumstances.