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End of tax year checklist

Updated 14 March 2023

5min read

Craig Rickman
Senior Content Writer

We know we shouldn’t leave things until the last minute, yet many of us still do.  

This can be particularly true when it comes to maximising our annual tax allowances and exemptions. 

Despite having 365 days to get our affairs in order, all too often we find ourselves scrambling weeks, days, or even hours before the tax window closes - shuffling spare cash into ISAs and pensions and making gifts to our offspring. 

For those of you leaving things late this year, there’s no need to panic, you still have time. 

End of tax year checklist

Here are five simple tips to streamline your personal tax affairs before the 5 April deadline. 

1. Top up your ISA  

ISAs are an effective way to save and invest for your financial future. With five to choose from, an allowance of £20,000, and tax-free growth and income, there’s lots to like.

What's more, with the annual exemptions to capital gains tax (CGT) and dividend tax being slashed from 6 April, investing as much as you can in tax-free wrappers is arguably more important than ever.

The most common ISAs are cash, and stocks and shares - which one is right for you comes down to your personal circumstances, future goals and atttude to risk.

But as a rule of thumb, if you are comfortable with the value of your savings moving up and down and are looking to invest for a period of five years or more, then stocks and shares might be the best option to grow your money.  

If peer-to-peer lending is your thing, then an innovative finance ISA could be up your street.

The lifetime ISA, meanwhile, enables you to pay £4,000 a year to fund your first home or save for retirement, and comes with the added attraction of a 25 per cent bonus, up to a maximum of £1,000. 

The final type is the junior ISA, or JISA for short, which we cover in tip four. 

2. Use your inheritance tax (IHT) allowance 

Regularly voted the UK’s most hated tax, reducing IHT is a key goal for many of us.

With a flat rate of 40 per cent, it can take sizeable chunk out of your offspring’s inheritance.  

But it is for good reason that IHT was once dubbed “the voluntary tax” as there are numerous ways that it can be mitigated or even avoided completely.  

Here is a simple tip to reduce the value of your estate. 

Every year you can give away £3,000 without inheritance tax applying, called the annual exemption.

What’s more, if you didn’t give any money away last year, you can carry forward a further £3,000, raising the total to £6,000, or £12,000 for a couple. 

Anything you gift above £3,000 might still be tax free as long as you can prove it came out of normal expenditure. If you can't, it will be classified as a potentially exempt transfer, or  PET for short, which becomes IHT-free if you survive seven years after the gift was made.

Making a PET can still often prove worthwhile, but it is key to seek professional advice first.

3. Use your capital gains tax (CGT) allowance

In last year’s Autumn Statement, chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced the annual CGT exemption (the profit you can realise each year without paying tax) of £12,300 is being slashed to £6,000 from 6 April, halving again to £3,000 a year later. 

With less allowance to play with, and given the main rate of CGT is 20 per cent (or 28 per cent if you’re selling a second home), failing to use the higher allowance while you still could be costly. 

Even if you have no plans to use the money, for any investments you hold outside of tax wrappers it can make sense to use your allowance and shift the proceeds into either a pension or an ISA. 

And did you know, if you’re married or in a civil partnership you can transfer assets between each other and not pay CGT? 

This means that with some simple but prudent planning, you can sell a profit of £24,600 between now and April without paying tax. 

However, before taking action here, it is wise to speak to a regulated financial adviser or accountant to be confident you’re making the right choice. 

4. Give your kids or grandkids a helping hand 

From helping them onto the property ladder to giving their retirement savings an early boost, putting money away for a child’s future can be one of the greatest gifts they receive. 

Every year you can pay £9,000 into a JISA for your child, with the money accessible to them at age 18.

As with all ISAs, growth and income are free from tax, and anything you pay in does not count towards your own £20,000 ISA allowance. 

If you’re uncomfortable with your child receiving a sizeable lump sum at age 18 to spend as they please, and you would therefore like more control over when the money is gifted, you could always top up your own ISA - provided you have some allowance spare.

As there are pros and cons to this approach, it’s worth consulting an expert before investing. 

A further option is a junior SIPP (Self Invested Personal Pension), which is an effective way of giving your child’s retirement savings a head-start.

You can pay in up to £2,880 a year, grossed up to £3,600 due to tax relief, and like an ISA, there’s no tax to pay on any growth and income.

However, you must be aware that, under current rules, the earliest your child will be able is access the money is age 57. 

5. Top up your pension

Paying a lump sum into your pension before 5 April will not only give your retirement savings a welcome boost, it can also help you pay less income tax and reduce your business’s corporation tax bill.

Paying into a pension can even enable you to retain valuable state perks such as child benefit (which reduces for anyone earning above £50,000) and your personal income tax allowance. 

In most cases, the maximum you can pay into a pension each year and receive tax relief is the lesser of £40,000 or 100 per cent of what you earn.

But as this figure could be higher or lower depending on your personal circumstances, it is important to seek advice before paying in hefty lump sums. 

What’s more, any growth, interest, and income is free from tax, and if the worse were to happen to you before you reach age 75 (provided you haven’t bought an annuity) anything left in the pot will pass to your heirs, again tax free. 

Here you can find six great reasons to top up your pension before April. 

Need some help? 

Tax can be complicated, even at the best of times. And making the wrong choice could move you further away from your financial goals. 

Everyone’s tax-saving needs are unique, and the action you take must be what’s right for you and your loved ones. 

The good news is help is available should you need it. 

By speaking with a regulated financial adviser or chartered accountant between now and April, you can keep your current and future tax bills low. 

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About the author
Craig Rickman is senior content writer at unbiased.co.uk. He has been writing about personal finance and wealth management since 2016, including four years as a journalist at the Financial Times Group. Prior to this, Craig spent eight years working as a regulated financial adviser. He holds the CII level 4 Diploma in Financial Planning.