|The main tax incentives for investment are:|
|The main types of tax-advantaged investments are:|
|ISA (individual savings account)|
|Investment can be made in ‘cash ISA’ (up to £5,340pa) and/or ‘stocks and shares ISA’ (£10,680pa less amount invested in cash). No restriction on withdrawal. No relief for losses.|
|VCT (venture capital trust)|
|Deduction relief is for subscription for new share capital in approved VCT – a quoted company which invests in small, unquoted trading companies. The income tax relief becomes permanent if the shares are held for 5 years. Income and gains (if any) are exempt immediately even for second-hand shares. No relief for losses. Maximum investment £200,000 pa.|
|EIS (enterpriseinvestment scheme)|
|Relief is for subscription for new share capital in small, unquoted trading companies. The income tax relief becomes permanent, and gains are exempt, if the shares are held for 3 years. Further relief available for losses on disposal. Maximum investment £500,000 per tax year for DED’N and EXGAIN; only limit for DEFER is size of qualifying company.Several other conditions apply. Income tax relief was 20% before 6.4.11.|
|PPP (personal/stakeholder pension plan)|
|The details of the contract with the pension company may vary, but they must be within the basic framework set down by tax law.|
PPP premiums are paid net of basic rate tax. The policyholder pays 80% and HMRC pay 20%. Higher rate relief is given where due by increasing the basic rate band in the tax computation, resulting in reduced self-assessment payments or in increased PAYE code for employees.
While the money is held within the pension fund, it is exempt from taxes on income and gains, so it grows faster than funds held directly.
When the policyholder takes the benefits under the scheme, 25% of the accumulated fund can be drawn as a tax-free lump sum, and the balance is used to provide an income (which is taxable). The income can be a purchased annuity for life, or “income drawdown”, in which the fund is still invested and produces the income which can be paid to the pensioner.
Tax relief is due on an individual’s gross contributions up to £3,600 (£2,880 net), or 100% of current year employed or self-employed earnings if higher, up to £50,000 (in 2011/12). If contributions have been below £50,000 in the preceding three years, the unused relief can justify a larger current payment.
When a policyholder takes benefits, the capital value on which benefits are drawn (e.g. as a 25% tax-free lump sum plus an annuity based on the other 75% of the fund) are measured against a “lifetime allowance” (£1.8m in 2011/12). If the lifetime allowance is exceeded, there is a clawback charge on the excess.
Employers can contribute up to £50,000 to employees’ pension funds, less any contributions made by the individual. The employer can enjoy tax relief on the cost under the normal rules for trading expenses.
If a policyholder dies before taking any benefit under the scheme, the fund usually passes to dependants free of tax. If death occurs during payment of benefits and a capital fund is payable to dependants, it will be subject to 55% income tax charge.