As January draws to a close and the new year is in full swing, it’s time to ask yourself whether your finances are in the best possible shape? If the answer is no, then what can you do to improve the situation?

In this article, we’ve rounded up a snapshot of some simple measures that you can review and implement so that 2017 can be the year that you finally get on top of your finances!

ISAs

Have you considered setting up or topping up an ISA? An ISA is a tax-free account for your savings or investments. For the 2016/2017 tax year, you can save up to a maximum of £15,240 across a variety of ISAs including cash ISAs and Investment ISAs.

Junior ISAs are also available and remain a tax-free way of saving until a child’s eighteenth birthday, when it would then get converted into an adult ISA. For the 2016/2017 tax year you can put up to £4,080 into a junior ISA but this will increase to £4,128 in the forthcoming 2017/18 tax year. Again, the funds can be split whichever way you choose between the two different types of junior ISA.

Pension Contributions

Due to the generous tax relief on pension contributions, pensions still remain the plan of choice when it comes to saving for retirement. If you’re under 75, you are entitled to claim the tax back that you’ve paid on all pension contributions, subject to certain thresholds. Basic rate tax relief usually goes straight into your pension pot and higher-rate and top-rate tax payers are entitled to further tax relief.

Personal Savings Allowance

The new personal savings allowance allows every basic-rate taxpayer to earn £1,000 of interest without paying tax. Higher-rate taxpayers can earn £500 of interest with no tax. This allowance is not just limited to savings accounts but is also applicable to union accounts, corporate bonds, government bonds and gilts.

Capital Gains Tax Exemption

Everyone has an annual tax-free capital gains tax exemption, which is currently £11,100 for the 2016/17 tax year. This annual exemption allows you to make a certain amount of gain each year on some capital assets before you have to pay tax.

Dividend Allowance

From the 6th April 2016, you won’t pay tax on the first £5,000 of dividend payments that you receive in that tax year, even if you are a higher rate taxpayer.

Venture Capital Trusts

A Venture Capital Trust (VCT) aims to make money by investing in typically very small companies which are looking for further investment to help develop their business. Investments in VCTs carry tax relief to encourage you to invest in these smaller, higher risk companies.  Where a VCT pays dividends these are tax-free.

 Marriage Allowance

The marriage allowance allows you to transfer up to 10% (£1,100) of your unused personal allowance to your husband, wife or civil partner. This allowance can reduce their income tax bill by up to £220 pa. If you were eligible to claim Marriage Allowance in the 2015/16 tax year, but didn’t, you can backdate your claim and reduce the tax paid by £432. This allowance applies only if one of the parties is a non-taxpayer and the other is a basic rate taxpayer.

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For more information or advice about any of the items that we have featured in this article, please call us on 01772 729 742 or you can get in touch via our online enquiry form.