It is sometimes possible to sometimes have too much of a good thing. This is certainly true for any capital gains that may have accumulated, but have not been crystallised in your investment portfolio.
Although it’s generally good news that your investments and wealth are increasing in value. The flip side of the argument is that the taxman will at some point have any tax that is due. If your taxable investment gains are left to simply accumulate, so too is the likelihood that under the capital gains tax rules, a day will come when you need to encash a sizeable portion of your taxable portfolio.
Fortunately, there is a tax planning process we can use to your advantage as part of your annual financial planning. By taking profits on an annual basis we can improve the financial position of your investment portfolio by using your annual CGT allowance to take capital gains (CGT) out of your portfolio.
How do we do this?
Each tax year, you and if you are married, your spouse have the option to crystallise an amount of any gains you might make without incurring any liability to capital gains tax. For the tax year 2016/2017 the annual allowance is a maximum of £11,100. This amount is per person so you and your spouse can transfer assets between both of you to obtain the total taxable allowances of £22,200 of gains each year, per couple.
This means depending on your financial situation that it could be in your interest to take any gain each year up to and including maximum allowable amount. Doing this is called bed and breakfasting. There is a 3-step process to do this. The steps are:
As you might expect, there are certain things you should consider when using the capital gains tax rules. If you do crystallise any capital gains, it’s important that you consider your long-term investment objectives and stick to your financial plan. Rather than continually buying and selling assets it is better to stay in the market for as long as possible to achieve growth on your investments.
It is not sensible to sell down all capital gains proportionally across your various investment holdings (within the allowance threshold) as this method is often inefficient. This method may remove far too much cash from your portfolio that will be held in cash for more than 30 days, whilst increasing trading and stamp duty costs within the portfolio. We would normally recommend that you sell as few holdings in your portfolio as possible.
Our aim is to achieve an appropriate balance between the available tax benefits and staying on course as far as your financial plan is concerned. It’s usually a good idea to prioritise selling down the investment holdings that have the greatest percentage of gains. This will enable us to place the fewest trades, resulting in lower overall trading costs and thus holding less cash.
There are also other ways to minimise the amount of time any gains sit in cash and remain out of the market. One way is to buy similar but not identical assets and to hold them instead of the original investments.
If you are married, there might be the possibility to sell investment funds held in one partner’s name, then to gift without tax implications the proceeds of the sale to the other spouse. Your spouse could then repurchase the same assets in his or her name. After a reasonable period, i.e. more than 30 days you could then transfer the assets back to the original partner’s name.
We usually hold off on capital gains tax planning towards the end of the tax year so we can combine the planning into the rest of your tax – and financial-planning tasks (e.g. funding your Pensions and ISAs).
The benefits of using CGT allowances
Over the long term, gains or growth that has accumulated in your taxable accounts is an integral part of your financial journey towards accumulating wealth. As gains occur, we can often soften the tax-burden blow by making use of the annual tax allowance on crystallised gains. This is just one aspect of the ongoing service we can offer you. We do not offer aggressive tax planning strategies and the Inland Revenue now have the ability to challenge such schemes
Deciding when and how to put into place appropriate tax planning strategies is one way we can add value and improve the overall return you get from your investments. If you have any questions of just want to discuss your own personal situation, then please feel free to contact us.
Choosing the correct Ethical or Socially Responsible investments will depend on your own beliefs and values. A starting point is to use a screening process.This will help you to analyse which types of industries and companies they would like to either include or exclude.
There are primarily two types of screening, positive and negative.
The process of Negative Screening excludes investments that you might consider undesirable. For example you might want to exclude some of the following:
Positive screening helps to identify the businesses that demonstrate the potential to offer good quality, long-term ethical investment opportunities. The positive screening process will help you to avoid businesses that could encounter problems as their day to day operations might not be sustainable in the long term. Positive Screening might include companies involved with
By employing active shareholder engagement it is possible for shareholders and fund managers to encourage a more corporate and social business approach.
It makes sense to consider investing into companies that have the foresight and willingness to adapt.
Anyone seeking evidence that investment decisions can be hard often needs to look no further than the front page news. China, oil, VW and Glencore are among the assets that have made the headlines in the past few months after suffering sudden, unexpected and dramatic changes in price.
Investors with exposure to those volatile assets might be licking their wounds and reconsidering their positions. This is because many investors have an investment strategy that relies on their (or someone else’s) forecasts about the future. In the simplest terms, their starting point is a blank sheet of paper, where they build a portfolio of assets they think will do better than the alternatives. Sometimes those decisions are right; sometimes they are wrong.
We have a different starting point. Our investment philosophy is based on things we know rather than things we don’t know. For example, we know that financial markets do a good job of setting prices, so we don’t try to second-guess them. Instead, we begin with the belief that investors will, on average and over time, receive a fair return for investing their money.
Our aim is to give our clients access to that long-term return through broadly diversified, low-cost portfolios of assets that aim to beat the market average. The portfolios do this by using information in market prices that tells us about a security’s characteristics and its expected future returns.
The decisions we make about what assets to hold are based on decades of academic research rather than short-term hunches. This means we can focus on meeting your long-term goals rather than becoming absorbed by short-term market movements.
Generally speaking, investment decisions are hard, but if, like us, you start with information you know is backed by decades of evidence and build an investment philosophy and strategy around it, we think you can improve your chances of being a successful investor.