Now is the time to start thinking about your end-of-year tax planning while there is still time to maximise the benefit of any allowances you haven’t used yet this tax year. The end of the current tax year is April 5, 2024, and there are various tax breaks you want to make the most of before that date.

However, there is another date to bear in mind too – March 6, which is when Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will deliver his Budget to the House of Commons. There is some expectation that he will announce tax cuts on this date, which is customary in a General Election year. The question is whether it will be possible with an economy that is currently in recession.

Even so, there are plenty of things you can already do to help yourself legitimately save tax without waiting on a politician’s promise, so read on to find out more.

Maximise your pension contributions

Pensions is one of the most advantageous areas to maximise your tax relief. Most of us can put as much as £60,000 into a pension in the 2023/24 tax year and get tax relief on the contributions. But the actual amount you can put in and receive tax relief on is determined by how much tax you will pay in this tax year. You can’t receive more in tax relief than the tax you have paid in a single tax year.

Anyone who is a 40% or 45% taxpayer may need to reclaim their pension tax relief above 20% – which is the basic rate of income tax relief – directly from HMRC via their self-assessment return. If you have made all of the contributions you can for this tax year, then you can look to add some more to your pension by using up unused allowances from previous tax years.

This is something called Carry Forward. You can go back three years to mop up unused pension tax relief, and you must have also used up all of your allowance in the current tax year before you use Carry Forward. You must also have been a member of a UK pension scheme – not just the State Pension – for each of the previous three years you want to carry forwards.

If you earn more than £260,000, then your annual allowance which qualifies for tax relief will be reduced by £1 for every £2 above this amount you earn. The taper stops at £360,000, giving everyone a minimum of at least £10,000 annual allowance.

To make sure you don’t fall foul of any HMRC rules, you should speak to your accountant before you make your pension contributions to ensure you maximise the benefits and limit any issues.

Use up your Capital Gains Tax and ISA allowances

Each of us has a Capital Gains Tax (CGT) allowance each tax year, which for the 2023/24 tax year is just £6,000 – down from £12,300 in the 2022/23 tax year – and it is expected to fall to £3,000 for the 2024/25 tax year, unless there is a change announced in the March 6 Budget.

This amount can be used to reduce the amount of tax on any investment you may have crystallised a gain on in the relevant tax year. For example, if you invested, say, £100,000 in a fund and you made £6,000 on the investment in this tax year, you could crystallise that return between now and April 5, and you would not pay any CGT on it as it is under the CGT allowance. This is assuming you haven’t crystallised other gains elsewhere.

Remember though, CGT applies to many types of investments, including property investments that are not your own home. So, any buy-to-let property that you sell would also face CGT if you had made a gain above the £6,000 for this tax year.

Any amount of gain over this threshold in a residential property investment that isn’t your home, is taxed at 18% and 28% respectively for basic rate and higher rate taxpayers. For other investments, the rates are 8% and 20%.

To remove the threat of CGT, you can make your investments through an Individual Savings Account (ISA). For this tax year, you have a limit of £20,000 that you can invest through an ISA, and if you haven’t used your full allowance yet, you still have time to top it up before April 5. Using an ISA means your investment is excluded from CGT and Income Tax charges, so there is a real benefit to using as much of your ISA allowance as you can each tax year.

What else should I consider before the end of the tax year?

There are various other things to consider before the end of the tax year, and your accountant is best placed to advise you on your specific financial position. But other things to consider include reclaiming any tax you may have overpaid in this tax year if, for example, you were made redundant or left a job for another reason, such as moving overseas.

A Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) tax basis means the amount of tax you are due to pay in a whole year will be split into 12 even payments. If you are employed for the full 12 months, then you will have paid the correct amount of tax.

However, if you are made redundant or leave your job before the 12 months is up, then you will have overpaid tax as you will have not earnt the full amount expected. Any statutory redundancy pay, up to £30,000, will be tax free. But if you have other types of payments as part of your termination pay, such as unpaid wages, holiday pay and so on, then this part may be subject to tax and National Insurance. If you need to reclaim overpaid tax, or you need advice after getting a payout from the company you are made redundant from, your accountant can help.

Contact us

If you are unsure about how to maximise your tax relief or you have questions about a redundancy payment, then please get in touch with us and we would be delighted to help you understand your tax position.