Latest Blogs

New thinking for Labour on taxes?

New proposals for reforming capital gains and income tax have been published by an influential think tank which could make their way into an election manifesto. The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) is “the UK’s pre-eminent progressive think tank”, according to its website. This may sound like boasting, but it is probably a fair […]

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Interest rates back on the slopes

In September the US and European central banks cut interest rates, again. When the US central bank, the Federal Reserve, cut its main interest rate by 0.25% at the end of July, it was the first reduction in over 10 years. Less than two months later, the Fed announced a second cut by another 0.25%. […]

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Probate delays affecting estate settlements

There are currently long delays in gaining probate on the estates of the recently deceased. Late in 2018, the government issued a written statement announcing its intent to go ahead with controversial increases in probate fees for England and Wales. Instead of the current flat fees of £155 for applications through a solicitor and £215 […]

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How do you feel about taking a pension at 75?

Is a state pension age (SPA) of 75 looking more likely? Recommendation The SPA should better reflect the longer life expectancies that we now enjoy and be used to support the fiscal balance of the nation. The SPA in the UK is set to rise to 66 by 2020 (Pensions Act 2011), to 67 between […]

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When it comes to funds, the best advice is personal

The recent problems with the suspension of dealings in a heavily promoted UK equity income fund have exposed the blurred line between advice and guidance. According to the Investment Association (IA), there are around 3,500 funds on sale in the UK. The IA sorts these into over 30 individual investment sectors, although about 10% are […]

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Student fees may be coming down

A government-commissioned report has proposed significant changes to the funding of university students in England. Students resident in England (different rules apply in other parts of the UK) pay a maximum university tuition fee of £9,250 per year, financed by a student loan. Further loans to cover maintenance plus interest at RPI+3% mean that at […]

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Pension flexibility: too taxing for many

Recent HMRC statistics highlight the over-taxation of some pension benefits. More than one million people have received flexible pension payments thanks to the rules introduced just over four years ago. HMRC’s most recent statistics, to the end of March 2019, show that 1,113,000 people have withdrawn over £25,600m from their pensions, across 6,136,000 payments. The […]

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How well do you understand inheritance tax?

A survey by HMRC published in May concluded that the public have a relatively poor knowledge of inheritance tax (IHT) rules and lack of confidence in what they do know. HMRC recently commissioned a survey of 947 people who had made gifts in the last two years. To assess knowledge of the IHT system among […]

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Riding out investment bonds

Professional investor interest has been focusing on US government bond yields, with potential lessons for long term investment. On 22 March the US stock market caught a sudden – and brief – chill.  One of the main reasons was the red line in the graph shown above. This shows a yield curve plot, which shows […]

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How long do you want to work for?

As people are living longer, a parallel older-age profile is emerging in the labour force. Labour market statistics for the period December 2018 to February 2019 revealed some impressive results. In the UK, employment of those aged 16–64 was running at 76.1%, the joint highest level ever and up 0.7% on a year ago. Drill […]

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One more twist on buy to let

Buy-to-let investors will be hit by another notch up of the tax ratchet. When George Osborne announced in his summer 2015 Budget a variety of tax changes aimed at discouraging buy-to-let (BTL) investment, they came as a surprise. To ease their impact, the then Chancellor phased in the most significant reform, a revised treatment of […]

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Old case throws up pension protection risk

A European Court decision from 1990 is suddenly raising questions about a key element of pension taxation. On 17 May 1990, the European Court of Justice decided that gender equality should be applied to non-state pensions. The case, Barber v GRE, prompted a major overhaul in UK pension provisions. At the time most pension schemes […]

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