WITH tax hikes on the way for millions of people, now is the time to check whether you could be saving thousands.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a raft of changes in his Autumn Budget that could cost you hundreds of pounds extra in tax each year.
The Chancellor has raised taxes this year more than any year since 1993.
National Insurance contributions are set to increase, while income tax thresholds are being frozen; tax on investments is on the up and inheritance tax is set to rise too.
Even the price of a pack of cigarettes has soared under a tax hike.
The Resolution Foundation says taxes will have increased by £3,000 per person since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister.
You can use our tax calculator to find out how Mr Sunak's changes will affect you.
So it makes sense to check you’re reducing your tax bill where possible and claiming any benefits or allowances that you are eligible for.
Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “With our household budgets already stretched to breaking point, few of us can afford a tax hit.
“So while we all want to pay our fair share, it’s worth considering how to avoid paying over the odds.”
Here are seven things you can do to cut your tax bill without breaking any rules.
Use your Isa allowance
If you save or invest money, make sure you do it through an Isa.
These accounts are tax-free so any interest you earn or gains you make stay in your pocket rather than going to the tax man.
You can put £20,000 a year into an Isa.
The allowance resets on April 6 with the new tax year.
Spouses can transfer assets between Isas without penalty too.
So if you’re married or in a civil partnership, you can effectively save £40,000 between you.
Save for your children
You could also consider opening a Junior Isa account for your children.
These can be opened for anyone aged 16 or under and you can put £9,000 into the accounts.
Watch out though, the children will gain control of the account at age 16 and be able to withdraw the money at age 18, so it’s important to have a sensible discussion about savings with them before then.
Avoid inheritance tax by gifting
For many people, inheritance tax is the most hated levy out there – that’s despite the fact that only around 5 per cent of estates will actually pay it.
If you are concerned about leaving a big tax bill behind though, you can make use of annual gifting allowances.
You can give away up to £3,000 a year as part of your annual exemption.
And you can also make one-off gifts to loved ones who are tying the knot.
A parent can gift £5,000 to a child who is getting married or £2,500 to grandchildren.
Many people prefer to gift money before they die now in what’s known as a “living inheritance” as it means they can see it being enjoyed.
Give to charity
Making a charitable donation will not only give you the feel good factor, it could reduce your tax bill.
Higher rate taxpayers – those who earn more than £50,271 – can claim back tax relief on money given to charity.
You do this through a self-assessment form and can get back the difference between the rate of tax you pay (40% for higher rate payers) and the basic rate (20%) on your donation.
That means if you donate £100, the charity can bump that up to £125 through gift aid and you can claim back £25 (20% of £125).
Marriage tax allowance
If you're married and one of you is a low earner you could transfer some of your income tax allowance to your spouse to save hundreds.
The Marriage Allowance lets you transfer £1,260 of your personal allowance to your husband, wife or civil partner.
That effectively reduces their tax bill by up to £252. And the allowance resets with each new tax year in April.
To be eligible, the lower earner in the couple must have an income below the personal allowance of £12,570.
If you are self-employed make sure you a making use of all the available allowances that can help bring your tax bills down.
Certain costs you make as a self-employed worker can be deducted from your company profits, thereby reducing your tax bill.
These include things like the heating, lighting or broadband bill of your business premises.
If you work from home, you'll have to work out the proportion of the bill that is attributable to your business based on the number of rooms of the property you use and the amount of time you work.
This can also help reduce your energy bills and council tax bill.
Self-employed workers may also be able to claim for running costs on their car.
This can all be very tricky to work out so you might want to use an accountant or tax adviser.
Alternatively, you may be able to use HMRC's simplified expenses system where you can claim a flat rate based on the number of hours you work from home.
Those on a company payroll can also cut their costs.
Salary sacrifice schemes might help you to cut the amount you pay in income tax or national insurance contributions.
This involves you and your employer agreeing to reduce your salary and receive benefits equivalent to the difference such as a cycle to work scheme, company car or pension advice.
Maxing out your pension contributions is another way to reduce your tax bill too.
If you're a basic rate taxpayer then you get 20% back from the government through tax relief on money you save into your pension.
An added bonus is that your employer will also pay into your pension when you do, getting your more bang for your buck.
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