Auto Enrolment Explained

The state pension was first introduced in May 1908 by the then recently appointed Prime Minister, H. H. Asquith. The Old Age Pensions Act received royal assent in August of that year and the first payments were made to pensioners in January of the following year.

At that time eligible people over the age of 70 were entitled to a maximum payment of five shillings per week – in today’s terms this is equivalent to £20.

Comparing the first 100 years of the state pension it’s clear to see why the government’s pension budget is now under strain. In 1908, there were 500,000 pensioners – in 2008 there were 12 million. The £20 per week payment had increased to £90, and the ratio for surviving to age 100 had increased from 1:200 to 1:4. The government decided to push an initiative for us to save for our own retirement to compliment the state provision.

In 2008, a revised Pensions Act was made for all eligible employees to be automatically enrolled into their company pension. The membership of this scheme runs between October 2012 and February 2018 by which time every organisation of any size will need to offer a workplace pension to their workers.

Employees – will you be automatically enrolled?

As a worker you will fall into one of three categories, one of which automatically places you in your workplace pension. This most common category covers all UK workers aged between 22 and state pension age who earn over £10,000 per year.

If this means you – contributions to your pension will begin at the next pay day after the company’s ‘staging date’ (or after a maximum 3-month postponement period if this has been utilised by your employer). Although you have a right to opt-out, this can only be done once you have been assessed for eligibility, i.e. after staging date.

Pension contributions are based on a qualifying band of income (£5,824 – £43,000 for this tax year). Initially you will pay 1% including tax relief, rising to 5% in April 2019. Your employer will pay 1% of your qualifying earnings, rising to 3% in April 2019. These are minimum amounts and you are normally able to increase your contributions if you wish, however your employer is not obliged to follow suit.

Employers – Is your company ready for auto-enrolment?

Choosing a pension scheme for auto-enrolment is a complicated and time consuming process. There are a number of steps your company will need to go through; starting with finding out your company’s staging date, assessing your workforce, keeping them up-to-date with the pension changes, and informing the Pensions Regulator that you have met your obligations. Once the pension scheme is up and running you then need to make contributions and manage opt-outs and new joiners.

Furthermore, there are a number of other issues that you will need to consider to practically implement the regulations:

Which product solution will best suit your company’s needs?
What will you choose as your default investment and contribution level?
How the costs and admin burden affect your business?
How will you retain and maintain your records?
How will you notify your eligible jobholders?
Can McPhersons help?

The Pensions Regulator has stated that 7/10 employers are seeking advice on meeting their Auto-Enrolment obligations. If you require assistance, Aron Gunningham is our pension specialist and an independent financial adviser. Aron will be happy to help answer your questions and guide you through your duties.

The Pension Regulator has issued financial penalties for companies who do not comply by their staging date, or for errors in the scheme once it has been setup. Coupled with the admin involved in meeting your duties, it would be prudent to speak to a financial professional. Please get in touch now to arrange your free meeting on 01424 730000 or info@mcphersons.co.uk

Inheritance Tax Update 2016

Inheritance tax can cost loved ones hundreds of thousands in the event of your death, yet it’s possible to legally avoid some if not all of it. Here are some ways to reduce your Inheritance Tax Bill.

What is Inheritance Tax (IHT)?

When you die, the Government assesses the value of your estate (property, cash etc.) and deducts any debts owing by you. If the remaining amount exceeds the threshold (£325,000 until 2018), you must pay tax at 40% on the extra amount. This is reduced to 36% if you donate at least 10% to charity.

What about Assets left to my spouse?

If your spouse is UK domiciled, any assets left to them are exempt from IHT. In addition, your partner’s IHT allowance is increased by the amount you didn’t leave to others. This means a couple can leave £650,000 tax free. Being UK domiciled will mean all overseas assets are subject to IHT.

How can I reduce my Inheritance Tax bill?

GIFTING – Money you give away before you die is normally counted as part of your estate. However, it is not counted if you live for 7 years after giving the gift.

This is why it is important to plan as early as possible. However, gifts to charities are inheritance tax free

REDUCED CHARGE ON GIFTS WITHIN 7 YEARS OF DEATH

Years before death 0-3 3-4 4-5 5-6 6-7
% of death charge 100 80 60 40 20

ANNUAL GIFT EXEMPTION – The first £3,000 gifted each year is ignored. If you don’t use it, it can be carried into the next year (no more than this though).

THE £250 ‘PRESENTS’ – You can give £250 to as many people as you like and this is not counted in the £3,000 referred to above. For example, if you have 10 grandchildren, you can give each of them £250 each year and this would be exempt from inheritance tax.

GIFTS ON CONSIDERATION OF MARRIAGE – Each parent can gift £5,000, grandparents/bride/groom £2,500 and anyone else £1,000. However, it is not a wedding gift, it must be conditional, for example, “If you marry my daughter, I’ll give you £5,000!”

GIFTS FROM INCOME – This is referring to gifts from pensions or other earnings. You can’t give it all away though, you must show that giving it away does not affect your lifestyle.

GET ADVICE FROM AN ACCOUNTANT/TAX ADVISOR – This is the most effective way of finding the best solution for you. After all, you’ve already paid tax at the time of earning your money, why should you pay more than you have to on what you leave your beneficiaries?

What is the £1 million homes allowance?

This is based on parents or grandparents passing on a home that’s worth up to £1million (or £500,000 for singles). It will be phased in gradually between 2017 and 2020, starting at £100,000 from April 2017, rising by £25,000 each year until it reaches £175,000 in 2020.

CALCULATION FOR COUPLE

£175,000 x 2 = £350,000 plus £325,000 x 2 = £650,000

£650,000 + £350,000 = £1,000,000