Global markets – the 2018 investment year

global markets fell in 2018

The world’s share markets mostly saw falls in 2018.  2018 was a very different year for investors from 2017. During that year, the global markets generally produced positive returns with very little volatility. Both years had their fair share of dramas, with Brexit and Donald Trump sources of concern across the 24 months. However, whereas…

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Self-employed pensions – filling the hole

self-employed pensions

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is aiming to expand coverage of self-employed pensions.  Pension automatic enrolment has become a major success since it was launched nearly seven years ago, with almost ten million people joining a workplace pension arrangement. Take-up rates have been much higher than some pundits had forecast – the latest calculation from…

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Understanding the Child Benefit Charge

Child Benefit Charge

January 7 marked the fifth anniversary of the Child Benefit Charge – a tax on child benefits, an imposition that is still not widely understood.  The High Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC), to give child benefit tax its correct name, was introduced in a rush by George Osborne – so much so that it began…

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Shake up your New Year’s resolutions

New Year resolutions

Some people prefer to talk about intentions rather than new year’s resolutions. And to try to look beyond the short-term goals to longer term outcomes to boost the likelihood of sticking to them.  Here are four simple financial New Year’s resolutions. They need only one-off actions, so they should be easier to stick to. And…

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New earnings thresholds for auto-enrolment

Tax levels are changing for auto-enrolment pensions

In early December the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced the thresholds that should apply to automatic enrolment pension contributions from 6 April 2019. We say ‘should’ because, strictly speaking, they need final approval from the Secretary of State, although any change is extremely unlikely. There are three key levels to be aware of:…

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Office of Tax Simplification’s first report on inheritance tax

Inheritance tax review

The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has published the first part of its inheritance tax (IHT) simplification review. The report highlights a variety of issues with the current IHT system: Inheritance tax returns are submitted for about half of all estates, even though tax is paid by less than 5%; Most of the paperwork cannot…

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Index-linked National Savings certificates

Index linked national savings certificates

The popular National Savings & Investments (NS&I) savings certificates will be indexed to CPI instead of RPI from next year. The certificates have not been on sale since 2011, but NS&I allow existing certificate holders to reinvest in new series of certificates when their old ones mature. The terms have gradually worsened over the years…

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UK dividends remain strong despite volatile markets

UK dividends remain strong despite volatile markets

UK dividends are continuing to grow faster than inflation, according to the latest quarterly data from Link Asset Service. The latest UK Dividend Monitor (UKDM) shows that in the third quarter of 2018 dividend payments were 4.1% up on the previous year, comfortably above the current rate of inflation. Looking over the 10-year period from…

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New probate fees to affect many estates

Probate fees are to be changed

The current fees are £215 for individual applications and £155 via a solicitor, with nothing payable if the estate value is up to £5,000. Under the new banding, there is a maximum effective charge for probate of 0.5% of the estate, which is triggered at £50,000 (a £250 fee) and £500,000 (a £2,500 fee).  The…

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State pension equality means increases for all

State pension age equalises at 65 for men and women

The State Pension Age (SPA) became equal for men and women for the first time, at age 65, on 6 November 2018. Having reached this landmark, the next stage of SPA increases has already started. For both men and women, the state pension will become payable for anyone born between 6 December 1953 and 5…

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