’Tis the season to fight back against Jeremy Hunt’s tax raids – here’s how | Personal Finance | Finance

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Hunt and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have cast a shadow over Christmases past, present and future by freezing income tax and National Insurance thresholds for six years. The squeeze will continue all the way through to 2028, at which point we’ll be paying an extra £35billion a year in tax as a result.

This will create 3.2million extra taxpayers while pulling another 2.6million into higher-rate tax bands, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility.

The UK’s tax take is now at a 70-year high and with Keir Starmer’s Labour Party on course to win next year’s election, it is likely increase further. Especially with the Scottish National Party showing Labour the way with its plan to slap more taxes on higher earners.

I recently listed a staggering eight different ways that Britons will be paying more tax next year, with five tips on how to fight back.

Now insurer and financial planner NFU Mutual has come up with several more methods of fending off the taxman, which are particularly relevant at this time of the year.

Christmas is a time for giving but higher earners who donate to charity via Gift Aid can take something back, too. They can claim income tax relief on their contributions and reduce their exposure to HMRC.

The amount claimed this way has jumped by more than a third in the last two years to £740million as tax bills rise, NFU Mutual says. Plenty more could take advantage after being dragged into the higher rate tax band for the first time.

Gift Aid gives charities an extra £25 for every £100 donated, said Sean McCann, chartered financial planner at NFU Mutual. “Higher rate taxpayers can claim back 20 percent of the total £125, allowing them to reclaim £25 via their self-assessment tax return.”

McCann said more people need to wake up to the opportunity, especially at this time of year. “Lots of people give generously to charity over Christmas, with some families choosing to make charitable donations instead of exchanging presents.”

If you do not submit a tax return, you can reclaim your tax by contacting HMRC direct. “Many higher rate taxpayers, particularly those paid via PAYE, are unaware of this and miss out,” McCann said.

Some married couples and civil partners could even use Gift Aid contributions to maintain their eligibility for the marriage allowance.

This is paid where one partner earns less than the £50,270 higher rate tax threshold, and the other earns below the £12,570 personal allowance.

If a Gift Aid donation cuts the higher earner’s income below £50,270 the couple may qualify for the payment worth up to £252 this tax year.

McCann said many could further reduce their taxable income by making pension contributions.

Basic rate taxpayers automatically get 20 percent relief on pension payments but higher-rate taxpayers must actively claim the next 20 percent via their tax return. “Many forget to do so”, McCann said.

Using Gift Aid or pension contributions to reduce income below £50,270 can benefit savers who earn enough interest on their deposits to exceed their annual personal savings allowance (PSA), McCann added. “Higher rate taxpayers get a PSA of £500 but this rises to £1,000 for basic rate taxpayers.”

READ MORE: Married couples could be eligible for £252 savings boost from HMRC

A family that is paying the high income child benefit charge could also use Gift Aid donations or pensions tax relief to escape the punitive levy. The charge kicks in if one partner’s adjusted net income tops £50,000. At £60,000, they get no child benefit at all. By reducing their income, they can keep more or all of their child benefit.

Income tax thresholds aren’t the only ones subject to a freeze. The nil-rate inheritance tax threshold has been held at £325,000 since 2009. You can fight back by making Christmas gifts.

Every year, you can gift £3,000 to anybody they choose, with instant IHT exemption. Couples could gift £6,000 in total.

If you did not use last year’s gift allowance, you could give £6,000 in total (rising to £12,000 for couples).

You can also give unlimited gifts of up to £250 to any number of people, provided they haven’t benefited from the £3,000 exemption. 

Parents can also gift £5,000 to children on marriage, £2,500 to a grandchild or great-grandchild, and £1,000 to another relative or friend.

In a little-known exemption, unlimited gifts paid out of surplus income, which are not deemed to affect your standard of living, are IHT free.

It is also possible to make much larger gifts, known as potentially exempt transfers. The IHT charge reduces on a sliding scale the longer you live and falls to zero after seven years. 

Keep a clear record of all the gifts you make and consider financial advice.

Finally, if you leave at least 10 percent of your net estate to charity on your death, your estate will pay inheritance tax on your remaining assets at a reduced rate of 36 percent, rather than the standard 40 percent.

If you’d rather give to charity or loved ones than HMRC, now is the time to do it.

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