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Your guide to tax saving

HUMAN nature being what it is, there is always a late rush to take advantage of the opportunities to save tax as the financial year draws to a close, and the chance has gone for another year at least. But it will usually pay to look forward as well as back. The starting points for the lower, standard and higher rates of tax will all go up in the coming financial year, But if your income grows faster than the allowances, and the extra income crosses into a higher band it will suffer from tax shock. Any measure that keeps down taxable income will mitigate the effect.

In the following four pages, we look at the opportunities in more detail. On this page we look at the ways of reducing taxable income by increasing contributions to pension plans, and also at tax-saving personal equity plans (PEPs), and tax-exempt savings schemes (Tessas). They come round each year, but the annual entitlements are limited, so it may pay to take advantage of the entitlement each year.

On the facing page, we look at ways of reducing liabilities to capital gains tax, and at the tax strategy for that embattled and long-suffering species, the self-employed.

Over the page, we highlight the sort of things that individuals and families should consider at each successive stage in life from childhood to old age, and on the facing page at specialised subjects such as inheritance tax planning, the best strategy for husbands and wives to arrange their affairs to minimise tax liabilities, and the things that drivers of company cars should bear in mind before the calendar moves on to 6 April.

Last but not least, there is a note on what accountants can and cannot do for you, and what they may charge for their services.