Nothing is certain in life, except for death and taxes. Benjamin Franklin said this almost 300 years ago, and it still rings of truth.
The economic and political landscapes are now even more complex and connected than they were in the early days of American politics and free-market exploration. Making money has never been easier, whilst at the same time, it’s never been harder to keep.
Saving and investing seem to be things that ‘only the wealthy’ get to do, but the reality is that we can all save and invest in ways that are both accessible and appropriate for personal setup. Every country has its own opportunities to invest… but they also have their own tax laws. With the global community in which we live, many of us have opportunities to work in other countries (whether we emigrate there, or work remotely) and this creates deeper levels of complexity to our financial planning.
Regular tax assessments of our investment policies and products allow us to benefit (if we’re staying informed and on top of them!) from tax relief. Receiving a monthly pay-check is becoming less certain as contract work and freelancing become the new normal for many of us. This means that we may not be paying tax every month and could be caught off guard by tax responsibilities at the end of the tax year.
There are ways to structure your expenses, and investments, to lower your tax bill.
Here are some of the most common ways to invest in a tax-savvy way.
Maximise your tax-free investment limit
Whilst most long-term investment products are designed for retirement, that conversation is fast reaching the end of its shelf-life with investors realising that there are other ways to support a retirement lifestyle (in addition to retirement savings). As such, tax-free investment products offer a little more access to invested money but are usually capped by the Government to limit the abuse of these investment structures. As the limitations are reviewed every year in the treasury budget speeches, and most of us don’t usually contribute to these products often, there could be some headroom in there to stash some cash and keep it tax savvy.
Bolster your RA
As mentioned above, a retirement annuity (RA) is a staple choice for long-term investing. As you explore other supplementary investment options, don’t forget this one! If your employer doesn’t provide some sort of pension fund benefit, a retirement annuity is a great way to invest for the future. 22seven recently put it like this –
“The benefit of a RA is that interest, dividends and capital gains earned accumulate within the RA and aren’t taxed until you retire. A comfortable retirement is important to everyone and you don’t want to give all your years of hard work away to the Tax Man.”
Every country and region differs slightly in how they structure these products, so if you’ve recently moved, or changed jobs, it might be helpful to double-check.
Get savvy around capital gains tax (CGT)
In a nutshell, when you sell assets, shares, stocks or any investments and you generate a profit, this is considered an income (your capital has gained) and will be taxed according to its income code. In some cases, you may be liable for a CGT exemption or relief if the profit earned is below a certain threshold. There are further stipulations for assets that are held by a legal entity (not a natural person) – and these differ from one jurisdiction to another.
What this means is that if you’re wanting to sell off some investments, it might make sense to time them either side of the tax year-end in order to benefit from annual exemptions. You may also want to consider transferring assets to your company, or to your person, in order to leverage other savings. But, don’t make it more complicated if it doesn’t have to be.
Sometimes we can over-optimise and land up paying fees in other areas that could be more costly than the tax we’re saving.
Ultimately, it pays to have a professional helping you navigate these options. You don’t have to make these choices alone, let’s have a chat if you think you could be saving where you’re currently spending!