£30k in tax-free income for married pensioners? It’s not a pipedream.

When we think about tax planning, it’s tempting to see it as the preserve of the wealthy. The reality, however, is that the process can be just as important – if not more so, in fact – for people on lower incomes. After all, a relatively small saving in tax can make a big difference to someone on a budget. £1,000 might be a well-deserved holiday, for instance. And there are perfectly legitimate ways of minimising your tax burden if you take some good advice at an early stage. Recent government announcements on the Personal Allowance and Starting Rate Band spell good news for many people, particularly pensioners. In tax year 2014/15, the personal allowance has finally reached the magical £10k threshold and is set to increase in April 2015 by another £500. To put the figures in context, this represents more than a 100% increase over the amount allowed just a decade ago. Of course, the amount we can all save in tax-free ISAs has increased to £15k per annum as well.

The current basic state pension is approximately £5,800 pa, which potentially leaves a married couple with £5,000 each of unused Personal Allowance to set against other income. It’s important to ensure that you divide your income where possible to make the best use of each spouse’s allowance and rate band.

Imagine a scenario, for instance, in which there’s a modest amount of bank interest each year and a gross annuity payment of, say, £400 each month. The two pensions wouldn’t attract tax, as they would broadly fall within the level of the Personal Allowance. The interest is usually paid net of 20% tax and with a 10% Starting Rate Band of £2,880 to set against investment income, tax on £3,000 worth of interest would work out at approx £300 rather than £600.

From April 2015, the news gets even better. At that point, the Starting Rate Band will increase to £5,000 and the tax reduces from 10% to zero. By managing tax affairs sensibly, each partner in the marriage could receive pensions to the value of around £10,500 and another £5,000 in gross bank interest without paying tax.

If you’ve saved throughout your working life and have a modest income now, you might not necessarily see the need to retain an accountant on an ongoing basis. But it’s certainly worth having an initial consultation to look at your particular circumstances and discuss the options. That small investment could produce a considerable return, allowing you to get even more enjoyment out of your retirement years.

If you would like to discuss anything related to this article please do not hesitate to call Barnett & Turner on 01623 659659 or email Jonathan at jwilson@barnettandturner.co.uk