High Net Worth Individuals: UK Tax Planning Tips
Tax planning is an essential part of financial management, especially for high net worth individuals (HNWIs) in the UK. With ever-evolving tax regulations and the unique challenges faced by HNWIs, it’s crucial to stay informed and make the most of available tax-saving opportunities.
Defining High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs)
In the UK, the definition of a high net worth individual has seen changes over the years. As of 2016, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) classified anyone with assets valued in excess of £10 million as an HNWI, a significant drop from the previous threshold of £20 million. However, the UK doesn’t have a native benchmark for determining an Ultra High Net Worth Individual. The widely accepted definition, borrowed from the US, categorises an Ultra High Net Worth individual as someone with investable assets (excluding their primary residence and personal belongings) of at least $30 million (£23.4 million).
Key Indicators of HNWIs
While the definition of HNWIs can vary, there are some common indicators. You might fall into the HNWI category if you own:
- A house worth more than £1m, depending on the location.
- A second home or holiday residence.
- Three or more luxury vehicles in the household.
- Jewellery valued at £50k plus.
- Pieces of art worth £50k plus.
If you find yourself resonating with most of this, you likely fall into the HNWI category and could benefit from specialised tax planning strategies.
Tax minimisation Strategies for HNWIs
- Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs): UK residents can invest up to £20,000 annually into an ISA, which can be a combination of a cash ISA, stocks and shares ISA, innovative finance ISA, or a Lifetime ISA. The benefits? Both income and capital gains from an ISA are tax-free.
- Junior ISAs: For those under 18, you can invest up to £9,000 per year into a JISA with no tax consequences. At ages 16 and 17, you can invest a total of £29,000 per year by making use of both your ISA and JISA allowances.
- Pensions: Pensions are arguably one of the most beneficial tax wrappers. Contributions benefit from income tax relief at the contributor’s marginal rate, provided they don’t exceed the set limit. Moreover, investments within the pension accumulate tax-free, and the funds are generally exempt from inheritance tax. However, it is often overlooked that if you die over the age of 75, the beneficiaries of your pension will pay income tax at their marginal rate when drawing funds.
- Investment Accounts: After maxing out ISA and pension allowances, HNWIs often turn to General Investment Accounts. While income from these accounts is taxable, there are some allowances and reliefs available to use against this income each year.
- Tax-relieved Investments: Investing in qualifying Venture Capital Trusts (VCT), Enterprise Investment Schemes (EIS), or Seed Enterprise Investment Schemes (SEIS) can attract significant tax benefits. However, by their very nature these investments are often high risk. Always consult a financial advisor for help determining your attitude to risk and capacity for loss.
- Family Investment Companies: For ultra-HNWIs, setting up a Family Investment Company can be a strategic move. These private investment companies are typically used for family succession planning, with individual family members or trusts as directors and shareholders.
The Importance of advisers for HNWIs
With HMRC‘s increasing focus on the tax planning strategies of HNWIs, it’s more important than ever to have expert guidance. While we are not financial advisers here at Nichols & Co., we have a wealth of experience dealing with high earners and HNWIs, so can provide invaluable insights when it comes to tax. Additionally, we also work with leading UK based financial advisers to assist with regulated areas such as investments.
If you’re looking for tailored tax planning strategies and advice, contact us today for an initial consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions
While there is no exact definition, HMRC defines high net worth individuals as having assets exceeding £10 million.
Strategies include maximising pensions, investing in tax-efficient schemes, and utilising ISA’s
Yes, the number of high net worth individuals in the UK has been steadily increasing, driven by economic growth and investment opportunities.