Tax partner Faye Howard contemplates some of the things the lockdown has prompted her to review. Just don’t ask her about espresso martinis….
Today is the 60th day of lockdown. That represents 41 days working from home during which I have consumed my own bodyweight in chocolate, crisps, coffee and Diet Coke….. Several times over…… It seems that my periodic trips to colleagues’ desks to chat things through have been replaced by frighteningly regular trips to the fridge. In fact, I’m slightly concerned that even though it’s only 18 months old, the door hinges may be nearing the end of their life. I’m not sure the use it was likely to get during lockdown was taken into account in its testing!
On the plus side, thanks to being at home all day, I’ve never had so many clean clothes at one time, however another negative is that my weekly treat of an espresso martini on a Friday is apparently now an everyday occurrence….. Although technically it is mainly coffee……
As well as actual laundry, one thing lockdown has given me the chance to do is some ‘life laundry’. I can’t remember the last time I reviewed the various small direct debits that leave my account every month, but having done this very recently, I was amazed by how much they add up to, and the extra time at home gave me the opportunity to look at what I really need/want and what I don’t.
As a firm we are seeing a similar trend with our clients as a number have asked to have their Tax Returns or accounts prepared earlier than usual this year so that they know where they stand financially. This is certainly something we would encourage, as whilst the Government has introduced some incredibly helpful measures to help individuals and businesses survive this pandemic in the best possible shape, the current deferred VAT and July Income Tax payments on account will still need to be paid next year. Quantifying any tax liabilities and managing your cashflow is therefore incredibly important.
Equally, now is a good time to review pension arrangements. Do you perhaps have a number of smaller pensions which could benefit from consolidation, or is it perhaps time to review whether your pension is likely to be sufficient for the retirement you envisage? And what about your investment charges? Are they higher than you thought they were, and if so, is it time to change platforms to reduce them?
For anyone looking at Inheritance Tax planning, again now could be the ideal time, as with supressed asset values, if gifting is the right strategy for you, the current circumstances could represent an opportunity to pass assets on whilst values are low, so that any bounceback in values and future growth occurs in the hands of your intended beneficiaries rather than yours.
Whilst this pandemic has undoubtably had some horrendous consequences for a huge number of people, it has to a large degree also pressed a ‘reset button’ and made us focus on what is important to us. For any financial matters which are important to you, Scrutton Bland are able to offer professional, independent, joined up advice to help you set and attain your financial goals.