Five investment no-brainers

27 February is 'no-brainer' day. It has been observed since 1996 and, as you'd expect, it's a day for doing things that are easy and obvious.

Investments can often be thought of as complex and only for the very wealthy, but that isn't the case. So, to mark the day, we take a look at five investment no-brainers:

1. There is no reason not to invest via an ISA. If you have investments that are not in a tax wrapper, you may want to consider an ISA. Once your money is inside an ISA, there are no income tax or capital gains tax liabilities. You can access your money when you want and you can even pass on the entire amount to your spouse when you die.

2. Use your capital gains allowance. If you have got investments held outside a tax wrapper, make sure you use your capital gains tax allowance when you sell them. The allowance is currently £11,300 each tax year and you can offset any previous year's losses against this amount too.

3. Hold non-ISA investments in joint names. If you hold investments outside an ISA, you may want to consider holding them in joint names. That way, you get two capital gains tax allowances and two dividend allowances to keep the tax bill down when it comes to taking the income growth earned. Alternatively they could be held in the name of the partner who is in the lowest income tax bracket, to reduce the tax liability.

4. Don't forget your pension beneficiary. It's not pleasant to think about dying, but the reality is that we all do, and one thing many people forget to do is to update the name of the person they want to receive their pension when they die. It could be awkward to say the least if your pension went to your ex- as opposed to your current spouse or children…

5. Avoid the six-figure salary curse. Anyone earning £100,000 to £123,000 is in the unfortunate position of being one of the most highly taxed people in Europe. This is because, for every £2 earned above £100,000, £1 of the personal tax allowance is taken away, resulting in a marginal rate of 60% on earnings between £100,000 and £123,000. One way you can off-set this, however, is to contribute more to your pension, so reducing your take-home pay and potentially receive 60% tax relief.

Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. You may not get back the amount originally invested, and tax rules can change over time. The options mentioned in this article do not constitute financial advice.

Published on 27/02/2018