The top five most frequently searched topics in 2018 were:
1. Annual allowance and carry-forward Attempts to cap the amount of tax relief on offer have seen restrictions to funding for high earning clients. In addition, anti-avoidance rules now limit the ability to get tax relief twice on the same money by restricting how much can be paid once funds are accessed under pension freedoms.
2. Lifetime allowance Each cut to the lifetime annual allowance (LTA) introduced additional protection options and an extra layer complexity. This all has to be understood in order to make the crucial decision on whether to stop funding and when it may be beneficial to carry on funding even if it means paying an LTA charge.
3. Pension death benefits Pension freedoms have made pension funds far more inheritable than ever before. Consequently it has changed the dynamics on the order to access savings in retirement, with many advisers suggesting leaving pension funds to ensure the greatest possible legacy and the most tax efficient retirement income.
4. Taxation of investment bonds Investment bonds enjoy unique tax treatment. The chargeable event rules allow income and gains to be rolled up and deferred until surrender which allows great scope for tax planning. However, the rules are complex and can result in unexpected tax charges if withdrawals are taken in the wrong way.
5. Taxation of discretionary trusts
Gifting via a discretionary trust offers the ultimate flexibility for those wanting to exercise some control over who benefits and when they receive it. But the control comes at a cost in terms of their tax treatment. The timing of gifts and the choice of investment vehicle can play a big part in reducing the tax payable for both the settlor and trustees.
Dave Downie, technical manager at Standard Life, said: “By and large the most researched topics are no real surprise, they are some of the most common areas of Financial Planning but also some of the most complex.
“Pension freedoms have turned conventional retirement planning on its head, while cuts to the lifetime and annual allowances have added layers of complexity which have moved pension planning a long way from simplification.
“And with consultations to both IHT and trust taxation under way further changes to advice may not be far away.
“Providing holistic advice to clients with often complex needs and circumstances is a difficult task with such a broad spectrum of knowledge required.
“Having access to reliable technical content which covers all the key tax and pension planning matters an advice firm face on daily basis can ease that burden.”
On 8 April, Techzone will be refreshed for the third time since its launch in 2003 and, for the first time, the site will now also be mobile-friendly.
The firm says adviser experience has influenced the changes, with the site now including more enhanced, searchable and accessible content for the most popular sections.
The new Techzone aims to explain the complex world of tax and pension planning in a simple and understandable way and contains over 100 new guides giving advisers both the technical detail they require, and the practical implications of what it means for advice when dealing with their clients.