Page last updated at 10:21 GMT, Friday, 8 June 2007 11:21 UK

How to cut your tax bill

By Chas Roy-Chowdury
Head of taxation, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants

Chas Roy-Chowdury
Chas Roy-Chowdury shares his tax saving expertise
A leading accountant tells BBC News how you can help offset the impact of tax increases.

There are many ways in which you as an individual could trim your tax bill.

Usually, the steps you need to take are straightforward merely involve claiming what you are entitled to.

Income Tax

Everyone is entitled to a personal allowance - the amount you can earn before tax is due - from the day they are born. In the 2007/2008 tax year, this stands at 5,225.

Many people who have a partner, are married, or have children generally fail to optimise their use of personal allowances or lower tax rates.

If you have a partner or are married, it makes sense from a tax point of view to ensure that the individual who pays tax at the lower rate (22%), or does not work at all, holds the savings in their name.

Any money from grandparents will use the child's personal allowance

This ensures that as a couple you pay a lower rate of tax, or even no tax at all, on your savings.

You should also consider if a tax-free savings product such as an Individual Savings Account (ISA) is suitable.

Any money given to children by parents which earns interest will be treated as taxable on the parents.

But any money from grandparents will use the child's personal allowance.

Capital Gains Tax

Individuals are entitled to an annual exemption of 9,200 against any capital gains.

Assets which have built up a capital gain can be transferred between spouses so that both annual exemptions can be used.

As with income tax, you should try to ensure that the person paying tax at the lower rate will be the one who ends up with the taxable gains.

In all tax matters, it is important to think ahead.

For instance, if you have lost money on the stock market recently, then you can carry your losses forward and offset them against any gains you may realise in future years.

Inheritance Tax

There are also tax benefits to be gained if you are married. With Inheritance Tax (IHT), the transfer of assets between spouses is exempt.

Couples should ensure that they transfer assets between themselves in order to optimise their zero rate tax allowance band - called the Nil Rate Band.

Each spouse has a 300,000 Nil Rate Band (2007/2008 tax year).

Many people who run their businesses from rooms in their homes are unaware that they are eligible to claim a proportion of the household expenses

You should also consider making gifts to your children or grandchildren who will be entitled to the assets free of IHT as long as you survive for seven years after making the gift.

Working From Home

Employees who work from home need to consider their tax position if their employers agree to pay for home telephone bills.

Claims can only be made for the cost of business calls, and not on the line rental or other fixed charges. Reimbursed costs of private calls will be classed as a taxable benefit.

Self-employed people who work from home could be missing out on significant tax savings by not claiming their full expenses entitlement.

Many people who run their businesses from rooms in their homes are unaware that they are eligible to claim a proportion of the household expenses, such as heating, lighting and telephone calls, against their business income.

Any eligible expenses can be claimed through the Self Assessment tax return.

The amount which can be claimed for heat and light, for example, is the proportion of the bill calculated on the basis of the number of rooms used for the business against the total number of rooms in the house.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by the BBC unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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