To mark the occasion of Talk Money Week, HMRC has published a news release trumpeting five tax saving opportunities. Whilst these tax saving opportunities are routinely available to many taxpayers, it is unusual to see them all listed together. HMRC’s list serves as a useful reminder of some simple measures taxpayers can take to legitimately reduce the amount of tax they pay.

The tax saving opportunities highlighted by HMRC are as follows:

  1. The Marriage Allowance is available to married couples and those in a civil partnership where a spouse or civil partner doesn’t pay tax or doesn’t pay tax above the basic rate threshold for Income Tax. Couples that have not yet claimed the allowance can backdate their claim as far back as 6 April 2015 if they meet the eligibility requirements. This could result in a saving of up to £662 for 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 and a further £238 for this year. Couples have up to four years to claim backdated annual allowances.
  2. The Help to Save scheme allows qualifying working taxpayers to save up to £50 a month for two years and receive a 50% government bonus. This could see those on low incomes receive a bonus of up to £1,200 on maximum savings of £2,400 for 4 years from the date the account is opened. There are no limits on how the money used can be spent but it is hoped that the money will be saved for urgent costs
  3. The Tax-Free Childcare Scheme (TFCS) helps support working families with their childcare costs. For every 80p in the £1 contributed by parents, an additional 20p or 20% is funded by Government up to a maximum total of £10,000 per child per year. This gives parents an annual savings of up to £2,000 per child (and up to £4,000 for disabled children until the age of 17) in childcare costs.
  4. Employees who use their own money to pay for uniforms, work clothing, tools, business travel and professional fees for work can claim tax relief for qualifying costs. ACheck if You Can Claim tool is available on GOV.UK.
  5. First time buyers of a residential property can claim relief from Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). The First-Time Buyers Relief introduced on 22 November 2017 means that no SDLT is payable by first-time buyers making a purchase of up to £300,000. The relief is also extended to the first £300,000 of the purchase price on properties valued at up to £500,000.