Tax allowances: Use them or lose them

Make sure you're not paying more tax than necessary by taking advantage of all your annual allowances. See below for a checklist of what you need to know.

By Rathbones Financial Planning 12 February 2024

With the end of the tax year on 5 April 2024 around the corner, now is the perfect time to give your personal finances a spring clean. One of the most important things you can do is to make sure you’ve made use of the relevant annual allowances that are of interest to you and your family. You can’t carry most of these over to next year so you’ll lose these benefits if you don’t take full advantage. 

We’ve put together this checklist for you to see if you’ve used the allowances available to you. If any of the boxes are still blank after you’ve gone through the questions then please get in touch with us to see how we can help your money work even harder for you.


These measures are not an exhaustive list and there are other tax allowances available. If you would like to find out more about improving your tax position or making the most of your allowances, please speak with your Rathbones contact to discuss your options.



Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) are one of the most flexible ways to save and invest tax efficiently. There are lots of different ISA types to consider depending on your individual circumstances and what you’re aiming to achieve. 

ISAs are also an important source of tax-efficient income for many people, including those who have retired. With the annual tax-free dividend allowance of £1,000 falling to £500 from 6 April 2024, saving in an ISA can help to mitigate the impact of this reduction.



A pension is usually the most tax-efficient way to save for retirement. The rules surrounding contributions are complex, particularly if you’re a high earner, and it’s almost always a good idea to seek advice. For example, you may be able to roll over any unused allowances from the previous three tax years. But exceeding your annual allowance can be costly.

If your income is likely to fall in the next tax year for any reason (for example, you’re retiring or taking a career break) then it’s important to consider whether making additional contributions this year is a good idea. The tax relief is limited to your overall earnings, so any reduction would mean your tax relief on any contribution is reduced.

Currently it is possible to access pensions from age 55, however this will be rising to 57 from 6 April 2028. 




You can donate to charity tax free and claim back the tax on your donation through gift aid. If you are a higher or additional income taxpayer, you can also claim back the difference to the basic rate on your gift aid donations. Remember to keep hold of all records of your donations in order to claim tax relief when the time comes to submit your tax return.


Capital gains

It’s important to consider capital gains tax (CGT) because exemptions and thresholds can make a substantial difference. CGT affects assets and property differently when it comes to how much you’ll pay, especially with the allowances changing.

At the moment the penalty for withdrawing investments that are not in a tax wrapper (such as an ISA) is 10% on gains for basic rate taxpayers and 20% for higher and additional rate taxpayers (not including the additional 8% levy for investment property). The CGT annual exempt amount is falling from £6,000 in the 2023/24 tax year to £3,000 in 2024/25.

In addition to using your ISA allowance each tax year, it’s a good idea to take advantage of your CGT exemption, particularly if you have large unrealised capital gains in an unwrapped portfolio. You can transfer assets to your spouse or civil partner tax efficiently to ensure you’re using both exemptions. 



If you would like to find out more about improving your tax position or making the most of your allowances, then please speak with your adviser to discuss what options may be best