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Guide To Tax-Efficient School Fee Planning In The UK

Ensure any planning aligns with tax legislation ...


Posted by Helen Beaumont on 19/07/2023 @ 8:00AM

Sending your child to a private school is a significant investment in their future. With proper planning and utilising available tax incentives, this investment can be within your reach ...

Sending your child to a private school is a significant investment, and it needs proper planning to be tax-efficient!

Sending your child to a private school is a significant investment, and it needs proper planning to be tax-efficient!

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Parents and grandparents always strive to provide the best education for their children or grandchildren, and many opt for private school education. Research indicates that students from private schools in the UK tend to outperform national and global academic averages, with a majority of them going on to pursue a university education.

"However, attending a private school comes at a considerable cost!"

It often puts financial strain on parents as a study conducted by Lloyds Banking revealed that four out of ten private school parents faced challenges meeting school fee payment deadlines, and six out of ten expressed concerns about affording future fees.

What is the cost of private school education in the UK? According to the 2021 Annual Report by the Independent Schools Council (ISC), the average annual fee for a child attending a private day school is currently £15,191, equivalent to £5,064 per term.

Day school fees vary based on the school's location, with average term fees exceeding £6,000 in London and £3,700 in the Northwest of England. Boarding school costs considerably more, with an estimated average of £12,000 per term.

Are private school fees increasing? Unfortunately, yes. The ISC reports that UK school fees have been increasing at an annualized rate of 3.9% since 2010, surpassing inflation rates. However, due to the impact of COVID-19, private schools have only raised their fees by an average of 1.1% in the past year, with day school fees rising by just 0.9%.

School fees represent just a fraction of the overall expenses related to a child's education. Additional costs to consider include school uniforms, trips, sports activities, equipment, and music lessons. When factoring in these expenses, parents may face total costs ranging from £150,000 to £200,000 per child in a private day school, and potentially double that for boarding schools.

Planning and setting aside funds for school fees well in advance can significantly ease the financial burden. Allowing yourself five to ten years or even longer to accumulate savings can help fund future school fees!

A crucial aspect of developing a school fee payment plan is calculating the comprehensive costs of private education, including often overlooked miscellaneous expenses, along with determining the education time horizon. Having this information at hand makes it easier to create a strategy that leverages the power of compounding and generates sufficient investment growth.

Given the current low-interest rates on cash savings accounts, investing in a tax-efficient savings vehicle is an ideal starting point for school fee savings. One such option is a Stocks & Shares ISA, which enables individuals to invest up to £20,000 per year or £40,000 per couple. By utilizing this vehicle, one can construct a diversified portfolio encompassing a wide range of assets to achieve growth over the desired investment horizon.

There is an increasing trend of grandparents exploring investment options for their grandchildren's school fees using excess after-tax retirement income. This allows them to make significant contributions towards funding education expenses.

"It is important to seek professional advice when considering tax planning for school fees!"

A tax adviser such as myself can guide you through the complexities of gifting shares, dividend planning, and other relevant tax strategies tailored to your specific situation. By understanding the available options, you can make informed decisions and optimize your tax position.

Do note that schemes such as the Dividend Diversion Scheme, which involves diverting dividend income to minor children for school fee payment, have been deemed as tax avoidance by HMRC.

It is crucial to ensure any planning aligns with tax legislation and avoids aggressive tax avoidance measures.

Until next time ...



Would you like to know more?

If anything I've written in this blog post resonates with you and you'd like to discover more about tax-efficient school fee planning, do give me a call on 01908 774323 and let's see how I can help you.

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About Helen Beaumont ...


Helen brings the personal tax planning experience of the top 20 tax companies to Essendon. Formerly of MacIntyre Hudson (with 45 offices nationwide), Helen worked at Chancery for more than 10 years before joining Essendon as the personal tax specialist.

Tax Planning can make a considerable difference to your tax liability. Helen has specialist knowledge and experience in tax planning and uses every opportunity to minimise your tax bill is utilised. By analysing your investments, income, profit and expenditures, Helen will provide strategic tax planning expertise that could offer significant savings, whilst delivering clear, honest advice and guidance.

When Helen is not at Essendon she spends time with her young son and likes going on long walks with the family dog.