Although the rising cost of living is affecting many people across the UK, there may be unique pressures that affect soldiers and their families, such as frequent mobility having an impact on your energy bills, or increased costs to visit family.
There are links to some useful resources below where you can find further support.
If you’re struggling with the cost of energy bills or need more support, there may be grants available.
If you are experiencing debt issues, our debt and savings page has a list of debt organisations that can help.
The Money Helper website has lots of useful information on budgeting, debt and everyday money advice.
For support with childcare costs, see our Childcare & Early years page, which has information on different childcare options and financial support available.
See Help for Households on gov.uk for information on Government support with the cost of living.
We are raising all of your concerns, so if you would like to share your experience of the unique pressures of Army life related to the cost of living or you are having an issue, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Dealing with financial difficulties can affect your mental health and wellbeing. For further support, please see our mental health webpage.Back to top
If you have had a child in the USA while on a posting there since 2010, current US rules mean your child will receive US citizenship alongside that of a parent nation. This applies to children born to Service and/or civilian personnel posted to the USA. However, there could be tax implications for those holding dual citizenship once they reach age 18.
The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) was introduced by the United States government in 2010. The Act was introduced to combat tax evasion for US people with financial assets overseas. It was not aimed at the taxation of those that happen to be born in the USA but hold another nationality and reside there. This now means that once the child reaches 18, there is the potential for them to be required by the US Internal Revenue Service to report their financial assets/tax.
To avoid this, the US authorities make individual contact on the child’s 18th birthday with a request to surrender US citizenship without cost.
For other individuals who still hold dual US/UK citizenship, they can apply for a waiver of US taxation if their UK tax affairs are in order and a tax return is submitted. Individuals who hold dual US/UK citizenship will be granted a waiver from US taxes provided their foreign-earned income is within the exclusion credit, currently equivalent to just over £96,000, and their UK tax affairs are in order. Many British accountancy companies can offer this service. Independent professional taxation experts can also offer further advice.
The US Internal Revenue Service will be alerted if a child returns to the US or when they renew a passport, so it is essential it is complied with.
The only other way an individual can avoid being liable to file a US tax return is if they take a personal decision (at their own cost) to renounce US citizenship. This cannot be done by parents or guardians, only by the individual themselves. Any consideration of rescinding US citizenship warrants very careful deliberation since it is generally irreversible. The cost is approximately £1,850.
If you feel this may affect you, further information can be found on the following links or contact email@example.com
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The annual allowance is the limit on the amount you can contribute towards your pension each year, without incurring a tax charge. In 2023/24, the annual allowance is £60k per year for those earning £200k or less.
For some Service personnel, their annual contribution to their pension can go over £60k, resulting in them being liable for tax.
Whilst this is more likely to be the case for senior officers, officers and some other ranks can be affected at some points during their career, due to exceptional events that can lead to sudden spikes in the growth of their pension pot during one tax year, such as promotion or reaching their immediate pension point.
Any unused allowance can be carried over from the three previous years.
The £60k limit is across all pensions you may hold and not per pension. Therefore, you need to take into account all pension contributions the Service personnel may make.
Service personnel who have exceeded the annual allowance should receive a letter from Veterans UK confirming this is the case and will need to submit a tax return. They aim to send out the letters in early October.
Service personnel in receipt of a letter are able to check whether they are liable for a tax charge by using the HMRC calculator.
The letter will be sent to the primary address on JPA so it is important that this is kept updated.
If there is a tax liability, there are some options:
The scheme administrators will calculate the amount the pension and lump sum is to be reduced to ensure it gets its money back.
To get an indication of the required reductions please return Appendix D in your AA pack. This does not commit you to using scheme pays it is merely a request for figures.
If you need further or more detailed advice, we suggest that you contact The Forces Pension Society. They are able to provide generic guidance, but you will need to become a member to receive detailed personalised information (£43 per year).
Further information can be found at forcespensionsociety.org
The MOD also provide more detailed information which can be found below:
We are regularly informed by Service families that finding insurance can be extremely difficult. The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) is the UK’s leading general insurance intermediary organisation. BIBA is committed to helping Forces personnel with challenges such as insuring belongings while abroad, in transit or in storage, regular home moves (including short notice postings aboard), covering military kit, using a car on base and having ‘licence to occupy’ cover if you live in MOD owned accommodation.
If you are arranging insurance, you could find a specialist through their ‘Find-A-Broker’ service, which can transfer you directly to a broker who provides suitable advice and insurance cover.
For more information, call 0370 950 1790, or visit their website at www.biba.org.uk
The Services Insurance and Investment Advisory Panel (SIIAP), which are recognised by the MOD, can also signpost you to specialist providers.Back to top
AFF is thrilled that after a great deal of campaigning, Army families posted within the UK or overseas are now able to rent out their homes without facing higher mortgage charges or having to change their existing mortgage deal, saving them time and money.
Previously, many Army families who rented out their homes during a posting had to change their residential mortgage to a buy-to-let mortgage, often incurring new product charges and an increased rate of interest.
The Government recognises that Service personnel have a right to own a home and plan for the future. In respect of mortgage types, Service personnel, unlike civilians, do not need to have a buy-to-let mortgage. In 2016 it was announced that 47 of the UK’s largest banks and building societies would allow Service families to rent out their home in the UK if they could not live in it. Your evidence is vitally important, so, if you are experiencing any difficulties securing or changing a mortgage as a result of Service life, contact our Money & Allowances team at firstname.lastname@example.orgBack to top
Do you own a property and let it out? If so, changes to tax regulations were implemented in April 2017 that may affect you.
Our Money & Allowances Specialist outlines the new rules… (original article appears in Army&You magazine autumn 2016)
Anyone who owns a property and rents it out has to pay tax on the rental income. However, you can currently deduct certain costs before working out your tax bill, such as agent’s fees, maintenance and repairs.
Under previous regulations, you could also include the interest portion of your mortgage payment, but new rules mean you can no longer offset this.
Tax will be applied to the rental income you receive, rather than what is left after your mortgage has been paid. The changes were implemented gradually and are now in full force.
AFF is concerned that this will have serious implications for some of you, wiping out profit you may rely on or, more worryingly, leaving some of you in debt.
Many of you own a home and either have to move into SFA on posting to be able to stay together as a family, or have bought a property ready for when your soldier leaves the Army.
“This new rule is likely to have a big impact on us,” said Army family member Gary Firth. “Offsetting the mortgage interest currently keeps us below the tax threshold. We make no profit at all from the rent we charge. We’re currently posted 150 miles away, so there’s no way we can live in the house unless we choose ‘married unaccompanied’. If we sell, we have to start again on the housing market in a few years. Surely this rule goes against the MOD encouraging soldiers to plan for the future.”
AFF feels that Army families are being unfairly disadvantaged by the new rules.
Former AFF Chief Exec Sara Baade said: “Some families are ‘accidental landlords’ due to the nature of Service life and these changes would result in an unfair penalty on families who need to move to meet Service needs.”
We have been pushing for an exemption for Service families who own only one property and have heard from many of you who feel you will be affected.
We have raised the issue at the highest levels, but current feedback from decision makers is that there will be no exemption granted to Service families who only own one property.
We will continue to highlight the negative impact this policy will have on Army families and recently submitted evidence to RUSI on a report on the MOD Housing finance strategy.
Read our Impact of the new ‘landlord tax’ rules on Army families brief or contact our Money & Allowances team to discuss your concerns at email@example.com.Back to top
Whether or not a member of the Armed Forces lives at home with their parents is a matter for the Local Authority (LA) to decide based on all the available facts.
It may be that someone living in SLA is treated as living at home but equally SLA can be treated as a permanent home.
Adult children judged by the LA to be living permanently in SLA are not treated as living at home with their parents during periods of deployment.
If the LA decides that the permanent home is with the parents, and the parents receive Housing Benefit (HB), then they would be subject to a non-dependent deduction which could extinguish HB entitlement.
This is because all working non-dependants are expected to contribute to their living expenses and there is no exception for Armed Forces personnel unless they are deployed on operations.
AFF has investigated the changes to Housing Benefit Regulations and whether Army families face any disadvantage in comparison to other families.
Unfortunately, there was not enough evidence to determine the overall impact on Army families and state our view on this issue.
We therefore encourage families affected by the changes, or with their own view on this matter, to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The points which AFF has considered in this argument:
AFF has been made aware that some Army families have been successful in overturning the initial decision of local authorities relating to Housing Benefit at tribunal.
This has resulted in Armed Forces personnel being included in the calculation of the number of persons occupying the property. Read about one Army family’s success with an appeal.Back to top
Did you know that, since the new Armed Forces Pension Scheme 2015 (AFPS 15) was introduced, it now takes up to 30 working days from the day of your soldier’s discharge for all pension and compensation payments to be processed?
If your soldier has recently discharged from the Army you may be concerned that their pension, lump sums and any compensation payments are not being processed in the time you expected; this could impact on rent deposits or other costs associated with your move to civvy-street.
All Service personnel who are members of an Armed Forces pension scheme, and who will be serving beyond April 2015, will be automatically transferred to AFPS 15 unless they qualify for transitional protection i.e. were within ten years of the normal pension age for their respective scheme on 1 April 2012.
Is the new increased 30-day payment process affecting you? Do you feel the timeframe should be returned to the 10-20 days it previously was? AFF wants to hear your views and experiences – contact us at email@example.comBack to top
AFF has received a number of queries from families experiencing barriers when applying for a mortgage. We are keen to remove these disadvantages and we want lenders to understand that due to our Armed Forces lifestyle, our circumstances are different to civilians and therefore more understanding is required.
Whilst AFF recognises that frequent moves and BFPO addresses can make credit checking for commercial products difficult for lenders, we ask that they take this into consideration and work to remove disadvantage rather than precluding Armed Forces families from enjoying the same access to commercial products as civilians.
AFF is delighted that the Armed Forces Covenant is raising awareness amongst financial organisations about issues Service families face compared to our civilian counterparts. Many organisations have signed the Armed Forces Covenant and have agreed to deal with mortgage applications manually (rather than automated) for serving soldiers. AFF is working with the Armed Forces Covenant team to help encourage other financial institutions to step forward and give a fairer deal to Army families.
The Armed Forces Covenant states: those who serve in the Armed forces should not be disadvantaged because of their occupation. Mortgage applications will be treated fairly and consistently with civilian counterparts and will not be automatically rejected purely on the basis of a BFPO address. As part of its commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant, the MOD is working with several organisations to improve access to a wider range of commercial products and financial services for serving personnel.
The government and representative bodies from the financial sector have produced guidance notes, on the GOV.UK website, offering advice, tips and practical help for Armed Forces personnel applying for personal unsecured and mortgages.Back to top
If you are moving back to the UK after a stint overseas, it is a good idea to consider the implicationson your finances.
The following points give a general guide of what to expect:
And don’t forget…You will now have the privilege of paying for a TV licence, road tax (also on the increase), higher childcare costs and tax on a new car.Back to top
As part of its commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant, the MOD is working with several organisations to improve the ability of Armed Forces personnel to gain access to a wider number of commercial products and financial services, and lessen associated difficulties that are often experienced because of their unique lifestyle.
Anyone experiencing difficulties should contact AFF’s Money & Allowances team at firstname.lastname@example.org
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