Paying taxes, what is it good for? Quite a lot actually. Our taxes pay for a whole range of public services that we all use or benefit from on a regular basis, but none of us want to pay over the odds. Tax avoidance is illegal, but there are legitimate ways that you can save on your tax bill.

Five steps to lightening your tax load:

1. Save and invest through an ISA. An ISA, whether of the cash or stocks and shares variety acts as a tax free wrapper around you cash, protecting your capital from UK Income Tax and Capital gains tax. Any profits, interest or dividends that you receive through your ISA are yours tax free.Your annual ISA allowance for the current tax year is £10,680.

2. Pension saving. Granted it’s not the most exciting option, but pension contributions enjoy a government tax relief, how much this is will depend on your current income tax band. Either your employer will take your contribution from you salary pre-taxation, or, if you pay your contributions into a personal pension, any income tax that has been deducted will be refunded later.

3. Investing for income? Married? Share your assets. If you are married or in a civil partnership you may want to divide your income producing investments to make full use of your individual income tax allowances. If one of you is paying a lower rate of income tax you could stand to make more out of any investments in that persons name.

4. Tax Benefits. There are a number of tax benefits afforded to the self-employed, including the opportunity to claim back on tax deductible expenses, make full use of these benefits and cut the costs of running your business.

5. Get the right income tax code. Each time a new financial year starts you should check that you are issued with the correct income tax code. It’s no secret that HMRC sometimes get your tax code wrong, so make sure that you’re not paying too much. You should notify HMRC immediately if you have been issued the wrong income tax code.

Achieving optimum efficiency when it comes to your taxes can help you get more for your money with just a little extra effort.

This post was written by John Hughes who is the resident blogger at Independent Financial Adviser, a site that provides access to financial advisers as well as to debt advice charities for those struggling with their debts.