Don’t leave your heirs facing an unexpected tax bill

An increasing number of households could be at risk of paying inheritance tax (IHT). The 40 per cent tax charge is payable on the value of an estate over the nil-rate band threshold, £312,000 for an individual and £624,000 for a married couple, based on the current 2008/09 financial year.

Speeding up the time it takes payments to be made to pensioners
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) announced on 23 October 2008 details of its work with the UK’s leading annuity providers to speed up the time it takes for Open Market Option payments to be made to pensioners.

The wealthy could face substantial tax rises
The Chancellor confirmed in his Pre-Budget Report last November his intention to introduce a new 45 per cent tax rate from April 2011 for high earners earning more than £150,000, which is estimated to affect the top 1 per cent of incomes.

Covering the costs that result from a serious illness

Critical illness insurance can help you and your family cover the costs that may result from a serious illness, including medical expenses, moving house and protecting your business. You receive a tax-free lump sum if you are diagnosed as having one of the specific life-threatening conditions defined in the policy and it is up to you how you use the money.

Have you considered the potential effects of a recession?
From declining financial markets to a troubled and crisis-ridden housing sector, we are being continually bombarded by a plethora of news stories and media coverage about the state of the UK’s financial health. In times of economic turbulence or market downturn, it is prudent, if you haven’t done so already, to start considering and planning for the potential effects on your investments and pension.

Were you a winner or a loser?
The Chancellor’s message as he delivered his second Pre-Budget Report was to ’spend, spend, spend’, at least for the rest of this year, to benefit from the reduced 15 per cent VAT rate.

In general, savings rates are now lower compared with last year
It’s an unfortunate fact that any interest rate cuts, although welcome news for borrowers and the business community, are the curse of savers, many of whom have been disadvantaged by higher rates of inflation.

Cost-effective solutions for today’s challenging business environment
Implementing a successful employee benefits package should not only enable your business to meet its legal obligations in respect of making pension schemes available, it could also help to increase your successes when looking to recruit the best people.

Lowest levels for over 50 years
Interest rates were cut to their lowest level in over 50 years on Thursday 6 November when the Bank of England cut its official rate by 1.5 percentage points to 3 per cent, a cut three times larger than any seen since the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee was established in 1997. This was followed by another 1 per cent reduction on Thursday 4 December, bringing the rate down to 2 per cent, a level not seen since 1951, when Winston Churchill was in office.

Sheltering your returns from tax
As we enter a New Year, the tax clock is ticking and the countdown to the end of the financial year on 5 April approaches with increased vigour. If appropriate to your situation, one way in which you could hold a wide range of investments and shelter your returns from tax is to take advantage of an Individual Savings Account (ISA).

All change for the UK equity income and growth sector
Following a review of its UK Equity Income sector, the Investment Management Association (IMA) is splitting the sector and providing a new definition for the new IMA UK Equity Income and Growth sector.

Report highlights the need for improvements to the UK tax regime
A report reviewing the competitiveness of London’s financial centre, produced for the Mayor of London, highlights the need for improvements to the UK tax regime if London is to compete on a level playing field with centres like Dublin and Luxembourg which have succeeded in attracting funds away from the UK.  The investment industry is already working with government on a package of tax measures designed to enhance the competitiveness of UK authorised funds and make the UK a more attractive domicile for funds.

A wide-ranging package
Small business received a wide-ranging package of extra finance, including a scheme to spread tax payments and a new three-year loss carry-back rule for losses up to £50,000. In addition, the increase in small companies’ rate to 22 per cent is deferred for a year, to 2010.

Proposals welcomed to provide certainty on UK funds’ tax
HM Treasury released on 16 December 2008 three sets of proposals on fund tax reform and a further consultation on changes to the tax regime for listed investment companies.

A solution for your specific requirements and financial objectives?
Unlike a traditional personal pension, a Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) may offer for appropriate investor’s far greater flexibility in terms of the assets that can be held within its wrapper. A SIPP enables investors to spread investment risk across various asset options, but also to select investments that meet any specific requirements and financial objectives set.