SELFLESS PARENTS lending their children a helping hand to get onto the housing ladder could face a new stealth tax costing tens of thousands of pounds per property, reports today's Daily Telegraph.
Accountants and solicitors contacted by the daily warn these "unexpected" tax bills will arrive when people are least able to afford them - when the parents or grandparents who have helped young buyers with a deposit are themselves retired.
Ian Luder, tax partner at accountants Grant Thornton, told the paper: "These government proposals will cause mayhem for hundreds of thousands of people. The fact that these new rules will be retrospectively implemented will wreak havoc.
"With increasing life expectancy, it is likely the number of widowed or infirm elderly parents moving into their children's home will grow.
"If that parent had given their child funds to help purchase their first property, it could give rise to an income tax charge as the Inland Revenue deems that the parent is benefiting from this gift.
"A selfless act, to help your child on to the property ladder which may have been done 50 or more years ago, may leave parents with an unexpected and hefty income tax bill they cannot pay," he added.
A spokesman for the Inland Revenue, quoted by the paper said: "If people have been doing something they should not have been doing in the first place, if they have been trying to avoid tax, then the Inland Revenue will close loopholes - as it should."
THE UK housing market suffered another blow today after HBOS, the country's biggest mortgage lender, announced it was tightening criteria borrowers must meet because of fears for the property market.
According to The Times, HBOS believes the market had enjoyed a "buoyant start" to 2004, helped by low interest and unemployment rates and a shortage of housing stock.
However, HBOS chief executive James Crosby said: "Even so, after three years of a strong housing market there is no room for complacency. We have, and will continue, to tighten our lending criteria."
ON A COMPLETELY different note, The Scotsman writes that Peter Burt, former governor of Bank of Scotland, has been named ITV's first chairman.
The decision came at an ITV borad meeting yesterday after institutional investor Fidelity gave its approval, the paper says.
The appointment of Burt was broadly welcomed in the City despite the fact he has no previous experience in the media industry.
Burt told the Scotsman: "I don’t know a thing about broadcasting, but I don’t see that as a problem. If it was the chief executive’s job we are talking about then obviously I would be incapable of doing it.IFAonline
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