The Gord giveth…
October's pre-Budget report has certainly caused ripples throughout the world of tax planning and investment. As we went to press the offshore life industry was still waiting to see whether Alistair Darling's proposals on capital gains tax would be modified, or if it was going to have to fight harder than ever to promote the virtues of its products over directly held collective investments. (Although even without the detail, SPILA's Luanne Ahearne puts up a spirited defence on pages 26 and 27.)
What would seem to be better news was the proposal to make the nil-rate band for inheritance tax transferable between spouses or civil partners. However, as this supplement points out (see the piece by Julie Hutchison of Standard Life on pages 24 and 25), a transferable NRB is not the be-all and end-all of estate planning, and there are still significant opportunities for canny advisers to add value.
And while Brown and Darling may be taking away with one hand if the proposed flat rate of 18% for capital gains tax does come in, making collectives look a better deal for higher-rate taxpayers, there is an unexpected sales opportunity for offshore bonds, arising from the proposed £30,000 annual charge for non-domiciled individuals who want to bring overseas earnings to the UK. Brendan Harper of Friends Provident International discusses this on pages 21 and 22.
It may well be that a Labour government is never going to be sympathetic to the needs of the trust and estate planning community, but at least when considered in depth, the latest round of tinkering looks unlikely to prove terminal.
Sarah Godfrey, Editor
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Former PFS president
Last commission convened in 2002