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BeeHive  >  BeeLines  >  Finance Act update

Finance Act update

Well we finally got the Finance Act 2004 from the Government guys at the end of July as expected. What I hadn’t expected, I have to say, was to find that the copy I had printed off the Treasury website would actually become a pile of paper over ten inches high on my desk. I mean, give us a break, that’s one hell of a read. I haven’t seen anyone on the tube or the bus avidly flicking through a copy of it yet – it’s probably a bit too long to become a smash bestseller I guess. So it’s probably just as well we’re putting together a sort of paperback version for the general reader.

No promises as to when our summary of all the pensions parts of the Act will be put on the BeeHive, but just to say that Liz Fleming and an army of pension lawyers are slaving away day and night up in Edinburgh to do that asap. We really do need to fully understand the impact of the many amendments made during the gestation period before we can publish our Plain English translation of it all.

Just to recap a bit though. This year’s Finance Act is the longest in history and over a third of it is devoted to detailing the retrospective changes to our pension taxation laws that will come into effect on the 6th of April 2006 – or ‘A-Day’ if you’re a bit of a drama queen. We’ve never had retrospective legislation on pensions before so, to say again what I’ve said a thousand times already, we really do need to understand exactly how future tax rules will affect pension benefits that some people have already accrued. If ever individuals and companies will need advice on pensions it will be between now and April 2006.

To help advisers in their discussions with companies and individuals I rashly promised to put together a suggestion for a ‘pension audit’ on the BeeHive once the Finance Act had been published. Well, this is all underway too (this BeeLine is all ‘promises, promises’ isn’t it? Oh well) and with any luck we’ll get something on the site next week. I know many of you are keen to get this as our e-mail inbox is crammed full with “So where the hell is it?” kind of notes, but we’re working our little socks off on it for you, so please be patient. What we’ll be putting out will be three separate ‘pension audit’ lists covering final-salary schemes, money-purchase schemes and group personal pensions and group stakeholder schemes. The audits won’t provide all the answers, but they will allow you to have sensible discussions with employers and individuals about where the ‘pinch points’ are with their current pension arrangements and let them know what they need to watch out for. I hope they’ll be pretty useful as an aid to initial discussions about these highly complex changes to our pension taxation laws.

Anyway, have a nice weekend. I’ve got to go now as the maintenance guy has just turned up to try and fix my printer. It’s been on the blink ever since we printed down the ten inch pile of gibberish yesterday…..

Steve Bee
6 August 2004

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