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Bell to Balls – save our Asps

The pension industry is “punchdrunk with knee-jerk tinkering”, says Andy Bell, managing director of Sipp provider AJ Bell.

He is challenging the Government to rethink the changes on alternatively secured pensions contained in the pre-Budget report.

The PBR effectively killed off Asps by imposing an unauthorised payment charge of 70 per cent, where Asp funds remaining on the death of a member are transferred to pension funds of other members of the scheme.

There is also a 40 per cent inheritance tax charge on the remaining 30 per cent of the fund, creating a total charge of 82 per cent.

In an open letter to Treasury Secretary Ed Balls, Bell says: “These proposals are flawed and will distort actions of pension savers in a manner that will not be acceptable to the Government.

“Why follow the rules and pay 82 per cent on death? Some pension savers will be encouraged to wind up their pension fund when they reach the age of 75.

“They can either blow the lot or the pension fund can be paid to the member’s family. Either way, this will be subject to a 70 per cent tax charge.

“Proposed legislation that penalises pension savers who follow the rules more than those who do not should not see the light of day.”

Bell proposes that unused Asp assets on the death of the member and spouse can be paid as a lump sum to heirs, after a 55 per cent tax charge. He says the plan is consistent with the Government’s claim that more than half of an individual’s pension fund may consist of accumulated tax relief.

He says that it is also in line with pension savings in excess of the lifetime allowance allowed to be drawn as a lump sum, subject to 55 per cent tax.

He says: “I have no doubt that my revised proposals will receive the support of the majority of advisers and pension savers.”

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