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Dead settlor goes in offshore onslaught

The Government is clamping down on offshore tax loopholes, with the dead-settlor rule and portfolio bonds the first to be hammered.

Draft anti-avoidance legislation, aimed at filling Government coffers with an extra £1.5bn, is promised next month.

The general anti-avoidance rules could crack down on up to 200 tax dodges.

The Budget axes the dead-settlor rule and portfolio bonds. Chancellor Gordon Brown has already acted on offshore trusts, closing loopholes two weeks ago.

The dead-settlor rule allowed a trustee&#39s beneficiaries to avoid paying tax on funds in an offshore trust for the tax year following the trustee&#39s death.

Portfolio bonds are offshore investment vehicles which have an insurance wrapper. They gained fame in the Willoughby case when the House of Lords upheld in 1995 it was a legitimate savings vehicle.

Scottish Equitable technical sales manager Richard Leeson says: "We are fairly pleased with the measures so far. They seem to have been aimed at tackling tax evasion rather than avoidance.

"But we have to wait until the anti-avoidance consultation document is released before we get any idea of how hard offshore investments will really be hit."

The Chancellor has also announced that all fund managers offering offshore investments must have a financial presence in the UK.

Scottish Life International marketing research manager Alistair McArthur says: "We are relieved that potentially exempt transfers were not targeted, as had widely been expected, but people should still make preparations to avoid possible inheritance tax changes in the future."

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