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Treasury issues Asp warning

An insider at the Treasury accuses tax advisers of “wilful abuse” of Asps, which were introduced for religious groups, such as the Plymouth Brethren, with moral objections to annuities.

The source says: “It is unfortunate that a group of tax-avoidance advisers are wil-fully seeking to abuse it in this way. We will take all the action necessary to clamp down on this abuse but if it persists we will unfortun-ately have to remove the concession entirely.”

Standard Life head of pensions policy John Lawson says forced annuitisation would put people off saving and lead to renewed accusations of discrimination from religious groups. He says the Government’s only options are to accept Asps’ widespread use or raise tax on Asps or monies passing on at death via Asps.

Hargreaves Lansdown head of pensions research Tom McPhail says: “The Government has got itself into a complete pickle. The Revenue will take more in tax through an Asp than it will through an annuity.”

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Although there has been a marked increase in market volatility, the big picture of late is that there is not any discernible trend and markets are trading off each rumour and data release.

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