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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 09 April 2007

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April IHT increases will still leave homeowners exposed to 40% death tax

EXPERTS are warning that thousands of homeowners across the UK will still be liable for Inheritance Tax (IHT), despite this month's increase in the minimum amount subject to the so called 'death tax'.

Following last month's Budget, the IHT nil band rate (the maximum amount you can leave before your estate becomes liable to tax) increased from £285,000 to £300,000 for the new tax year starting 6th April 2007, and will rise to £350,000 by 2010. While the Chancellor's increase in allowances are supposed to leave fewer people exposed to IHT, the country's booming property market will continue to push people's estates into the chargeable zone at the rate of 40% taxation.

Howard Burns, a partner at national law firm Lewis Hymanson Small, explains:- "People should not be blinded by the nil band rate increase. House prices are increasing by an average 8% to 10% per year, whereas the IHT threshold will increase by around 4% per year over the next three years. Put simply, IHT allowances are not balanced with the rising value of people's estates or sufficient enough to protect the vast majority of homeowners."

The IHT nil rate band will rise to £312,000 in April 2008 and £325,000 in April 2009 before reaching £350,000 in 2010. Burns adds:- "Although £300,000 plus sounds like a lot of money, many people do not realise how easy it is to creep past the threshold.

In addition to rising property values, inheritance and life insurance payouts received upon the death of a spouse, civil partner or parent and forgotten savings can all push estates significantly into the 40% tax bracket."

The traditional approach to beating IHT is to give away assets more than seven years prior to death. However, giving away the family home while still living in it has become more difficult in recent years. Burns explains:- "If an individual gifts a home but still lives in it, they will fall under the gifts with reservation of benefit rule, meaning the asset would still be subject to IHT. In addition, income tax can be levied on the notional rental value of a home."

To cost effectively mitigate IHT, Burns advises that people reassess their wills and the distribution of estate: He concludes:- "A Deed of Variation can allow a deceased person's Will to be re-written so that the deceased's estate is redirected, as long as it's written within two years of death and agreed by all beneficiaries."

But what is Inheritance Tax? Inheritance Tax is the tax that is paid on your estate. Broadly speaking this is everything you own at the time of your death, less what you owe. It's also sometimes payable on assets you may have given away during your lifetime. Assets include things like property, possessions, money and investments.

Inheritance Tax exemptions:- There are also a number of exemptions which allow you to pass on amounts (during your lifetime or in your will) without any IHT being due, for example:- If your estate passes to your husband, wife or civil partner and you are both domiciled in the UK there is no IHT to pay even if it is above the nil band rate.

Most gifts made more than seven years before your death are exempt. Certain other gifts, such as wedding gifts and gifts in anticipation of a civil partnership up to £5,000 (depending on the relationship between the giver and the recipient), gifts to charity, and £3,000 given away each year are also exempt.

This June why not Play Up!

JOIN us from Friday 8 June 2007 to Wednesday 13 June 2007 as we celebrate the very best of children’s theatre with Play Up! - Theatre for Young Imaginations, Southport Arts Centre’s first children’s theatre festival. The week long festival is jam packed with exciting productions that will enchant and entertain children from under 3 years to 9 years and upwards.

The week has something for everyone including, Jason & The Argonauts, Hood in The Wood and Comedy for Kids with James Campbell, the world’s first stand up comedian for children. And, don’t worry we haven’t forgotten our younger audiences of 3 and under with the interactive Egg & Spoon, featuring Cbeebies favourite Patrick Lynch from Razzle Dazzle!

Play Up! is about making children’s theatre accessible to children everywhere and what better way but to give schools FREE performance/workshop packages of Hood in the Wood, available within schools from Monday 11 June to 13 June 07. (Information will be sent to schools but please call Emma Burrows on 0151 934 2129 for more details).

Halfway to Paradise; The Billy Fury Story comes to St. Helens

IN 1983, Britain lost one of its most treasured, iconic, rock and roll stars, while his band lost their valued friend and lead singer. After mourning their loss, the band began to dream of carrying on the legend, recapturing the memories of yesteryear and providing fans with a nostalgic taste of their lost idol.

It was not until 1996 that a young man, bearing a spine-tingling familiarity, appeared on television screens across the country and announced, “Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be Billy Fury”. Colin Gold went on to stun Fury’s Tornados with a performance that perfectly recreated the sound and sight of the original rocker. From that moment on, the band’s dream suddenly had a chance of being fulfilled and soon afterwards, The Billy Fury Story was born.

Now celebrating their 10th anniversary together, Colin and the original band continue to tour, performing the greatest Fury hits of the 60s and 70s, delighting audiences at many of the UK’s largest venues and concert halls and will be heading to the Theatre Royal, St. Helens, on Saturday, 5 May 2007.

Timeless hits such as I Will, Jealousy, It’s Only Make Believe and, of course, Halfway to Paradise will be performed on stage in a two-hour spectacular show that includes a narration of Billy’s life, from his humble beginnings working the River Mersey tug-boats through to his music success, and exclusive screen footage of the man himself in action with Fury’s Tornados.

Lead guitarist, and unofficial organiser of the band, Chris Raynor comments:- “Every member of the band is always surprised and delighted by the warm reception we receive wherever we perform, and this forthcoming show already appears to be no exception. We’re very excited to be performing here”

To book tickets for Halfway to Paradise – The Billy Fury Story at the Theatre Royal, contact the Box Office on 01744 756000.

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