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Capital gains tax changes over sale of shares

EMPLOYEES will qualify for a 10% rate of capital gains tax, rather than the standard 28%, on the sale of company shares from 12 months after options are granted, the draft Finance Bill revealed this week.

Experts welcomed the move to allow staff to exercise options and sell the shares on the same day, at the lower tax rate.

They also flagged a boost for real estate investment trusts (REITs), one of former chancellor Gordon Brown's flagship creations, which are to have tax restrictions relaxed in a bid to reignite investor enthusiasm.

Paul Halliday, property specialist at PwC in Scotland, welcomed the move as "putting REITs on a level playing field alongside other forms of property investment", and said he expected many would revamp their strategies in the spring to make the more attractive to private investors. The bill also confirmed that qualifying life insurance policies are no longer a guaranteed tax-free investment, with a limit on premiums of £3600 a year per policyholder coming into effect from April 6, 2013.

Any policy variations could trigger a tax bill on maturity, said Lindsay Hayward, tax partner at PwC in Scotland, adding: "One welcome exception is for mortgage endowments where a variation to increase premiums to protect the capital sum should not trigger the changes."

Scrapping the "renewals" allowance for furnished property landlords and replacing it with a 10% relief on rental income may "lead to owners requiring to consider whether to let furnished or not", Ronnie Ludwig, partner at wealth advisers Saffery Champness in Edinburgh, said.

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