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News review: Lib Dems’ mansion tax, legal services, right to die

Rounding up choice news stories of the week

19 September 2013

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Rounding up choice news stories of the week

PROPERTY TAX

A mansion tax on properties worth than £2m is one of the policies for which Nick Clegg would "die in the trench" during negotiations ahead of a second coalition, reports the Times. Speaking this week, Clegg strongly suggested that the new property tax, which the Lib Dems claim would raise £2bn a year, would be among the party's priorities.

 

LEGAL SERVICES

Professional outsourcing giant Capita is to acquire Optima Legal, three years after it was reprimanded by the Solicitors Regulation Authority for creating a quasi-alternative business structures at a time when these were not yet legal. See Solicitors Journal.

 

RIGHT TO DIE

Professor Stephen Hawking has changed his previous stance against assisted dying to support terminally ill people who wish to end their lives, reports The Guardian. Hawking, 71, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease - a form of motor neurone disease - at the age of 21 and was told he had only two or three years to live.

 

FIRMS' FINANCES

More than 1,000 firms have been identified by the Solicitors Regulation Authority as potentially facing financial difficulty, it emerged in an interim statement by the regulator on its engagement programme, reports Solicitors Journal. Earlier this summer, the SRA wrote to 2,000 firms asking them to provide financial information within 14 days.

 

GAAR RESIGNATION

A Baker Tilly partner has stepped down from HMRC’s General Anti-Abuse Rule (GAAR) panel after BBC’s Panorama recorded him outlining the advantages of tax planning, reports the FT. Exchequer secretary to the Treasury David Gauke was reported to have said “the statements are directly at odds with the government's approach to tackling tax avoidance” while chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne was "furious". The story also appeared in Accountancy Age.

 

INDEPENDENT FINANCIAL ADVICE

The Financial Conduct Authority is cracking down on life insurance firms that have been offering incentives to independent financial advisers, reports the Express. The action follows the ban on IFAs receiving commission from product providers as stipulated in the Retail Distribution Review, which took effect this year.

 

OFFSHORE

Both Jersey and Guernsey have signed tax information exchange agreements (TIEAs) with Switzerland; Guernsey has also signed one with Hungary. These latest TIEAs bring Jersey's count to 32 and Guernsey to 64.

 

ULTRA HIGH NET WORTH

The wealth of the US's super-rich has risen to a record $2.2trn up, from $1.7trn in 2012 five years after the financial crisis. The Guardian reports on Forbes magazine's list of the 400 wealthiest Americans, which ranks Bill Gates as number one for the 20th consecutive year.

 

PRIVATE BANKING

Barclays revealed yesterday that it is contesting a £50m fine by the City regulator, which claimed the bank behaved "recklessly" during the 2008 fundraisings that allowed it to avoid a taxpayer bailout. See The Guardian.

 

EUROPEAN UNION

Plans to police financial markets have been proposed by the European Union. Brussels aims to prevent a repeat of the Libor and Euribor rigging scandals that hit the City and other financial centres last year, reports The Guardian.

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