Money: Tax-saving tips

As the clock ticks inexorably on towards the 5 April deadline, here are a few tax-saving tips to consider:

r You are allowed to contribute up to 15 per cent of your annual earnings into a company pension scheme. This attracts juicy tax incentives at the higher rate of tax. For personal pensions, the maximum is age-related, beginning at 17.5 per cent at 35, rising to 40 per cent at 61. The Revenue hands over up to pounds 40 towards every pounds 100 paid in, depending on your marginal rate of tax.

r You can save up to pounds 6,000 in a general PEP and pounds 3,000 in a single- company scheme each year. You can also set up a Tessa with a maximum deposit of pounds 3,000 in the first year.

r If you have a spare pounds 100,000 lying around, try Venture Capital Trusts. For each pounds 10 you pay in, the taxman gives you pounds 2 back. The money invested rolls up free of capital gains and income tax.

r Your first pounds 6,300 of capital gains in 1996/97 are free of tax. You can sell the shares and buy them the next day in order to lock in the gains until the following year. This is known as "bed and breakfasting".

r If you are considering inheritance tax planning, now is the time to consider making use of your pounds 3,000 annual gift allowed each tax year.

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