Your questions answered by a panel from Coopers and Lybrand
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The Independent Online
I have pounds 40,000 invested in the Halifax Building Society, the proceeds of selling a property. I expect to qualify for a windfall payout as and when the Halifax converts into a bank. But could I use the money now as a deposit to buy a new home with the aid of a mortgage from the Halifax, and still quality for a payout as a borrower rather than an investor?

To qualify for the merger payout you need to have had an account open on the 25 November, 1994 and still have the same account open, with a minimum of pounds 100 in it on the date of a special general meeting next year. The date is yet to be announced. For further information on the merger or special meeting, contact the members' Helpline on 0800 888844.

Iunderstand the ACT paid on distributions and dividends has been cut to 20per cent in the current financial year. How does that affect me when I receive a dividend? I am a higher rate taxpayer

ACT paid on distributions and dividends was reduced to 20 per cent from 1 April, 1995. Since 6 April 1993, a tax credit of 20 per cent has been attached to dividend payments. As a higher rate tax payer, an additional 20 per cent tax liability arises, which is due to the Inland Revenue by either 1 December following the tax year or 30 days after the issue of an assessment, whichever is later. If your marginal rate of tax was at the basic rate, no additional tax would be due.

I have just taken early retirement and received a lump sum pay-off of pounds 30,000, which I am using as a deposit to buy a small house with my partner (I am female, he is male). Does it matter if I put the property in joint names, or should I insist on putting it in my name only? Would he have a claim if we later split up, even if he put no capital into the property?

When buying a property it is possible to have it in only your name or jointly with your partner. If it is in joint names your partner will be entitled to a share of the property. The exact share depends on the legal way in which the property is owned. If you buy in your name solely and your partner does not put in capital he may be entitled to a part share on the property, depending on whether he contributes to bills and upkeep of the property.

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