Halifax sets date for share giveaway

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The Independent Online
Halifax building society said last week it planned to hand out its free shares, worth an average of pounds 900 to up to 10 million savers and borrowers, next June. The deadline for topping up accounts to maximise these windfalls is likely to be next February. In the meantime, savers should be able to take money out of their accounts without affecting their windfall eligibility. Savers with the National & Provincial who qualify for bonuses in the takeover of the society by Abbey National should ensure their balance on 4 August is as high as on 28 April 1995. N&P windfalls, in the form of shares or cash, will be paid between 27 August and 2 September.

The Inland Revenue has blocked a loophole which one investment company was exploiting to offer tax-free returns from what was effectively a three- month deposit account. The Close Capital Account from Close Fund Management was offering a safe return that would outperform normal building society accounts by not being subject to income tax. But the Revenue says the return, estimated at 5.2 per cent a year, would be taxable as of last week. A Close spokeswoman would not say how many people had opened accounts, and claimed it was not certain they would be affected by the change. Close has a helpline for concerned investors. Call 0800 269824.

National Savings has cut interest rates by 0.25 per cent on a range of products: First Option Bond, Investment Account, Ordinary Account, Income Bond and Deposit Bond (see Best Savings Rates table, page 15).