Wealthy individuals are diverting some of their retirement savings away from pensions following the Budget crackdown on pensions that places a punitive tax on funds greater than €2.3m, says The Sunday Times. Pension funds with more than this amount are subjected to tax at 69% charged at retirement and on withdrawal of the funds. The cut-off level may fall further to €1.5m in 2012 if the Government implements proposals set out in the programme for government. Anyone earning more than €175,000 a year may be at risk of the new pension liabilities. To maximise their after-tax income, top executives in public companies are expected to divert more of their retirement fund into shares. Shares may have a more favourable tax treatment if the payment is structured properly. Rules that vest shares to an executive over time – and only if they remain at the company – can reduce tax due. When used as part of self-administered pension, tracker bonds and capital guaranteed investments may also be effective in some circumstances. Highly paid public sector workers such as politicians, judges, top civil servants and hospital consultants are thought to be hardest hit under the new rules.

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