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Consumers warned that time is running out on credit-crunch tax breaks

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Consumers do not have much time left in which to make good use of a series of tax breaks introduced by the government to help tackle the credit crunch.

VAT is all set to rise from 15 per cent to its old standard rate of 17.5 per cent at the end of the year.

The stamp duty ‘holiday’ – the duty has been dropped on properties up to the value of £175,000 instead of the previous threshold of £125,000 – is due to run out in January as well. The duty amounts to a 1 per cent charge on the value of the property.

Fuel duty, which had been frozen, is now on the rise again, up by 2p a litre with another 1p promised for next April.

Although extra funds have been ploughed into the car scrappage scheme, which sees owners of cars at least ten years old tempted with a £2,000 discount on a new model, its span, too, is limited. It is estimated that nearly two thirds of the money set aside for the scheme has already been allocated.

Given that the cut in VAT has most value on big article purchases, like white goods or substantial home improvements, that house sales can often take weeks if not months to go through, and that the delivery of a new car can also take weeks, consumers are being urged to act sooner rather than later if they still want to benefit from the government’s largesse.