The Inheritance Tax minefield

Replace it, simplify it, or scrap it all together - those were the stark opinions on what to do with inheritance tax (IHT) from industry experts and business leaders at the latest Wilkins Kennedy round table.

Long a political hot potato, IHT has largely been left alone by recent politicians but the unanimous belief of all present was that action must be taken to improve the current situation.

Abolishing the controversial tax altogether was one popular option, with half the table backing the proposal. Supporters of the idea said the revenue raised by IHT was so insignificant against the wider national tax take that it wasn’t worth the heartache it can bring at an already distressing time.

One suggestion which got mixed reactions was for Capital Gains Tax to replace IHT by applying to the deceased’s estate, but with private residence exemption. Some feared it had the potential to see the taxman take more, while others forecast that would make the process of protecting inheritance even more complex than it is now.

Calls for IHT to ‘get with the times’ were also heard as delegates proposed the concessions offered to spouses be extended to long-term partners to reflect the reality of our modern society.

Originally intended to hit the very high end, today, the debate heard, the so-called squeezed middle were most affected. Other questions were raised about it now being a regional tax on the high house prices of the south east, and about the fairness of paying the exchequer a second time on money already taxed as income.

Most delegates had encountered IHT ‘horror stories’, with one describing how it has forced a client out of her family home where she had lived and cared for her mum for more than 20 years when her mother passed away.

Archaic, overly complex and frequently manifestly unfair, without careful professional advice and planning the table agreed there are usually few winners under the present IHT system.

Attendees

  • Gareth Lewis, Director, Polymedia
  • John Beames, Partner, Wilkins Kennedy
  • Jeremy Newman, Manager, Wilkins Kennedy
  • Crispin Jameson, Partner, Paris Smith LLP
  • Michael Cash, Partner, Penningtons Solicitors LLP
  • Malcolm Gibbs, Partner, Coffin Mew LLP
  • James Clark, Global Services Director, MIQ Logistics
  • Graham Payne, Partner, Eric Robinson Solicitors
  • Duane Walker, Partner, Primmer Olds Chartered Surveyors

For details of the next Round Table or to attend, contact Claire Peers on claire.peers@wilkinskennedy.com

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