Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Inheritance Tax

Am I the only person both outraged and dismayed by the political discourse emanating from Westminster at the moment?

While one fifth of our population languish in poverty, and many hundreds of pensioners in Scotland die of cold-related illnesses each winter because they cannot afford to heat their homes on the miserly state pensions set by Westminster, the Tories and the Labour Party are scrapping over how many hundreds of thousands of pounds will be exempt from inheritance tax. Just how detached from reality are these people? Maybe £600,000 isn't much to some of them - but it's a veritable lottery win for the rest of us!

Frankly, I believe that the tax bill for people who inherit in the region of hundreds of thousands of pounds shouldn't be the priority for any government. There are far more pressing financial issues that politicians of all persuasions should be focused on - such as sorting out the fiasco that is the tax credit system, which has left many families in crippling debt, and the disgraceful levels of state pensions, for a start.

Tax cuts for the wealthiest or investment in the most vulnerable people in our society?

I know what my priority would be.


Anonymous said...

According to this guy, Labour's response - supposedly raising the threshold for couples is a big old hunk of spin:


As for the issue of the raising of the threshold, it makes sense to raise if you take into account house price inflation, which brings many more people into the range, even though they are in no way 'richer' - it's an effect of stupid property prices. On the issue of 'priorities' I'd hope that there are enough civil servants and politicians kicking about to cope with more than one issue at a time.

And ultimately, the electorate get to decide what's important to them, not you. If all those horrible voters with the wrong priorities vote accordingly, no amount of whingeing will change the result of the election.

Julie Hepburn said...

I really wish people would have the courage of conviction to post in their name, rather than anonymously. But anyway...

You have rather skirted round my point anonymous.

Of course governments (and civil servants) can deal with more than one issue at a time - but if everything is a 'priority', then are there really any priorities at all?

Secondly, regardless of whether not there are any substantive changes to IHT or if it is indeed spin - this does not detract from the point that it affects such a tiny proportion of citizens, who are wealthy enough for IHT to be an issue in the first place. The vast majority of us never accumulate such wealth (even from inflated property prices).

As for the 'whingeing' comment... Well, I don't think standing up for what you believe in is whingeing!

Of course I don't get to decide what is important to everyone else. What on earth gave you the impression that I think that?!? I was stating MY opinion, and MY priorities.

Thanks for the comment though, and the opportunity to clarify.

Mark McDonald said...

don't feed the troll Julie, it'll only encourage them.

"Troll", Apparently said...

The point is that it's estimated that if IHT threshold continues with the current trend, more than 4.3 million households will be eligible to pay IHT in a few years.

So it isn't an easily outnumbered group of voters that are affected and can therefore be relieved of their money to buy you the votes you need.

Julie Hepburn said...

Hello there ´Troll´...

You evidently see people as ´voters´. I don´t. I happen to see people as citizens, as members of society, as human beings.

P.S. Thanks for looking out for me Mark, but you know I like a good debate - even with trolls ;o)

Cassilis said...

Hi Julie,

IHT is one of those totemic issues that goes to the heart of how a state operates - your point about the tiny numbers (and pre-existing wealth) of those impacted is sound enough but that shouldn't be a governing principle.

There's a long-standing political tradition that taxation should be levied against income or services, not individuals - IHT contradicts this and that's why it gets the attention it does.