Gov't has 'no plans' to review inheritance tax law

by Sarah Ashcroft

The government has no plans to review inheritance tax law, according to the Treasury's commercial secretary Lord Sassoon.

His comments came during a debate in the House of Lords in which he underlined existing provisions for inheritance that can be made when Brits come to make a will, including the requirement that £325,000 of every estate is exempt from inheritance tax.

Lord Sassoon also noted that only three per cent of estates are expected to have an inheritance tax liability in 2010-11.

The lack of commitment to a review comes despite a raft of recommended reforms outlined by the Law Commission earlier this month.

A new report from the body, published on December 14th, outlined key changes to address issues arising when someone dies intestate, or without making a will.

There were numerous recommendations outlined in the draft inheritance and trustees' powers bill laid down in the report. Among them are strengthened rights for partners in marriages or civil partnerships in absence of descendants or children of the deceased.

In addition, the Commission has recommended further measures to protect children who suffer the death of a parent who currently risk losing some of their inheritance if they are adopted.

Meanwhile, the Commission's draft inheritance cohabitants bill includes further provisions entitling unmarried partners who have lived together for more than five years the right to inherit on each other's death under the intestacy rules.

Lord Eatwell, opposition Treasury spokesman, explained: "Everyone is in agreement that inheritance tax at the moment is rather unsatisfactory.

"It is stimulating a large avoidance industry and contains perverse incentives. This would significantly reduce avoidance and would actually incentivise the wider distribution of wealth."

However, Lord Sassoon added that there are "no plans to review inheritance tax law in the light of the Law Commission's report".

Published on: December 28, 2011

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