Whilst on my weekly perusal of Lib Dem Voice I spotted an interesting article by my lovely colleague Stuart Bonar. He was discussing inheritance tax; an issue that I hope will not affect me for a while, but nonetheless, an important one to many of us. I was initially inclined to agree with Stuart’s view that individuals should be taxed on these ‘wind-falls’ but then I got thinking…
Inheritance tax used to be a tax on the rich, something not relevant to most of us. But it’s now a tax paid by many, as house and asset prices have risen to extraordinary levels; many being valued at over £325 000, which is the threshold for this tax. However, I do wonder whether many of the rich, the original subjects of this tax, pay it, as they can afford expensive and skilled accountants or leave the country to escape this payment, something that I and many others cannot do.
Personally, I feel a strong desire to provide for my children when I leave this world. I want to work to ensure that they have the best education, learn new hobbies, see some of our beautiful planet, and live in a nice house. I also want to ensure that they can do this when I’m no longer here to look after them and the only means of doing this is to work hard and save so that my children can have the financial security they, and so many others, deserve.
I know I am not the only woman or man, working hard and attempting to progress up the corporate ladder, in order to provide for children. Despite this, not everyone sees providing for their children financially, as a suitable means of caring for them from ‘beyond the grave’ but surely it is our right as individuals in this wonderful free and democratic society to choose to do this, if we wish. Sadly, I feel that inheritance tax, infringes upon this right. I feel less enthusiastic about giving my children these sums of money if I know that the state is going to take 40% of these assets in order to redistribute my wealth.
I’ve made this conscious decision to work towards providing for my children and I do not want the government to have a right to redistribute the wealth that I have worked so hard to achieve, particularly amongst those that have, often, chosen not to do so. It really surprises me that anyone would vote to allow the state to take 40% of their assets upon their death.
I’m not a selfish person. I choose to work hard, I choose to volunteer at the local community group and I choose to donate a proportion of my monthly wage to a charity. I want to help those less fortunate than myself but not by penalising those that have worked hard to provide for their families. Perhaps, many people fail to realise that inheritance tax, for many women, and probably men, is essentially an emotional as much as a functional issue. The desire to provide for one’s offspring is a natural human instinct. I’ve happily paid tax on this money when I earned it, on the interest this money has accrued whilst in the bank, paid the council tax on my home and so on. Therefore, I just don’t feel that I should have to pay again.
I want to be safe in the knowledge that if my partner and I both die, our children’s education will be paid for and they will be financially secure. After all, they will not have the support of two loving parents to help them through life. There will be no parents to give them gifts at Christmas, bring along flowers, or purchase the odd treat. The least we can do is ensure that they have a home and the funds to live a comfortable lifestyle. Mourning the loss of their parent(s) and trying to live without that network of family support should be their main problems, not worrying about whether they have to sell the family home to pay the bill demanded by the state so that wealth can be distributed amongst society.
Personally, now that I know that the state will take 40% of my assets when I die, I shall find other ways of providing for my children during my lifetime. I will give them money, set them up in business if they desire, help buy a home for them so that they aren’t burdened by the huge mortgages that I currently pay, and hire tutors to ensure that they pass their exams and can go to university, so that, in turn, they can enjoy higher incomes throughout their lives. I will ease them into my professional networks so that they can start their working-lives with contacts and friends that can help them; whether they choose to work at the local corner-shop or begin a career in PR or finance.
So essentially, inheritance tax is just driving us away from the things that we know will be taxed when we die and therefore, to me, it seems that in addition to being an unjust system, it is also counter-produce. It’s time to give inheritance tax the chop.