The Telegraph reported last week Labour heavyweight David Blunkett calling for the Labour party to throw their weight behind and support the much vilified ‘Death Tax’ again. The tax would be exercised on properties inherited in the event of a death.
Blunkett believes that such a policy should be used to raise funds for social care in the North as the wealth gap across the country widens. Blunkett added, “Let me be really controversial: Why should their sons and daughters or nephews and nieces win the lottery when they [perceived rich property owners] die?”
Well let me tell you David…
Personally, this comes across as classic Labour media manipulation to make a tax issue about class. Bringing up class evokes images of the Edwardian era with politicians in pin stripe trousers and top hat attire and the Liverpool Transport Strikes of 1911. We don’t live in those days and ages anymore.
The greatest issue I have with a ‘death tax’ is the blatant disregard of ethics. Let’s think about the reason which creates the opportunity for a government to enact such a policy; death brings terrible grief on families that will normally take many years to overcome. Along comes the government demanding that said tax bill needs to be paid in the middle of all of this. I vehemently believe that even considering taxing ‘death’ is unethical and serious questions should be asked about those who do. The fact that Blunkett refers to inheriting from relatives as winning the lottery I find absolutely vulgar and a terrible analogy to use. Not all those that inherit will view it as winning the lottery.
It is no business of the government to get involved in the passing of private possessions within a family in the event of a death. We have got to a stage now that the government (over the years) has its nose in everything that we do and will tax us for it. George Orwell would turn in his grave.
Do we not think that the government tax us enough already?
Think about the tax we pay everyday of our lives and we don’t bat an eyelid to most of it. Our wages at the end of every month are subject to income tax, on top of this we are paying National Insurance (basic state pension) and some of us are still paying our student loans! Let’s not forget too that the top 3,000 earners in the UK contribute more to the government’s coffers via income tax than do the 9 million lowest earners. We pay VAT on everything apart from food and children’s clothes and we have to pay for a TV license propping up the BBC – a tax for sitting on our behinds watching the box! Around 60% of every £1 we spend on filling up our cars is taxed and we have to pay car tax every year to enjoy the privilege of driving on the UK road system. With rising house prices, buyers are facing greater stamp duty bills whilst one’s estate is taxed at 40% if it values over £325k when they die. We have to pay the government capital gains tax on an asset if we sell it for more than we purchased it for; so in effect taxation on savvy investment activity. Dividends paid out to shareholders are subject to tax if you are paying the 40/45% income tax levy. So this would be company revenue that has already been subject to corporation tax and then taxed again because a company is in the fortunate enough position to reward its shareholders who are the ones that take the risk in the first place – a tax on taking a risk, creating a company that is contributing to the real economy and providing jobs.
I recently came across a very good article about the ethics of a death tax. In Jack Marshall’s article he discusses the Estate Tax in the USA (same tax just a different country) and the morals of it. Marshall was fortunate enough to inherit from his parents and makes some excellent points indeed including the below:
Marshall is absolutely correct. When did it become acceptable for the state to tell us how much of our estate should be left to our heirs? Why should a family that has worked hard and saved all their life be subsequently penalised to help those that haven’t been so?
I understand Blunkett’s valid concerns regarding social care funding but we should instead be concentrating on the corporation tax loopholes that Google et al are exploiting and increasing the very generous tax tonnage on UK flagged ships to mention a few in order to pay for social care instead of taxing us when we are going through tragic grief.
By Tristan Allen, Junior Writer for Daily Political View.