Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Stephen Byers is a nutter

What a load of rubbish from Byers. If he'd care to hand in his membership card on the way out, I'm sure Davey Cameron could find a place for him on the A List - although Gideon Osborne on the Today Programme was none too sure about committing the Tories to scrapping inheritance tax. Feeding this sort of dross to the house magazine of the High Tories, the Telegraph, is even worse.

Remember that this tax will only affect those whose estates exceed £285,000 - well above the UK average house price and actually only a problem for around 6% of the population. Even then, it only kicks in at the 40% rate on the value of the estate above that.

Byers reckons that it is a 'penalty on hard work, thrift and enterprise.' Nonsense - I defy anyone to show me someone who held back on their innate work ethic or their imaginative entrepreneurialism for fear of a tax that will affect their heirs and successors. It doesn't happen. Obviously, with Tony's new multi-million pound London house and a planned career in after-dinner speaking while his wife takes her seat on the High Court bench, IHT will bother the Dear Leader, but it isn't a vote-winner for most of the population outside the Notting Hill set - and certainly not on Tyneside, where Stephen currently has a constituency.

The Telegraph rumbles on - 'thousands of hard-working families face huge bills just to keep the family home after a relative has died.' Eh? Transfers between civil partners or married couples are free of IHT. These 'hard-working families' (an over-worked term, if ever there was one) presumably have a home of their own, so are merely going to inherit the family home of one of their own parents. Even if we assume that there are a few of them still living at home with mum and dad, they will be mortgage-free on a property worth over £285,000 and probably able to mortgage the house to cover the tax bill. There really can't be many who would find that a problem and I struggle to find sympathy for the tiny number who would be left struggling to find a new home with only a third of a million quid or so to their name. I refer you to Fisking Central for some sound observations and there's also a decent post on Forceful and Moderate about the issue.

Ultimately, IHT is a fair tax - it doesn't genuinely tax income that has already had tax paid, as the income is a gain to somebody who never earned it - the heir. In any case, as a number of commentators have pointed out, we already pay many repeat taxes - VAT is a classic one. Scrapping it would be a sop to the very rich in society and would remove £3 billion from the tax system that could only be replaced by taxing the rest of us even more.

Gordon isn't taking it lightly and he responded

'A source close to Gordon Brown added: "I don't think Stephen Byers actually believes a word of this nonsense. He never said anything of the sort when he was in Government.'


Gary Sambrook said...

Your a sick individual! I just hope that you will not have to be taxed because a member of your family has died!

PoliticalHack said...

I won't be taxed - the cost falls on the estate of the deceased, not the heirs. In any case, the heirs are benefitting from income that they have not themselves earned.

The odds are that any estate in my family won't exceed the IHT limit, but I'd hope that it won't be an issue for a good few years yet.

We may not like taxation - I have a twinge every time I see how much my salary has been depleted each month - but I know that it is necessary to pay for the services we expect, so I accept my share of the cost.

I'm not sure why you think I'm sick for expressing an opinion on a political matter.