Inheritance Tax: A Liberal Approach

The following is not Party policy but a document designed to encourage debate and responses from members and the general public.

Some inherit billions, free of tax: others inherit nothing during their lifetime. That is wrong and is a waste of an opportunity to create opportunity for all, in each new generation.

For the future of our great country we must have opportunity for all, not only in education and health, but also in the inheritance of capital, or wealth.

The ownership of capital, or wealth, in our country, as in other countries, is ever more dangerously unequal.  And the only time at which it is practical to positively redistribute the ownership of capital, as opposed to redistributing the income from capital, is at the point of transfer from each generation to the next.

Did you know that vast and unlimited amounts of capital in the forms of land, businesses and lifetime gifts are inherited entirely free of tax, because of being exempt from Inheritance Tax.

Did you know that as a result of the unlimited exemption for agricultural land from Inheritance Tax, one third of all land is still in the hands of the families who grabbed it at the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066, 950 years ago.  The Opportunity Society!

Those who support capitalism should be thinking of ways to make capitalism work, instead of leading it to its destruction.

David Cameron, for example, should not be calling for Inheritance Tax exemption to be increased to a million, or two million for a couple, regardless of whether they leave it to one child or to many.  The tax should be related to how much people receive in their lifetime, not to how much is given or left.  David Cameron needs to think again.

We can only make ours a fairer country if we rule ourselves.  But Nigel Farage should not be calling for the abolition of Inheritance Tax altogether. What kind of an ever more unequal independent UK does he think he wants?  Nigel Farage needs to think again.  Certainly on the subject of Inheritance Tax.

David Cameron, Nigel Farage and all of us, should all be thinking of ways in an independent Britain to create a genuine Opportunity Society, instead of destroying it by ever increasing inequality of inherited wealth.

The far sighted traditional Preamble to the Constitution of the continuation traditional UK Liberal Party, to which I belong (not the EU Liberal Democrats) calls for “Liberty, PROPERTY and Security” for all.

In a 2013  Liberal Party Assembly Resolution on Genuine Opportunity, The UK Liberal Party, for a Fairer Country, calls, as does the Campaign for Universal Inheritance, for a UK Universal Inheritance, out of the past of our country, for all UK-born UK citizens at 25, of £10,000, roughly 10% of the average wealth of every adult and child in the country.

To finance it the Liberal Party calls for a flat 10% tax on all capital that is given and left, down from the current 40%, without the current unlimited exemptions, in combination with a progressive rate tax on the lifetime total of all capital received.  The UK Universal Inheritance would be included in the lifetime total and so would be clawed back in tax from those who receive or inherit substantial lifetime totals.

Rome was not built in a day.  This is a long term change to capitalism, which, if it is to be fair, can only be introduced gradually.  The Liberal Party calls for it to start at £1,000 for 25 year olds in the first year and to increase annually by that amount for ten years.

Once this proposal is introduced, there is no knowing how far it will go under democratic pressure.

Gradually, all round our country, it will help reduce alienation.

It will help reduce financial and social exclusion.

It will help reduce young adult and young parent poverty.

It will delight the majority of parents and grandparents that their children and grandchildren will receive a nest egg of capital at 25.

It will enable earlier repayment of student loans.

In each new generation it will reduce the inequality of ownership of wealth while increasing entrepreneurial and home ownership opportunity – the chance to start a business and to put down a deposit for a home.

This in turn will create more wealth and ensure that more people will live in houses they own while fewer landlords will own too many houses they do not live in.

Let us, with this proposal, truly do our best to bring about Liberty, PROPERTY and security for all, in a more prosperous and much fairer country.

Dane Clouston
May 2014