Inheritance tax: If you’re going to talk about it please understand it

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I've just done Radio 5 Live. We were meant to be discussing inheritance tax.

Scheduled start time was 9.00. On air time was actually 11.45.

Then I was pitted against Sylvia Tidy Harris, a woman best noted for saying no-one should employ women below aged 45 as they might have children.

She presented two scenarios where she said inheritance tax might be due. First case:

Two young people start in the City on salaries of £35,000 each and buy a house together worth £300,000. Immediately they're chargeable to inheritance tax.

This is what's wrong with this:

  1. It's not related to real life - a tiny proportion of people start on £35,000. The average wage is £27,000. This women is a fantasist to think this is normal.
  2. These people would have a mortgage of maybe 100% of the value of their home. That's offset against it's value for inheritance tax. So net worth is zero. No inheritance tax due.
  3. She interjected:

No, their parents bought them the house

Now we have a new scenario. They do have an asset worth £300,000. But it's shared. So that's £150,000 each. So there's no inheritance tax. It starts at £285,000. And let's also be clear. They've got to die first. Not likely.

So, we move on to her second claim. This is:

A person owns an ordinary house worth £200,000 and a small business worth say £150,000. It's so unfair they have to pay inheritance tax.

Which is why, of course, they don't owe any. All small unquoted businesses are exempt from inheritance tax.

In other words this person had no idea whatsoever what she was talking about and had the nerve to go on national radio and talk about it. I was furious. I fear it showed.

But is this the propaganda the Tories will resort to to get tax cuts for the rich? I think so. Sad, isn't it?