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Only 4% of estates in the South West would be affected if the Chancellor cuts inheritance tax at Wednesday’s Autumn Statement – according to new TUC analysis published today (Monday).
  • Union body says reducing inheritance tax would be a “huge giveaway to the UK’s wealthiest” and would “starve public services of vital funds”
  • Married couples can already hand down £1 million tax free to their children
  • TUC poll show most voters are against cutting inheritance tax

Only 4% of estates in the South West would be affected if the Chancellor cuts inheritance tax at Wednesday’s Autumn Statement – according to new TUC analysis published today (Monday).

The analysis of official statistics shows that of the 62,947 people who died in the region in 2020/21 (the latest year for which figures were available) just 2,700 estates had to pay any inheritance tax at all.

The analysis shows that people in London and the South East would be – by far – the largest beneficiaries from cutting inheritance tax.

But even in the capital (93%) and the South East (94%) nearly all estates don’t pay any inheritance tax.

Generous inheritance tax system

Currently, most married couples can leave up to £1 million to their children tax-free.

Inheritance tax is only paid at 40% on assets and wealth above £1 million – and even then loopholes can mean that for some families no tax is paid on assets worth over £1 million.

The IFS has estimated that the wealthiest 1% would get half the benefit of scrapping inheritance tax, with an average tax cut of £1 million.

Very wealthy minority

The TUC says cutting inheritance tax for millionaires would represent “a huge handout to the wealthiest” and starve public services of vital funds.

Most people in the UK either do not receive any inheritance, or pay no tax on anything they inherit – with just 4% of all estates paying any inheritance tax at all. The TUC says abolishing inheritance tax would be a giveaway for “a very small, very wealthy minority”.

In 2020/21 for 410,000 deaths HMRC was not even notified. In many of these cases there will have been no significant inheritance at all – let alone any inheritance tax paid.

Public opposition

TUC polling from earlier this year shows that a clear majority (60%) of the public are against cuts to the £1 million inheritance tax threshold – while just two in 10 say they want the tax lowered.

The poll, commissioned by the TUC and conducted by Opinium, revealed:

· Just two in 10 (20%) think that those who inherit over the £1 million inheritance tax threshold should pay less – 60% think inheritance tax should remain the same or be higher, including 62% of Conservative voters from the 2019 general election.

· Only two in 10 (20%) think the threshold for paying inheritance tax should be higher than the current £1 million for married couples – most (60%) think it should remain the same or be lowered, including 61% of Conservative 2019 voters.

“Levelling Down”

The TUC says lowering inheritance tax would be “an act of levelling down” by the Conservatives.

Inheritance tax is set to contribute a hefty £7bn annually to the public purse, according to the latest OBR forecasts.

And IFS analysis suggests that tax revenue from inheritance tax will increase from around £7 billion in the current year to around £15 billion in a decade’s time.

With “public services on their knees and school buildings crumbling”, the union body says an unfunded cut to inheritance tax would be the last thing the country needs.

TUC Regional Secretary Ines Lage said:

“This week’s Autumn Statement is about political choices.

“At a time when people are struggling with the cost of living and when our public services are on their knees – it would be obscene to give a huge tax cut to a very small, very wealthy minority.

“Virtually no-one is affected by inheritance tax in the South West, but if it is cut our schools and hospitals will be starved of much-needed funding.

“Slashing it would be an act of levelling down.

“The Conservatives have broken Britain, and they seem hellbent on making things even worse.

“It's time for a reset. We need an economy that rewards work – not wealth.”

Editors note

Figures for inheritance tax: figures for inheritance tax are taken from the HMRC and cover the 2020/21 tax year:…

- Mortality statistics are taken from the ONS (for England and Wales), NISRA (for Northern Ireland), and NRS (for Scotland). Monthly statistics were used to calculate the total deaths in the 2020/21 tax year to match the inheritance tax figures

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