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Death Duties

Volume 463: debated on Wednesday 6 April 1949

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Although, as I have stated earlier, there is not much further room for the equalisation of incomes by taxation, there is still a degree of inequality in the ownership of property, which may well be the subject of further adjustment. In addition, therefore, to the tidying up of the legislative structure of the Death Duties, I am taking this opportunity to raise their total yield by £11 million in 1949–50 and by £20 million in a full year.

For estates up to £17,500, there will be no increase over the existing Estate Duty; they will, therefore, in fact benefit, by no longer being subject to Legacy and Succession Duties. Above that, and up to £35,000, the new scale of Duty will not exceed the average of the three old duties taken together on estates of the same size. Above that, there will be a moderate increase. Tables showing the new rates will be included in the White Paper.

There are two other consequential changes, of a minor character. I propose to substitute for the present concession on agricultural property, which will no longer be applicable, a new relief, which will take the form of an abatement of 45 per cent. of the tax chargeable, which will produce approximately the same result by way of relief. I also propose to lift the exemption limit in the case of out and out gifts inter vivos from £100 to £500. These changes will take effect as from the date of the passing of the Finance Act, so as to give testators the opportunity, if they so wish, to alter their wills.