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Debating the backdoor death tax

The government’s intended probate fee hikes are a backdoor death tax, argues Chris Partington

18 April 2017

The findings by the joint committee on statutory instruments have confirmed what was clear to many solicitors from the outset: the government’s intended probate fee hikes are nothing more than a backdoor death tax. The committee also raised the point that the Lord Chancellor was possibly acting beyond her powers in attempting to enforce these changes.

‘The committee has a real doubt as to whether the Lord Chancellor may use a power to prescribe non-contentious probate fees for the purpose of funding services which executors do not seek to use,’ the report said.

This is the crux of the issue. Only parliament can introduce new taxation. The Ministry of Justice proposed to use the circa £250m per year generated from the rise in fees to fund the courts and tribunals service. Executors of a will would not by default use the services which the increased fee...

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