Steampunk lady with large revolver

Dear Ade,

Have you seen the campaign in the Telegraph on abolition of the hated inheritance tax. Do you think the government would abolish inheritance tax – might an electoral surprise be in the works?

Regards, Jonathan.

Dear Jonathan,

Enlightened fellow that you are, you know the joy of the podcast.
I have recently discovered the gem that in turning a cliché on its head is titled The Rest is Politics. One of the hosts of this insightful non linear program is once-candidate for Mayor of London, the former soldier Rory Stewart – and if you’re interested in such things, he acted as tutor to the princes Henry and William. The other fellow who rocks the mic is, depending on your age, a slightly better-known fellow, the thinking person’s Dominic Cummings, Alastair Campbell.

They have a listeners’ questions show, the frequency of which is beyond the grasp of my memory just now. Anyhow, a correspondent asked what newspapers they read, a question to which Campbell’s retort was: ‘Don’t read newspapers, read books’.

It would be an act of disrespect so nasty, an insult so vile, an act of criminality as grave as to resemble what we call the Windrush Scandal to respond to your missive without perusing the Telegraph’s crusade. I have read all of the stories of this campaign. You have no concept of how soiled I feel. From last till first, the campaign is a confection of half truths and bare-arsed lies worthy of being slapped on the side of a bus and driven from Lizard to Dunnet Head by way of Lowestoft. They are the rantings of the half-schooled, ill-informed. and the half-witted. The starting gun on this wicked enterprise was fired by a man who was fired from his job for tax evasion – Nadhim Zahawi. As the kids have told me not to say, let that sink in.

As this is an undertaking of the Telegraph’s, naturally, it was leaved with racism, seasoned with sexism and garlanded with boorishness. No matter.

It would appear you’ve adopted the tautology of this publication. You, like it, hold inheritance tax as hated. I pray you show me a tax that’s loved.

The periodical concedes that for most, the wealth subject to this tax would have arisen from increased residential property values, or in simple terms, inflation. As a regular reader, you’re aware of the lead article of May 2022 issue of The Whole Lot, the central point of which was that rising house prices are not in anyone’s interest. My expectation that that story would be the most ill-received of my writings was justified.

Let’s to your meaning: you propose we forgo the receipts from inheritance tax. That’s all well and good—how do you imagine we make good the shortfall? Would you rather the rate of capital gains, the profit on selling your principal private residence, be awakened from zero as it is currently is to say 25%? Or perhaps to jack up stamp duty land tax and be done with it?

Would you rather we paid property taxes—an annual levy on owning your own home – distinct from council tax which is merely a tax on occupation, not a tax on wealth or ownership? On council tax, it would be hard to devise a more iniquitous system – the charge on a dwelling worth £320,001 is the same as that on a £2m gaff, the same £50m mansion. The number of major economies in which they do not have a property tax can be counted on the digits of one hand.

I invite you to take your pick of Miliband’s Mansion Tax, May’s Dementia tax or Johnson’s oven ready social care funding plans. Only clowns and children like surprises. Scrap inheritance tax, the easiest tax to avoid, by all means, however, be certain: as a bruise follows a fall, the lost taxation must be made up. You’re invited to indicate your preference. You put me in mind of a character in a cheap novel or poor film: in a locked room enjoined to take his own life – he’s offered a revolver and cyanide capsule.

How would you make up the lost tax?



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