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Home » Latest News » Solicitor cautions vigilance against stealth taxes after plans to increase probate fees scrapped

Solicitor cautions vigilance against stealth taxes after plans to increase probate fees scrapped

Solicitor cautions vigilance against stealth taxes after plans to increase probate fees scrapped
“ While delighted that this scheme has been halted for now, it is important to look to the future. It would be my hope that the parties vying to be elected in June make it clear in their manifestos what their stance would be on this issue, before the country goes to the polls on the 8th June ”

Local solicitor delighted that campaign to stop probate fee rises has been listened to, but cautions vigilance against stealth taxes going forward.

Following the recent announcement of a proposed increase to probate fees, the Ministry of Justice has today (Friday 21st April) halted their plans to enforce the hike and explained that there is not enough time for the new probate fee scheme to be brought in before the snap election in June. While I am delighted at this decision, I am concerned that the fee hike will be revisited after the election.

The Lord Chancellor, Liz Truss, had planned to increase probate fees in May on an sliding scale that would see some estates paying up to £20,000 to issue a grant of probate, on top of any inheritance tax. The changes were projected to generate an estimated £265 million a year to help the government reduce the burden on the taxpayer of running the courts and tribunal service. While that might have been good news for the courts, it would have seen a huge increase of as much as 9,300% in certain estates, and the sliding fee scheme had all the hallmarks of taxation.

British law firmly places taxation decisions with the UK parliament, not the Ministry of Justice. The fact is that people who have high value estates already pay more to the government than those passing on lower value estates, via inheritance tax. If the government wanted to increase inheritance tax then they could, but it should be done openly and directly.

As a Wills and Probate specialist at Bridge McFarland, I spend a lot of time supporting people who have lost a member of their families and an extra charge like this is certainly not what they need. For people inheriting large old country houses that need a constant heavy flow of money to prevent them from falling into disrepair, or farming estates that are effectively cash-poor, despite their assets, this would have been disastrous.

While delighted that this scheme has been halted for now, it is important to look to the future. It would be my hope that the parties vying to be elected in June make it clear in their manifestos what their stance would be on this issue, before the country goes to the polls on the 8th June. Since the announcement to halt this scheme was made, the government have not issued any statements about revisiting the scheme if they retain a majority.

We need to ensure that this is the last we hear of what would have been a regressive and unlawful stealth tax, and I intend to keep campaigning until we can be certain that this issue has been well and truly resolved.