You can see the point but it does stick in that craw a bit

It read: “A World War Two Medal group of five to James Gilchrist in presentation frame: £40”.

I was confused. These few medals were awarded to my father by a grateful nation in recognition of his bravery and service for his country. Was I right in thinking that the state now wanted to levy inheritance tax on these symbols of his sacrifice? Yes, it did.

Apparently gallantry medals do not attract inheritance tax while service medals do. And yes, obviously, there have to be some rules about what is part of a taxable estate and what isn’t. But it’s not immediately obvious that the line is drawn in the right place here.

To the extent that there’s a certain suspicion that whoever actually drew this line is a complete cunt.

16 comments on “You can see the point but it does stick in that craw a bit

  1. Maybe the tax should be levied if the inheritor is such an ungrateful cunt that he sells them.

  2. Yes, it does seem rather churlish when you consider that service medals, generally, are of very limited value.

    However, there are worthwhile solutions to this kind of problem.

    For reasons which have never been entirely clear to me, the personal effects of a great uncle who was killed in Normandy while serving with the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, including his service medals, wound up with my mother, who didn’t know quite what to do with them.

    So we had a bit of chat with other members of the family and eventually decided to place then into the safe-keeping of the regimental museum at Alnwick Castle where they are well-looked after and will remain so in perpetuity.

    The museum staff who dealt with this for my mother were, I should add, absolutely fantastic throughout, so if you do have any medals, paperwork or other military items relating to family members who served in the forces and you’re not sure quite what to do with them then track down the relevant service/regimental museum and have a chat with them.

  3. Unity it is churlish because they are recognition of putting life and limb at risk for the nation not because they are of limited value ffs: this ruling and its enforcement from those paid by us, whose remuneration and pension is never at risk due to actions of smallminded meanness.

  4. Abolishing the distinction between service and gallantry medals for inheritance tax purposes is such an obvious easy political ‘win’ for any Chancellor that the only reason it hasn’t been done can only be that no-one in the Treasury knew about it.

    Yet another example of what happens when a tax code gets so big that no-one can remember what it actually contains.

  5. Another approach is to say that the great big fuck-off ‘nil tax’ band of £325k comfortably covers any medals and other such things which are not of material value and which, when looked at in isolation, shouldn’t really be taxed.

    We should be making the tax code simpler. That means getting shot of these little exemptions, however well-intentioned.

    (As an aside, it’s worth noting that we are not, by definition, taxing the person who actually made the sacrifice to win the medals… nor are we even taxing them leaving said medals to the loving and supporting spouse who helped them through it all. We are taxing descendants who’ve evidently just been handed at least £325k that they’ve not earned.. so cry me a fuckin’ river, yeah?)

  6. It strikes me as unlikely that a solicitor can give a detailed line-item estimate of the value of an estate worth £375 in a cost effective manner. The solicitors fee would be a significant fraction of any tax recoverable from such a modest sum. Who pays this? If the inheritor, then the effective death tax for such small estates is closer to 60%-80%? Surely (in a hypothetical world where we accept such perversities as the death tax) such estimates should be a question of taking a quick look around for items of obvious value, then issuing a valuation based on statistics. “Average value of contents of a two bedroom home in the south east: £200”. Done.

  7. IIRC IHT in the UK is not actually inheritance tax pur sang, it’s an estate tax, levied on the estate. And thus paid for by the dead guy from the grave before the heritors get their take.

    If it were a tax on inheritance, each individual heritor would be declaring their take, which is not the case.

  8. Well….. if we have to draw a line at all, this seems reasonably sensible – for certain values of “reasonable” and “sensible”, YMMV.

    You get the service medal automatically for having sat in a camp stacking blankets. [aside/anecdata: IIRC, some of the chaps running the laundry on one of the RN ships were horrified to get the Gulf War service medal because nobody had told them they were in a war zone….]

    Gallantry medals, OTOH, are not given out to just anyone. You really do have to earn them with real acts of, well, gallantry.

  9. jobsworth would be the appropriate description I think.

    But ‘cunt’ is much more accurate.

  10. [aside/anecdata: IIRC, some of the chaps running the laundry on one of the RN ships were horrified to get the Gulf War service medal because nobody had told them they were in a war zone….]

    It was the Chinese guys working on the troop carriers and RFA ships who didn’t realise.

    As someone with a service medal I can see why it should count. Whilst most medals only have sentimental value and are worthless to an outside party and therefore no impact on IHT, what happens to really valuable ones that just get traded? If outside the family they just another way of storing value with a hope of it appreciating faster than interest rates on cash or other investments. Even within the family there is always the thought that they can be sold in hard times.

    For that reason I see no reason why gallantry medals shouldn’t also be taxed, but I can see the emotive reason why they aren’t.

  11. And service medals are of relatively little value*. Whereas a gallantry medal with a single accompanying service medal can fetch hundreds of thousands of pounds and bear no relation whatsoever to the value of the rest of the estate.

    So, what we are saying is that gallantry medals are, indeed, taxed. But that that tax is postponed until the point where the family gains benefit from them. Hence the inheritance of gallantry medals should not force their sale. Which seems a reasonable point to me.

    * I have my great-granddad’s, my granddad’s and mine. Simply due to the sheer number of wars our politicians have got us in to during my career, mine are worth significantly more either than Pip, Squeak and Wilfred, or 1939-45 Star + three. Although one of my colleagues now has (iirc) 12 campaign, jubilee & long-service medals. That collection (with the appropriate provenance) would certainly be worth a few bob. It certainly cost him enough to get his QDJM added in.

  12. Question is, of value to who?
    There’s always seems, to me, something deeply doubtful about owning medals one has no connection to.

    My grandmother kept her son’s campaign medals thrown in the bottom of the kitchen drawer with all the other things of doubtful utility. Miscellaneous screws, an old pair of pliers, bits of wire. Us grandchildren would get them out to play with.
    The son was a navigator on a Wellington, failed to return. Not sure if she didn’t have the right attitude to the things.

  13. We are taxing descendants who’ve evidently just been handed at least £325k that they’ve not earned.. so cry me a fuckin’ river, yeah?

    As opposed to handing the money over to the insatiable maw of the state in order that bureacrats can use it to expand their empire and politicians can use it to increase their power. And both sets of parasites will use it to make themselves feel good by pissing it up against the wall on pointless schemes that they think will look good to the BBC or Guardian.

    Incidently, whats the going tax rate on on a KCB or any of the other fucking gongs they award each other with gay abandon.

  14. No-one even thought about valuing my great-uncle’s gallantry medal and framed “mentioned in dispatches” certificates (I assume that my great-grandmother had them framed). There must have been a number of service medals but it seems that they were discarded.
    @ Unity
    Thanks for the hint – when my sisters and I die there will be no-one left who remembers him.
    @ Martin Seebach
    When my grandmother died my great-grandfather’s office chair, which aforesaid great-uncle used (he left everything to his widowed sister but I got his retirement gold watch so I have had that nearly four times as long as he did) was valued at £5; the valuation went up to £40 when my mother died.

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