Legal experts have accused the Government of sneaking in a new “death tax” by the back door without proper parliamentary scrutiny.
New rules will mean estates worth £2m or more pay £6,000 in probate fees, up from £155 currently. The 3,770pc increase is a reduction on the original plans, which would have meant a bill of £20,000 for the largest estates.
A “grant of probate” allows the executor to access and distribute someone’s estate when they die.
The fiercely unpopular changes have been dubbed a “stealth death tax” and a de facto increase on top of existing inheritance levies (IHT). Experts have now warned that the probate fee structure will not be thoroughly debated in Parliament, as any other tax rule changes would.
The changes are expected to be introduced in April 2019, but the rules already form part of the law, it has emerged.
Making use of a parliamentary procedure called a “negative statutory instrument”, the Government is able to write the changes into law without debate.
The procedure dictates that an amendment is made to existing legislation on the day it is announced and remains so unless a motion to reject it is agreed within 40 days.
Given the use that is made of these things – despite the entirely true case that they have positive uses – perhaps it’s time to abolish SIs altogether?
Further, the best argument against more government is what government currently does.