Controversial death tax hike axed ahead of snap election

Added 21st April 2017

Plans to introduce a sharp increase in UK probate fees have been scrapped by the Ministry of Justice as a direct consequence of the surprise snap general election in June.

Controversial death tax hike axed ahead of snap election

The UK government department, headed by justice secretary Liz Truss, confirmed late on Thursday that the proposed revisions will not have time to complete its passage through parliament.

In February, the Ministry of Justice had said that the rise in probate fees would be introduced from May 2017, by overhauling the current flat rate fee of £215 (or £155 if using a solicitor) to one that is tiered based on assets.

The change would have meant lower value estates are exempt from any charge, but the charge on estates which exceed £50,000 (€58,386, $62,304) would increase quite dramatically.

Those with assets of over £1m would have had to pay probate fees of between £8,000 and £20,000.

Post general election scenario

The new government elected after the vote on 8 June will decide whether to press ahead with the controversial changes, dubbed ‘the death tax’, which raised the possibility that it might never see the light of day again.

In April, the plan to dramatically increase probate fees suffered a setback after British politicians announced that the measure could only be introduced with the consent of parliament.

Gordon Andrews, tax and financial planning expert at Old Mutual Wealth, said: "The u-turn on the increase to probate fees reveals concerns over the regulation’s unpopular nature. The label as a stealth tax has made it unpalatable to the government in the run up to the snap election.

“This is the second u-turn since the Spring Budget, following the chancellor’s swift u-turn on national insurance contributions. This leaves an even larger gap in the exchequer, which will now have to be filled."

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Mark Battersby

Editor, International Adviser

International Adviser

Mark Battersby is editor of International Adviser. He is also programme director for International Adviser events in strategic expat locations around the world, and its flagship FundLinks conference in London. Mark joined Last Word Media in February 2012, having previously worked at Citywire, Interactive Investor International, and FT Business.

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