Stop taxing the dead, urge LibDems

They have tabled a Commons motion attacking the charge, imposed when VAT was first levied in 1973, putting the issue at the feet of financial secretary to the Treasury Paul Boateng.

More than ten MPs, led by Edinburgh West representative John Barrett, have signed the plea to drop what they call an ‘insensitive and totally outrageous’ imposition on grieving people.

Although all other services provided by an undertaker are exempt from the 17.5% VAT levy, headstones and other commemorative sculptures such as urns provided by undertakers in connection with a burial or a cremation are charged VAT.

Boateng has so far refused to carry out any review and claims that when the tax was introduced the purchase of closely related commemorative items connected with funerals was considered to be more of a matter of choice and therefore not included within the scope of the exemption.

Responding Barrett said: ‘I am at a lost to understand why the government will not review this decision and allow all services provided by an undertaker to be exempt from VAT.

‘I hope this motion goes some way to getting a change in policy and lightening the heavy financial burden placed on people at a vulnerable time,’ he added.

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