Former cabinet minister and Blair supporter, Stephen Byers has called for
Inheritance Tax (IHT) to be abolished, inflaming tensions between the prime
minister’s office and allies of chancellor Gordon Brown.
Byers made the comments in the weekend press, prompting an immediate reponse
from the chancellor’s supporters. Trade secretary Alistair Darling defended the
tax, stating that revenue from Inheritance tax, paid by 6% of estates, gave £3bn
a year to state coffers.
Byers argued that rising house prices were making the estates of the middle
classes liable for big tax bills.
Byers instead called for higher environmental taxes, saying that the
proportion of green taxation had down from 3.6% to 2.9% in seven years.
Debates about death duties are not uncommon in the profession, though
political involvement in the arguments is more rare. Byers’ remarks will be seen
as particularly harmful to Gordon Brown’s controversial attempts to crack down
on avoidance of the tax.
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