The Treasury has said it was considering its IHT changes as long ago as
The department has issued details in response to a Freedom of Information
release will be seen as a nakedly political attempt to claim that Labour
thought of changing IHT before the Tories did.
The released letter says: ‘We have records of officials considering the
proposal on 9th January 2007. Advice on this measure entitled “Workstream H:
Measure 1220 – Inheritance tax transferable nil-rate bands” was sent to Treasury
Ministers as pre-Budget advice on 6th March 2007.’
Former chancellor Gordon Brown did not implement the changes in the Budget,
however, with his successor Alistair Darling implementing them only later in the
PBR, after the Tories had pledged at their conference to raise the IHT band to
£1m and seized the political initiative on the issue.
The letter also gives a detailed timeline of how Darling took up the issue:
‘You asked when the current Chancellor first considered these proposals.
Following his appointment, the Chancellor received the above paper on 27th July
2007. The Chancellor confirmed that this measure was under discussion for the
Pre-Budget Report on 20th August 2007.
‘Advice on “Inheritance tax (IHT): transferable allowances” was received by
the Chancellor on 3rd September 2007. The Chancellor responded to this advice on
5th September 2007 asking officials to work up final proposals. Subsequent
detailed costings followed before the Pre-Budget Report set out all details on
inheritance tax reforms on 9th October 2007.’
The Tory conference took place at the end of September and early October,
suggesting that Darling was working on the plans before the Tories announced
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