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The UK government is facing a backlash for sneaking through a “death tax” that could see grieving Brits having to fork out up to £6,000.
Probate – legally securing a deceased relatives’ estate – will cost significantly more from April.
Brits currently pay a flat fee of £215 – or £155 if they use a solicitor – for probate, but the charge is set to increase in proportion to the value of estates
Roughly 2,800 families a year will face increased charges, with 56,000 of them having to pay between £2,500 and £6,000. Estates worth more than £2m will cost families the full £6,000 to secure. Those worth less than £50,000 will be exempt from any fee – but this is 10 times the current threshold of £5,000.
The ‘death tax’ hike is expected to bring Ministry of Justice an extra £185m a year by 2022/23.
Ministers have been accused of classifying the increase as a fee rather than a tax to avoid parliamentary scrutiny. Tax rises are usually introduced in parliamentary bills, and go through a process of examination and debate before being voted on by both the House of Commons and the Lords.
However, because it was classified as a fee, the probate increase was able to be passed with a simple change to legislation called a statutory instrument.
The legislation committee approved the change by a vote of nine to eight on Thursday.
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “We condemn this proposed stealth tax on grieving families.
“It’s hard enough to deal with loss of a loved one without the government stepping in and taking away so much through inheritance tax and now this proposed increase to probate charges.
“While probate can be bureaucratically burdensome, these death tax hikes are totally unreasonable and will hit taxpayers even harder, we should instead abolish inheritance tax.” yahoo