Probate fee increases are undisguised death tax
21 March 2019
National advisory firm LEBC Group has called on the government to withdraw plans to impose what it says is a new “death tax” on estates from April.
The Office of Budget Responsibility has confirmed that probate fees will increase from April 2019, resulting in costs rising from £215 to £6,000 for those with estates worth over £2 million. The government expects these charges to raise £185 million by 2022-23.
Kay Ingram, director of public policy, LEBC, said: “As this is now officially recognised as a tax, and not a fee, as previously maintained by the government, it should be debated as part of a Finance Bill and not waived through by nine MPs in an obscure Committee.
“If the government believes this tax is fair and will not result in widows and orphans being hit hard at a time of vulnerability, it should have the courage to debate it in Parliament and not sneak it through without debate.”
Ingram said that given the public finances were found to be in better shape than expected, as announced in the Chancellor’s Spring Statement yesterday, there is “no need for government to exploit their monopoly of the probate service” which provides families with access to their loved one’s assets.
LEBC has alerted the Competition and Markets Authority about what it describes as the “unfair pricing aspect” of this fee hike and says if the government pushes ahead with plans to impose it from April, it will seek further investigation.
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