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Friday, 21 April 2017

Death Taxes Deferred

It is a well-know saying that the two certainties in life are death and taxes. Governments have linked the two through death duties and inheritance taxes for several generations, and the present UK government intended to take this process a stage further by replacing probate fees by a progressive tax. That proposition met with a storm of protest, and it has been abandoned as part of the deck-clearing operation that every government has to undertake before a general election. No doubt, something like a progressive tax in place of probate fees will be introduced in the non-too-distant future.

The Justice Department, which had proposed this increase in the cost of administering a deceased person's estate, is facing ever-mounting costs. On the same day that the department climbed down on the death tax, they confirmed that they are constructing a series of isolation units for specially dangerous prisoners, starting with three units each for around thirty inmates. These will include the most dangerous indoctrinators of susceptible people who can be radicalised in the context of a prison. This necessary construction is yet another example of how the costs of government constantly rise: public safety requires that more is spent on security.

So alongside the heath service, social services, schools and transport, law-and-order demands more resources. The prisons are approaching anarchy, the police have been cut back too far, and the armed forces are overstretched yet constantly asked to face up to new challenges.

Taxes must be increased; and if governments continue to fail in stimulating economic growth, this means that taxes must increase relative to national income. There is no alternative.

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