HC Deb 12 October 1943 vol 392 cc733-4W
Sir G. Jeffreys

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware of the hardship caused to testamentary beneficiaries, such as a widow and children, by Section 7 (5) of the Finance Act, 1894, which estimates the value of property owned by the deceased by reference to the price such property might fetch if sold in the open market at the time of death; and whether, as war-time prices of property reach an exaggerated level and as Death Duties now have to be paid on these inflated values, the next Budget will amend the law to adjust the burden of taxation such cases where the beneficiaries continue to occupy the property?

Sir J. Anderson

I will consider my hon. and gallant Friend's suggestion, but I would remind him that the fundamental principle of valuation of property for purposes of Estate Duty is to take market value at the date of death, and it would be difficult to make a departure from that basis for any particular type of property.

Mr. Brooke

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what percentage of the total number of estates chargeable to Death Duties are under £500 gross value; what percentage of the total revenue from Death Duties is derived from such estates; how the revenue from these small estates compares with the cost of assessment and collection; and will he consider whether a higher exemption limit than £100 would release labour and further encourage small savings without net loss of revenue?

Sir J. Anderson

Of the total number of estates charged to Death Duties about 40 per cent. do not exceed £500 gross capital value. They yield about £150,000 which is approximately 0.2 per cent. of the total revenue from Death Duties. I note my hon. Friend's suggestion, but I must point out that, as a detailed examination of these small cases is normally unnecessary, the saving in cost of assessment would be relatively small, and it has to be borne in mind that whatever the limit may be, it is necessary to bring under review the affidavits and wills in all estates.

Sir J. Lucas

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that an Army officer killed in action recently had succeeded to the family estates on the death of his cousin killed in action 10 days previously; and whether Death Duties are payable on the second death and in similar cases?

Sir J. Anderson

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to Section 64 (2) of the Finance Act, 1940, which relieves from a second payment of Death Duties property passing on successive deaths in circumstances such as those to which the Question refers.