Death duties are now only a minor source of revenue to the British Exchequer (about 1.5 per cent of Inland Revenue receipts) and they now have few committed advocates. Nevertheless they persist, mainly because of inertia.
Dr Bracewell-Milnes analyses the traditional criticism of death duties and adds some novel arguments based on the concept of saving in perpetuity – saving which is never drawn down, whether or not it was initially planned as perpetual. The perpetual saver is a public benefactor because he or she provides the rest of society with a permanent loan at rates chargeable for loans with maturity dates. Taxing perpetual saving will reduce its supply, thus resulting in losses to the rest of society.
Inheritance tax does immense economic damage, according to Dr Bracewell-Milnes, and should be abolished. It is ‘perverse and counterproductive for its own ostensible purposes, egalitarian or otherwise’.