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Tuesday, 16 February 2010

A death tax is the fairest one. Yet now no voter will buy it | Peter Wilby | Comment is free | The Guardian‏

Is it fair, though, particularly given the imbalance of assets between the generations, to put the bill on general taxation, when we know it will rise steeply as we all live longer? Why should young working families, struggling to raise children and buy houses, pay for old people who own property which remains empty while they reside in care homes? A levy on the estates of the deceased is surely the most just and humane solution

In other words, the "death tax" runs up against the same emotions as the requirement for old people to sell their homes to finance care while still alive. It would be the most socially just means of funding, as well as the most economically efficient, but it will be hard to convince the voters. That is a measure of how far the left in Britain and America have allowed the case for social justice to go by default.

The two quotes above are very interesting. Firstly, about the universality of taxation. I'm inclined to agree with the author because I go against the grain on home-owning. I'm sure it'll get me no-where near office, but I'm not as big into buying and owning a house as many. I rent, and I am happy to rent. When I have a family of my own I want a home for them, I don't really care whether it is bought or rented. If I buy, I will have more important things to worry about than the house price. I don't take out loans because I live within my means so I want to continue, meaning that the house price will be far less relevant if I'm not trying to take out new loans against it.

The second is about how what is objectively the best thing to do is often subsumed by political expediency, and that's a shame. But that's life. If a single, hypothecated tax upon death is the best way to go, it should be done. The elderly need caring for, but they are not necessarily better off at home.

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