Lawyers at Latimer Hinks have sent an open letter to Chancellor George Osborne, demanding urgent changes to Inheritance Tax rules which they say discriminate against the childless.
Latimer Hinks CEO Anne Elliott, together with colleagues Andrew Way and Elizabeth Armstrong, has written to the Chancellor urging him to take a fresh look at Inheritance Tax allowance (IHT) legislation announced in his Summer Budget.
They have also launched a government petition in a bid to trigger a response and a parliamentary debate.
The new rules mean that from April 2017 married couples and civil partners will be able to leave homes worth up to £200,000 to their descendants without them paying Inheritance Tax. The figure rises to £350,000 by 2020/2021. Taking the new allowance with the existing Nil Rate Band of £325,000 per person (being part of the estate taxed at 0%), married couples and civil partners will, after April 2017 have an effective exemption of £850,000 rising to £1m in 2020/2021
However, the Family Home Allowance only applies to direct descendants, meaning those who do not have children, stepchildren or grandchildren to pass their homes onto, will not be eligible.
Latimer Hinks felt compelled to act after talking to a number of clients set to lose out under the new rules.
Anne Elliott said: "Weve had enquiries from people asking whether they can benefit from the new legislation. Its awful to have to break the news to them that, if they are childless, these new rules dont apply.
"Its nothing short of discrimination to say if you are childless, you will not get the same financial advantages as those who do have children, even though you have contributed to society as a taxpayer by helping to pay for education, maternity leave and childcare costs.
"What about the sisters who have never married and wish to leave their home to each other? Or the auntie who was unable to have children of her own and loves her niece as a daughter? Or the parents who tragically lost their only child? Why shouldnt they be able to pass their home to whomever they choose, with the same financial advantages as those who do have children?
"We are calling upon George Osborne to change the discriminatory nature of new Inheritance Tax arrangements by giving those who are childless exactly the same allowances as those with direct descendants.
End Inheritance Tax (IHT) discrimination against the childless