Abolishing stamp duty for most first-time-buyers is proposed
The government has challenged the figures underpinning detailed Conservative proposals to reform inheritance tax and stamp duty land tax.
The threshold for inheritance tax would rise from £300,000
to £1m under a Conservative government, shadow
chancellor George Osborne
told his party's conference in Blackpool.
And first time buyers would not pay stamp duty on homes worth up to £250,000.
Mr Osborne said the £3.5bn cost would be funded by imposing a £25,000-per-year charge for so-called "non-domicile" taxpayers.
These are people who live and work in the UK but who remain "domiciled" for tax purposes in a different country.
Under the present rules non-domiciled foreigners pay tax on the income they earn in the UK, but do not pay any tax on income that arises outside the UK.
But the chancellor Alistair Darling attacked the proposals, arguing they would raise much less than the £3.5 billion which Mr Osborne says they would deliver.
We asked for your comments - a selection of which are below - this debate is now closed.
I think that half the problem with stamp duty is that once you hit the £125k mark you are taxed on the whole lot. Wouldn't it make more sense to tax only the amounts paid above that on an incremental scale? In parts of the country, your first time buyer has to pay stamp duty. I think the whole idea that the Conservatives has come up with is flawed as they want to enable first time buyers to buy homes. How about making stamp duty regional, or only applicable to people who are buying their first home? This would also deter landlords buying up cheaper property that would normally be available to first time buyers.
I relocated to Jamaica for various reasons, not least the over-burdensome tax regime and the phenomenal level of bureaucracy levied on the British people by the present Labour government. If we are to encourage entrepreneurial behaviour, yet prevent some of the excesses of large corporate executives, a sensible balanced approach is necessary. This is a timely announcement with the current credit crunch. The balance has severely gone the wrong way in the last decade or so, and a redress is long overdue. The Conservative approach goes someway to opening up the necessary free flow of capital to address the creative needs of the country. Such policies need to be presented in a holistic manner and not in isolation. This is the right direction, but please let's see more.
Brian Kenny, Kingston, Jamaica
Popular though this tax cut would be to the electorate, it will do nothing to improve the affordability of houses. Indeed, I think it will increase prices further, i.e. not solving the problem.
Gavin Douglas, Perth
The plan to tax non-doms seems short-sighted, when no one has any concrete idea as to how many there are and would they pay it. If the Tories are going to have policies based on unknown facts they do not deserve to be in power. There is a bit more to running the country than being selective about who you are helping. A general cut in the tax rate and no tax on earnings less than 12k would help a lot more people. This could be paid for by taxing pollution more.
Why on the BBC is there the assumption that the government has to recoup money which has been increased greatly by the stealthy former chancellor, by not raising the threshold of inheritance tax over the years? How about stopping the waste of money spent on quangos, consultants, failed IT projects, child benefit for foreign children, immigration centres, MPs' second homes, etc?
If the government could find money to reduce taxes I would much prefer them to reduce income tax rather than reduce inheritance tax. If they reduce income tax I can spend the extra money now!
Consider the unpaid time and effort by the owners which has gone into maintaining their house, and the taxed money which has been spent on it. It is fair that one should be able to pass on one's time, energy and thrift in one's lifetime, in the form of legacies to one's children by leaving them most of your house and savings. Governments, particularly this Labour one, waste our money. This Labour government, like all others in my lifetime, has not managed to use our taxes well. They have good ideas but are rubbish at implementing them.
Christina Gore, Richmond on Thames
I cannot understand the obsession with inheritance tax. If there is money available, be it new or old, changing council tax or raising the income tax personal allowance will benefit far more people than further enriching people who are enriched by receiving an inheritance.
Tony Knight, Durham
The policy is nonsense. High house prices in London and the South East are the underlying cause of the problem. Raising the IHT threshold is just a bit of tinkering. Stamp duty is another issue that needs more than tinkering. There is no justification for charging tax on people's moves. It just discourages moving and causes shortages of the right land in the right place. Stamp duty should just cover administrative costs incurred by the Land Registry. But abolishing the stamp duty for a particular class of buyers will simply have the effect of driving up house prices, or perhaps preventing them from falling. It is not first-time-buyers who will benefit, but the people who are selling their houses to them. Either this is a cynical policy intended to mislead, or the Conservative policymakers do not know basic economics. The way to deal with both sets of problems is by the introduction of the right sort of land taxation, levied on site value only, based on annual rental values.
Henry Law, Brighton
I think it is a wonderful idea. The Labour Party has allowed so many people to be sucked into this unfair tax, without consideration for anyone just trying to pass on their homes to their children. Isn't this just a form of legalised grave robbing?
J. Harris, Southport
Of course they add up. This is a serious issue. It is the public's democratic right to have facts delivered unspun: something the present government seem incapable of understanding. In attempting to rubbish the Osborne policy, the Labour machine, not the government machine, rolled out Alistair Darling under the guise and cover of the Treasury in a political exercise in spin. This is both revealing and unacceptable.
I have heard several times now on the BBC, the assertion that if the Tories' sums do not add-up, they will have to raise taxes elsewhere, as alleged today, or cut services. Why does no-one ever question the fact that perhaps the Tories will not waste the billions that Labour has, and therefore will not need to raise as much money to fund efficient and appropriate services?
The strangest thing about this and any other tax policy announcement is that none of the political parties, or your programme, ever comments on the value to the economy if the tax was not taken. Arguments, as on your programme, rage around "how would it be funded?" or what is "lost" to the Treasury. It is as if by letting people keep their inheritance, all financial experts think that it will be stashed under the bed in gold bars.
Can I suggest that you balance the debate more by discussing what the money would be spent on if it were left in the hands of the inheritors? E.g. buying more goods and services (which of course employs people, who then pay taxes); investing more; funding more innovation; supporting more charities or maybe getting that less well-off relative a lift onto the housing ladder. Why should the Treasury think it has a monopoly on redistribution?
Peter Mucci, Southampton
IHT impacts most cruelly on a child (usually the unmarried daughter) who remains at, or returns home, to care for elderly parents, and when the parent(s) die must sell the family house to meet IHT, leaving herself homeless. Of course, those of us who have had to sell a parent's house to pay nursing home fees, all too often have nothing left to inherit, so the issue of IHT no longer applies. And don't forget, those nursing home fees must be paid out of income from which tax has already been deducted.
Elizabeth Balsom, London
How many millionaires die in a year? Not many that have not already made arrangements to avoid IHT. Therefore IHT will now bring in less than the cost of administrating the tax - bearing in mind that all estates will still have to be assessed to ensure that they are below the new limit. This opens an obvious door in a later budget - to completely abolish the tax. Is this the true long term aim of the Conservatives?
David Ferguson, Glasgow
Is the non-dom levy legal? UK domicile is defined as applying to those coming to the country to settle permanently. A large number of non-doms have no income other than their UK earnings on which they pay tax in the normal way. The Tory levy would therefore either penalise people because they intend to return to their country of origin in the future, or oblige them to choose permanent settlement in the UK to avoid the levy.
Peter Sire, Dollar
Simply by asking the question "do the Tories' tax plans add up?" you are, sadly, succumbing to Labour spin. Government spending is well over £600bn p.a. Even if George Osborne's estimate of the income that could be raised from non-doms is completely wrong, any chancellor would have no problem in re-allocating 0.5% of his spending plans.
But if you still want to ask the question, here are a couple of simple ways in which £3.5bn could easily be found: 1) stop overpaying tax credits, 2) scrap ID cards (which is Tory policy, I believe).
Vernon Stradling, Chichester
The comments we publish are not necessarily the views of the BBC but will reflect the balance of views we have received. It is helpful if contributors state if they work for any organisation relevant to an issue discussed. Readers should form their own views on whether messages published represent undeclared interests, or views prompted by a common source.