The Campaign for Universal Inheritance

The Introduction of British Universal Inheritance

Once British Universal Inheritance has running for some time, its operation will be straightforward, with all British-born young adults being certain of being eligible at the age of 25, and a figure of 10,000 British Universal Inheritance almost being financeable by a flat 10 per cent tax. However, on first introduction the progressive rates of tax above 10 per cent should finance a tapering between 10,000 at the age of 25 down to zero at the age of, say, 29, so that in the short term no one would lose out on more than a modest amount after tax as compared with those a year younger. Moreover those over 85 who are prepared to declare how much they have or have not received by way of inheritance or capital gifts during their lives could also be immediately eligible if this were thought desirable for fairness and/or necessary for democratic acceptability. They would receive the 10,000 less the amount of 10 per cent tax on total cumulative lifetime receipts of capital gifts and inheritance, which they would have to be declare in order to qualify. The age for that eligibility could be reduced by two year steps over 30 years to 25, at which point everyone over 25 would have benefited.

Later on, after the need for introductory arrangements are over, progressive rates of tax will finance a higher figure than 10,000, and this will be demanded  politically as Universal Inheritance becomes widely understood and the amount and tax rates become the subjects of normal democratic debate.

The socialist Fabian Society came round in 2000 to proposing Universal Inheritance in a Leaflet called "A Capital Idea"(1), which indeed it is! They proposed 10,000 at 18 and stated that this could be financed by a 20% to 25% tax. But the idea has been completely ignored by the New Labour Government, which has gone for the 250 or 500 Baby Bonds instead (for babies whose parents just happen to be on income support at the time they are born). These are universal in a completely inappropriate way - because of being given to inheritance multi-millionaires as well as those who would otherwise inherit no wealth at all.

18 is too young. If a vote is wasted at the age of 18, it can be used again later: if a once-a-lifetime inheritance of capital is wasted at 18, it is gone for ever. 25 is a better age than 18 for all to receive British Universal Inheritance. In any case banks can lend to those over 18 against the certain receipt at the age of 25. Some capital will of course be wasted at 25, but that is a cost of freedom, as with all inheritance.  Every 25 year old, including the currently socially excluded, will need a bank account.  They will need it to receive the British Universal Inheritance payment. The Clearing Banks should be falling over themselves to contribute to OPPORTUNITY - Campaign for Universal Inheritance in order to help bring this about as soon as possible.

For most people, unless and until the progressive rates start to apply, the constant marginal rate of tax on receipt of all inheritance and capital gifts, after the initial effective exemption, will be 10 per cent, rather than jumping from 0 per cent to 40 per cent. This will reduce evasion as well as avoidance. A rate of 10 and 20 per cent on all inheritance and capital gifts that the recipient has done nothing to earn or make, is reasonable. It can be reserved against by the giver, or borrowed against and earned back by beneficiaries, or the asset sold by the beneficiary in order to receive 80 to 90 per cent of its value. After all, income, which is earned, and capital gains, which are made by successful business, economic and financial decisions, are both taxed at up to 40 per cent. The 10 per cent tax on all inheritance and capital gifts which will finance British Universal Inheritance is an insurance premium for maintaining in our country the sense of community and stability without which it is not possible to create and preserve wealth.  And it is only right that larger receipts are subject to progressive rates above 10 per cent, according to political taste.

By introducing British Universal Inheritance to redistribute the stock of inherited capital in each succeeding generation, it will be possible to lower taxes on the stream of income and expenditure. There will be savings to the Chancellor's annual Budget expenditure from reduced alienation and crime, reduced policing costs, more empowerment of entrepreneurial activity, less social exclusion and less welfare state benefits and dependency.

Hopefully an enlightened government will not only increase the sense of community in our independent country by adopting British Universal Inheritance in the near future, but will also retain our independence from a single European State and keep our pound, our parliamentary democracy and our traditional legal rights.

It is to be hoped that this British innovation - first suggested as 15 for every 21 year-old by Thomas Paine (2) in 1797 - will then be followed by other open democratic capitalist countries. It is high time someone made a film of that great man, Tom Paine. If they do, may the makers of the film break the taboo on the discussion of the positive redistribution of inheritance and help spread throughout the world the idea of Universal Inheritance - inheritance for all - to the great benefit of millions of people in open democratic capitalist countries and of the stability and strength of those countries. And, in due course, this will lead to the conversion of countries not at present democracies to democracy and then, with Universal Inheritance, into open social democratic popular - rather than dynastic - capitalist countries.

(1) David Nissan and Julian Le Grand, Fabian Society Policy Report 49, A Capital Idea - (February 2000) (2) Tom Paine, Agrarian Justice - (1797)


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