EVEN though Inheritance Tax (IHT) won’t be relevant for most of us just now the matter of after-death taxation strikes at the very heart of the human psyche – we want the assets we’ve amassed over our lifetime to pass, undiminished, to loved-ones so that they can further themselves in a future of financial uncertainty.

Ever-mindful of the unpopularity of IHT, the Conservative Party is falling over itself to make you think that today’s Budget tinkering can now turn this deep-seated wish of ours into a distinct reality.

George Osborne will stir IHT from its six year slumber by ostensibly raising the IHT threshold from £325,000 per person to £500,000 come April 2017. That’s the headline, but ignore the small print and you’re in for a rude awakening of your own.

Peek behind the curtain and in reality what’s being rolled-out here is not a general hike in your tax-free allowance but rather a “family home allowance” – a top up of £175,000 per person for your main home when it is passed on your death to your children or grandchildren.

Yes, the figures add up to an aesthetically pleasing £500,000 – and a psychologically satisfying £1 million for married couples and civil partners – but the workings expose this latest IHT alteration as a means of helping the few at the expense of the many.

The true beneficiaries of this £1 billion policy will be those living in south-east England, where property prices have inflated to eye-wateringly absurd proportions.

Those now put at an apparent disadvantage include childless couples and those whose wealth isn’t stored in the bricks and mortar of their home.

An opportunity has been missed today. The Tories’ sleight of hand will add yet more complexity to a tax system in dire need of simplification and may precipitate an increase in house prices in the longer term.


George Kerevan: A merciless attacks on the poor ... to the sound of cheers

John Swinney: The National Living Wage hides an attack on people in low-wage jobs

Equality: This Budget continues the project which impoverishes women

Foodbanks: ‘Economic security’ is an alien concept to many of those who use our services

Disability: Why we are sceptical about Osborne's promise

Unemployment: The National Living Wage is a slightly less low minimum wage

Child poverty: Child poverty ... Measures will do precious little for the poorest families in Scotland

Housing: Pushing those already suffering further into poverty