Bristol

Woman with orphaned grandchildren wants inheritance tax law changed

Beaumont Mitchell family Image copyright Family photo
Image caption The children's grandmother said the family "did everything together"

A woman is campaigning to change inheritance laws which penalised her orphaned grandchildren.

Pauline Mitchell's daughter Becky Mitchell died from her injuries seven months after a crash which killed her partner Adrian Beaumont on the M5.

Becky's children were taxed £50,000. Their grandmother wants the "unfair" law to be changed so children under 18 have the same legal status as spouses.

HM Revenue and Customs said it "could not make an exemption" for minors.

'Commons debate'

For 2019, the threshold for inheritance tax for spouses is set at £950,000 if your estate includes your home.

But the standard inheritance tax of 40% is applied to anything over a £325,000 threshold. The value of the estate was above this threshold.

The tax was taken from Becky Mitchell's £130,000 death in service payment.

Pauline Mitchell said: "Had Adrian survived, it would have gone to Adrian and would have been free of inheritance tax but because Adrian died before her, it has to go into Becky's estate.

"Becky's estate is in excess of the inheritance tax level and will therefore be taxed at 40%. It's not the children's fault. It just seems unfair.

"I think the law needs to be changed to the extent that when dependent minor children are the beneficiaries then I don't think inheritance tax should be paid."

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Pauline MItchell said her daughter Becky and Adrian Beaumont were a "really well-matched couple"

Pauline Mitchell added that she and Mr Beaumont's family were now planning to campaign on the issue and petition for a debate in the Commons.

"It wouldn't cost the Treasury much as it's rare for both parents to die and if you're under 18, you're dependent on your parents," she added.

Her local Bristol North West, Labour MP Darren Jones has written to the treasury on behalf of the children "to make their case" but said the reply he received "essentially said no".

He said: "There is provision for exemptions under the rules and this is a particularly unique and sad situation that wouldn't happen very often.

"I will now do whatever I can to help my constituent [Pauline Mitchell] if she decides she wants to pursue this through legal measures."

Ms Mitchell added that while the tax had been paid, she wanted to help others left in the same situation in the future.

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