Hunt mulls IHT reforms amidst family-owned business lobbying

Numerous sizable family-owned corporations employing thousands of workers are urging the Treasury to incorporate them into the forthcoming inheritance tax (IHT) reforms, as reported by The Times.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is reportedly contemplating changes to the tax, such as lowering the 40% tax rate for estates exceeding £325,000, which he intends to announce in his November 22 autumn statement.

Over 200 companies, including Samworth Brothers, a Leicestershire-based food manufacturer, and Bibby Line, a Liverpool-based shipping and financial services group, are urging the government to preserve the tax relief scheme “in its entirety.” Additionally, these companies are advocating for simplifying the existing relief from capital gains tax on assets transferred or sold to family members while the current owner is still alive.

Family Business UK, the trade organisation representing these companies and orchestrating their efforts to gain government attention, emphasised that a seamless transition between generations benefits both the family and the business, as well as their employees.

These policy proposals are part of a broader plan aimed at addressing what these companies perceive as a government overly focused on short-term concerns rather than establishing economic stability through a long-term strategy. Other requests include making “full expensing,” a tax relief allowing businesses to offset investments against corporate tax, a permanent fixture. Additionally, they seek to replace the apprenticeship levy, which they deem ineffective and burdensome, with a more flexible “future skills fund.”

The group also calls for a review of the taxation of debt and profits. Mark Samworth, the chairman Samworth Brothers, said:

“Samworth Brothers wants to plan and invest for the long term and this manifesto addresses the key issues that would give us more certainty in uncertain times. If the UK can shrug off its addiction to short-term decision-making then business, environmental and social issues will become more easily addressable.”

Thomas Martin, the chairman of Arco, a safety equipment and workwear supplier based in Hull, expressed hope that the “next government” would consider these suggestions. He said:

“This sector operates in a different timescale for planning: a generation can actually be the short term. It is vital that all those throughout Westminster understand this fundamental difference of cadence.”

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