Inheritance tax (IHT) is a hot topic that regularly prompts press campaigns for its abolition, the latest being from the Daily Telegraph.

Indeed, it is frequently branded as the UK’s most disliked tax, with the latest YouGov survey showing 50% of respondents think it ‘unfair’ or ‘very unfair’, against 20% who call it ‘fair’ or ‘very fair’.

But as the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) demonstrated in its first report reviewing IHT, there is a perception the tax has a much greater impact than is actually the case.

Even 26% of those who responded to an OTS public call for evidence (a self-selecting group who ought to have had some knowledge of the tax) believed 20% or more people paid IHT. The latest HMRC figures (for 2020/21) show just 3.7%.

A new report on IHT from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) does not answer the impossible question its director Paul Johnson recently posed in an article for the Times: what is the question to which abolishing IHT is any sort of plausible answer?

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