Law society calls for easier probate for grieving families

The probate and inheritance tax process should be made easier for grieving families, according to the Law Society.

The society has submitted 22 detailed recommendations for changes to the taxation and probate systems, saying it would alleviate social inequities and ensure clarity and certainty for citizens relating to family tax matters.

The organisation has also called for changes to the system to “ensure Ireland remains an attractive option for international investment post-Brexit”.

It said “a range of taxation and probate issues” have resulted since the passing of the Marriage Act 2015.

Director general of the Law Society Ken Murphy said: “These basically reflect a tax code not keeping pace with legislation or the practical experience of citizens.

“Our submission outlines a range of simple but technical recommendations which will ensure fairness and equality, in line with the original intention of the Act.”

Inheritance tax has also been a glaring example of an anomaly within the law in recent years, with children inheriting family homes from parents only to be landed with a capital acquisition (inheritance) tax bill that they cannot pay without selling the property.

The situation is exacerbated when a strict October deadline is imposed by Revenue for the inheritance tax bill to be paid, leaving grieving families exposed if probate was only concluded in the weeks preceeding.

There are exemptions from inheritance tax to which some families or children may be entitled, but lawyers and tax consultants say they can be difficult to establish or interpret.

Chairman of the tax committee of the Law Society, Gavin McGuire, said: “In the absence of clarity, it can be hard for taxpayers. Certainty, clarity, and transparency are needed, particularly where tax is concerned.”

Mr McGuire said the lead had to come from the Oireachtas as Revenue had to follow the law as it stood.

“Tax is something people should be able to understand and we’d like to see the Oireachtas reflect that. Revenue doesn’t make policy.”

Fianna Fáil finance spokesperson Michael McGrath said he supported greater clarity, saying it was important to have as much simplified information as possible on tax. He said he also supported Revenue allowing people more time to meet their tax obligations around inheritance tax.

“The vast majority of people want to be tax compliant. Allowing more time for people to meet their obligations would show a spirit of co-operation from Revenue that would be welcome,” he said.


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