Inheritance – What’s yours is mine

Inheritance tax, also known as estate tax or death tax, is a controversial topic that has been debated for years. It is a tax levied on transferring property or assets from a deceased person to their heirs or beneficiaries.

Join us for this controversial conversation class on the subject of inheritance tax. Featured recently in the media, learn how to express your opinion in English as a second language. This class is available as part of our conversation course.


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Inheritance tax, also known as estate tax or death tax, is a controversial topic that has been debated for years. It is a tax levied on transferring property or assets from a deceased person to their heirs or beneficiaries. Below are some arguments for and against inheritance tax:

Inheritance Tax Advantages

1. Promotes equality: Inheritance tax ensures wealth is distributed more evenly among society. It prevents the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few and helps reduce wealth inequality. Taxing the wealthiest estates provides resources that can be used for public goods and services that benefit all citizens.

2. Revenue generation: Inheritance tax generates significant revenue for the government. This revenue can fund public services such as healthcare, education, infrastructure, and social welfare programs. It helps reduce the budget deficit and provides resources for the government to invest in the economy.

3. Prevents the creation of a hereditary aristocracy: Inheritance tax discourages the creation of a hereditary aristocracy by making it more difficult for wealthy families to pass on their wealth to future generations without any taxation. This ensures that individuals are motivated to work hard and contribute to society rather than relying solely on inherited wealth.

Inheritance Tax Disadvantages

Critics argue that inheritance tax is a form of double taxation. The assets being passed down have already been subjected to income tax, capital gains tax, and other taxes throughout the deceased person’s lifetime. Taxing them again upon death is seen as unfair and burdensome.

Inheritance tax can harm family-owned businesses and farms. In some cases, heirs may be forced to sell or liquidate assets to pay the tax, leading to the loss of jobs and the dissolution of family-owned enterprises. This can negatively impact local economies and communities.

Tax planning

High inheritance tax rates often incentivise wealthy individuals to engage in tax planning strategies to minimise their tax liability. This can lead to complex estate planning, the creation of trusts, and other methods to avoid or evade the tax. As a result, the revenue generated from inheritance tax may be lower than anticipated.

The debate on inheritance tax revolves around fairness, equality, economic impact, and revenue generation. Proponents argue that it promotes equality and generates revenue for public goods. In contrast, opponents say that it is a form of double taxation, negatively affects small businesses, and encourages tax evasion. The outcome of this debate depends on the balance between these factors and the specific context of each country or jurisdiction.

Conversation Questions 

1. What are your thoughts on inheritance tax? Do you believe it is fair or unfair?

2. Do you think inheritance tax helps reduce wealth inequality? Why or why not?

3. What impact do you think inheritance tax has on small businesses and family-owned farms?

4. Is it important for society to discourage the creation of a hereditary aristocracy? Why or why not?

5. In your opinion, does inheritance tax encourage tax evasion and avoidance? Why or why not?

6. Should inheritance tax rates be higher or lower? What factors should be considered in determining the appropriate rate?

7. Do you think inheritance tax revenue is effectively used for public goods and services? Can you provide any examples?

8. How does this tax compare to other forms of taxation, such as income tax or sales tax?

9. Would you support any reforms or changes to the current inheritance tax system? If so, what would they be?

10. How does this tax vary across different countries? Are there any countries with particularly high or low rates that you find interesting?

Writing Practice:

Essay writing task

Some people believe that inheritance tax is beneficial because it helps distribute wealth across society. Others believe that this form of taxation is simply not fair since its money that has already been taxed.

Write an essay to express your opinion. Your essay should have a minimum word count of 250 words, and you should take no longer than 40 minutes to complete this task.

Your essay will be corrected by a language instructor at the beginning of your class in real time so that you can identify any errors made and correct them.