Inheritance tax as class envy.

Victoria Monro speculates as to why liberals support inheritance tax:

People see the children of wealthy individuals and they’re naturally angry that these kids will inherit wealth and riches they didn’t themselves earn. The immediate kick of jealousy leads to the vicious need to control these people and their future money. Thus, inheritance tax is born. Studies have concluded that given the choice, people would generally prefer to earn a smaller income, providing that income is relatively higher than most other people’s, to a larger income that is relatively lower than most other people’s. We don’t like feeling worse off. Given this, the motivation for inheritance tax can be seen in its true light – not one of the desire to help poorer children aspire to more, without entrenching the richness of the well-off, but a jealousy-fuelled need to bring other people down so we as a society feel comparatively better.

Unfortunately for this ingenious thesis, the chances that I’m deceiving myself when I believe I back inheritance tax for moral reasons seem slim. I am, after all, the child of parents whose income puts them in the top one percent of national earners. I easily stand to inherit tens of thousands of pounds. In believing that the state should tax this money, I’m not enviously dragging down everyone else around me so I no longer feel like I’m on a lower level. I drag myself down to the national lower level. Quite a quaint form of jealousy and selfishness, isn’t it?

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