Inheritance in socio-political context: The case for reviving the sociological discourse of inheritance tax law

The anti-'death tax' movement is the starting point for contemporary discussions of inheritance taxation. The political rhetoric surrounding calls for its repeal typically is met with analyses of the extent to which inheritance tax avoidance benefits the wealthy, and arguments that inheritance taxation is fair and 'targeted'. This article suggests that engagement by tax lawyers with sociological theories of economic inheritance has the potential to revive this discourse. A renewed approach to inheritance taxation is of immediate concern to supporters of inheritance taxation in the United Kingdom, who face considerable obstacles posed by the increasing use of United States anti-inheritance tax movement political rhetoric by politicians. Durkheim's consideration of the conjugal family and, more recently, Beckert's sociology of inheritance are submitted as analyses that, amongst others, have particular potential. Such engagement also has the potential to revive the interest of sociologists in inheritance taxation, memorably described by MacNamee and Miller as a sociological lacuna.
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