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EU: Rates of Capital Gains Tax

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The United Kingdom and Ireland are the only countries in the European Union that have separate capital gains taxes as such.

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In the case of Ireland, the annual exemption is £971. Most types of gain are charged at 20 per cent. apart from three minor classes where the rate is 40 per cent. Various types of gain are exempt.

In the UK, the annual exemption is £6,800. Gains are subject to tax at the highest marginal rate but this is reduced according to the period for which the asset has been held: it is tapered from 40 per cent. for higher rate taxpayers after two years to 24 per cent. after 10 years (23 per cent. and 13.8 per cent. respectively for basic rate taxpayers). Various types of gain are exempt.

In other countries, capital gains are normally subject to tax but gains are either taxed as income or specifically as income from capital and may thus be subject to a different rate. Details of the regimes operating in European countries are as follows:

    Austria--Capital gains are included in taxable income but those realised by a private person are generally exempt. However, capital gains from speculative ventures and from the disposal of certain participations are in principle subject to tax.

    Belgium--Gains realised by individuals not engaged in business activities are in principle not taxable. However, gains realised from speculative transactions or from intangible property are taxed at a flat rate of 33 per cent. and no exemptions apply. Capital gains realised on the disposal of business assets are regarded as business income and subject to taxation at the ordinary rates.

    Denmark--Taxable gains and deductible losses are included in taxable income, subject to various categorisation rules.

    Finland--Gains are included in the income from capital category and taxed at a flat rate of 28 per cent. The annual exemption is £3,300. There are some exemptions.

    France--Gains are added to taxable income for income tax purposes.

    Germany--Gains are included in ordinary income. An individual disposing of private assets is generally exempt, with certain exceptions.

    Greece--Only gains arising from the sale of non listed shares are taxable. Any gain is taxed at a flat rate of 20 per cent. There is no exemption.

    Italy--Gains realised by individuals are generally exempt but a restricted category of gains are subject to individual income tax. Gains on the disposal of most shares or other participations are liable to a flat-rate substitute capital gains tax.

    Luxembourg--Gains are in principle taxed as income. Gains arising from a particular activity, e.g. trade or business, are included in the taxable income from that source.

    Netherlands--Gains are taxed as income, although a distinction is made between those realised by a business and those by an individual. There is no basic exemption.

    Portugal--Gains constitute a category of income for income tax purposes.

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    Spain--Gains constitute a category of income for income tax purposes.

    Sweden--An annual exemption of £3,372 is allowed in respect of gains from the sale of most "private assets" but this excludes immovable property, shares and securities and private dwellings. For these classes of asset no exemption applies but 100 per cent. of the gain is not always taxable. If the gain arises from the disposal of "private assets", it is included in the income from capital category and taxed at a flat rate of 30 per cent.

Amounts in foreign currency have been converted to £ sterling according to the latest known OECD purchasing parity taxes.

Inheritance Tax Comparisons

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will give the top rate of inheritance tax for each country in the European Union, indicating in respect of each value (expressed in pounds sterling) of the deceased's estate at which rate of tax starts to apply.[HL3721]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Only four EU countries use the total value of the deceased's estate in calculating inheritance tax or similar due.

In the case of Denmark, a tax-free allowance of £14,906 is given. Estate duty is imposed on any excess value of the estate at a rate of 15 per cent. Transfers to a surviving spouse are exempt. An additional inheritance tax assessable on the recipient is payable on property passing to certain persons other than close relatives, based on their share of the estate.

In the case of Ireland, a 2 per cent. probate tax is levied on all estates with a taxable value in excess of £10,504. There are various exemptions and there is a 30 per cent. value reduction for agricultural land and buildings. In addition, capital acquisitions tax is levied on inheritors of property based on each individual's share of the estate.

In the case of Italy, estate tax is charged where the net value of the estate is in excess of £101,695. The top rate of 27 per cent. is charged where the estate is valued in excess of £1,220,341. An additional inheritance tax assessable on the recipient is payable on property passing to certain persons, other than close relatives, based on their share of the estate.

In the case of the UK, inheritance tax is charged at nil per cent. on the first £223,000 of the total value chargeable in connection with the death, and 40 per cent. on any balance over that amount.

In addition to taxing the estate, three of these countries, Denmark, Ireland and Italy, tax certain beneficiaries on their share of the estate.

The remaining 11 EU countries also charge inheritance tax in this way. In most cases the rate charged depends on the relationship between the recipient and the deceased and on the value of the share

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received. The tax-free element or exemption is usually higher the closer the relationship to the deceased.

The table below sets out the top rates and maximum thresholds that apply; these are invariably those where the recipient is classed as "other" and is not related to the deceased.

CountryTop rate %Share valued in excess of £
Austria60 2,880,533
Belgium80 123,938
Denmark36.25no minimum
Finland48 2,220
France60 995
Germany50 16,184,466
Greece60 173,961
Luxembourg48 1,145,475
Netherlands68 513,171
Portugal50 360,887
Spain34 *667,711
Sweden30 12,879

*Spain, a net wealth related surcharge, by reference to the recipient's net wealth is also due.

Vaccines and Nerve Agent Pre-treatment Sets

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the terms of references of the Independent Panel of the Ministry of Defence for interactions between vaccines and NAPS (Nerve Agent Pre-treatment Sets) and by whom the terms were set and upon whose authority; and [HL3442]

    Whether there have been any proposals for additions or changes to be made to the terms of references of the Independent Panel of the Ministry of Defence for interactions between vaccines and NAPS (Nerve Agent Pretreatment Sets) and, if there have been, what action has been taken. [HL3443]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): The Independent Panel was established to oversee the MoD-funded research programme which is investigating whether there were any adverse health effects from the combination of vaccines and tablets which were given to UK troops during the Gulf conflict to protect them against biological and chemical warfare agents. A draft aim and terms of reference for the panel were approved in September 1997 by the then Minister of State for the Armed Forces. At its first meeting on 18 December 1997, the panel accepted these terms of reference with one small amendment, relating to the panel's responsibility to ensure that the research results are published appropriately. The panel has not made any subsequent recommendations to alter the aim or the terms of reference. They are as follows:

"The aim of the Panel is to ensure that the programme is conducted in an objective and scientifically sound manner. In order to meet this aim, the terms of reference for the Panel are:

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    1. To review the research programme document, which outlines MoD proposals about how the new research programme should proceed, in detail.

    2. To provide appropriate advice to the MoD, through the Chairman, on the content of the programme and the proposed research strategy.

    3. To provide advice on criteria on which bids from external institutions for extramural research within the overall programme will be selected and to oversee the peer review of all research submissions.

    4. To scrutinise protocols for the work which is planned to be carried out.

    5. To review regular research reports, including raw data, from researchers and to advise throughout the programme, on whether the aims of each phase or study are being met.

    6. To provide advice on when and where research results should be presented or published, and to ensure that research results are published appropriately.

    7. To report to MoD via the Panel Chairman on views of the Panel and the proceedings of the meetings.

    8. To provide advice, when requested, on external research proposals which have been submitted to MoD.

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    9. To provide advice, as appropriate, on other scientific matters relating to the research programme."

Food Aid: Southern Sudan

Lord McNair asked Her Majesty's Government:

    By what routes and by what means British emergency food aid is being delivered to areas of food shortage in southern Sudan.[HL3798]

Baroness Amos: British food aid this year has been delivered to vulnerable groups in southern Sudan by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). Because of continuing insecurity a large proportion of this food has been delivered by air from bases in Lokichokkio and Nairobi in Kenya and Khartoum and El Obeid in northern Sudan. Food has also been delivered by barge from Kosti in northern Sudan. Limited deliveries have been possible by truck from Lokichokkio and Koboko in Uganda but roads have been in a poor state and virtually unusable during the rainy season.

Substantial food aid to southern Sudan will be required next year and we shall work with WFP to effect a greater shift from air to land delivery. This will include more truck deliveries on an improved road network, extended barge deliveries and pressure on all sides to the conflict to agree unhindered UN delivery of humanitarian relief by train.

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