Miliband worded this answer about the Deed of Variation on his family home very carefully:
“This is something my mother did 20 years ago. That was a decision she made. Let me just say this: I’ve paid tax as a result of that transaction, I’ve avoided no tax in that.”
A Deed of Variation has the sole purpose of saving tax. That Ed paid capital gains tax is irrelevant – the Miliband family avoided paying in some part inheritance tax (how much is still unclear).
From the Sunday Times, 19 September 2004:
“DAVID MILIBAND, the schools minister, and his brother Ed, the chancellor’s economic adviser, are set to avoid paying thousands of pounds in tax through an Inland Revenue loophole which the Labour party pledged to close.
The brothers, Labour’s rising stars, are poised to benefit after their family set up a scheme to share ownership of the family’s Pounds 1.3m townhouse in north London which was sold recently.
Accountants and the Inland Revenue say the scheme established by the Milibands is used to reduce inheritance tax.
The move is particularly controversial for Ed Miliband who is chairman of the council of economic advisers responsible for co-ordinating the Treasury’s long-term policy on behalf of Gordon Brown, the chancellor.”
The Sunday Times has learnt that after Ralph Miliband, the socialist father of David and Ed, died in 1994, he transferred almost all his assets, including homes in London and Oxfordshire, to his wife.
However, after taking professional advice, the family is understood to have posthumously rewritten his will to give 20% of the London home to both David and Ed.
David has declared a “20% share of family home in London” on the MPs’ register of interests since 2002.
This scheme is called a “deed of variation” and was highlighted by the chancellor in opposition as an unacceptable way in which the wealthy avoid paying death duties.
It allows people to inherit assets tax-free even if this goes against the wishes of the deceased. Had Ralph Miliband’s will not been altered, David and Ed would have inherited the house (or the money raised from its sale) when their mother Marion died and would have faced a tax bill equivalent to 40% of its value.
Instead they were able to cash in on their stakes when the family’s four bedroom townhouse in Primrose Hill, north London, was sold earlier in the summer.
For the record…