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PERSONAL FINANCE: You can't take it with you.

Benjamin Franklin famously said there were only two certainties in life: death and taxes.

While being dead does not have a lot to recommend it, it does put you beyong the grasp of the taxman - at least we fondly believe.

However, Revenue & Customs (the newly-merged Inland Revenue and Customs & Excise) has begun an initiative to ensure that the inheritance tax returns of dead people match the earnings that they declared during their lifetime.

If the deceased is found to have fiddled their taxes while alive, money will be deducted from their estate.

The twist was flagged up this week by Mary Hase a tax director at Smith & Williamson, the accountancy and financial advisory group. 'The Inland Revenue has always had power to investigate tax returns and these powers are not suddenly curtailed by the death of the taxpayer although some time limits are reduced,' she said.

It may be hard for executors to refute HMRC's contentions of 'fiddling' as the taxpayer cannot explain or answer for himself
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 14, 2005
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