22 February 2010

All Very Civil

Civil partnerships, through the Civil Partnership Act 2004, gives same sex couples legal recognition of their relationship.

Although the Act is discrimatory - it doesn't provide for heterosexual couples - it is neverless considered to be a huge step forward for equality with regard to sexuality.

Moving from affairs of the heart to those of the wallet, Gay Finance explains,

" The financial advantages of entering into a civil partnership are many, especially when it comes to tax. Pre-civil partnership law means that same-sex couples often suffer severe hardship because tax law does not recognise their relationships. For example, if one partner dies, leaving everything to the survivor, the survivor may have to sell the couple’s home in order to pay the inheritance tax (IHT) bill. This gross unfairness will, happily, soon be a thing of the past! For couples who choose to register a civil partnership, the position will be exactly the same as for married couples. If one dies, leaving everything to the other, the survivor need not pay a penny in inheritance tax, even if he or she inherits millions!

In addition, registered civil partners will, in future be able to take advantage of tax planning techniques that have previously only been available to married couples.

But ... what's all this about being gay? Is it compulsory to be gay in order to enter a civil partnership?

It appears that anyone is eligible provided that they are the same sex, not already in a marriage or civil partnership, over sixteen and not within a prohibited degree of relationship (brothers and sisters etc).

But do they have to be lovers?

It isn't clear. I don't see why it should be a requirement: it doesn't say so in the Act. So, confirmed bachelors like Holmes and Watson could become civil partners; not to fulfil some homosexual love but simply to make sure that the tax man doesn't get hold of a part of the pre-deceased's estate.

All very straight forward. It may not be the intention behind the Act but so what?

Lets take this a step further - is this already happening?

Are people taking advantage of the Act in order to avoid paying tax, especially inheritance tax?

Check out the stats from the Office of National Statistics with regard to Civil Partnerships. One of the tables gives the stats of civil partners by age.

YearAge At FormationTotal
200580 and over98
200680 and over234
200780 and over80
200880 and over53

There's been at least 50 or so civil partnerships formed every year by people over the age of 80 and over.

I don't know whether these relationships are affairs of the heart but if I were in an old persons home with no family visiting me and with a healthy contempt of the tax system; I'd go into a civil partnership with one of my mates! Hopefully, with a view that another civil partnership would be formed after the death of one of us, ad infinitum, so that the tax man would not be able to get his hands on either of our estates. Nor of the estates subsequent to the original arrangement.

I do!
I do, too!

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