Media Watch 12/4/15

By Rowan Williams

Conservative plans to raise the inheritance tax threshold on family homes will disproportionately benefit wealthier people, a thinktank has said. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said on Sunday that most gains from raising the tax threshold on properties to £1 million would go disproportionately to higher earners. Under current rules, £140,000 tax would be paid on a property worth £1 million. Chancellor George Osborne said on Sunday that the plans support the basic human instinct to provide for one’s children. The Labour Party, meanwhile, has unveiled plans for an immediate crackdown on tax avoidance should it win the election on 7 May. By closing tax loopholes and imposing fines on tax avoiders, the party claims it will raise an extra £7.5 billion annually.

In the United States, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is on Sunday expected to formally announce her bid for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

Turkey has summoned the Turkish Vatican ambassador, after Pope Francis described the killing of Armenians under Ottoman rule during World War One as “genocide”. Turkey has expressed its disappointment at the comments. Armenia, and many historians, claim that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman forces in 1915. Turkey denies that the killings were genocide. Pope Francis first referred to the killings as genocide two years ago, with the comments then prompting protests in Turkey.

China will significantly limit the number of visits that can be made to Hong Kong by Shenzhen residents, official sources have said. With discontent growing in Hong Kong over the growing number of mainland Chinese visiting the city, Shenzhen residents will son be restricted to a limit of one visit per week to the territory. Under current rules, Shenzhen residents face few restrictions in making daily trips to Hong Kong. Some are critical of Hong Kong’s resistance to the mainland, and point to the high spending habits of mainland Chinese visitors as a valuable asset to the Hong Kong economy.

The Papers

Tax pledges from Labour and the Conservatives ahead of the election make the headlines today. The Sunday Times leads with news that the Conservative Party plans to “slash inheritance tax on homes”. The Conservative Party plans to raise the inheritance tax threshold to £1 million on properties, the Prime Minister has said in an interview with the paper. The Sunday Telegraph leads with the same story, with the pledge aiming to ‘free’ the family home for the next generation, the paper writes David Cameron as saying. The Observer leads with news of Labour’s pledge to levy “huge fines on tax avoiders to raise £7.5bn a year”. The “Emergency laws” would be introduced immediately, the paper writes. The Independent on Sunday leads with the same story, calling the proposal a “£7.5bn game changer”. Labour Leader Ed Miliband has ‘brushed off’ personal attacks, the paper writes. Pictures of tennis star Andy Murray also appear on many front pages today, after Murray married long-term girlfriend Kim Sears on Saturday.

British Media on China

On the South China Sea: China’s actions in the South China Sea have received some media coverage over the past few days, after US President Barack Obama criticised China’s actions around the Spratly Islands. The BBC reports President Obama as criticising China for using “sheer size and muscle” with land reclamation efforts in the region. The Guardian’s agency piece writes that land reclamation “risks destabilising the region amid competing claims for territory”. The Daily Telegraph covers China’s defence of its actions, writing that China has described reclamation as “‘beyond reproach’, and ‘within the scope’ of sovereignty”.

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