Estate Duty Death and taxes may be the only certainties in life, but the Financial Secretary did little yesterday to soften the blow of estate duty. Slight reductions in the tax - charged on properties and assets left by the dead in wills to their loved ones - were stingy, according to accountants. Mr Tsang ignored calls to abolish the tax on the grieving and, instead, opted to make minimal changes. He seemed to be banking on Benjamin Franklin's maxim that: 'In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.' Accountant Marcellus Wong Yui-keung said the adjustments were too little. A slight $500,000 rise in the minimum threshold to $7 million did not reflect the huge rises in property prices, said Mr Wong, tax partner at Arthur Andersen. The price rises hit recipients of estates who have to pay taxes up to 18 per cent of the value of the properties. Most people leave behind property, he said. Mr Wong said the rise in the threshold was 'in line with inflation but property prices have risen over 40-60 per cent in the past year'. 'So, the relief is not that great,' he said. Some heartbroken beneficiaries did not have enough money to pay the tax and were prevented from selling the properties they inherit to raise enough funds before the process was settled, said Coopers and Lybrand partner Timothy Wong Yuk-chuen. The only cuts were in duty on estates valued between $8 million and $8.5 million, down from 12 to six per cent, and for those worth $9.5 million to $10 million, down from 18 to 12 per cent. The level incurring no duty went up from $6.5 million to $7 million.