Inheritance Tax changes - how will it affect you?

The proposed changes in Inheritance Tax (IHT), being the introduction and the gradual increase in the so called “main residence nil rate band”, is due to begin to come into force from April 2017. Under current law if an individual’s estate is worth more than £325,000 at death IHT, at 40%, is charged on the value above this threshold. Civil partners and married couples can combine their individual allowances, so they are able to pass on assets worth up to £650,000 before paying any IHT.

From April 2017 the main residence nil rate band will be added to the standard nil rate band allowance. This will start at £100,000 for deaths on or after 6 April 2017 and will rise (£25,000 per tax year) to its maximum of £175,000 for deaths on or after 6 April 2020. Civil partners and married couples therefore receive a combined allowance of £350,000. The government has stated that it will increase thereafter by reference to the Consumer Prices Index. In simple terms therefore for deaths after April 2020 a couple’s combined estate can benefit from a nil rate allowance of up to £1 million.

There are inevitably restrictions on the entitlement to the allowance. The rules, which are still in draft form, state that the allowance is only available if the main residence is passed down to “direct descendants”, essentially children and grandchildren (including step children etc). Childless couples who might want to leave their estate to nephews and nieces for example, will therefore not benefit from this enhanced nil rate band.

To prevent the country’s housing market grinding to a halt as older generations might hang on to the family home to benefit from the new allowance, there will still be an entitlement to the new threshold as long as most of your estate is left to direct descendants. Inevitably the devil will be in the detail and once the final form of the rules is set out in full if there are any doubts as to your entitlement, or you wish to explore the extent of your IHT liability and your options to mitigate it, you should not hesitate to contact us.

Our Wills & Tax team based in Christchurch also cover Bournemouth, Poole and the New Forest. For a free initial chat, please call 01202 499255 and Lee Young or a member of the team will be happy to discuss any questions that you may have.