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Inheritance Tax (IHT)
The IHT threshold is frozen at £325,000 until 2017/2018, many people are still getting caught in the trap of property inheritance tax. Property IHT has not kept pace with the inflation of property prices, and so is affecting more and more people.
When a relative dies, and leaves an estate worth more than £325,000, families are required to pay tax on a proportion of the money and property left to them within six months. After that, they are charged interest.
Since inheritance tax was introduced three-decades ago, the rate has always been held at a relatively low level, but now the taxman has decided to raise the interest charge to penalise late payers. The rate charged for failing to pay an IHT bill within the six month deadline is now 3 per cent.
At the same time, however, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has lowered the rate it itself pays in interest when it returns overpayments made on inheritance tax bills.
However, there are ways to lessen the burden of property IHT.
When you die, it is likely that you would wish to leave as much as possible for your loved ones. Unfortunately this is often not as simple as you might believe. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will apply 40% tax to the value of your estate over and above that of the current threshold.
No IHT is applicable if the estate is being passed to a spouse, as the law sees your property as one estate together, unless there is a will stating otherwise, so nothing is being passed from one to another, it is merely no longer held jointly.
Your estate could include more than you originally realise. It is often easy to dismiss IHT as something that may not affect you as your property may not be over, or much over, the IHT threshold. However with all your other assets, such as investments, life cover, bank accounts, as well as physical property such as cars, furniture and family heirlooms, many estates are considerably over the threshold without the individuals being aware of it.
Please note that as of the 9th October 2007, the options for usage of the nil rate band for IHT reduction were relaxed. Before October 2007, if a spouse (or civil partner) were to die and leave their assets to their surviving spouse, upon the death of the remaining spouse, only one nil rate band was available.
For assets passed between spouses and civil partners, the nil rate band allowance will now pass along with the assets. This gives a couple available allowances (nil rate bands) of up to £650,000 (13/14).
Even if you have a spouse to inherit the estate, this only delays the time when tax will be payable because he or she will also pass away one day. It is worth doing some forward planning with an adviser to decide whether it would be appropriate to gift part of your estate, perhaps to children or other relatives, during your lifetime, or possibly to redirect your assets up to the value of what is known as the 'nil-rate band' into a trust on death.
With effect on and after 21 March 2012, if a person enters into arrangements through which they acquire an interest in excluded property such that the value of their estate is reduced, the reduction will be charged to IHT as if that person had transferred assets of that value directly to a relevant property trust.
The assets settled in the offshore trust will cease to be treated as excluded property and will instead become subject to the relevant property regime.
These provisions will also apply to existing schemes or arrangements entered into before 21 March 2012, but only in relation to periodic charges and exit charges that arise on or afterthat date.
Levels and bases of and reliefs from taxation are subject to change and their value depends on the individual circumstances of the investor.
The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate Taxation & Trust advice.
For further information about the 2013 Budget changes please see click here.
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