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Murray Beith Murray is a leading Scottish private client law firm.

For over 170 years we have specialised in meeting the legal, financial and administrative needs of individuals and families, family trusts, charities and private companies.

3 minutes reading time (630 words)

Have you overpaid Inheritance Tax on shares hit by Coronavirus?

SOPHIEIf you have recently inherited shares that have now collapsed in value due to the coronavirus pandemic, you could be entitled to a substantial inheritance tax (IHT) repayment.

Fears about the virus have led to widespread panic selling, causing markets around the world to plummet. Heirs who paid IHT on inherited shares when they were at their peak value last year, could now find themselves at a significant loss after selling those investments. On the other hand, those who have not yet disposed of their shares will be facing a difficult decision of whether to retain or sell.

Can you claim for IHT relief?

By way of background, IHT is worked out based on the market value of the assets at the date of death. The portion of the estate that exceeds the tax-free threshold is taxed at 40%. IHT must be paid within six months of the person’s death.

If inherited shares have already been sold at a loss, the executor(s) of the estate may be able to claim back overpaid IHT. HMRC will not notify you if you have overpaid so, if you are unsure, do not hesitate to contact our solicitors for advice on whether a rebate is due.

HMRC will refund the estate if the following conditions are met:

  • The shares were sold within the 12 months immediately after the date of death.
  • The shares sold were ‘qualifying investments’ (shares and securities listed on a recognised stock exchange, UK Government stock and unit trusts).
  • The collective value of all shares sold is less than the date-of-death value. (This means all investment sales – including those that produced gains – must be included in your claim, as it is the net loss that you are entitled to claim back.)
  • The claim for IHT relief is made within five years from the date of death.

What about shares that have not been sold?

If you have not yet disposed of your inherited shares, you will have to consider whether to keep the investments for longer in case prices bounce back or sell them within 12 months and claim back overpaid IHT that may be due.

You should approach this decision carefully. While retaining the investments may mean you can benefit from values that have recovered, it may be some time before this happens and could mean protracting the administration of the estate. On the other hand, although a substantial IHT rebate may appeal to many who are experiencing financial strain right now, it would mean having to sell the shares quickly and would crystallise losses when prices could improve. Further, as it is the net loss that you can claim back, any shares disposed of at a profit will impact the amount you can recoup.

For individuals in this situation, professional advice is vital. Our Executry and Estate Planning Solicitors can advise you on the legal and tax implications that apply to your circumstances and recommend the best way to protect your investments. 

Specialist Estate Planning Solicitors, Edinburgh

Coronavirus is having a profound impact on various aspects of our lives. At Murray Beith Murray, we are here to support you with many of the challenges you are facing during these extraordinary circumstances. If you would like to discuss any of the issues covered here, or if you require assistance with any other Executry or Estate Planning matter, please complete our contact form or call us on 0131 341 3621.

Our personal, attentive service coupled with sage, astute and commercially-minded guidance, allows us to build long-term, ongoing relationships with our clients, helping them to protect assets throughout generations. Our highly personal service reflects our culture, which is centred on integrity and trust, and the expert guidance we provide has been designed to be an investment, not an expense.

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