Consider your Inheritance Tax Planning
There are many ways you can reduce your inheritance tax (IHT) liability if you plan correctly. It is really never too early to start this planning, especially if you are concerned about the IHT liability upon your death.
By way of background, every individual has a tax free threshold (referred to as the ‘nil rate band’) which is currently £325,000. Broadly speaking, IHT will be payable at 40% of the value of your assets that exceed this threshold unless specific assets qualify for the available reliefs. For example, from April 2017, there is an additional tax free allowance if you pass on a home to your descendants provided that all the relevant eligibility conditions are met
Transfers between spouses during lifetime and on death are exempt for IHT purposes (as are transfers to charities). On the second death, the combined estates are then subject to IHT.
However, spouses can also benefit from the transferable nil rate band, meaning that, in time, a surviving spouse could benefit from a tax free allowance of up to £1,000,000 on the second death.
Gifts are one of the most common ways to plan for IHT. Some options are as follows:-
- Potentially exempt transfers – Potentially exempt transfers ("PETs") are generally lifetime gifts to individuals that do not attract immediate IHT. Provided the person making the gift (the ‘donor’) survives for 7 years from the date of gift and retains no benefit in the gifted asset, the transfer will fall out of account completely for IHT purposes.
- Annual exemption for IHT purposes – Everyone has an annual exemption of £3,000. This can be carried forward for up to one year if it is unused.
- Normal expenditure out of income exemption - There is a ‘normal expenditure out of income’ exception for IHT purposes. Gifts within this exemption are immediately exempt from IHT, so there is also no need to survive for 7 years for the exemption to apply. A gift qualifies as normal expenditure out of income if (1) it is made as part of the donor's normal expenditure; (2) it is made out of the donor's income, taking one year with another; and (3) after allowing for all gifts forming part of the normal expenditure, the donor is left with sufficient income to maintain their usual standard of living.
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