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By: Stuart Ritchie

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January 18th, 2018

7 simple ways YOU can avoid UK inheritance tax (includes 3 epic extras!)

Financial Planning

One of the best descriptions of inheritance tax (IHT) was written by British politician Roy Jenkins[1]:

“It is a voluntary levy paid by those who distrust their heirs more than they dislike the Inland Revenue…”

Brilliant!

Assuming you don’t distrust your heirs more than you dislike the taxman, here are 7 clever ways to save your estate being eroded by IHT: -

1. Spouse and civil partner exemptions

Gifts and transfers between most married couples and civil partners[2] living in the UK are IHT-free. 

If your partner is not UK-domiciled however, limits can apply, and you should seek advice.

By transferring everything on first death to the surviving partner you won’t entirely remove your estate’s vulnerability to IHT. 

IHT gifts to spouses

The IHT liability will arise when the second partner dies…

So, it may be effective to pass some of your estate to your children and grandchildren - up to the Nil Rate Band, or by using a trust - rather than simply transferring everything to the surviving spouse.

2. Annual exemption

Every person is allowed to make an IHT-free gift of up to £3,000 in any tax year – and this allowance can be carried forward one year if you don’t use up all your allowance.

This means you and your partner could gift your children or grandchildren £6,000 this year, (or £12,000 if your previous year’s allowances weren’t used up), and that gift won’t incur IHT.

You can continue to make this gift annually.

3. Small gift exemption

You are able to make small gifts of up to £250 per year to anyone you like.

There is no limit to the number of recipients in one tax year, and these small gifts will also be IHT-free, provided you have made no other gifts to that person during the tax year

4. Lifetime gifts exemption

Lifetime gifts are those made by you while you’re still alive.

If such gifts are made to help with another person’s living costs, e.g. an elderly relative or child, they are free from IHT.

Other lifetime gifts may be exempt as long as you make them regularly (e.g., annually), and they come from your regular income, (such as pensions, dividends, interest from investments etc.), without affecting your lifestyle.

There’s an important caveat however! 

Determining whether such a gift is exempt only happens after your death, and is subjective…

There’s a risk some gifts may be classed as being within your estate for IHT purposes if the taxman decides they did affect your lifestyle for example; therefore, if you are making habitual gifts it is important to document your intentions and keep a record of this with your will.

5. Marriage or civil partnership gifts exemption

If someone you know is getting married or entering into a civil partnership, you can give them a financial gift IHT free. 

Marriage or civil partnership gifts exemption

The amount you can gift depends on your relationship to the recipient: -

7 clever ways to avoid UK inheritance tax table 1.png 

6. IHT-free bequests

Gifts or bequests to charities, political parties, universities and for national purpose or public benefit are IHT exempt.

7. Business owner exemptions

If you’re a business owner, you may be eligible for certain tax reliefs, depending on the type of business you own.

Often, a transfer made during life or on death will be completely IHT free.

The main tax reliefs, which are subject to minimum periods of ownership, are as follows: -

7 clever ways to avoid UK inheritance tax table 2 V3.png 

A quick word about the 7-year rule…

If the taxman decides there is any inheritance tax to pay, it’s charged at 40% on gifts given in the 3 years before you die.

But gifts made 3 to 7 years before your death are taxed on a sliding scale known as ‘taper relief’…here’s how that works: -

7 clever ways to avoid UK inheritance tax table 3.png 

In conclusion…

These are just 7 of the easiest and commonest ways you can use clever financial planning cut your IHT bill down to size.

Depending on your personal circumstances, you may be able to use a trust or trusts, wrapping assets and investments like an offshore investment bond inside, and further reduce your estate’s future liability.

For a no obligation discussion of your own personal options, do get in touch.

And, here are 3 more useful resources for you, if you’re interested in gathering more information: -

 

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About Stuart Ritchie

Stuart Ritchie is a Chartered Financial Planner, Chartered Fellow, and Pension Transfer Specialist.

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