Much of my time is spent advising clients on inheritance tax, both the current liability on their estates, and what can be done to address it. It’s an emotive subject, with many clients feeling aggrieved that the wealth they have created over their lifetime is being taxed again on death.
In response to this, the former Chancellor, George Osborne introduced additional measures to potentially reduce the tax take for the treasury, and allow people to pass on more of their money to their families on death.
On death, if you leave assets to anyone other than your spouse, inheritance tax is paid at a rate of 40% on any assets you hold above the nil rate band; this currently stands at £325,000 each (£650,000 for couples).
It has long been the objective of the Conservative Party, to increase the point at which inheritance tax becomes payable by couples to above £1 million. The simplest way to address this would have been to increase the nil rate band to £500,000 each. However, for political and financial reasons this was not the solution George Osborne devised.
An additional nil rate band was created of up to £175,000 each, relating to the family home. This will be phased in over 4 years from 6 April 2017, starting at £100,000 each and increasing by £25,000 per year over 3 years. This is in addition to the existing nil rate band. Thus, if you as a couple have a home worth £350,000, you may eventually be able to pass on a joint estate of £1 million without being subject to inheritance tax.
This all sounds good news but it should be noted that not everyone will qualify. Here are a few key points:
- If your estate is worth more than £2m your entitlement to the residence nil rate band starts to disappear;
- The rules stipulate that homes must be passed on to direct descendants, by which it means children and grandchildren;
- I’ve had to inform clients who are leaving all their assets to nephews and nieces that they won’t get this additional relief;
- Step-children and adopted children are counted in the definition as children so that is welcome;
- If leaving the property into a trust, it must be one that creates a fixed entitlement to the property to a direct descendant, it can’t be wholly discretionary;
- If one spouse doesn’t use their residence nil rate band, it can be passed on to the other spouse to use on the second death in the same way as the ‘normal’ nil rate band;
- It can only be claimed against one property so two properties totalling £350,000 may require you to claim this relief against the higher value property only; and
- There are also a myriad of rules relating to downsizing, which will probably require further revision by the Government to ensure they work in the way intended.
Inheritance tax is an area where many people will require advice. If you wish to receive advice on the Residence Nil Rate Band or any other inheritance tax matter, please get in touch.
Written by Richard Hesketh
Direct: 01254 604340
Managing Partner & Head of Tax
Direct: 01254 604329
PM+M Wealth Management Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.