Inheritance tax? LOL!

Charles 4 Comments

Old lady


Richard Rawlinson casts a jaded, end-of-life eye over this week’s Budget.

Boy George Osborne’s Budget did nothing to address the 40% IHT that clobbers so many after a death in the family.

There’s nowt to be done about the ridiculous significance of seven years but here are seven tips to avoid IHT:

1 Make your will sooner rather than later as there are exemptions available if they’re set in motion seven years before death. If you die intestate, you have no control over how your assets are distributed.

2 Gifts made seven years before death are free of IHT. However, if you reserve any benefit from a gift – such as continuing to live in a house you have given away – then HMRC may apply ‘gift with reservation’ rules to impose tax as if the transfer had never happened.

3 If you cannot afford to give large lump sums away, it makes sense to use smaller opportunities on a regular basis – such as the £3,000 per person annual allowance for gifts. There is also an allowance for each parent to give each child up to £5,000 to when they marry.

4 Family trusts can be set up to enable assets up to the IHT threshold to be sheltered from tax, so long as the donor survives seven years. Unlike outright gifts, these trusts let donors retain control of the assets, just in case your beneficiary has a penchant for fast cars, fast women and cocaine. 

5 On a sober note, where injuries suffered during military service are a contributory factor in anybody’s death, then that person’s estate may become entirely IHT-free. 

6 Some tax shelters cease to be effective after death. ISAs are popular ways of avoiding tax on income but they confer no protection against IHT. 

7 If retired overseas, one definition of domicile is the country in which you intend to be buried. If you are domiciled overseas, then only assets based in Britain will be subject to IHT, whereas IHT would cover your worldwide assets if you remained domiciled in Britain.


  1. Charles

    Thanks Richard, most helpful.

    I know mine is a lucky generation in so many ways – but IHT is a swindle, because it’s double taxation. If you are reasonably provident and salt away a few bob for your sprogs, in whatever form of asset, that income is usually taxed at source. (Well, most people’s is, since most of us aren’t Russian billionaires dodging in and out of Cyprus) And then when you snuff it, and wanted to help your hard-working kids ( a less fortunate generation than yours), the government takes a lot of it, above a level that isn’t very high if you own much of a house, and then proceeds to waste it on its favourite neat ideas, like replacing Trident and pretending we are a world power that needs a nuclear “umbrella.” Or even screwing up a huge rail franchise auction and having to re-run it.

    Er – thanks for letting me rant. Made my weekend.

  2. Charles

    I always see IHT as the third tax, on the same bit of money…. as usually people pay tax when they earn it, they pay tax when they save the same bit of money and then pay tax on the same bit of money when they die. Shameful. I fully agree that everyone should plan for their death. Everyone is going to die, there is no option here, but there are options for avoiding this sort of tax and the earlier you take advice and do something about it, the better. I like the “normal expenditure out of income” exemption, can make huge savings with this one!

  3. Charles

    I’ve always thought that, given we’re going to continue with this ridiculously unsustainable system called money until we’re all destroyed by it, all tax of any kind should be voluntarily gifted to the nation. Okay, we’d go bankrupt in the process and suddenly food would refuse to grow in the ground and cows withold their milk until we saw sense again, but my idealistic theory is that the government (another unsustainable ridiculosity) would have to make bloody sure it spent our donations on something worthwhile or we’d stop making them.

    Trident schmident.

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