Inheritance Tax 

Taxman takes more in IHT as scrutiny increases

Taxman takes more in IHT as scrutiny increases

The taxman took more than £5.3bn from people’s estates in 2017, according to analysis from NFU Mutual.

The financial services group said November estimates from the government’s Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) indicated a further £1.2bn would have be taken in inheritance tax (IHT) by the end of the tax year.

The news means that IHT receipts have leapt by £492m since the same time in 2016. This comes despite the introduction of a new nil rate band for those passing their main residence on to family members, aimed at taking more families out of the IHT net.

Sean McCann, chartered financial planner at NFU Mutual, said that the government was cracking down hard and ensuring that everyone pays what they owe.

“It’s clear that the taxman is cracking down hard on inheritance tax by looking more closely at people’s estates and challenging claims for reliefs.

"You’d expect the introduction of the Residence Nil Rate Band would see receipts flatten out or even fall a little bit, but the opposite is happening,” he said.

“When inheritance tax receipts rise, it’s usually because of a buoyant housing market. But property prices aren’t rocketing in the same way, so it’s difficult to see what could have caused such a sharp increase in receipts other than a more aggressive approach to inheritance tax.“

The extra scrutiny from tax officials means those who haven’t taken professional advice or planned early could be caught out. This could have a catastrophic effect on family wealth.

At the same time, the NFU Mutual released figures showing HMRC would take a record £8.8bn of capital gains tax between now and the end of March.

NFU Mutual analysed figures from the OBR, which has official predictions following the November Budget putting CGT receipts up almost 5 per cent this tax year, and will rise by a further £4.5bn to £13.3bn by 2022-23, Mr McCann said.

“Many thousands of people who have just filled out their tax return will be acutely aware that CGT can take a big bite out of any gains," he added. 

"Some of our customers are working in partnership with their spouse to reduce their combined tax bills, taking full advantage of each individual’s CGT allowance of £11,300 by transferring shares and property between them.

"However, we’ve been warning our customers to watch out for potential tax traps. Transferring property between spouses could trigger a stamp duty charge.”

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