The inheritance tax dog that didn’t bark…

Chancellor Rishi Sunak made no change to inheritance tax in the March Budget, despite expectations, leaving certain estate planning measures still open. Review your IHT planning in case the Autumn Budget brings in the anticipated changes.

One of the few surprises in March’s Budget was that the Chancellor never mentioned inheritance tax (IHT) or expected simplification measures.

Before 11 March there had been much speculation that the Budget would introduce a range of changes to IHT. This was more than just the usual press kite-flying, as the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) had published two reports on the reform of the tax: the first emerged in 2018, with the second issued last July, in time for the Autumn Budget that never happened.

The OTS made a number of proposals for simplifying IHT including:

The extent of work done by the OTS and the many issues it flagged up mean that the reform of IHT is unlikely to disappear from the Treasury’s agenda. Proposals may therefore emerge in the next Budget, due this Autumn. It is conceivable that, by then, the Chancellor will be looking at IHT as one way of raising extra revenue to help pay down the debts building up in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the meantime, for some families, their potential IHT bill falls by up to £20,000 from 6 April as the residence nil rate band increased by £25,000 to £175,000 (subject to taper for estates above £2 million). Taken together with the nil rate band, still frozen at £325,000, that means a couple could now have a combined total nil rate band of £1 million.

The absence of any measures in the Budget has kept open some estate planning opportunities which could have disappeared in March. This stay of execution could prove to be a good time to review your IHT planning.

The value of tax reliefs depends on your individual circumstances.

Tax laws can change.

The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate inheritance tax advice.