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This is the Finance Act 2017 version of this article. It is relevant for candidates sitting the Taxation – United Kingdom (TX-UK) (F6) exam in the period 1 June 2018 to 31 March 2019. Candidates sitting TX-UK (F6) after 31 March 2019 should refer to the Finance Act 2018 version of this article (to be published on the ACCA website in 2019).

From the September 2018 session, a new naming convention is being introduced for all of the exams in the ACCA Qualification, so from that session, the name of the exam will be Taxation – United Kingdom (TX-UK). June 2018 is the first session of a new exam year for tax, when the exam name continues to be F6 Taxation (UK). Since this name change takes place during the validity of this article, TX-UK (F6) has been used throughout.

The scope of inheritance tax

IHT is paid on the value of a person’s estate when they die, but it also applies to certain lifetime transfers of assets. If IHT did not apply to lifetime transfers it would be very easy for a person to avoid tax by giving away all of their assets just before they died.

As far as TX-UK (F6) is concerned, the terms ‘transfer’ and ‘gift’ can be taken to mean the same thing. The person making a transfer is known as the donor, whilst the person receiving the transfer is known as the donee.

Unlike capital gains tax where, for example, a principal private residence is exempt, all of a person’s estate is generally chargeable to IHT.

A person who is domiciled in the UK is liable to IHT in respect of their worldwide assets. As far as TX-UK (F6) is concerned, people will always be domiciled in the UK.    

For TX-UK (F6), the only relevant chargeable person is an individual. A married couple (and a registered civil partnership) is not a chargeable person because each spouse (or civil partner) is taxed separately.

Transfers of value

During a person’s lifetime, IHT can only arise if a transfer of value is made. A transfer of value is defined as ‘any gratuitous disposition made by a person which results in a diminution in value of that person’s estate’. There are two important terms in this definition:

  • Gratuitous: Poor business deals, for example, are not normally transfers of value because there is no gratuitous intent.
  • Diminution in value: There will normally be no difference between the diminution in value of the donor’s estate and the increase in value of the donee’s estate. However, in some cases it may be necessary to compare the value of the donor’s estate before the transfer and the value after the transfer in order to compute the diminution in value. This will usually be the case where unquoted shares are concerned. Shares forming part of a controlling shareholding will be valued higher than shares forming part of a minority shareholding.


EXAMPLE 1
On 4 May 2017, Daniel made a gift to his son of 15,000 £1 ordinary shares in ABC Ltd, an unquoted investment company. Before the transfer, Daniel owned 60,000 shares out of ABC Ltd’s issued share capital of 100,000 £1 ordinary shares. ABC Ltd’s shares are worth £18 each for a holding of 60%, £10 each for a holding of 45% and £8 each for a holding of 15%.

Although Daniel’s son received a 15% shareholding valued at £120,000 (15,000 x £8), Daniel’s transfer of value is calculated as follows:

 £
Value of shares held before the transfer 
  60,000 x £18
1,080,000
Value of shares held after the transfer 
  45,000 x £10
450,000
Value transferred630,000


In contrast, for capital gains tax purposes the valuation will be based on the market value of the shares gifted, which is £120,000.

As far as TX-UK (F6) is concerned, a transfer of value will always be a gift of assets. A gift made during a person’s lifetime may be either potentially exempt or chargeable.

Potentially exempt transfers

Any transfer which is made to another individual is a potentially exempt transfer (PET). A PET only becomes chargeable if the donor dies within seven years of making the gift. If the donor survives for seven years then the PET becomes exempt and can be completely ignored. Hence such a transfer has the potential to be exempt.

If the donor dies within seven years of making a PET then it becomes chargeable. Tax will be charged according to the rates and allowances applicable to the tax year in which the donor dies. However, the value of a PET is fixed at the time that the gift is made.

EXAMPLE 2
Sophie died on 23 January 2018. She had made the following lifetime gifts:

  • 8 November 2010 – A gift of £450,000 to her son.
  • 12 August 2015 – A gift of a house valued at £610,000 to her daughter. By 23 January 2018, the value of the house had increased to £655,000.


The gift to Sophie’s son on 8 November 2010 is a PET for £450,000. Because the PET was made more than seven years before the date of Sophie’s death it is exempt from IHT.

The gift to Sophie’s daughter on 12 August 2015 is a PET for £610,000 and is initially ignored. It becomes chargeable as a result of Sophie dying within seven years of making the gift, and the transfer of £610,000 will be charged to IHT based on the rates and allowances for 2017–18.

Chargeable lifetime transfers

Any transfer which is made to a trust is a chargeable lifetime transfer (CLT).

There is no legal definition of what a trust is, but essentially a trust arises where a person transfers assets to people (the trustees) to hold for the benefit of other people (the beneficiaries). For example, parents may not want to make an outright gift of assets to their young children. Instead, assets can be put into a trust with the trust being controlled by trustees until the children are older.

Unlike a PET, a CLT is immediately charged to IHT based on the rates and allowances applicable to the tax year in which the CLT is made. An additional tax liability may then arise if the donor dies within seven years of making the gift. Just as for a PET, the value of a CLT is fixed at the time that the gift is made, but the additional tax liability is calculated using the rates and allowances applicable to the tax year in which the donor dies.

EXAMPLE 3
Lim died on 4 December 2017. She had made the following lifetime gifts:

  • 2 November 2010 – A gift of £420,000 to a trust.
  • 21 August 2015 – A gift of a house valued at £615,000 to a trust. By 4 December 2017, the value of the house had increased to £650,000.


The gift to the trust on 2 November 2010 is a CLT for £420,000, and will be immediately charged to IHT based on the rates and allowances for 2010–11. There will be no additional tax liability as the gift was made more than seven years before the date of Lim’s death.

The gift to the trust on 21 August 2015 is a CLT for £615,000, and will be immediately charged to IHT based on the rates and allowances for 2015–16. Lim has died within seven years of making the gift so an additional tax liability may arise based on the rates and allowances for 2017–18.

Rates of tax

IHT is payable once a person’s cumulative chargeable transfers over a seven year period exceed a nil rate band. For the tax year 2017–18, the nil rate band is £325,000, and for previous years it has been:

 £ 
2008–09312,000 
2009–10325,000 
2010–11325,000 
2011–12325,000 
2012–13325,000 
2013–14325,000 
2014–15325,000 
2015–16325,000 
2016–17
325,000
 


The rate of IHT payable as a result of a person’s death is 40%. This is the rate which is charged on a person’s estate at death, on PETs which become chargeable as a result of death within seven years, and is also the rate used to see if any additional tax is payable on CLTs made within seven years of death.

An additional nil rate band is available where a main residence is inherited on death by direct descendants (children and grandchildren). For the tax year 2017–18, the residence nil rate band is £100,000. The residence nil rate band is only relevant where an individual dies on or after 6 April 2017 (when the residence nil rate band was introduced), their estate exceeds the normal nil rate band of £325,000 and their estate includes a main residence. Any other type of property, such as a property which has been let out, does not qualify for the residence nil rate band.

The rate of IHT payable on CLTs at the time they are made is 20% (half the death rate). This is the lifetime rate.

The tax rates information that will be given in the tax rates and allowances section of the exam in the year 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019 is:

Nil rate band£325,000 
Residence nil rate band£100,000 
Rates of tax on excess
– Lifetime rate
– Death rate

20%
40%
 


Where earlier nil rate bands may be relevant, they will be given to you within the question.

A question will make it clear if the residence nil rate band is available. Therefore, you should assume that the residence nil rate band is not available if there is no mention of a main residence.

EXAMPLE 4
Sophie died on 26 May 2017 leaving an estate valued at £800,000. Under the terms of her will, Sophie’s estate was left to her children (the residence nil rate band is not available).

The IHT liability is:
 

Death estate

 £ 
Chargeable estate800,000 
IHT liability
  325,000 at nil%
  475,000 at 40%

0
190,000
 
 190,000 



EXAMPLE 5           
Continuing with example 4, assume that Sophie’s estate included a main residence valued at £250,000.

The IHT liability will then be:
 

Death estate

 £ 
Chargeable estate800,000 
IHT liability
  425,000 (325,000 + 100,000)
  at nil%
  375,000 at 40%


0
150,000
 
 150,000 


The residence nil rate band of £100,000 is available because Sophie’s estate included a main residence and this was left to her direct descendants.

EXAMPLE 6
Ming died on 22 April 2017 leaving an estate valued at £300,000 (the residence nil rate band is not available).

On 30 April 2015, she had made a gift of £240,000 to her son. This figure is after deducting available exemptions.

IHT liabilities are:
 

Lifetime transfer – 30 April 2015

 £ 
Potentially exempt transfer240,000 


The PET is initially ignored.

 

Additional liability arising on death – 30 April 2015

 £ 
Potentially exempt transfer240,000 


The PET utilises £240,000 of the nil rate band of £325,000 for 2017–18. No IHT is payable.

 

Death estate

 £ 
Chargeable estate300,000 
IHT liability
  85,000 at nil%
  215,000 at 40%

0
86,000
 
 86,000 


Only £85,000 (325,000 – 240,000) of the nil rate band is available against the death estate.

EXAMPLE 7
Joe died on 13 October 2017 leaving an estate valued at £750,000 (the residence nil rate band is not available).

On 12 November 2014, he had made a gift of £400,000 to a trust. This figure is after deducting available exemptions. The trust paid the IHT arising from the gift.

The nil rate band for the tax year 2014–15 is £325,000.

IHT liabilities are:
 

Lifetime transfer – 12 November 2014

 £ 
Chargeable transfer400,000 
IHT liability
  325,000 at nil%
  75,000 at 20%

0
15,000
 
 15,000 


The gift to a trust is a CLT. The lifetime IHT liability is calculated using the nil rate band for 2013–14.

 

Additional liability arising on death – 12 November 2014

 £ 
Chargeable transfer400,000 
IHT liability
  325,000 at nil%
  75,000 at 40%

0
30,000
 
IHT already paid
(15,000) 
Additional liability15,000 


The additional liability arising on death is calculated using the nil rate band for 2017–18.

 

Death estate       

 £ 
Chargeable estate750,000 
IHT liability   750,000 at 40%300,000 


The CLT made on 12 November 2014 has fully utilised the nil rate band of £325,000.

It is important to appreciate that the residence nil rate band does not apply to lifetime transfers becoming chargeable as a result of the donor’s death within seven years.

EXAMPLE 8
Tony died on 16 August 2017 leaving an estate valued at £700,000. Under the terms of his will, Tony’s estate was left to his grandchildren. The estate included a main residence valued at £360,000.

On 30 April 2015, Tony had made a potentially exempt transfer of £400,000 to his son.

IHT liabilities are:


Potentially exempt transfer

 £ 
Potentially exempt transfer400,000 
IHT liability
  325,000 at nil%
  75,000 at 40%

0
30,000
 
 30,000 



Death estate

 £ 
Chargeable estate700,000
IHT liability
  100,000 at nil%
  600,000 at 40%

0
240,000
 
 240,000 


Taper relief

It would be somewhat unfair if a donor did not quite live for seven years after making a gift with the result that the gift was fully chargeable to IHT. Therefore, taper relief reduces the amount of tax payable where a donor lives for more than three years, but less than seven years, after making a gift. The reduction is as follows:

Years before deathPercentage reduction %
Over three years but less than four years20
Over four years but less than five years40
Over five years but less than six years60
Over six years but less than seven years80


Although taper relief reduces the amount of tax payable, it does not reduce the value of a gift for cumulation purposes.

The taper relief table will be given in the tax rates and allowances section of the exam.

EXAMPLE 9
Winnie died on 9 January 2018. She had made the following lifetime gifts:

  • 2 February 2011 – A gift of £460,000 to a trust. The trust paid the IHT arising from this gift.
  • 16 August 2014 – A gift of £320,000 to her son


These figures are after deducting available exemptions.

The nil rate band for the tax years 2010–11 and 2014–15 it is £325,000.

IHT liabilities are:

Lifetime transfers£ 
2 February 2011
  
Chargeable transfer460,000 
IHT liability
  325,000 at nil%
  135,000 at 20%

0
27,000
 
 27,000 
16 August 2014  
Potentially exempt transfer320,000 
   
Additional liabilities arising on death
  
2 February 2011
  
Chargeable transfer460,000 
   
IHT liability
  325,000 at nil%
  135,000 at 40%

0
54,000
 
Taper relief reduction – 80%(43,200) 
 10,800 
IHT already paid(27,000) 
Additional liability           0
 


  • The taper relief reduction is 80% because the gift to the trust was made between six and seven years of the date of Winnie’s death.
  • Although the final IHT liability of £10,800 is lower than the amount of IHT already paid of £27,000, a refund is never made.

 

16 August 2014

 £ 
Potentially exempt transfer320,000 
IHT liability 320,000 at 40%128,000 
Taper relief reduction – 20%(25,600) 
 102,400 


The taper relief reduction is 20% because the gift to the son was made between three and four years of the date of Winnie’s death.    

Transfer of a spouse’s unused nil rate bands

Any unused nil rate band on a person’s death can be transferred to their surviving spouse (or registered civil partner). The nil rate band will often not be fully used on the death of the first spouse because any assets left to the surviving spouse are exempt from IHT (see the following section on transfers to spouses).

A claim for the transfer of any unused nil rate band is made by the personal representatives who are looking after the estate of the second spouse to die. The amount which can be claimed is based on the proportion of the nil rate band not used when the first spouse died. Even though the first spouse may have died several years ago when the nil rate band was much lower, the amount which can be claimed on the death of the second spouse is calculated using the current limit of £325,000.

EXAMPLE 10
Nun died on 29 March 2018.

None of her husband’s nil rate band was used when he died on 5 May 2007.

When calculating the IHT on Nun’s estate a nil rate band of £650,000 (325,000 + 325,000) can be used because a claim can be made to transfer 100% of her husband’s nil rate band.

EXAMPLE 11
Win died on 24 February 2018 leaving an estate valued at £800,000 (the residence nil rate band is not available). Only 60% of his wife’s nil rate band was used when she died on 12 May 2008.

On 10 May 2015, Win had made a gift of £200,000 to his son. This figure is after deducting available exemptions.

The nil rate band for the tax year 2015–16 is £325,000.

IHT liabilities are:


Lifetime transfer – 10 May 2015

 £ 
Potentially exempt transfer200,000 


 

Additional liability arising on death – 10 May 2015

 £ 
Potentially exempt transfer200,000 


No IHT is payable because the transfer is within the nil rate band.


Death estate

 £
 
Chargeable estate
800,000 
IHT liability
  255,000 at nil%
  545,000 at 40%

0
218,000
 
 218,000 


  • Win’s personal representatives can claim the wife’s unused nil rate band of £130,000 (325,000 x 40%).
  • The amount of nil rate band is therefore £455,000 (325,000 + 130,000), of which £200,000 is utilised by the PET made on 10 May 2015.

In the same way in which any unused normal nil rate band can be transferred to a surviving spouse (or registered civil partner), the residence nil rate band is also transferable. It does not matter when the first spouse died.

EXAMPLE 12
Timothy died on 19 June 2017 leaving an estate valued at £700,000. Under the terms of his will, Timothy’s estate was left to his children. The estate included a main residence valued at £300,000.

Timothy’s wife died on 5 May 2006. He used all of his nil rate band of £325,000.

Timothy’s IHT liability is:

 £
 
Chargeable estate
700,000 
IHT liability
  525,000 (325,000 + 200,000)
  at nil%
  175,000 at 40%


0
70,000
 
 70,000 


  • Timothy’s personal representatives can claim the wife’s unused residence nil rate band of £100,000.
  • The amount of residence nil rate band is therefore £200,000 (100,000 + 100,000).

Exemptions

Transfers to spouses
Gifts to spouses (and registered civil partners) are exempt from IHT. This exemption applies both to lifetime gifts and on death.

EXAMPLE 13
Sophie died on 25 June 2017.

On 12 April 2013, she had made a gift of £400,000 to her husband.

Sophie’s estate on 25 June 2017 was valued at £900,000. Under the terms of her will, Sophie divided her estate equally between her husband and her daughter (the residence nil rate band is not available).

The nil rate band for the tax year 2013–14 is £325,000.

IHT liabilities are:


Lifetime transfers
The gift on 12 April 2013 is exempt as it is to Sophie’s husband.
 

Death estate

 £
 
Value of estate
900,000
 
Spouse exemption (900,000/2)
(450,000) 
Chargeable estate
450,000 
IHT liability
  325,000 at nil%
  125,000 at 40%

0
50,000
 
 50,000 


There are a number of other exemptions which only apply to lifetime gifts.

Small gifts exemption
Gifts up to £250 per person in any one tax year are exempt. If a gift is more than £250 then the small gifts exemption cannot be used, although it is possible to use the exemption any number of times by making gifts to different donees.

EXAMPLE 14
During the tax year 2017–18, Peter made the following gifts:

  • On 18 May 2017, he made a gift of £240 to his son.
  • On 5 October 2017, he made a gift of £400 to his daughter.
  • On 20 March 2018, he made a gift of £100 to a friend.


The gifts on 18 May 2017 and 20 March 2018 are both exempt because they do not exceed £250. The gift on 5 October 2017 for £400 does not qualify for the small gifts exemption because it is more than £250. It will instead be covered by Peter’s annual exemption for 2017–18 (see the next section).

Annual exemption
Each tax year a person has an annual exemption of £3,000. If the whole of the annual exemption is not used in any tax year, then the balance is carried forward to the following tax year. However, the exemption for the current tax year must be used first, and any unused brought forward exemption cannot be carried forward a second time. Therefore, the maximum amount of annual exemptions available in any tax year is £6,000 (£3,000 x 2).

EXAMPLE 15
Simone made the following gifts:

  • On 10 May 2016, she made a gift of £1,400 to her son.
  • On 25 October 2017, she made a gift of £4,000 to her daughter.


The gift on 10 May 2016 utilises £1,400 of Simone’s annual exemption for 2016–17. The balance of £1,600 (3,000 – 1,400) is carried forward to 2017–18.

The gift on 25 October 2017 utilises all of the £3,000 annual exemption for 2017–18 and £1,000 (4,000 – 3,000) of the balance brought forward of £1,600. Because the annual exemption for 2017–18 must be used first, the unused balance brought forward of £600 (1,600 – 1,000) is lost.

The annual exemption is applied on a strict chronological basis, and is therefore given against PETs even when they do not become chargeable.

EXAMPLE 16
Nigel made the following gifts:

  • On 17 May 2016, he made a gift of £60,000 to his son.
  • On 25 June 2017, he made a gift of £100,000 to a trust.


The gift on 17 May 2016 utilises Nigel’s annual exemptions for 2016–17 and 2015–16. The value of the PET is £54,000 (60,000 – 3,000 – 3,000).

The gift on 25 June 2017 utilises Nigel’s annual exemption for 2017–18. The value of the CLT is £97,000 (100,000 – 3,000). No lifetime IHT liability is payable because this is within the nil rate band for 2017–18.

Normal expenditure out of income
IHT is not intended to apply to gifts of income. Therefore, a gift is exempt if it is made as part of a person’s normal expenditure, is made out of income and that person is left with sufficient income to maintain their normal standard of living. To count as normal, gifts must be habitual. Therefore, regular annual gifts of £2,500 made by a person with an annual income of £100,000 would probably be exempt. A one-off gift of £70,000 made by the same person would probably not be, and would instead be a PET or a CLT.

Gifts in consideration of marriage
This exemption covers gifts made in consideration of a couple getting married or registering a civil partnership. The amount of exemption depends on the relationship of the donor to the donee (who must be one of the two persons getting married):

  • £5,000 if the gift if made a by a parent.
  • £2,500 if the gift is made by a grandparent or by one of the couple getting married to the other.
  • £1,000 if the gift is made by anyone else.


EXAMPLE 17
On 19 September 2017, William made a gift of £20,000 to his daughter when she got married. He has not made any other gifts since 6 April 2016.

The gift is a PET, but £5,000 will be exempt as a gift in consideration of marriage and William’s annual exemptions for 2017–18 and 2016–17 are also available. The value of the PET is therefore £9,000 (20,000 – 5,000 – 3,000 – 3,000).
 

The second part of the article will cover the more difficult aspects of lifetime transfers, the calculation of the value of a person’s estate, the payment of IHT and basic IHT planning. It also includes a test of your understanding.

Written by a member of the TX-UK (F6) examining team

Last updated: 22 Feb 2018