17th May 2023

HMRC has set up a new specialist team to target estates of wealthy deceased individuals in order to check whether a greater Inheritance Tax (IHT) liability may have been due than originally calculated by estate executors. This clampdown has seen record amounts of unpaid tax being clawed back by HMRC with levels expected to rise further in the coming years. 

Record sums recovered 

Data obtained through a Freedom of Information request has revealed that a total of £326m was collected by HMRC as a result of targeted IHT investigations in the year to March 2022. This was the largest amount ever recovered and represents a 28% increase on the amount raised by investigators in the previous 12-month period. 

Threshold freeze 

The standard IHT rate is currently 40%, paid on the value of any estate above £325,000; in addition, homeowners benefit from an extra £175,000 allowance if they pass on their primary residence to a child or grandchild. These thresholds, however, have been frozen until 2028, which inevitably means more people are likely to be dragged into the IHT net. In 2021-22, families collectively paid £6.1bn in death duties, up from £5.4bn the previous year, and monthly data up to December suggests the figure for 2022-23 will be even higher. 

Complex rules 

More than 13,000 individuals have been embroiled in IHT investigations since 2019. While some of these bereaved families may have acted deliberately, others are likely to have made innocent mistakes and simply fallen foul of IHT rule complexities. Two areas where mistakes commonly occur relate to the provision of lifetime gifts and the valuation of personal possessions. 

We’re here to help 

If you have any concerns or need advice on any aspect relating to IHT then do get in touch; we’re always happy to help. 

The value of investments can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. The past is not a guide to future performance and past performance may not necessarily be repeated. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) does not regulate Will writing, tax and trust advice and certain forms of estate planning.