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Rising property prices mean more will be on the hook for inheritance tax

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This year’s runaway house prices rises mean that more people could find themselves liable for inheritance tax when they are left a property, money or other assets after someone has died.

New figures from HMRC show that inheritance receipts in April to May 2021 were £966million – £340million higher than the same period last year, due in part to an increase in the value of many people’s homes.  

Financial advisers say significant increases in property values may mean that more estates will nudge past the threshold where inheritance tax is due, without them realising it.   

Tilney, the financial planning firm, has issued a stark warning about IHT – saying rising property prices, along with the buoyancy of the stock market, could draw more people into the ‘inheritance tax web’.

Taxing times: House prices rises have pushed homeowners over the inheritance tax threshold

Taxing times: House prices rises have pushed homeowners over the inheritance tax threshold

The latest official figures from HM Land Registry, which reported on house sales in April, showed that house prices had risen 8.9 per cent in the past year to an average of £250,772. 

If you give away your family home to your children, £500,000 is the maximum value that your estate can reach before you start being liable for inheritance tax – or up £1million if you are a surviving spouse or civil partner who already inherited the property from them.

If you don’t fall into this category, your limit is £325,000 – the standard nil-rate band.

This is Money analysis of Land Registry price paid data shows that more than 19,500 homes were bought for over £500,000 in the first quarter of this year.  

In the first quarter of 2010, the first full year after the inheritance tax threshold was last changed, the figure was less than half that, 7,800. 

The nil rate band is fixed, which means that for every £10,000 the value of the property grows over £325,000, the owners’ inheritance liability increases by £4,000. 

Compounding the situation is the fact that the threshold will not change for at least five years. 

House prices have increased by nearly 15 per cent in some UK areas - so those hoping to pass their home on after they die could be unwittingly setting family up for an inheritance tax trap

House prices have increased by nearly 15 per cent in some UK areas – so those hoping to pass their home on after they die could be unwittingly setting family up for an inheritance tax trap  

The Government recently took the decision to freeze the £325,000 nil-rate band until at least April 2026.

‘The freeze means that even before any fresh reforms to IHT are introduced, taxpayers could be stung if there is even a modest increase in their estates – which is quite possible given that property and share prices have been on the rise,’ said Ian Dyall, head of estate planning at Tilney.

The nil rate band has remained at £325,000 per person since April 2009, meaning that it will have remained unchanged for 17 years by the time the freeze ends.

However, the Government did bring in the £500,000 nil rate band for those passing on their main home to their children in 2017. 

Inheritance tax: who needs to pay? 

Inheritance tax is a tax on the estate (property, money and possessions) of someone who has died.

The standard rate is 40 per cent on anything above the threshold of £325,000.

There’s normally no inheritance tax to pay if either:

  • The value of your estate is below the £325,000 threshold 
  • You leave everything above the £325,000 threshold to your spouse, civil partner, a charity or a community amateur sports club

If you give away your family home to your children (including adopted, foster or stepchildren) or grandchildren, your threshold can increase to £500,000. This because of the ‘residence nil rate band’ which adds £175,000 to your allowance.

This relief tapers away if the deceased’s total estate is worth more than £2million.

If you’re married or in a civil partnership and you leave your estate to them, your threshold can be added to your partner’s when you die, or vice versa. This means the joint threshold can be as much as £1million. 

There are certain exemptions and reductions, for example if you leave money to charity or if you are passing on ownership of a business.

Tilney points out that, had the £325,000 allowance been adjusted for consumer price index inflation each year, it would now be approximately £414,000 per person.

If inflation continues to rise, the gap between the inheritance tax threshold and the value of people’s estates will grow even wider.  

Dyall added: ‘This is a reminder of the impact of inflation, which has started to rear its head again, evidenced by the latest consumer price index inflation figures out today which rose to 2.1 per cent in May, up from 1.5 per cent in April.’ 

Some are already seeking advice on inheritance tax and what their descendants might have to pay after they have died.  

According to The Openwork Partnership, one of the UK’s largest networks of financial advisers, there was a 38 per cent spike in demand for advice on inheritance tax planning in the past year, with more than one in ten clients wanting to discuss it.

Of these, 43 per cent said rising property prices was one of their reasons for seeking inheritance tax advice.

Antony Cousins, director of wealth management at SPF Private Clients, said his firm had also seen an increase in enquiries on the topic. 

‘Many more people could be hit by inheritance tax, thanks to rising property prices and a freezing of the nil-rate.

‘We have seen a significant increase in enquiries in this area over the past 12 to 24 months, particularly as Covid has made people think more about their mortality.’

He says that there are five main ways that those worried about inheritance tax can reduce their liability: spending significant amounts to reduce their overall estate; gifting money or assets to children and grandchildren; insuring against their inheritance tax liability, for example on a life assurance policy; setting up suitable trusts; and investing in an asset that qualifies for business property relief.

You can claim business property relief on property and buildings, unlisted shares and machinery that are associated with the running of a business, and if eligible the inheritance relief will be between 50 and 100 per cent. 

‘Everyone is different and generally it’s not just one of these solutions which suits best but a combination of these,’ says Cousins. 

‘Given that more people could find themselves hit by inheritance tax, it is important to take advice and to plan ahead.’ 

More older people are seeking advice about inheritance tax, according to experts

More older people are seeking advice about inheritance tax, according to experts

Those with more valuable estates have an extra complication to look out for, as the exemption for passing on your main home to your children tapers away when the deceased’s estate is worth more than £2million.   

Dyall explains: ‘There is an additional trap to consider, which means that some people will pay inheritance tax at an effective rate of 60 per cent on the growth. 

‘If the growth on their home pushes them above £2million, when added to their other assets, then for every £2 they exceed the £2million threshold, they will lose £1 of allowance. 

‘This results in an effective rate of tax of 60 per cent on the growth. So it is important to keep an eye on how the growth in the value of their home is affecting the bigger picture.’ 

How much does the Government make from inheritance tax?

How much does the Government make from inheritance tax? 
Tax year   Government inheritance tax receipts (£billion)
2009/10 £2.38billion
2010/11  £2.72billion 
2011/12  £2.90billion 
2012/13  £3.11billion 
2013/14  £3.40billion 
2014/15  £3.80billion 
2015/16  £4.65billion 
2016/17  £4.82billion 
2017/18  £5.21billion 
2018/19  £5.36billion 
2019/20  £5.12billion 
2020/21  £5.33billion 
Source: HMRC/NFU Mutual  

HMRC has revealed that it collected £5.33billion from inheritance tax in the 2020-21 financial year, up from £5.12billion the year before.

Since the tax-free allowance was raised to £325,000 in 2009, the amount of inheritance tax the Government pockets has more than doubled.  

Meanwhile, the average UK house price has increased by around 60 per cent since 2009, so a £325,000 house would now be worth around £520,000.

Though its income from the tax is on the increase, some experts predict that the Treasury could increase IHT even further as it seeks to recoup funds spent on emergency support related to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Julia Rosenbloom, tax partner at accountants Smith & Williamson, says: ‘Rumours have been swelling since the weekend about a plan by the Chancellor to launch a pensions tax raid in an Autumn Budget. 

‘If it is confirmed that a Budget will be held later this year, then it wouldn’t be unthinkable for lucrative reforms to be considered for other taxes, particularly IHT and capital gains tax, given the amount they raise for the Treasury on an annual basis.

‘If the Chancellor launches a sledgehammer to the tax system in an Autumn Budget and explicitly increases IHT charges then many more people will be affected – and some may need to go as far as selling family homes to pay their IHT bills.’

Cutting your IHT bill: Three tips from Tilney’s Ian Dyall

Pass on your pension

Pensions can play a big role when it comes to estate planning, as they aren’t included when your inheritance tax bill is calculated. 

If you can afford to leave your pension untouched while using other assets to fund your retirement, you could pass your pension on tax-efficiently while gradually reducing the size of your taxable estate.

If you die before you are 75, the person who inherits your pension can make withdrawals without paying any tax. If you die after age 75, the beneficiary will pay tax on withdrawals at their marginal income tax rate. However, access to these pension features is not available on many older pensions.

Make gifts in trusts

Trusts make it possible to give gifts to others while keeping control over the money. Usually when you set up a trust you can choose who receives the gift, when they receive it and what they can use it for. Many people make gifts in trust when the beneficiary is:

  • Too young or inexperienced to look after the money
  • In ill health or has certain disabilities 
  • Going through divorce or bankruptcy proceedings 

You can also use certain trusts to make a gift while still benefiting from the money. For example, you could give away an investment while keeping any income it pays or keep an investment while giving away its growth.

Use tax-efficient investments to benefit from business relief

Under business relief rules, you may be able to reduce the value of your inheritance tax bill by owning or investing in a business. You can claim business relief on:

  • A business or interest in a business (including a sole trade and partnership)
  • Land, buildings or machinery owned by a partner or controlling shareholder of a business and used by the business
  • Unquoted shares, such as those listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) or Enterprise Investment Scheme companies.

You will need to own the assets for at least two years before you can claim business relief on them. 

Some assets become completely free from inheritance tax under these rules, whereas others only receive 50 per cent relief – and there are also several exceptions. In addition, investing in smaller companies can be higher risk. 

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Homes near Elizabeth Line see asking prices double in a decade

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Asking prices for properties for sale near stations on London‘s new Elizabeth Line have more than doubled in a decade, new research has revealed.

Many areas near stations on the capital’s new high-speed line were previously less well connected to key commuter hubs, such as Liverpool Street or Paddington stations.

But they have seen a surge in property asking prices amid new interest from homebuyers and tenants due to the better transport links that the Elizabeth Line provides.

REVEALED: The asking price hotspots around the new Elizabeth Line stations

REVEALED: The asking price hotspots around the new Elizabeth Line stations

Elizabeth Line hotspots: This two-bed flat in London's Windmill lane is o.2 miles from Maryland station and is for sale for £395,000 via Filtons estate agents

Elizabeth Line hotspots: This two-bed flat in London’s Windmill lane is o.2 miles from Maryland station and is for sale for £395,000 via Filtons estate agents

The new figures from Rightmove revealed the extent to which asking prices have risen in local areas around Maryland, Abbey Wood and Stratford stations.

Maryland Station in Newham, which provides an additional option for those commuting near well-connected Stratford, has seen the biggest jump in asking prices.

They have more than doubled compared to ten years ago, rising 108 per cent from £233,480 to £486,235.

This compares to the London average increase over the past ten years of 55 per cent.

About half a mile from Abbey Wood station is this two-bed flat for sale for £235,000 via Your Move estate agents

About half a mile from Abbey Wood station is this two-bed flat for sale for £235,000 via Your Move estate agents

Rightmove has identified the asking price hotspots around the new Elizabeth Line stations

Rightmove has identified the asking price hotspots around the new Elizabeth Line stations

Meanwhile, Rightmove revealed that total buyer demand has risen the most in western areas, while prices and competition has risen most in eastern areas.

Twyford, at the end of the western section of the line and the next stop along from Reading, has seen the biggest jump in the number of buyers contracting estate agents.

Numbers have more than tripled compared to 10 years ago, up 245 per cent.

Those looking to buy near Abbey Wood station, at the end of the South East section of the line, face the stiffest competition from other buyers.

Competition in that area has soared more than nine times and is up 869 per cent.

Rightmove has identified buyer demand hotspots around the new Elizabeth Line stations

Rightmove has identified buyer demand hotspots around the new Elizabeth Line stations

The increase in buyer competition compared to ten years ago around the new Elizabeth Line has been revealed

The increase in buyer competition compared to ten years ago around the new Elizabeth Line has been revealed

Near Custom House station: This two-bed house is for rent for £1,700 a month via Outlook lettings agents

Near Custom House station: This two-bed house is for rent for £1,700 a month via Outlook lettings agents

The rental hotspots along the new Elizabeth Line station have been revealed

The rental hotspots along the new Elizabeth Line station have been revealed

It is a similar story along the Elizabeth line for tenants as many look to balance their commute into London with where they can afford to rent.

Average rents in London have reached a new record of £2,195 a month, up 14 per cent compared to this time last year.

Southall has seen the biggest increase in the number of tenants contacting letting agents compared to ten years ago, more than quadrupling, up 372 per cent.

However, asking rents near Southall station are lower than nearby Hanwell or Ealing.

Asking rents have increased the most in western stations Slough, up 44 per cent, and Burnham, up 43 per cent, while those looking to rent near Custom House station face the most competition from other tenants.

Slough is among the asking rent hotspots along the new Elizabeth Line stations, with the average asking rent up 44 per cent during the past ten years

Slough is among the asking rent hotspots along the new Elizabeth Line stations, with the average asking rent up 44 per cent during the past ten years

One of the new stations built for the Elizabeth Line - Custom House - has seen competition increase 3270 per cent compared to ten years ago

One of the new stations built for the Elizabeth Line – Custom House – has seen competition increase 3270 per cent compared to ten years ago

Custom House, one of the new stations built for the Elizabeth Line and benefitting from significantly lower travel times into Central London, has seen competition increase by a staggering 33 times, up 3270 per cent compared to ten years ago.

Tim Bannister, of Rightmove, said: ‘As the Elizabeth Line opens, it does so with a backdrop of record rents in London, a rising cost of living and a shortage of available homes.

‘Areas further out from central London that have lower asking prices or rents, but are now more easily commutable will be attractive to new buyers and tenants in search of somewhere affordable to live near the capital.

‘Not only this, but new working from home patterns since the pandemic started two years ago will have many people weighing up whether they are prepared to commute from further away if they need to do so less often.’

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National Maternity Hospital decision is a welcome sign of the Government’s backbone

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The Government’s decision to proceed with the building of the new National Maternity Hospital is a welcome sign that the Taoiseach and his Ministers are willing to face up to the Opposition, the social media mob and assorted objectors on an issue of major national importance.

One of the weaknesses of the Coalition since it took office in June 2020 has been a tendency to run scared in the face of contrived outrage, usually fomented by a combination of Opposition politicians and vested interests, often mistakenly portrayed as representing public opinion.

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URW rolls out Westfield brand to three new destinations

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Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW) unveiled plans to rebrand three flagship centres, rolling out the Westfield brand to Parquesur in Madrid, Taby Centrum in Stockholm, and Galeria Mokotow in Warsaw this fall. The rebranding continues the expansion of the Westfield brand in Europe as the company drives new revenues through media advertising and brand experiences, turning its huge footfall of 550 million visits across its European assets into a qualified audience, while also leveraging the Westfield brand’s significant value to retailers, who see over 20%2 higher sales at URW’s centres even when compared to other A-category malls.

 

The flagship destinations share a number of characteristics in addition to being among the most important retail centres in their respective markets: they are set in excellent locations with unrivalled transport options, have distinctive architectural and design features and a best-in-class approach in terms of customer experience, community engagement, and sustainability practices. To celebrate the launch of the Westfield brand at these assets, each destination will host festive consumer events which will be announced later this year.

 

Caroline Puechoultres, Chief Customer Officer of URW, said: “The rebranding of these centres continues our strategy to expand Westfield to Flagship European destinations in the wealthiest cities and catchment areas. The significant opportunity afforded to both retailers and brands by this increasingly digitally linked network of destinations is unparalleled – through Westfield our partners can reach tens of millions of European consumers, driving new possibilities in advertising, brand marketing and retail.”

 

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