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Inheritance Tax (IHT) is a tax on the value of an estate on the death of an individual. Currently the rate of Inheritance Tax is 0% for the first £325,000.00 (the nil rate band) and thereafter is 40%.
Calculating the value of an estate can be quite complex and it doesn’t only include the assets in the estate of the deceased at the time of death. For Inheritance Tax purposes the value of the estate will include the value of any gifts given away in the 7 years prior to death and also an equal share of the value of any asset held jointly with another person or other persons.
There are a number of exemptions to the so-called “7 years rule” the main one being that there is an annual allowance of £3,000.00 so this amount is not added back into your estate if you were to die within 7 years of making a gift. It is also possible, in addition, to give away gifts up to £250.00 to as many different people as you wish without these having to be calculated as part of your estate. You can also make regular payments out of surplus income which would not be caught by the 7 year rule.
Gifts between spouses are tax free so in the past one nil rate band could be lost if a spouse died and left everything to the widow/widower. Since 2008 a surviving spouse can claim any unused nil rate band from their spouse, when they die. Meaning between them a married couple or civil partnership couple have a combined nil rate band of £650,000.00. Since April last year there is an addition “residential property nil rate band” currently of £125,000.00 each which is also transferrable. This means that a couple could have a combined tax free amount on death of £900,000.00. The residential nil rate band is set to rise by £25,000.00 each year till 2020 when the total available free of Inheritance Tax for a married or civil partnership couple will be £1,000,000.00.
If you make gifts to charity of 10% or more of your estate then the tax rate is reduced from 40% to 36%.
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