Inheritance Tax rules on lifetime gifts

Giving gifts of cash or valuables before your death means that you can see your loved ones benefit from your generosity. But make sure you understand the Inheritance Tax situation before you give.

Inheritance Tax rules are complex, particularly when it comes to working out what might be due on gifts given before death. Research by Brewin Dolphin found that only 12% of those questioned knew what the annual tax-free gift threshold is.

If money or a valuable item (a lifetime gift) is given within the seven years before someone dies, then there is a possibility that Inheritance Tax will be due if the donor has given away more than the tax threshold amount of £325,000. In that event it would be the recipient of the gift who would be asked to pay the tax.

How much can you give tax-free?

An individual is permitted to give £3,000 per year, with no tax implications. This allowance can be carried over to the following year if it isn’t used, but it cannot be carried over for more than one year.

Amounts above £3,000 are added to the value of the estate if they were given within seven years of the donor’s death. If the total value of the estate exceeds £325,000, Inheritance Tax may be payable.

What is a lifetime gift?

As well as cash, any valuable item constitutes a gift and the value is added to the estate total for the purposes of calculating Inheritance Tax. This includes selling a property at below market value, for example to your children. In that event, the amount of the reduction is added to the value of the estate.

Exemptions

As well as the tax-free £3,000 per year, there are a number of other exemptions allowing you to gift money without needing to consider Inheritance Tax:

  • Any money given to a spouse or civil partner;
  • Single gifts of up to £250;
  • Donations made to registered charities or political parties;
  • £1,000 given as a wedding gift, rising to £2,500 for a grandchild or £5,000 for a child;
  • Money given to an elderly or infirm relative or a child who is under 18 to support them;
  • Gifts from surplus income, for example for birthdays or Christmas, providing it does not affect your standard of living.

The rules can be complicated and it is always worth seeking professional advice before distributing money.

To speak to one of our tax experts, ring us on 0800 019 4557 or email us at info@elm-online.co.uk.

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