The government has tasked the department charged with simplifying our present tax system with taking a fresh look at inheritance task. The scope of their review has just been published. It says:
The review will consider how key aspects of the current IHT system work and whether and how they might be simplified. This will include a combination of administrative and technical questions such as:
- The process around submitting IHT returns and paying any tax, including cases where it is clear from the outset that there will be no tax to pay;
- The various gifts rules including the annual threshold for gifts, small gifts and normal expenditure out of income as well as their interaction with each other and the wider IHT framework;
- Other administrative and practical issues around routine estate planning, compliance and disclosure, including relevant aspects of probate procedure, in particular in relation to situations which commonly arise;
- Complexities arising from the reliefs and their interaction with the wider tax framework;
- The scale and impact of any distortions to taxpayers’ decisions, investments, asset prices or the timing of transactions because of the IHT rules, relevant aspects of the taxation of trusts, or interactions with other taxes such as capital gains tax; and
- The perception of the complexity of the IHT rules amongst taxpayers, practitioners and industry bodies.
Potentially, this could result in legislation being presented to parliament that radically changes the present planning options usually considered by UK taxpayers to minimise IHT liabilities.
We are still some way from any changes being actioned, but we will be keeping a weather eye on the situation and will advise clients if the rules do change.