The latest figures from HM Revenue and Customs show that inheritance tax receipts increased to £3.2 billion in the five months from April 2023 to August 2023.
This is a £300 million increase from the same period in the previous year, and continues the upwards trend over the last decade.
One in every 25 estates pay inheritance tax, but the freeze on inheritance tax thresholds, decades of house price increases and high inflation are bringing more and more estates above the threshold.
For those that are paying this death tax, Wealth Club calculations suggest the average bill could increase to just over £234,000 this 2023/24 tax year. This is a 11% increase from the £214,000 average paid just three years ago.
Inheritance tax is typically paid at a rate of 40% over certain thresholds, although you can pass on money IHT free to your spouse or civil partner, who will then also inherit your allowance for when they pass away. The main threshold is the nil-rate band and applies to the vast majority of people in the UK, enabling up to £325,000 of an estate to be passed on without having to pay any IHT. That has been unchanged since 2009. However, there is also a Residence Nil Rate band worth £175,000 which allows most people to pass on a family home more tax efficiently to direct descendants, although this tapers for estates over £2 million and is not available at all for estates over £2.35 million.
Nicholas Hyett, Investment Manager at Wealth Club said: “The Treasury raked in an extra £300 million from inheritance tax from April to August 2023, compared to the same period a year earlier. This increase is being fuelled by years of soaring house prices and frozen allowances.
While just 4% of estates pay inheritance tax at the moment, given the nil-rate and residence nil-rate bands have been frozen for years people with more regular incomes and average value homes will end up getting caught out by this most hated of taxes. Moreover, with the government’s wallet under pressure from all angles, there’s unlikely to be any respite soon.
The good news is that there are still lots of legitimate ways to pass on money free of inheritance tax, which is why inheritance tax is referred to as a ‘voluntary tax’ in some circles.”
Paul Barham, Partner at Mazars commented: “The IHT nil rate freeze has been worth its weight in gold for the treasury boosting the government’s coffers by £3.2 billion in April to August. This, in combination with high asset values across property and investments, means HMRC is well on its way to another record IHT year. Although, the future of IHT is under the spotlight with rumours that it could be scrapped altogether come 2024, you can’t plan your finances on speculation and people should look at ways that they can reduce their potential IHT liability. Maximising personal gift allowances, and doing so early, having a valid will and using clear expression of wishes documents are steps that are often overlooked. The latest figures are a timely reminder to pay these some attention.”