Soaring house prices coupled with certain thresholds being frozen in the most recent Budget have the potential to drag more estates into the inheritance tax net over the coming years.
Back in March 2021, Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed the main inheritance tax thresholds will remain frozen at their 2021/22 levels “up to and including 2025/26”.
Inheritance tax is usually charged at 40% on the value of your estate (your property, money and possessions) over the £325,000 nil-rate band.
There’s an additional allowance of up to £175,000 if you pass on your family home to children or grandchildren.
If you’re married, you can effectively combine your thresholds and transfer assets between each other tax-free.
When one dies, the surviving spouse can inherit without any inheritance tax liability and you are able to utilise their unused thresholds on your death.
Freezing these thresholds until 5 April 2026, subject to any further political change, is expected to net the Treasury an extra £15 million from estates this year, rising to £70m in 2022/23, £165m in 2023/24, £290m in 2024/25, and £445m in 2025/26.
If those projections are accurate, that’s an extra £985m in total over the course of the next four tax years after 2021/22.
At the heart of this stealth tax grab is poor or non-existent estate planning and increasing house prices.
According to The Times, there were 563,240 homes in Britain worth more than £1m in June 2021, while the Land Registry said the UK’s average house price stood at £250,772 in April 2021.
Should house prices remain at these levels or increase further, most people should think about taking steps now to protect their estates and ensure as much of their wealth passes on to their beneficiaries as possible.