Allocation of the tax burden

Produced by Tolley

The following Trusts and Inheritance Tax guidance note Produced by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Allocation of the tax burden
  • Who bears the tax?
  • Allocation of the nil rate band
  • Apportioning tax to different components of the estate
  • Instalment and non-instalment property
  • Exempt or relieved assets and liabilities
  • Tax free gifts
  • Exempt beneficiaries
  • Distributions

Allocation of the tax burden

Who bears the tax?

The basic premise of inheritance tax (IHT) is that it is atax on atransfer of value calculated with reference to the transferor’s status. Tax on death is calculated as atotal charge as if the deceased made atransfer of value of the whole of his estate.

It is therefore atax on the deceased but it is effectively borne by the beneficiaries of his estate: the value of their inheritance can be reduced by the tax on it. In asituation where the estate is distributed among anumber of people, the question arises as to how to share the tax between them. This affects what they receive, and, in turn, what they receive may have an effect on the tax liability if they enjoy an exempt status.

There is adistinction to be drawn between incidence of tax and liability. Incidence refers to who, ultimately, bears the burden of tax and the proportions in which it is shared out. Liability refers to who has aresponsibility to pay the tax, the rules for which are set out in IHTA 1984, s 200.

This guidance note is concerned with incidence and provides an overview of the issues to be considered in allocating the burden of tax to beneficiaries. It provides links to other guidance notes and examples which examine certain aspects in more detail.

Allocation of the nil rate band

In accordance with the cumulation principle, the nil rate band is applied chronologically. It is applied in strict chronological order to lifetime gifts which have become chargeable on death, whether those gifts were originally chargeable or potentially exempt. Then the remaining nil rate band (and transferable nil rate band if available) is apportioned across all taxable components of the death estate.

The situation is complicated by the introduction of the residence nil rate band (RNRB) from 5 April 2017. The RNRB is applied to qualifying estates before the NRB

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