Introduction to inheritance tax

Produced by Tolley
Introduction to inheritance tax

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

  • Introduction to inheritance tax
  • Overview and background to the inheritance tax regime

Overview and background to the inheritance tax regime

Inheritance tax (IHT) is, essentially, a tax on gifts. This typically arises when a person dies and all the property that they own (their ‘estate’) passes to beneficiaries. An individual may also transfer their assets to others during lifetime. This could be an outright gift of assets to another person or a gift into trust.

Assets in trust are held by trustees for the benefit of others, whose entitlement to them is restricted in some way. Special inheritance tax rules apply to trusts to reflect the separation of legal and beneficial ownership.

IHT is a tax on the donor ― the person who is transferring the asset(s). It is calculated with reference to their estate. It is not a tax on the beneficiaries, though what the beneficiaries receive may be reduced by the amount of tax. This position contrasts with the law in certain other jurisdictions where ‘death duties’, gift tax or the equivalent are a tax on the people receiving the property and is taxed in accordance with their status or wealth. Clients who receive an inheritance often ask if they have to pay tax on it. Generally, the answer is ‘no’, because

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