All you need to know about Christmas gifts and inheritance tax

With Christmas just around the corner you might be thinking of treating family and friends by giving cash, shopping vouchers or a beautiful gift. But be warned, inheritance tax can put a dampener on things if you’re splashing out. Matt Parr, Legal Director at Shakespeare Martineau in Milton Keynes explains how to make sure your generosity doesn’t cost someone else.

Promoted by Shakespeare Martineau
Monday, 29th November 2021, 5:54 pm
Make sure your generosity at Christmas doesn’t mean a tax bill for your family
Make sure your generosity at Christmas doesn’t mean a tax bill for your family

What is inheritance tax?

Quite simply, it is a tax on a person’s assets when they die. It can also be payable by the recipient of the gift depending on the value of it and the value of other gifts made by the giver within seven years of the giver’s death. The gift does not have to be monetary; it could also be property or possessions.

What’s the limit?

Want help with estate planning? For a free consultation email [email protected]

Per tax year, a person is able to give away a cumulative total of £3,000 to whoever they choose. They can also give as many small gifts under £250 to as many different people as they like.

What’s the seven-year-rule?

The seven-year-rule becomes relevant when a person gives away over £3,000 in one tax year. It states that the giver must survive for seven years after the gift for it to be exempt from inheritance tax. If not, the value of the gift is counted back into their estate when calculating the inheritance tax due. Such gifts will reduce the tax-free allowance (nil rate band) available on their death and, if the value of the gifts exceed this, the recipient or recipients are liable to pay the inheritance tax attributable to the gift or gifts they received. However, the tax payable does start to taper if it has been more than three years since the date of the gift.

Are there any gifts that are exempt?

Donations to charity and some gifts for marriages or civil partnerships are not liable for inheritance tax, depending on how closely related a person is to the happy couple. All gifts between married couples or those in civil partners are also exempt.

Is there a way to avoid inheritance tax for certain?

Unfortunately, unless a person is psychic, there is no sure-fire way to avoid inheritance tax on gifts over £3,000.

Nevertheless, there is the option of using ‘excess income’. If a person can prove their income meets all their living costs, and that their standard of living can be maintained after the gift, then it may be possible to claim an exemption for inheritance tax. However, to qualify, there must be a regular pattern to this gifting.

Want help with your estate planning? For a free consultation call 07976 412 698, email [email protected] or visit our website here