Downsize (or upsize) to save Inheritance Tax?
From 6 April 2017 an additional Inheritance Tax (IHT) Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB) starts being phased in to enable individuals to pass on their family home to direct descendants. The additional nil rate band starts at £100,000 and rises to £175,000 for deaths after 6 April 2020.
When fully phased in the additional nil band will enable a married couple to pass on a family home valued up to £1 million free of IHT, although the additional relief is restricted if they have assets worth more than £2 million.
The proposed new legislation, if enacted, will provide relief even if the individual downsizes to a smaller property where the downsizing takes place after 8 July 2015. Like the £325,000 IHT nil rate band, the unused residence nil band can be transferred to the surviving spouse and used on the second death.
A widow sells a home worth £400,000 in August 2020 for cash and moves to a home worth £210,000. At the time of the sale the available RNRB is £350,000 as, had she died at that time, her executors would be able to make a claim to transfer all the unused RNRB from her late husband. The new downsizing relief will entitle her to an additional £140,000 (£350,000 - £210,000) nil rate band. This would be added to her nil rate band (up to £650,000 (2 x £325,000) and can be set against any of her assets including cash and investments. If the replacement property was worth £225,000 on her death then the additional nil band would be reduced to £125,000 if the allowance remains at £350,000.
The new inheritance rules are complicated so please get in touch if the changes impact on your family’s tax position. It may even be worth considering upsizing before you downsize to maximise this new relief!