What is Inheritance Tax?

Inheritance Tax is tax paid on the value of property, land and money that belonged to someone who has died.

These assets are called their ‘estate’. Inheritance Tax is only payable on estates over a certain value.

In 2019-19, Inheritance Tax is payable on all estates valued at over £325,000. This threshold has been the same since 2011 and is not going to change next tax year. Any estate valued at less than £325,000 is said to be in the nil-rate band.

Any estate over £325,000 owes inheritance tax at a rate of 40%. But this only applies to the amount left after deducting the tax free £325,000.


Your estate is worth £550,000 and the tax free threshold is £325,000. 40% inheritance will be payable on £225,000. (£550,000 – £325,000) So, on a £550,000 estate, the inheritance tax bill is £90,000.

The estate also includes any gifts that the deceased has made during the last seven years of their life, with certain exceptions. These exceptions include direct bequests to a spouse or civil partner, and gifts made to certain charities or political parties. Gifts made within the seven years before death are subject to a sliding scale of inheritance tax.

Bequeathed property

The transferable allowance for property you are leaving to a family member is £125,000 in 2018-19 tax year. This goes up to £150,000 in 2019-20.

Married couples and civil partnerships

Married couples and those in civil partnerships can pass on their estates to each other without paying any inheritance tax.

If the person who has died is married, or has a registered civil partner, that spouse or partner can increase their own threshold for Inheritance Tax, depending on the amount of Inheritance Tax that was initially paid. In practice, this means that a couple’s threshold may be up to twice that of an individual.

Limiting the amount of inheritance tax

Many people wish to see as much of their estate passed on to their nominated parties as possible and seek to limit the amount of inheritance tax charged. The rules allow for this in certain circumstances. Gifting money and assets can avoid inheritance tax, as long as it is seven years before death. It is also possible to write a deed of variation into your will or put your life insurance policy under a trust.

Inheritance Tax is typically complex and seeking financial advice is recommended to ensure that you are being as tax efficient as possible.

Who has to pay the inheritance tax?

Usually, the inheritance tax bill money comes out of the total value of the estate in question. The executor of your will is responsible for administering the IHT and it must be paid within six months of the death. You need to factor in a three week waiting period to get your Inheritance tax reference number from HMRC before you can actually pay the bill. Any heirs are not usually left with IHT to pay on your estate. But, if they received gifts from you within the seven years before your death, they are liable for the tax on those items. The money they owe will be taken from your estate’s total, if they are not able to pay the IHT on your gifts.

It is possible to overpay inheritance tax, depending on movement in house prices. If you think this may be the case for you, it’s worth investigating if you are owed an inheritance tax rebate claim.

For further Tax information, please follow the links below:

  • Income Tax includes:
    What is income tax?
    How is Income Tax calculated?
    How much income tax do I need to pay?
    Income Tax Allowances
    Income Tax Rates and Taxable Bands
    How do I pay income tax?

  • Tax Codes includes:
    Where do I find my Tax Code?
    New Tax Codes
    What does my tax code mean?
    Different Tax Codes
    More than one job
    Emergency Tax Codes

  • Emergency Tax Codes includes:
    What is an Emergency Tax Code?
    What does an emergency Tax Code look like?
    Why do I have a BR/ Emergency Tax Code?
    Can I get a Tax Refund if I have paid Emergency Tax?

  • Construction Industry Scheme includes:
    CIS For Subcontractors
    CIS For Contractors (Employers)

  • VAT (Value Added Tax) includes:
    What is VAT?
    When do I pay VAT?
    How much VAT do I need to pay?
    Do I need to register for VAT?
    How do I pay VAT?
    Can I claim VAT back?

  • Self Assessment includes:
    What is Self Assessment?
    Do I need to complete a Self Assessment tax return?
    How do I get a Self Assessment tax return form?
    How do I register for Self Assessment?
    Can I register for Self Assessment on behalf of a company or trust?
    What is a Unique Tax Reference number (UTR)?
    How do I get a Unique Tax Reference (UTR) number?
    How do I complete my Self Assessment tax return online?
    Can I complete my Self Assessment tax return on paper?
    Record keeping
    Self Assessment Tax return deadlines
    What if I submit my tax return late?
    What if I submit my tax return incorrectly?
    How is my tax calculated?
    Do I need to check my tax calculation?

  • National Insurance includes:
    What is National Insurance?
    What are the different types of National Insurance?
    Who pays National Insurance?
    What is National Insurance used for?
    Do your National Insurance payments affect your Pension and Benefits?
    How much National Insurance should I pay?

  • Pension Tax includes:
    Do I have to pay tax on my pension?
    Do I have to pay tax on my state pension?

  • Corporation Tax includes:
    Who needs to pay Corporation Tax?
    How much Corporation Tax do I need to pay?
    How do I pay Corporation Tax?

  • Capital Gains Tax includes:
    What is Capital Gains Tax?

More Info

Tax Refunds

For more information please see: