Threshold frozen for a further four years

The inheritance tax (IHT) threshold has been frozen for a further four years at £325,000, rather than rising in line with inflation. This could mean that more households are caught by this tax. In addition, the amount collected from estates that pay these “death duties” will inevitably increase, as a greater proportion of estates are likely to become subject to this charge.


Prior to Budget 2010 many people had expected this allowance to rise in line with the higher values of suburban houses that are in the ownership of many elderly people. This announcement will mean that many more people could fall into the IHT net in the next few years. The value of any estate over the nil-rate band value of £325,000 is charged at 40 per cent.

Over the past 10 years this “nil-rate band”, along with other tax allowances has risen in line with inflation. The Chancellor has frozen a number of tax allowances for the this year, and announced the inheritance tax threshold will remain static for the life of the next parliament in order to raise funds to help meet social care costs.

The Chancellor had previously made concessions on this tax. Since November 2007, married couples have been able to transfer this allowance, effectively allowing them to pass on assets worth £650,000 to their children (or other beneficiaries) before any IHT is due.

But the Chancellor signalled that he will be clamping down on complex tax avoidance schemes, used by many wealthier families to minimise future IHT bills. In his Budget 2010 speech he indicated that for the first time IHT schemes will soon fall under the Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Scheme rules, which previously have only covered income tax, corporation tax and capital gains tax.