Isis Wills

Providing for loved ones

In the United Kingdom, Inheritance Tax was introduced as a tax on estates in England and Wales over a certain value from 1796, then called legacy, succession and estate duties. The value changed over time and the scope of estate duty was extended. By 1857 estates worth over £20 were taxable but duty was rarely collected on estates valued under £1500. Death duties were introduced in 1894, and for the next century were effective in breaking up large estates.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer's Autumn Statement on 9 October 2007 (Information available from the Treasury) announced that with immediate effect inheritance tax allowances (often referred to as the nil-rate band) were to be transferrable between married couples and between civil partners. Thus, for the 2007/8 tax year, a married couple will in effect have an allowance of £600,000 against inheritance tax, whilst a single person's allowance remains at £300,000. The mechanism for this enhanced allowance is that on the death of the second spouse to die, the nil rate band for the second spouse is increased by the percentage of the nil-rate band which was not used on the death of the first spouse to die.

For more information visit HM Revenue & Customs and Directgov.