HMRC Inheritance Tax: Customer Guide
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Liability to UK inheritance tax depends on your domicile at the time you make the transfer.
Domicile is a legal concept. It is not possible to list all the factors that affect your domicile, but we explain some of the main points in this section.
You are domiciled in the jurisdiction where you intend to live permanently or indefinitely. Domicile is different from nationality or residence.
You can only have one domicile at any given time.
Your 'domicile of origin' is normally acquired from your father when you are born. It may not be the country in which you are born. For example, if you are born in France while your father is working there, but his permanent home is in the UK, your domicile of origin is the UK.
Until you can legally change it by acquiring a domicile of choice, your domicile will be the same as that of the person on whom you are legally dependent. If that person's domicile changes, you automatically acquire the same domicile in place of your domicile of origin. This is known as a domicile of dependency.
You can legally acquire a new domicile, a domicile of choice, from the age of 16. To do so, you must
Living in another country for a long time, although an important factor, does not prove you have acquired a new domicile. More on domicile of choice.
For inheritance tax purposes, there is a concept of 'deemed domicile'. This means even if you are not domiciled in the UK under general law we will treat you as domiciled in the UK at the time of a transfer if
Before 1974, when you married you automatically acquired your husband's domicile. After marriage this domicile would change when your husband's domicile changed. If your marriage ended, you kept your husband's domicile until you legally acquired a new domicile.
Since 1 January 1974, your domicile is not necessarily the same as the domicile of your spouse or civil partner. We decide it by the same factors as for any other individual who is able to have an independent domicile. But, if you are a woman who was married before 1974 and had acquired your husband's domicile, you retain this after 1 January 1974 until you legally acquire a new domicile.
If you are domiciled abroad, inheritance tax applies only to your UK assets. However, if you are domiciled abroad there is no charge on excluded assets and we may remove certain other types of UK assets from the tax charge. For more information on excluded property see 'What is excluded property?'
This is decided according to general law, but subject to any special provisions in a double taxation agreement. The normal rules for the more common types of asset are that
Inheritance tax applies to settled property in the UK. It does not apply to settled property outside the UK, unless the settlor was domiciled, or deemed to be domiciled, in the UK when the property was settled.
The deemed domicile rules do not apply to a taxable reversionary interest in settled property. Inheritance tax is not due if the reversionary interest is sited outside the UK, and the person beneficially entitled to it is domiciled outside the UK.
You can find more about settled property here.
If you are not domiciled in the UK, we may treat the following types of asset as excluded property and no inheritance tax is chargeable.
Certain British Government securities (also known as FOTRA securities) first issued before 30 April 1996 are exempt from tax if you are neither domiciled nor ordinarily resident in the UK. If the securities are settled property they are excluded property if
For these purposes, domicile means domicile only under general law. The deemed domicile provisions do not apply.
For FOTRA securities first issued after 29 April 1996 new conditions apply which mean that your domicile is not relevant. You only need to be not ordinarily resident in the UK to benefit from the exemption. From 6 April 1998 the new conditions apply to all British Government Securities, except 31/2% War Loan 1952 or later. This also applies to securities that are settled property. If you want more information on FOTRA securities this link may be useful.
Holdings in Authorised unit trusts (AUTs) and Open-ended investment companies (OEICs) are excluded property if held by an individual not domiciled in the UK or if held in a trust made by a settlor not domiciled or not deemed domiciled in the UK when making the trust.
If you are domiciled in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man and hold National Savings Certificates and certain other forms of small savings, they are excluded property. The deemed domicile provisions do not apply.
Emoluments and tangible movable property of members of visiting forces (other than British citizens, British Dependent Territories citizens or British Overseas citizens) and certain staff of allied headquarters are excluded property. For inheritance tax purposes, we will not take periods spent on duty in the UK into account in deciding whether a transferor is resident, domiciled or deemed to be domiciled here.
There are special rules about pensions paid to former employees of former colonial governments. On the death of a former employee any pension payable under Section 273 of the Government of India Act 1935, or an equivalent scheme under Section 2 of the Overseas Pensions Act 1973, is exempt.
We treat certain other pension payments and gratuities as being paid abroad and there is no inheritance tax due on such pensions on the estate of a deceased pensioner who dies whilst domiciled abroad.
We exclude balances on non-sterling accounts with a bank or the Post Office from inheritance tax on death if they are held by
Settled property sited outside the UK is excluded property if the settlor was domiciled outside the UK at the time the property was settled. Reversionary interests are also generally excluded property.
DTCs are treaties (agreements) which help prevent you being taxed by two countries if both countries have the right to tax the same property when a death occurs or a gift is made. The UK has a number of bilateral DTCs for taxes on estates, gifts and inheritances.
For the purpose of the agreement, DTCs allow
If you still suffer double taxation, there are rules for deciding which country gives credit for the other's tax. Where, exceptionally, the relief given by a DTC would be less than that given by unilateral relief we give you the benefit of unilateral relief. Follow this link for more on unilateral relief.
The following DTCs apply to inheritance tax.
|Country||Date of entry into force||Statutory Instrument No.|
|Republic of Ireland||2 October 1978||1978 No. 1107|
|South Africa||6 May 1979||1979 No. 576|
|USA||11 November 1979||1979 No. 1454|
|16 June 1980
3 June 1996
|1980 No. 706
1996 No. 730
|19 June 1981
14 July 1989
|1981 No. 840
1989 No. 986
|Switzerland||7 March 1995||1994 No. 3214|
Treaties with France, Italy, India and Pakistan were in place before 1975 during the estate duty era and have different rules to eliminate double taxation.
You should consult the relevant DTC whenever necessary. The statutory instruments dated after 1987 are available on-line from the Office of Public Sector Information. Statutory instruments dated before 1987 are available from The Stationery Office Ltd.
If a transfer is liable to inheritance tax and also to a similar tax imposed by another country with which the UK does not have an agreement, you may be able to get relief under unilateral relief provisions.
We give credit against inheritance tax for the tax charged by another country on assets sited in that country. For this purpose, UK law determines the location of the asset. If the tax that is charged on the asset by the other country exceeds inheritance tax on that asset, we limit the credit to the amount of inheritance tax.
We also give credit where both the UK and another country impose tax on assets that are sited
In these cases the credit is a proportion of the tax. The proportionate credit is computed by the formula:
A / (A + B) x C
A is the inheritance tax, B is the overseas tax and C is whichever of A or B is smaller.
If the UK and two or more other countries tax the same asset the above applies but with modifications.
Ann is domiciled in Ruritania, but is also treated as domiciled in the UK. She makes a gift of property sited in Utopia.
|UK inheritance tax (A)||£3,000|
|Ruritanian inheritance tax (B)||£1,000|
|C is the smaller of A and B||£1,000|
| Credit against UK inheritance tax is
£3,000 / (£3,000 + £1,000) X £1,000
|Net UK tax||£2,250|
Tom is domiciled in Utopia but holds shares in a Ruritanian company, which maintains a duplicate share register in the UK. Under UK law we regard the shares as sited in the UK, but Ruritanian law regards them as sited in Ruritania. Tom dies (but his estate is not liable to Utopian tax).
|UK inheritance tax (A)||£1,000|
|Ruritanian inheritance tax (B)||£4,000|
|C is the smaller of A and B||£1,000|
| Credit against UK inheritance tax is
£1,000 / (£1,000 + £4,000) X £1,000
|Net UK tax||£800|