Back in mid-January the Chancellor wrote to the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) asking it to review Inheritance Tax (IHT). A month later the OTS published a document setting out the scope of its ‘IHT General Simplification Review’, ahead of a call for evidence.
That call for evidence was published on 27 April, with a final response date of 8 June – a period of six weeks. The document has 20 questions, spread across seven areas:
- IHT forms, administration and guidance;
- Lifetime gifts to individuals; 3. Businesses;
- Farming businesses;
- Charitable giving;
- Other areas of complexity; and
- A wider IHT system.
The questions are largely as expected, probing the complexity and distortions caused by interacting reliefs and other taxes, while seeking ideas to “remove complexity”. The brief ‘Other areas of complexity’ section is interesting, if a little worrying, as it states ‘You may, for example, wish to comment on the residence nil rate band, the IHT treatment of trusts, the IHT treatment of personal pensions and life insurance products…’
Alongside the formal document is an on-line survey which appears to be designed to highlight initially the insignificance of IHT – representing less than 1% of government revenue and affecting fewer than 5% of estates.
The short time for responses reflects the OTS’s aim to publish a report in Autumn 2018, to feed into the Autumn Budget. There is not much political mileage for the Chancellor reducing the IHT take, so any simplification can be expected to be revenue neutral.