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An increasing number of people are putting off mitigating their inheritance tax (IHT) burdens in the hope that the threshold will come down – but this, warns the UK division of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organisations, is “unwise.”

The comments from Kevin White, Head of Financial Planning at deVere United Kingdom, part of deVere Group, follow ongoing suggestions that a pledge to slash IHT is set to be included in the Conservative manifesto.

Mr White explains: “Over the last couple of years, reducing inheritance tax liabilities has been the number one financial planning priority for many UK households.

Kevin White
Kevin White

“This has largely been because an increasing number of people have been dragged into the IHT net for a number of reasons – not least because the threshold at which IHT is charged was frozen at £325,000 for individuals and £650,000 for couples until 2019, and property prices are increasing and household savings have been rising.”

He continues: “However, in recent months this key trend has drastically dropped off.  It is our experience that more people have been de-prioritising plans to reduce their IHT burdens due to the strong hints from MPs, including the Chancellor, that the Conservatives will raise the threshold of inheritance tax should they win the general election.

“Yet not acting to slash IHT is unwise.  Why? Because this pledge is not yet set in stone in their manifesto – although it is likely to be – and it is not guaranteed that a win would allow them to do this anyway.  For the Conservatives to achieve this suggested aim, they would need to win a majority at the election in May, and most projections forecast a hung parliament.

“Labour and the Liberal Democrats have both criticised inheritance tax reforms.”

Mr White adds: “With this in mind, I would urge people to maintain the mitigation of IHT as a major priority.  The longer you leave it, the fewer the options available and the more expensive they become.

“Inheritance tax is, quite understandably, the most hated of all taxes as it is, in effect, a form of double taxation and because everyone would prefer leaving their legacy to their loved ones, rather than the Exchequer.”

Recommended methods to mitigate IHT liabilities include holding properties as ‘tenants in common’ with your spouse, investments that qualify for relief, gift allowances, and establishing trusts, amongst other recognised options.