Report criticises IHT as ‘complex and old-fashioned’
The Inheritance Tax (IHT) process is “complex and old-fashioned”, according to the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS).
In a new report, requested by chancellor Philip Hammond, the OTS’s comprehensive report into the views of more than 3,500 people, found that respondents felt they were being asked to fill in complicated forms “at a difficult time”.
While IHT is payable on less than 5% of estates, around half of families must fill in the forms. Many people said their relatives had worried about IHT even though it wasn’t going to affect them.
In its report, the OTS flags up a number of ways to improve and simplify the system, following discussions with both people and professional advisers.
It highlights the benefits of:
- Reducing or removing the requirement to submit forms for smaller or simpler estates, especially where there is no tax to pay
- Simplifying the administration and guidance
- The advantages of banks and other financial institutions having standardised requirements
- Automating the whole system by bringing it on-line.
“The basic design of the tax itself is for government, but at the OTS we can address that most frequent of all comments: ‘At least make it easier for the families to fill in the forms’,” said OTS chairman Angela Knight.
“Improving the administration of this tax in these ways is important, as having to deal with the current process can seem overwhelming to people at a time when they are both preoccupied and distressed,” Knight added.
The initial report sets out an explanation of the issues and complexities of IHT, an overview of concerns, and recommendations. A second report covers wider areas of concern and will follow in spring 2019.