Review of Inheritance Tax

In January 2018 the Chancellor of the Exchequer asked the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) to look at inheritance tax and how this could be made simpler.

The OTS has now published its first report on the matter running to some 77 pages.

Whilst most of the report concentrates on the background to inheritance tax and why it was felt necessary for the review there have been some observations and recommendations in their initial report.

On Estate administration it has been pointed out that whilst there were 588,000 deaths in 2015/16 inheritance tax returns had to be completed for around half of these and of the 290,000 returns completed tax was payable on only 24,500 of these.

To make this easier for the vast majority of estates the OTS has suggested the following:

  • Making forms available digitally so that they are easier to complete. At present they cannot be completed online, making time consuming paper returns the only option.
  • A process be put in place to direct taxpayers to the correct form as there is currently a number of different options that could be completed.
  • Reducing the amount of information needed, as currently the long form is disproportionally high for estates where no tax is payable.
  • Pending the launch of any digital forms, the current forms will be reviewed to introduce a new, shorter form for the simplest estates and updating the conditions that must be met in order to complete a short form.
  • Improving guidance on the website, which is currently very difficult to navigate.
  • Make more use of worked examples and case studies and introduce a step by step guide of what to do and when.
  • Introduce an online tax calculator.
  • Liaising with H M Courts & Tribunals Service on options for streamlining the inheritance tax payment and probate process.

Introducing these changes would help to reduce the worry for those estates that do not pay any inheritance tax, allowing them to establish this quickly and easily by looking at relevant guidance, case studies and through the use of an online calculator.

For further information or advice on Inheritance tax, or other matters, please contact us at