How much cash can I give away tax-free?

20 December 2019


How much money am I allowed to give my family in any tax year? I do not want to go over the inheritance tax threshold.

TM/via email


When it comes to inheritance tax (IHT) how much you can give away without attracting IHT depends on your marital status and the value of your estate.

If you are single and have an estate valued at less than the IHT nil-rate band – £325,000 in the current tax year – you can give whatever money and gifts you wish to anybody you want.

If you are married or in a civil partnership, the allowance is doubled to £650,000 in the 2019/2020 tax year because you can combine your nil-rate bands. With an estate value that is under the IHT nil-rate band, there are no IHT consequences for either the person gifting the asset or the person receiving it. However, do bear in mind that the value of your estate includes all of your assets minus your liabilities. This will include savings, investments and any property or other valuables you may own.

If you own your home, there is a further £150,000 main residence nil-rate band available to offset any IHT liability, as long as your home is passed on to ‘direct descendants’, which means children or grandchildren but also stepchildren, adopted and foster children. Once again, this allowance is doubled for married couples and those in civil partnerships. This allowance will rise to £175,000 in April and will mean a married couple with property could have an effective IHT allowance of £1 million.

If after adding everything up, you find your estate is worth more than the nil-rate band allowances available, you can give £3,000 a year to an individual or a trust and this will be treated as exempt from tax. If you did not make such a gift in the last tax year, you are able to carry one year forward and increase the gift to £6,000.

Ray Black is an independent financial adviser at Money Minder

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