Inheritance Tax: report the value of the estate to HMRC

Work out and report the value of the estate to HMRC.

Work out the value of the estate

To get the value of the estate on which Inheritance Tax (IHT) is due use these steps:

  1. Work out the market value of all the assets in the estate. Add these up to get the ‘gross value’ of the estate.

  2. Take off any debts (for example a mortgage). This gives you the ‘net value of the estate’.

  3. Deduct any reliefs that apply to agricultural assets, businesses and business assets.

  4. Take off the value of any assets left to spouses, civil partners, charities or that are exempt for other reasons. This gives you the value of the estate that’s taxable.

  5. Work out the available Inheritance Tax (IHT) threshold. Take the basic threshold of £325,000 and deduct the value of any gifts made within 7 years of the death from it. If the value of the gifts is more than the basic threshold, there’ll be IHT to pay on those gifts. Add any residence nil rate band (RNRB), including anything transferred from a late spouse or civil partner, to get to the available threshold.

  6. Compare the value of the estate at the end of step 4 (the value of the estate that you’ll pay tax on known as the ‘chargeable estate’) with the available threshold at the end of step 5.

  7. If the value of the estate is less than the available threshold at step 5 there’s no IHT to pay; if it’s more, you pay IHT on the excess.

Check that you’ve calculated and applied all relevant reliefs, exemptions and thresholds to the net value of the estate.

Once you’ve got all your information and figures together, you’ll need to report the estate’s value in detail to HMRC. You may be able to do this online or you might be asked to complete a paper form.

Before you start

Assets that get relief from IHT

Some types of property get relief from IHT, such as:

These reliefs reduce the value of these assets, often by 100%. Include the reduced value of the assets after you’ve taken off any relief when you calculate the value of the estate the value in your report to HMRC.

Assets exempt from IHT

Assets are entitled to exemption from IHT, if they’re left to:

  • a spouse or civil partner
  • some charities

Increased thresholds you may be entitled to

The value of an estate is reduced by:

  • the basic IHT threshold of £325,000 (although this will be reduced by any gifts made in the 7 years before the person died)
  • any unused basic threshold from a late spouse or civil partner’s estate
  • the RNRB of £150,000
  • any unused RNRB from a late spouse or civil partner’s estate

You can use the RNRB calculator to work out how much you can claim.

How the estate is left

The terms of the will can affect how much IHT you’ll pay and who pays it when there are:

  • tax-free gifts
  • items left in trust

Even very valuable estates can end up with small IHT bills if they include assets that qualify for relief.

In other cases the benefit of a relief on an estate may be lost because other exemptions apply. For example, if a farm is left to a charity the benefit of agricultural relief will be lost because the charity is exempt from IHT.

In such cases, HMRC might need to apply the rules of interaction to give a fairer Inheritance Tax bill.

The interaction rules

Apply interaction rules if the estate qualifies for Agricultural or Business Relief and the will also has:

  • at least one specific gift of property
  • property subject to tax relief that’s not specifically given as a gift
  • some of the estate is exempt from inheritance tax

As calculations of interaction can be very complex. You can ask a professional tax specialist to help.

Leaving a gift ‘free of tax’

Inheritance Tax must be paid on any gifts above the threshold that aren’t eligible for relief. The rate of Inheritance Tax is normally 40% but this is reduced to 36% if more than 10% of your estate is left to charity.

The value of an estate, tax thresholds and tax rates can change over time and can make the final amount of a gift uncertain. So you can opt to leave someone a specific amount ‘tax free’ instead and then the tax is paid by the estate.

Some of the estate may be exempt from IHT after you’ve taken off specific amounts (the ‘residue’). This could be because it’s left to a charity. In these cases, HMRC applies a calculation called grossing up when assessing the taxable value of the estate. The exact grossing up calculation will depend on whether the rate of inheritance tax applied to the estate is 40% or the reduced 36%.

The grossing up calculator

If there are gifts left ‘tax free’ and only part of the rest of the estate is exempt, or when there are gifts made in your lifetime to consider, the calculation for grossing up becomes more complex.

Use the Inheritance Tax grossing up calculators to help with calculations.

Published 1 April 2005
Last updated 5 September 2019 + show all updates
  1. The additional threshold has been renamed residence nil rate band (RNRB).

  2. The additional threshold (residence nil rate band or RNRB) has been updated for the tax year 2019 to 2020.

  3. Rates, dates, allowances and duties have been updated for the tax year 2018 to 2019.

  4. In the section 'Work out the value of the estate', the link to the IHT400 form has been removed and a link to the online reporting service has been added. 'Forms' section has been removed as service will direct you to the correct form.

  5. Information added about increasing the basic Inheritance Tax threshold by applying the additional threshold (sometimes known as the Residence nil rate band).

  6. First published.