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HMRC internal manual

Inheritance Tax Manual

Emergency service personnel responding to emergency circumstances: meaning of emergency responder

IHTA84/S153A(6) sets out the services a person needs to be engaged in before they can qualify for exemption.  They are

  1. a person employed, or engaged, in providing fire services or fire and rescue services,
  2. a person employed, or engaged, in search or rescue services (or both),
  3. a person employed, or engaged, in providing medical, ambulance or paramedic services,
  4. a constable or person employed for police purposes or engaged to provide services for police purposes,
  5. a person employed, or engaged, in providing services for the transportation of organs, blood, medical equipment or medical personnel, or
  6. a person employed, or engaged, by a government, international organisation or charity in connection with the provision of humanitarian assistance.

The employment or engagement does not have to be paid, IHTA84/S153A(7)(a) so the exemption applies to both employees and volunteers.  An international organisation is defined by IHTA84/S153A(7)(b) as one of which two or more sovereign powers, or their governments, are members.  Charity is an organisation that meets the definition of charity for IHT purposes (IHTM11112).

The range of emergency services covered by the provisions is wide and will include not only the traditional emergency services – police, fire and ambulance – but also, for example, RNLI, HM Coastguard, Mountain Rescue, Cave Rescue, Air Ambulance, Community First Responders and lifeguards (both at a swimming pool and at the beach). It will include equivalent in-house services provided by other organisations, such as fire services at airports, oil rigs and refineries.

The reference to the term ‘constable’ does not limit the exemption to police personnel holding that rank, but applies to anyone executing the office of constable and will therefore cover police personnel of all ranks as well as British Transport Police, Civil Nuclear Constabulary, Royal Parks Constabulary etc.

The reference to humanitarian assistance will include those engaged in providing food distribution, shelter, medical care, transport services, administrative roles, telecommunication services, civil engineering services etc in an area affected by a natural disaster, such as the 2004 tsunami, the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Africa, or conflict such as the Syrian Civil War that started in 2011.

It is important to note that a person must be responding to emergency circumstances (IHTM11294) in their capacity as a person ‘employed or engaged’ in connection with providing appropriate services – in other words when, as an employee, they are on duty; or in the case of a volunteer, when they have been called out to assist in dealing with emergency circumstances.

A person will not be responding in that capacity if they are killed or injured whilst offering assistance at an incident whilst off duty, for example a doctor travelling at the weekend who attends a road traffic accident.  Equally, a member of the public who happens to be a qualified First Aider and dies administering First Aid will not qualify as an emergency responder as they are not ‘employed or engaged’ to provide those services within the meaning of IHTA84/S153A(6)(c).

In the case of the police however, police officers are required, by virtue of Police Act 1996/S29 to exercise the office of constable at all times, whether on or off duty.  A police officer who attends an emergency will always be responding in their capacity as a constable and therefore within the meaning of IHTA84/S153A/(6)(d).