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HMRC internal manual

Inheritance Tax Manual

Lifetime transfers: small gifts exemption: summary

Under IHTA84/S20, lifetime gifts not exceeding £250 in total value made by one individual to another in any one tax year are exempt. A tax year runs from 6 April to 5 April the following year.

The exemption applies only to

  • outright lifetime gifts by one individual to another
  • actual transfers of value IHTA84/S20 (3).

The exemption does not apply to

  • transfers into or out of settlement (IHTM16000), unless it is an absolute gift in trust for a minor
  • the deemed potentially exempt transfers (IHTM04064) under IHTA84/S102 (4) and FA86/S103 (5).
  • apportionments made to persons under IHTA84/S94 (transfers by close companies (IHTM14851)).

A gift exempted under s.20 cannot be taxed as a gift with reservation (IHTM04071).

The £250 exemption is applied to the value transferred before any grossing up (IHTM14593). Apply the exemption separately to each donee. It does not matter how many different donees there are, as long as each donee is given no more than £250 in the same tax year.

If the gifts to any one donee in the same tax year exceed £250, the s.20 exemption is wholly lost in relation to that donee.

Unlike the annual exemption (IHTM14141)

  • the £250 exemption does not partly exempt a larger gift, and
  • it cannot be carried forward to the following year.


  • On 14 August 2014 Maria gives £3,000 to David. This uses the annual exemption for the year.
  • On 15 August 2014 Maria gives £250 to Colin.
  • On 1 September 2014 Maria gives £250 each to Colin, Liz and Daisy.

The transfers to Liz and Daisy will be covered by the small gifts exemption. The gifts to Colin in the tax year exceed £250. Both of these gifts will be chargeable.