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HMRC internal manual

Inheritance Tax Manual

Agricultural property: definition of agricultural land or pasture

Agricultural land or pasture has its natural meaning and is taken to mean bare land used for agriculture. That the definition of agricultural land or pasture means nothing more than that was considered in the case of Starke v IRC [1995] STC 689.

In this case, the property concerned had an area of 2.5 acres. It contained a six-bedroomed house and various outbuildings used for a farming business, carried on by a family company. The executors contended that the property was ‘agricultural land or pasture’ within the meaning of part 1. of the definition at IHTM24031, because the Interpretation Act 1978 requires the word ‘land’ to be read as including ‘buildings or other structures’ unless the contrary intention appears. The Court of Appeal found the necessary contrary intention in

  • part 3 of the definition in IHTA84/S115 (2), which refers expressly to buildings and structures which would be included in the words ‘agricultural land’ if the argument of the executors was correct,
  • IHTA84/S115 (4), which also expressly refers to buildings, and
  • consideration of the structure of the definition as a whole, all (except woodland) that follows the words ‘agricultural land or pastures’ being concerned with buildings of one sort or another.

Accordingly the Court of Appeal upheld the HMRC view that the property concerned was not agricultural property within IHTA84/S115 (2). The Court emphasised that the question before the Court and the decision were confined to the proper construction of part 1 of the definition in IHTA84/S115(2).