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HMRC internal manual

Inheritance Tax Manual

Business relief: Investment businesses: Meaning of 'investment'

No hard and fast definition of ‘investment’ has been made by the courts, although the decision in the case of IRC -v- Broadway Car Co (Wimbledon) Ltd [1946] 2 All E R 609 sheds some light:

“…the word ‘investment’ was not a term of art, but had to be interpreted according to its popular conception.”

“The expression is, therefore, not limited to investments which you would buy on the advice of a stockbroker - Stock Exchange investments…. I think…the question whether a particular source of income was an investment or not must be decided as it would be by business men according to ordinary common sense principles.”

To what extent businesses are ‘mainly holding investments’ for the purposes of IHTA84/S105(3) depends very much on the substance of the business itself and the services which are provided, for separate consideration, over and above the mere right for others to use the property in return for rent.

Active involvement

The taxpayer may seek to infer that the wording ‘holding investments’ means passive ownership and argue that extensive personal involvement by the deceased/transferor in the business cannot be classed as ‘holding investments’.

The Revenue contested this view in the case of Moore (IHTM25275) deceased and our argument that a business of holding investments can exist whether the landlord was actively involved or essentially passive was upheld by the Special Commissioners.

In the Income Tax case *Griffiths** -v- Jackson 56 TC 583, *Vinelott J observed (at page 593):

“The business may, as in this case, occupy much of the taxpayer’s free time or even be one which required his whole time and attention. The taxpayer may put as much work or more work into his business as, for instance, someone whose business consists in arranging licences to fix vending machines on the property of others and who daily or at less frequent intervals collects the proceeds and replenishes the machines. It is not too easy to see why in the modern world a business consisting of the exploitation of the right of property in land should be treated differently from a business consisting of the exploitation of other assets. However, the principle is now too deeply embedded in the law to be altered except by legislation.”