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HMRC internal manual

Inheritance Tax Manual

Liabilities: restricted deductions: meaning of ‘maintain’ and ‘enhance’

The words ‘maintain’ and ‘enhance’ extend the scope of the provisions beyond simply buying either excluded property (IHTM28014) or assets that qualify for relief (IHTM28019).

Both words have their normal meaning. ‘Maintain’ means to keep in good or proper order, and ‘enhance’ means to improve or augment. These words are most likely to apply in connection with borrowing money to maintain or enhance buildings.

Where a person borrows money instead of using their own money to acquire assets, it could be said that they have ‘maintained’ the value of their other assets. So if they were not domiciled in the UK and held most of their assets abroad, borrowing against UK assets could be said to be ‘maintaining’ the value of excluded property. Individuals are free to choose how to use and invest their assets and whether to borrow money. So you should not normally disallow the deduction of a liability in these circumstances.

But, any case where the borrowing against UK assets appears to be part of arrangements that are primarily designed to avoid these provisions and obtain a tax advantage should be referred to Technical.