A Brief History of IHT


Modern inheritance tax dates back to 1894 when the government introduced estate duty, a tax on the capital value of land, in a bid to raise money to pay off a £4m government deficit.


It replaced several different inheritance taxes, including the 1796 tax on estates introduced to help fund the war against Napoleon. The earliest death duty can be traced back to 1694 when probate duty, a tax on personal property in wills proved in court, was brought in.


When the tax was first introduced it was intended to affect only the very wealthy, but the rise in the value of homes, particularly in the south-east of England, has brought more families into the net in recent decades.


From 1896, it was possible to avoid estate duty by handing on gifts during the life of the donor. To counter avoidance through last minute transfers, gifts handed over a limited time before death were still subject to the tax. Initially the period was one year but that rose to seven years over time.


And there you have it, a brief History of IHT - Britains most hated tax!

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