The £1 million Inheritance Tax threshold – fact or fiction?

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Inheritance tax is charged on your death at the rate of 40% based on the value of your assets. This 40% rate is only charged on any value exceeding the nil rate band. The nil rate band in the tax year 2019/20 is £325,000 and that is expected to continue in the tax year 2020/21. In addition, a residence nil rate band applies so that less inheritance tax may be paid when the family home is left to children, grandchildren and some other individuals. From 6 April 2020 the residence nil rate band will be £175,000.


From 6 April 2020 the combined inheritance tax nil rate band and residence nil rate band for both spouses or civil partners will be £1 million.


All married couples and civil partners will benefit from the £1 million threshold: They will not!


The qualifying rules for the £1 million threshold are complex but broadly, all the following must apply:

  1. When the first spouse or civil partner died, they did not use any of their nil rate band or residence nil rate band. In other words, they left all their estate to their spouse or civil partner;
  2. The death of the surviving spouse or civil partner occurs on or after 6 April 2020 (if the death occurs prior to that date but after 6 April 2017, the threshold will be lower);
  3. The estate value is less than £2 million; and
  4. The home is left to children, grandchildren or stepchildren or to their spouses or civil partners.


If you have sold your home, moved out of your home or have given your home to your children already, all is not necessarily lost.

Take professional advice

To ensure you maximise the tax-saving effect of the enhanced nil rate band we strongly recommend that you review your will or make a will if you don’t already have one.

For further information or assistance, please contact Keith Hately on 0191 211 7928 or email [email protected]