HMRC inheritance tax recovery soars

Jun 14, 2024

The amount of tax collected from unpaid inheritance tax (IHT) investigations is soaring, but HMRC could recover even more. Over the past five years, HMRC has conducted thousands of investigations into estates suspected of owing IHT, collecting £1.39 billion in unpaid taxes.

In 2023/24, HMRC recovered £285 million from 3,028 investigations. However, the number of enquiries has nearly halved since 2019, according to figures from NFU Mutual. In 2019/20, there were 5,658 investigations, recovering £273m. By 2023/24, investigations had dropped by over 2,000 to 3,028, a 49% decrease.

In 2020/21, investigations fell to 3,574 due to reduced activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, yet HMRC still raised £254m. This trend indicates that the number of investigations does not necessarily correlate with the amount of IHT collected.

The 2021-22 tax year saw HMRC recover the highest amount in the past five years, with £326m collected from 4,258 investigations. Despite the decrease in investigations, the amount of money recovered has remained relatively stable, except for the notable increase in 2021/22.

The data indicates that despite decreasing investigations, HMRC's effectiveness in recovering unpaid IHT remains robust. The lower number of investigations suggests that these efforts are becoming more targeted and forensic in nature. To maximise returns, industry experts have recommended that HMRC continues to prioritise identifying and targeting cases with substantial unpaid taxes.

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