In a Nutshell: Proposals for the exemption for emergency services personnel

 In Comment

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Current position

Over the last few years there has been a significant change in the way conflicts are fought. Armed forces personnel are targeted whilst off duty (eg Lee Rigby). In the police service there has been ambushing of officers lured by a routine report of burglary (eg the two female police officers killed in Manchester in September 2012). There is also the deliberate targeting and murder of civilians both in the UK and abroad. Emergency Services Perrsonnel IHT exemption

There have been hard cases of armed services personnel dying as a result of helping in a conflict but not being on the front line (eg RAF officer Nigel Thomas, whose case was raised in the House of Commons by David Hanson MP in 2012).

Proposed changes to the current relief   

  1. Remove the restriction to the relief of being on active service, so that it applies to any personnel who are in service.
  2. Make the relief transferable between spouses and civil partners in the same way as the surviving spouse relief is transferable.
  3. Remove the time limit to claiming a refund of IHT as a result of this relief applying.
  4. Create a simple appeal tribunal to consider appeals from a MOD decision on the non application of the relief.

The proposed new relief

  1. The definition of “emergency circumstances” is too narrow. The relief should be available to any emergency services personnel on or off duty who dies as a result of carrying out their duty.
  2. The relief should be extended to civilians who die as a result of a terrorist attack.
  3. All applications for the relief should be made to the MOD as now. When government expenditure needs to be curtailed, it seems nonsensical to have separate decision making procedures.

Summary

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke MP, stated in the introduction to HMRC’s discussion paper “It is not right that those risking their lives protecting us pay inheritance tax and I look forward to recognising this in law.” This objective will not be achieved by enacting the proposals contained in the discussion paper.

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My article “A great relief” published on LawSkills (first published in Money Management), gives detailed reasons in support of the proposals made here.

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