Business Property Relief from IHT


JPHLAW Guide to Business Property Relief
At a glance

Business Property Relief (BPR) provides relief from Inheritance Tax (IHT) on the transfer of relevant business assets at a rate of 50% or 100%.

Relevant business property comprises of:
A business or an interest in a business. @100%

Unquoted securities which on their own or combined with other unquoted shares or securities give control of an unquoted company @100%

Unquoted shares, including shares listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM)@.100%

Quoted shares which give control of the company @50%

Land or buildings, machinery or plant used wholly or mainly for the purposes of the business carried on by a company or partnership @50%

Land or buildings, machinery or plant available under a life interest and used in a business carried on by the beneficiary @50%

Relevant property must be held for at least two years in order to qualify for relief.
Pitfalls and planning points
Sole traders

* 100% BPR is given for the transfer of the business as a whole.

* There is no BPR given for the transfer of land or buildings, machinery or plant used wholly or mainly for the purposes of a sole trader business, unless those assets are owned by a trust and the sole trader business is run by the beneficiary who has a life interest in that trust.
* No BPR is given on a loan made to a partnership following retirement.

* 100% relief is given for an interest in a partnership, compared to 50% for property lent to a partnership. It may be beneficial for the partnership to hold the property so that it can attract 100% relief.

* In Scotland, its inheritance laws can split family partnership property in different ratios to a partnership agreement.
* No BPR is given in respect of loans made to a company, such as a credit balance on a directors’ loan account.

* Property which is owned by a shareholder and used by the company will only qualify for 50% BPR, and only if the shareholder controls the company.
Business activities
BPR is not available in respect of a business, or shares in a company that is:

* Not carried on for gain (not for profit or not on a commercial basis), or

* subject to a contract for sale or being wound up.
There is no BPR if the business,  or company is one of “wholly or mainly” in dealing in securities, stocks or shares, land or buildings or in the making or holding of investments.
A business which only generates investment income will not attract BPR, so this excludes:

* A residential or commercial property letting business

* A property dealing businesses

* A serviced office business
Some business activities are borderline: whether they will qualify for relief depends on the nature of services provided, typically these include:

* Holiday businesses

* Property management

* Property development – if there is also substantial letting and dealing

* Mixed estates of farming and letting

* Caravan parks – where there is letting, holidays and caravan sales
Certain activities are regarded as trading:

* Farming (this is covered by Agricultural property relief)

* Woodland management

* Sporting – shooting and fishing
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