Having finally found some time to read some more of the small print in the Finance Bill 2013, I notice a change that may come as a surprise to some business owners.
It is well known that relief is available for Inheritance Tax ("IHT") purposes in relation to a business interest. By claiming Business Property Relief a business owner can, if the criteria are met, benefit from 100% relief from IHT in relation to the business itself.
What is not covered by the relief of course is the business owner's home. It has therefore been attractive to business owners, when requiring funds to invest in their business, to borrow funds using their home as security for the loan. This is tax-efficient as the debt to the lender reduces the value of the house for IHT purposes.
As part of the anti-avoidance changes included in the Budget in March this practice will be stopped. In future the loan will be matched with the business assets funded by the loan and not with the house over which the loan is secured.
The debt will therefore reduce the value of an asset already subject to 100% exemption from IHT, leaving the full value of the home subject to tax. The extent of the IHT bill depends on the total value of non-business assets in excess of the nil rate band (currently £325,000 and frozen at that level until at least 2017/18).
This means that some business owners will face an IHT bill they were not expecting and their beneficiaries will be left wondering if they need to sell the house to pay the IHT, or whether the business, which benefitted from the borrowed funds, can pick up the bill?
The changes will affect transfers or deaths occurring on or after the date of Royal Assent to the Finance Bill 2013.