Inheritance tax exemptions for gifts

There’s usually no Inheritance Tax to pay on small gifts made out of normal income, such as Christmas or birthday presents. These are known as ‘exempted gifts’.

There’s no inheritance tax to pay on gifts between spouses or civil partners. A spouse or civil partner can give their partner as much as they would like during their lifetime, as long as they live in the UK permanently and are legally married or in a civil partnership. .

If an individual gifts more than £325,000 in the 7 years before their death the recipients may be charged inheritance tax. There’s no inheritance tax to pay on any gifts to charities or political parties.

What counts as a gift?

A gift can be:

  • anything that has a value, such as money, property or possessions
  • a loss in value when something’s transferred, for example if a house is sold to a child for less than it’s worth, the difference in value counts as a gift.
Type of giftAmount per tax year
Annual exemption1  £3,000 
Wedding or civil ceremony gifts (child) £5,000
Wedding or civil ceremony gifts (grandchild or great-grandchild) £2,500 
Wedding or civil ceremony gifts (not a child, grandchild or great-grandchild) £1,000
Normal gifts Must be able to maintain standard of living after making the gift
Payments to help with another person’s living costs, such as an elderly relative or a child under 18 No limit
Gifts to charities and political parties No limit
Small gifts Up to £250 per person during the tax year as long as no other exemption has been used on the same person

It is possible to carry any unused annual exemption forward to the next tax year, but only for one year.

The 7-year rule

If there’s inheritance tax to pay, it’s charged at 40% on gifts given in the 3 years before death.

Gifts made 3 to 7 years before death are taxed on a sliding scale.

Years between gift and deathTax paid
less than 3 40%
3 to 4 32%
4 to 5 24%
5 to 6 16%
6 to 7 8%
7 or more 0%

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