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Form IHT38 for Inheritance Tax: Claim for Relief - Loss on Sale of Land

Understanding Form IHT38 for Inheritance Tax Relief: A Comprehensive Guide

When a piece of land or property that was part of a deceased's estate is sold at a loss in the UK, the executor or personal representative may claim relief on Inheritance Tax using Form IHT38. This form is a critical document for managing the financial aspects related to the inheritance, especially in situations where the sale value of land or property dips below its appraised value at the time of the owner's death. This guide provides detailed insights into Form IHT38, elucidating its purpose, eligibility criteria, and the process involved in claiming relief.

Form IHT38 for Inheritance Tax: Claim for Relief - Loss on Sale of Land

Purpose of Form IHT38

Form IHT38 is specifically designed for claiming relief on Inheritance Tax for losses realized on the sale of land or property that was part of a deceased individual's estate. This form becomes relevant when such assets are sold for less than their market value at the time of the owner's death, offering a mechanism to adjust the estate's value for tax purposes. The goal is to ensure that the inheritance tax levied on the estate is fair and reflects the actual value of the estate assets at the time of their disposal.

Eligibility Criteria

For a sale to qualify for this relief:

  • The sale must occur within four years of the deceased's date of death (or three years for deaths on or before 15 March 1990).

  • The loss must amount to more than £1,000 or 5% of the asset's value at the date of death, whichever is lower.

  • The claim for relief must be made within seven years of the deceased's death.

Process and Documentation

To claim relief, the appropriate person—usually the executor or administrator of the estate—must complete and submit Form IHT38 to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The form requires detailed information about the sale, including the date, the parties involved, and the sale price. It's designed to collect all necessary data for HMRC to assess the claim and adjust the Inheritance Tax accordingly.

Form IHT38 is part of the broader Inheritance Tax documentation and serves as a critical tool for estate administration. Before the relief can be granted, a claim must be filed by the "appropriate person," as defined by the Inheritance Tax Act 1984, section 191(1)(b). This includes specifying the capacity in which the person is making the claim, details about the land or property sold, and the price obtained.

Important Considerations

  • Claiming too early before all estate properties are sold may not be advantageous, as later sales at higher prices could affect the relief amount.

  • The relief is calculated considering all property and land sales by the estate within the four-year period, and HMRC adjusts the relief accordingly. Special rules apply if further assets are bought or sold in the fourth year.

  • Relief is not available for transfers or sales to a beneficiary or one of their relatives.

This comprehensive overview of Form IHT38 highlights the importance of accurately reporting and managing the sale of land and property within an estate. It underlines the need for careful consideration and timing when making a claim to ensure that the estate's representatives maximize the potential relief on Inheritance Tax. The next parts of this guide will delve deeper into strategies for effectively navigating the complexities of Inheritance Tax relief claims and practical advice for estate representatives.

Strategic Approaches and Calculation Methods for Form IHT38 Claims

In claiming relief on Inheritance Tax (IHT) for the sale of land or property at a loss through Form IHT38, understanding the strategic approaches and calculation methods becomes imperative. This section delves into the nuances of making a claim, the considerations for valuing the sale, and how HMRC adjusts relief based on the comprehensive landscape of the estate's sales.

Strategic Considerations in Claiming Relief

Making an IHT38 claim requires not just an understanding of the procedural aspects but also strategic considerations to maximize the potential benefits. The decision to claim should be informed by a thorough analysis of the estate's overall sales strategy and the timing of asset disposals. As relief is based on the difference between the sale price and the value at the time of death, representatives need to monitor market conditions closely and decide on the optimal time to sell, keeping the four-year window in mind.

Valuation and Calculation of Relief

The relief calculation hinges on the definitions of "sale price," "sale value," and "value on death," as outlined by the Inheritance Tax Act 1984 (IHTA84).

  • Sale price is considered the amount for which the land is sold, or, if greater, the best consideration reasonably obtainable at the time of sale. It's crucial to note that incidental expenses such as legal fees or estate agents' commission are not deducted from this figure.

  • Sale value refers to the sale price adjusted under provisions of sections 190-198 IHTA84, which may increase or decrease based on specific circumstances surrounding the sale.

  • Value on death is the valuation of the interest in the land as part of the deceased's estate for IHT purposes before any substitution under sections 176 or 191 IHTA84 to apply the reliefs​ (GOV.UK)​.

HMRC and Valuation Office Agency (VOA) Involvement

HMRC may refer to the VOA for opinions on whether the sale price achieved was the best consideration reasonably obtainable. Factors such as the method and duration of marketing and the level of bids received play a crucial role in this assessment. If a sale does not reflect the best consideration, it may imply a chargeable transfer of value, necessitating a careful analysis against the valuation at the time of death.

Restrictions and Apportionment

Restrictions affecting the sale price, such as statutory limitations or lease conditions, are taken into account to determine the best consideration reasonably obtainable. Additionally, if the unit of sale differs from the unit of valuation at death, an apportionment of the sale valuation may be required.

Practical Advice

Given the complexities involved in valuing property and land sales for IHT relief claims, seeking professional advice is often prudent. An expert can help navigate the intricacies of the legislation, ensure that all relevant information is accurately captured in Form IHT38, and advise on the strategic timing of sales to maximize potential relief.

Moreover, the process of claiming relief should be approached with a comprehensive understanding of the estate's entire asset portfolio. The interplay between the sale of different estate assets, market conditions, and statutory requirements demands a strategic approach to estate administration and tax planning.

Maximizing Inheritance Tax Relief with Form IHT38: Case Studies and Practical Insights

This final segment of our guide dives into practical applications of Form IHT38, illustrating through case studies how strategic planning and a comprehensive understanding of the relief claim process can benefit estates dealing with the sale of land and property at a loss. These real-world examples underscore the importance of meticulous preparation, expert advice, and timing in optimizing Inheritance Tax (IHT) relief.

Case Study 1: The Estate of John Doe

John Doe's estate included a piece of commercial property valued at £500,000 at the time of his death. Due to a downturn in the market, the estate sold the property for £450,000 two years later, incurring a substantial loss. By submitting Form IHT38, the estate claimed relief on the £50,000 loss. The claim was strategically timed, following a comprehensive review of market conditions and after ensuring no further property sales were anticipated that could affect the relief amount.

Key Takeaways:

  • Market Analysis: Continuous monitoring of the property market enabled the estate to choose an opportune moment for the sale, minimizing the loss as much as possible.

  • Strategic Timing: The estate waited until all property sales were concluded before submitting the claim, ensuring the relief reflected the total estate valuation adjustments accurately.

Case Study 2: The Smith Family Estate

The Smith family estate comprised several parcels of agricultural land valued collectively at £2 million at the owner's death. When part of the land was sold at a £200,000 loss, the estate's representatives initially considered claiming relief immediately. However, upon consultation, they decided to wait until the end of the four-year period to account for the fluctuating values of the remaining parcels. This patience paid off when another parcel sold for a gain, offsetting the initial loss and reducing the relief claim but ultimately leading to a more favorable IHT outcome.

Key Takeaways:

  • Comprehensive Estate Planning: Evaluating the entire estate's asset portfolio before making a claim allowed for a more informed and beneficial decision.

  • Consultation with Experts: Professional advice provided insights into potential market trends and the implications of early versus delayed claims.

Case Study 3: The Estate of Emma Thompson

Emma Thompson's estate included a historic cottage valued at £350,000. Unfortunately, due to its state of disrepair, it sold for £300,000, a significant loss. The estate successfully claimed IHT relief on this loss but faced challenges due to initial inaccuracies in reporting the sale price and associated costs. The situation was rectified through meticulous documentation and an amended Form IHT38, highlighting the importance of accuracy in claim submissions.

Key Takeaways:

  • Accuracy in Documentation: Ensuring all sale details and calculations are accurately reported is crucial for a smooth claim process.

  • Responsiveness to HMRC Inquiries: Prompt and accurate responses to HMRC's requests for further information or clarification can prevent delays or issues in relief processing.

Navigating the complexities of IHT relief through Form IHT38 requires not only a deep understanding of the tax laws and relief processes but also strategic planning and timing. These case studies illustrate that while the path to claiming relief on the sale of land or property at a loss can be fraught with challenges, with careful preparation and expert guidance, estates can navigate these waters successfully. Estates should approach the relief claim process with a comprehensive strategy, considering all aspects of the estate's assets and the timing of sales. Additionally, the importance of accurate documentation and the potential for strategic timing to optimize relief outcomes cannot be overstated. Seeking professional advice is often instrumental in maximizing the relief available and ensuring compliance with all regulatory requirements, ultimately securing the best possible outcome for the estate and its beneficiaries.

How to Fill Form IHT38 - A Step by Step Process

Form IHT38 is essential for claiming relief on the loss on the sale of land or buildings that were part of a deceased’s estate. This detailed guide will help you understand how to accurately complete this form, ensuring that your claim for relief is processed efficiently.

Part 1: General Information

  • Deceased’s Details: Start by entering the deceased's surname, first names, and the date of death in the DD MM YYYY format. This basic information helps to identify the estate.

  • Inheritance Tax Reference Number: This number is crucial for HMRC to locate the estate's records. If you don’t have it, contact HMRC's helpline.

Part 2: Contact Information

  • Contact Details: Provide the name, address, and contact number of the person HMRC should communicate with regarding this claim. Include your reference if available.

Claim for Relief: Important Notes

  1. Appropriate Persons: Only those liable for the Inheritance Tax on the estate's land and buildings can make a claim. This includes executors, administrators, trustees, or donees. All necessary parties must sign the form, and agents cannot sign on behalf of claimants.

  2. Land and Buildings Sold: List every land or building sold by the appropriate persons during the 4-year period after death.

  3. Advisory Note on Claims: It’s recommended to wait until all assets planned for sale are sold since a claim cannot be withdrawn if found to be disadvantageous later.

  4. Provisional Relief: You may claim provisional relief within 4 months of the last qualifying sale, with the understanding that it might be reviewed later.

  5. Sale and Purchase Dates: The date usually corresponds to when contracts are exchanged, or in Scotland, when offer terms are accepted.

Part 3: Detailed Information on Land and Buildings Sold

  • Description and Sale Details: For each property sold within the 4 years following death, list the address or description, tenure (if applicable, especially for leases), value at the date of death, date of sale, gross sale proceeds, and purchaser's name.

Questions About the Sale

The form includes specific questions regarding the circumstances of each sale:

  • Interest of Purchaser: If the purchaser or a relative had an interest in the property between the death and sale, provide details.

  • Sale Price vs. Best Price: If any sale prices were less than what could have been reasonably obtained, explain why and state the best possible price.

  • Further Sales Intentions: Disclose if there are plans to make more land sales within the 4-year period.

  • Purchases of Interest: Indicate if any land or buildings were purchased in the period between the death and 4 months after the last sale.

Additional Circumstances

Answer yes or no to various scenarios that might affect your claim, such as statutory compensation, repurchase rights by vendors, or receipt of insurance claims related to the land or buildings. If yes, provide additional details as required.

Repayment Authority

Include bank details where any overpaid Inheritance Tax should be refunded, ensuring the correct account name and numbers are provided for accurate processing.


Finally, the appropriate persons must declare the accuracy of the information provided and their intentions regarding future sales or purchases of land. This section must be signed, indicating the capacity in which you are acting (e.g., executor, trustee).

Remember, accuracy and completeness are vital when filling out Form IHT38 to ensure your claim for relief is accepted without unnecessary delay or review. If you encounter any difficulties or have questions, HMRC’s helpline and online resources are available to assist you.

How Can an Inheritance Tax Accountant Help You With Form IHT3

How Can an Inheritance Tax Accountant Help You With Form IHT3

Navigating the complexities of Inheritance Tax (IHT) and specifically managing Form IHT38 for relief on the sale of land or property can be a daunting task for many. An inheritance tax accountant, with their specialized knowledge and experience, can provide invaluable assistance throughout this process, ensuring that claims are accurately filed, and relief is maximized. This article explores the multifaceted ways in which an inheritance tax accountant can assist with Form IHT38.

Understanding Form IHT38 and Its Importance

Form IHT38 allows individuals to claim relief on Inheritance Tax for land or buildings sold at a loss, which were part of a deceased's estate. The claim must be made within a specific timeframe and requires a detailed understanding of the estate, the assets involved, and the relevant tax laws. An inheritance tax accountant's role starts with a thorough assessment of the estate and the potential for claiming relief, guiding through the complexities of the form and ensuring compliance with all legal requirements.

Expert Valuation and Strategic Advice

One of the crucial steps in claiming relief involves the valuation of the property at the date of death compared to the sale price. An inheritance tax accountant can provide expert valuation services, ensuring that all assets are accurately assessed. They can also offer strategic advice on the timing of asset sales, potentially increasing the relief available or advising against a sale if it would not be beneficial tax-wise.

Navigating the Complexities of the Tax Legislation

Inheritance Tax legislation is complex and continually evolving. An accountant specializing in this area will be up-to-date with the latest changes and can interpret how these affect your specific situation. They can navigate through the intricacies of the tax laws, including the conditions under which Form IHT38 can be used, the limitations of the relief available, and the potential impacts of any recent legislative changes.

Preparation and Submission of Form IHT38

Filling out Form IHT38 requires meticulous attention to detail and a deep understanding of the required information. An inheritance tax accountant can ensure that the form is filled out accurately and completely, reducing the likelihood of errors that could delay or impact the relief claim. They can also manage the submission process, ensuring that all deadlines are met and that the form is sent to the correct HMRC office.

Maximizing Relief and Minimizing Liabilities

An inheritance tax accountant can help to maximize the relief available through Form IHT38 by employing various strategies. For example, by analyzing the estate as a whole, they can identify other opportunities for tax relief or savings, ensuring that the overall tax liability of the estate is minimized. This holistic approach to estate and tax planning can lead to significant savings and a more efficient administration of the estate.

Dealing with HMRC Inquiries

Should HMRC have any questions or require additional documentation related to the Form IHT38 claim, an inheritance tax accountant can handle these inquiries on your behalf. Their experience in dealing with HMRC means they can provide the necessary information promptly and accurately, often preventing minor queries from becoming significant issues.

Ongoing Support and Advice

The support an inheritance tax accountant provides does not end with the submission of Form IHT38. They can offer ongoing advice and support, including strategies for future tax planning and estate administration. This can be particularly beneficial in complex estates or where there are significant assets to manage.

The role of an inheritance tax accountant in assisting with Form IHT38 extends far beyond merely filling out a form. Their expertise and strategic advice can navigate the complexities of Inheritance Tax legislation, ensure compliance, maximize relief, and minimize the overall tax liability of the estate. By leveraging their specialized knowledge, estate executors can ensure that they are making informed decisions that benefit the estate and its beneficiaries. Engaging an inheritance tax accountant is an investment in professional expertise that can lead to significant financial benefits and peace of mind during the challenging process of estate administration.


Q1: Can I claim relief on Form IHT38 for a property sold at a loss outside the UK?

A: No, Form IHT38 is specifically for claiming relief on land or buildings within the UK that were part of a deceased’s estate and sold at a loss.

Q2: Is there a minimum loss amount required to make a claim on Form IHT38?

A: Yes, the sale price must differ from the value on death by at least £1,000 or 5%, whichever is lower, to qualify for a claim.

Q3: If the estate sells another property at a gain, will it affect the relief claim on a loss?

A: HMRC considers the overall picture, so a gain on another property could potentially offset the loss, affecting the relief available.

Q4: Can Form IHT38 be submitted electronically to HMRC?

A: Currently, Form IHT38 needs to be completed and sent through postal mail to HMRC. Always check the latest HMRC guidance for any updates on submission methods.

Q5: What happens if I make an error on Form IHT38 after it has been submitted?

A: You should contact HMRC as soon as possible to correct any errors. Providing accurate and updated information is crucial for the processing of your claim.

Q6: Can I claim relief on Form IHT38 for property improvements made after the death of the deceased?

A: Form IHT38 relief is based on the loss from the sale price compared to the value at death. Improvements made post-death may affect the sale price but are not directly considered for the relief calculation.

Q7: How does HMRC verify the sale price and value at death stated on Form IHT38?

A: HMRC may request additional documentation or evidence to support the figures provided on Form IHT38, including valuations, sale contracts, or other relevant records.

Q8: Are executors and trustees the only parties who can sign Form IHT38?

A: Form IHT38 must be signed by all 'appropriate persons' responsible for the IHT on the estate, which can include executors, administrators, trustees, or donees.

Q9: What if the property sold at a loss was jointly owned at the date of death?

A: Jointly owned property can still qualify for relief. The claim should reflect the deceased's share in the property and the loss apportioned accordingly.

Q10: Can relief be claimed on Form IHT38 if the property was sold in a part-exchange deal?

A: Yes, but the claim will be based on the cash element of the transaction. Detailed circumstances of the part-exchange deal should be disclosed on the form.

Q11: How long does it take for HMRC to process a Form IHT38 claim?

A: Processing times can vary. Contact HMRC directly for the most current processing time estimates.

Q12: What should I do if HMRC rejects my Form IHT38 claim?

A: If your claim is rejected, HMRC will provide reasons for the decision. You may seek professional advice to understand your options, which could include providing additional information or appealing the decision.

Q13: Can I claim relief for multiple properties sold at a loss on a single Form IHT38?

A: Yes, you can include details of all eligible properties sold at a loss within the specified timeframe on a single form.

Q14: Does submitting a Form IHT38 extend the deadline for paying any outstanding Inheritance Tax?

A: Submitting Form IHT38 does not automatically extend the payment deadline for Inheritance Tax. Any payment obligations remain according to the original deadlines.

Q15: If a property is sold for a loss to a family member, can relief still be claimed?

A: Selling to a relative can complicate the claim. Disclosure of the relationship and the sale details on Form IHT38 is required, and it may affect eligibility for relief.

Q16: What if the deceased owned the property in a trust? Can relief still be claimed?

A: Relief can be claimed if the property was held in trust, but the trustees must be the ones to complete and sign Form IHT38.

Q17: How is the 'gross sale price' determined for the purposes of Form IHT38?

A: The gross sale price is usually the price agreed upon in the sale contract without deducting any sale-related expenses.

Q18: Can expenses related to the sale be deducted when calculating the loss for Form IHT38?

A: No, expenses related to the sale or purchase cannot be deducted. The relief is based on the gross sale price.

Q19: What if the property’s value has been reassessed higher for council tax purposes after the sale?

A: A council taxreassessment does not directly affect the claim on Form IHT38, which is based on the sale price versus the value at death for Inheritance Tax purposes.

Q20: If the estate makes a gain on the sale of other assets, does this affect the relief claimable on a loss for a particular property?

A: Yes, HMRC considers the overall estate valuation and transactions within the relevant period. Gains on other assets can affect the overall Inheritance Tax liability and potentially the relief claimable on a loss.

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