The Office for Tax Simplification has released its first report on how HMRC's process of collecting inheritance tax could be improved by simplifying forms and making more of the process digital. These are the sorts of changes that might not capture the imagination of the public but, if introduced, might well make private client lawyers and accountants go weak at the knees...
The report is a lengthy document which only the hardiest of souls will complete, however some key points arising out of the report include:
1. Calling for a fully-integrated digital IHT system, potentially meshed with the new online probate platform.
2. Immediate changes to the forms for the administration of estates - for example expanding the circumstances that can be covered by briefer forms or no forms at all.
3. Changes in particular to Form IHT100, which is a cumbersome document that practitioners will be aware can be a complex form even with the most straightforward of tax charges.
4. On a broader level, working to change the public's perception about inheritance tax - the report highlights that a 2015 YouGov survey ranked inheritance tax as the most 'unfair' of 11 major taxes.
It will of course remain to be seen how many (if any) of these recommendations find their way into actual law and practice. The OTS is only an independent adviser to the government, whose aim is to make the taxation process easier for the tax payer. Given the other matters on the Government's mind at the moment, one struggles to envisage where they will find the time.
The first report highlights the benefits of: reducing or removing the requirement to submit forms for smaller or simpler estates, especially where there is no tax to pay simplifying the administration and guidance the advantages of banks and other financial institutions having standardised requirements automating the whole system by bringing it on-line