Helping with the family finances

The need to provide financial support to the younger generation is a recurring theme in today’s society. How can parents or grandparents help younger family members and are there any potential pitfalls when doing so?

The House of Lords Committee on Intergenerational Fairness and Provision recently highlighted how the younger generation are increasingly being helped onto the property ladder by older family members. Quoting data from a survey conducted by Douglas McWilliams, their report said that 27% of all UK house purchases were made with contributions giving family a helping hand from the older generation, with gifted lump sums averaging £5,000 to £6,000.

The tax implications

However, if you are thinking of helping a younger family member financially then you do need to consider any tax implications, particularly in relation to Inheritance Tax (IHT).

Research (2) has revealed that just 45% of people looking to gift money are aware of the rules and exemptions surrounding Inheritance Tax (IHT). Only a quarter (25%) of respondents admitted to possessing a ‘working knowledge’ of the rules surrounding gifting.

Everyone has an ‘annual exemption’ for IHT purposes which allows them to give away up to £3,000 each tax year. If you don’t use it, you can carry over any unused allowance to the following tax year meaning you could potentially gift up to £6,000 without it counting towards your estate’s IHT liability; and this amount rises to £12,000 for a couple.

You can also make more substantial gifts, known as ‘Potentially Exempt Transfers’. In this instance, you need to live for seven years after making the gift for it to be totally tax-free.

The rules relating to gifts can appear confusing and if you’re unsure of the tax implications then it is always best to seek advice.  

1 Intergenerational Committee, 2019
2 IFS and the National Centre for Social Research (NCSR), May 2019