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How will the recent changes to inheritance tax affect the housing market?

George Osborne has officially announced that the Government will scrap inheritance tax on homes worth more than £500,000 for those living alone and up to £1m for married couples.

Osborne will raise the inheritance tax threshold from January 2017 to £500,000 from £325,000. According to the Daily Telegraph, this essentially means that a married couple will be able to pass on assets up to £1m, including a family home, without paying a penny in inheritance tax.

The booming property market in London and the South East of England has led to thousands of homeowners’ seeing the value of their properties rapidly increase in recent years. As you would expect, this has led to concerns for many about the amount of tax their estate will incur after they die.

It is believed, however, that this move could further decrease the amount of house sales in the UK, which are already believed to be slowing significantly.

Recent studies have suggested that on average British homeowners vacate their properties after a spell of 17 years. This is an increase of around 25% since 1980 and has led to rising house prices, according to analysts at property group JLL.

“The scrapping inheritance tax up to £1m feels right and stops a double taxation that I am uncomfortable with. However it could have a distorting effect on the market in the sense that people will be more willing to hang onto a family home for longer and it dilutes the desire to pass down capital or to downsize,” stated Adam Challis, head of residential research for JLL.

He continued: “It could run against some other policy straps the Government are pushing on,” referring to other proposals that assist people getting on the home ownership ladder.

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