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Despite Fewer Investigation, HMRC Recovers More Unpaid Inheritance Tax

Published by Prerana
Posted Date: June 18, 2024 , Modified Date: June 21, 2024

HMRC’s current investigations on unpaid Inheritance Tax (IHT) is yielding remarkable results. Despite the sharp drop in the number of investigations, HMRC has successfully collected more money than in previous years. HMRC reports an unpaid IHT collection figure of £1.39 billion over the last five years.

How Has HMRC Managed to Recover More with Fewer Investigations?

HMRC recovered over £285 million from 3,028 investigations in the fiscal year 2023/24. This is a steep drop from the 5,658 investigations the HMRC carried out in the year 2019/20. Yet, the money collected is more.  

A chartered financial planner at the National Farmers Union (NFU) Mutual described the situation, saying, "HMRC investigations have been getting much more targeted and forensic, which has helped it to bring in more money. HMRC is limiting its investigations to where they are more likely to yield unpaid taxes, concentrating on making every inquiry worthwhile."

HMRC Inheritance tax Investigations

Even in 2020/21, when the number of investigations fell and a sizeable chunk of staff were asked to work on COVID-related matters, HMRC still managed to bring in £254 million. This trend continued into the 2021/22 tax year, where £326 million was recovered from 4,258 inquiries, the highest amount over the five-year period.

What Factors Contribute to HMRC's Successful Recoveries?

This targeted approach HMRC has adopted is what is making its inheritance tax recovery efforts successful. The financial planner says that HMRC will do anything in their power to find out exactly how much you have, looking at elements like gifts made up to seven years before death and life insurance policies that are not written in trust. This process allows for a thorough review of the potential tax liability for the claim.

In addition, the modern estate is so complex and valuable that fewer investigations can provide very meaningful recoveries. While investigative work can take months or even years to fully investigate, HMRC generated hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue as a sign of just how significant it is.


HMRC is recovering large sums of unpaid taxes by targeting high-value cases and conducting in-depth forensic inquiries even though it is investigating fewer cases. Applying this approach allows HMRC to be compliant with tax laws and efficient with its work, ultimately benefiting the public. The increasing value of estates will demand HMRC to keep up its targeted enforcement that ensures the tax take stays high.

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