HMRC not responding to multiple requests for IHT clearance

I wonder if anyone else is experiencing difficulty in obtaining inheritance tax clearance from HMRC.

I submitted an IHT100B, on behalf of trustees, in relation to the termination of a life interest back in 2018. HMRC wrote to me within 3 months to say (quite understanably) that they couldn’t process this until they received the corresponding IHT400 from the life tenant’s executors.

In June 2021, I sent HMRC some corrections to the account and an IHT30 for them to receipt and return.

Due to various problems with the life tenant’s estate, the solicitor acting did not send in the IHT400 until September 2021. HMRC replied to them within 3 months to say that if they didn’t write again before a date in January 2022, the executor’s solicitors could assume they had no questions on the IHT400, but there was no mention of the IHT100 or the trust in their letter.

I have telephoned HMRC on multiple occasions to chase the clearance certificate (or letter - I don’t mind which) for the trust and I am consistently told that, a) they can’t find my IHT30, b) then when I painstakingly tell them where to look for it on their own system as they haven’t scanned it in correctly - that nothing has been actioned since I last called, c) it is not possible to be transferred to a supervisor or technical officer and that, d) I will receive a call back within 24-72 hours. It’s never happened yet!

I have done this on multiple occassions and also sent in a letter of complaint (clearly marked complaint and urgent!) on 14 April, to which I have not even had an acknowledgment.

Does anyone happen to have a direct telephone number or email of anyone at HMRC who can help me please? I’m at a complete loss as to what to do and think it’s very poor that the complaints team haven’t been in touch by now.

I am also very reluctant to just proceed and dsitribute the remaining assets without the clearance letter, in veiw of the fact that I have specifically asked for (and not received) it on so many occassions.

Yours in thanks and frustration!!

Anna Howat

Yes I have the same problem it is very frustrating. Try telephoning the helpline at 9 a.m. - 0300 123 1072 - you might get someone sympathetic that can expedite matters for you. They should be able to see if your complaint letter has been scanned on the system at least. I found that once the complaints team got involved matters were resolved speedily but you are right there is a long wait before that even happens and even longer at the OPG - I complained in December and still waiting for a response and nothing can happen at OPG either until the complaint has been resolved. I’m sure clients don’t believe a word I say and the delay is all down to me.

I would be inclined to arrange a fresh IHT30 and submit it to HMRC under cover of a further letter of complaint.

Paul Saunders FCIB TEP

Independent Trust Consultant

Providing support and advice to fellow professionals

You need a 3 complaint letter system.

Letter 1 with formal complaint written in large letters on the envelope and letter.

3 weeks later letter 2 copying the first letter to them also marked formal complaint. They routinely ignore letter 1.

2 weeks later letter 3 repeat the process. They normally deal with it then.

If not letter 4!!!

Claim extra costs and they will normally pay once you have their attention.

There is no point trying to ring you will get nowhere.

Simon Northcott

Thank you all for your replies, I will try writing again and keep up the pressure!

I should have added make sure each letter is sent special delivery so it is signed for and hopefully gets put on a different pile from the sacks of unopened letters sitting and smouldering away in the basement.

Simon Northcott


I appreciate this is an older post, but I wondered whether people are still applying for formal clearance (IHT30) in cases now where HMRC in their letter when they confirm the IHT421 summary stamped include a statement along the lines of:

You can assume no other Qs if you have not heard from us by XYZ date

In its August 20222 Trusts and Estates Newsletter, HMRC stated:

Process for Inheritance Tax clearance

If you want to apply for clearance in respect of an Inheritance Tax liability, you must use form IHT30 ‘Application for a clearance certificate’. Only do this when you are sure there will be no further changes that will affect the tax position on the estate. We will not accept a letter requesting clearance.

Do not send your IHT30 at the same time as amendments to the account as clearance should only be applied for after all amendments have been reported to, and accepted by, HMRC.

The Inheritance Tax legislation states that it is appropriate to apply for clearance once 2 years have passed since the date of death. In practice, we will consider a request for clearance earlier than this, but only if you are sure that there will be no more changes to report. We would not normally expect you to apply until a year has passed since the date of death.

During coronavirus (COVID-19) we replaced stamping and returning the IHT30 form with a separate certificate, SL120. We have now made this change permanent and the SL120 is being amended to remove the reference to COVID-19.

In light of this, I suggest that it would be appropriate in most (if not all) cases to obtain clearance via either an IHT30, or an SL120, and not rely upon the standard letter. This is especially so if the disclosures in the IHT 400 (or IHT100) require amendment.

Paul Saunders FCIB TEP

Independent Trust Consultant

Providing support and advice to fellow professionals

You cannot rely on the letter saying there are no more questions. That is not an official clearance.

Simon Northcott

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