Presumably the settlors will be exempt from capital gains tax because of main residence exemption. So inheritance tax is the first tax to be considered.
The gift into trust will be a chargeable transfer, with IHT due at 20% on the amount in excess of any available annual exemption under S.19 and the settlors’ unused nil rate band.
The risk of a retention of benefit is avoided by giving full consideration for the settlors’ continued occupation. The rent suggested is unlikely to be the market rent, even for the first year. Reviewing it every other year, as is suggested, could result in the rent paid in the intervening years being less than the market rent. The effect of such a pattern, if the market rent increases annually, would be seen if the ‘relevant period’ is the seven years immediately preceding death. If less than market rent is paid in the intervening years, say years 2, 4 and 6 out of the last 7 years of the settlor’s life, this will result in a reservation of benefit in each of those years, ceasing at the end of that year, with a consequent deemed PET under S.102(4) FA 1986. Each would be; equal to 50% of the value of the house at the end of the year.
A proper application of this sub-section would give a disastrous extra liability. Ignoring any changes in the value of the house, the deceased settlor would have notional chargeable transfers totalling 150% of its value, three times the amount otherwise in the estate if this exercise had not been taken.
Others have pointed out that the trust income, the rent paid for the settlors’ occupation, will be assessable on the settlors as parents (S.629 ITTOIA 2005), so long as the children are unmarried infants. So, if a settlor’s marginal income tax rate is 40%, he or she will have to pay 140% of their share of the rent.
Thus, to be certain of achieving an inheritance tax saving, a full market rent must be paid throughout the ‘relevant period’; a period ending on the donor/settlor’s death and beginning 7 years earlier, or if later the date of the gift. Of course, at the time the house is settled, the settlors won’t know when the relevant period starts.
As remarked, SDLT will be due if the house is settled subject to a mortgage liability. Would the amount of the children’s income chargeable on their parents be reduced by any mortgage interest paid by the trustees?