Will the Queen pay inheritance tax?

Nothing is certain but death and taxes, said Benjamin Franklin, and, in the UK, we have a fairly harsh regime where we pay 40% inheritance tax over and above certain reliefs. 

Collection of franked, vintage commonwealth stamps featuring the head of Queen Elizabeth II to signify whether the Queen will pay inheritance tax.

But what about the Queen?

In the most recent annual accounts released in June, the total value of the properties owned by the crown estate was estimated at £15.6bn – making the Queen one of the richest people in the world. However, any property and land owned as Sovereign (Royal Palaces etc.) are exempt, as they are considered as heritage assets for the benefit of the nation.

And her private wealth?

The Queen’s personal wealth, including the privately owned Sandringham and Balmoral Castle, is  closer to £420 million, from investments, art, jewels and real estate, according to a 2021 estimate from Forbes. Back in the early 1990s, then Prime Minister John Major struck a deal with HMRC to protect the royal family’s assets from being reduced over generations – such that as they aren’t able to freely work or trade, they can’t technically ‘grow’ their estate as we do. The rules are that the estate must be left to the next in line to the throne and, if so, then estate is completely exempt from inheritance tax. Any gifts the Queen may have left to others will be subject to inheritance tax in the usual away.

Notably, this was first used in 2002 when the Queen Mother died and left her £50m estate (including a Fabergé egg collection) to the Queen and the Queen was able to save around £20m in taxes.

In terms of other taxes, since the early 1990s, when there was public pressure over the cost of the monarchy, in fact the Queen did pay income tax and King Charles has confirmed he will emulate his mother.

If you would like to discuss ways to save inheritance tax, please contact our Private Client team.


This article was written by Katherine Carroll

Please note the contents contained in this article are for general guidance only and reflection the position at time of posting. Legal advice should be sought before taking action in relation to specific matters.

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