Capital Acquisitions Tax – Dwelling House Exemption

A recent High Court decision has a significant bearing on the application of dwelling house inheritance tax relief to beneficiaries who inherit a mixed asset estate, comprising of a number of residential properties.

The dwelling house exemption allows someone to inherit a property tax-free provided that they have lived in it for three years before the homeowner’s death and that it was the main home of the person who has died. Critically, if a person owns even a share in another property “at the date of inheritance”, they lose their entitlement to the relief. Revenue has always been of the view that if someone who would otherwise qualify for dwelling house relief inherits not just the main home of the disponer but another property, or a share in another property, they no longer meet the eligibility criteria.

A Court ruling on 25th September 2018 has actually changed the rules on dwelling house relief. The High Court ruled in the case of a successor, who inherited both the family home where the successor had lived with the disponer and an interest in four other properties, was entitled to the dwelling house exemption. The judge held that the successor did not have a beneficial interest in either of the dwelling houses at the date of the inheritance, as a successor cannot become beneficially entitled to a house which forms part of the residue of an estate until the assets available for distribution have been ascertained.

The impact of the Court case is that you will no longer be disbarred from dwelling house relief if you inherit property other than the family home in the same will. Revenue has now adopted a revised approach in distinguishing between dwelling houses inherited as a specific legacy and those inherited in the residue of an estate.
Accordingly, a dwelling house forming part of the residue of an estate is not to be taken into account in determining whether a successor has an interest in another dwelling house at the date of an inheritance. Ownership of property received as part of the residue of a will would occur at a later date than “at the date of inheritance”.
Anyone receiving a specific legacy of an interest in a property as well as receiving the family home will continue to be excluded. This is because, as a specific legacy, beneficial ownership of the “other” property would transfer at the same time as the family home.

Revenue acknowledged that if any taxpayers find themselves in a similar set of facts as this case then they may be entitled to a refund of the tax paid, bearing in the mind the four year limit that applies to refunds of tax.

Should you require any further details on the above, please contact a member of our Tax Department.