HMRC
HM Revenue and Customs' new plans to take inheritance tax before death are being considered by Government.Reuters

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has proposed legislation that will force some the UK's richest citizens to pay inheritance tax before they die.

According to the proposals, currently being considered by the government, HMRC inspectors would be able to ask for payment from wealthy people to prevent them from secreting money into schemes in order to avoid paying the tax.

A spokesperson for the HMRC told The Daily Telegraph that only "very small numbers" of wealthy individuals would be affected by the move, and only when "deliberate" actions had been taken to avoid tax.

But some experts are worried by the concept. Stuart Philips of tax-planning company Private Office said: "The concern is that the Revenue takes a highly aggressive stance, just like with the film schemes for which celebrities have been under scrutiny, and terrifies families who have been engaging in legitimate tax planning that has been used for many years.

"I'm apprehensive that large-scale action could have unintended consequences," the Telegraph reported.

Trusts and schemes that are used "legitimately", says the HMRC, will not be affected by the new rules.

Inheritance tax of 40% is paid on the value of an estate above the threshold of £325,000. Estates worth less than this figure are not taxed.