Knowledge Hub | Articles

20 May 2020

Emergency workers inheritance tax relief

In the current Covid-19 pandemic inheritance tax relief has hit the news headlines again as may families grapple with the loss of loved ones to the virus.

As we ‘clap for our NHS heroes’ every Thursday evening the plight of those workers losing their lives in the line of duty brings into sharp focus the dedication of these critical workers to fighting the pandemic. It also brings into question how their estate should be treated if they have lost their lives in the line of duty.

The interpretation of who qualifies for inheritance tax exemptions was widened considerably since its inception and now recognises a wide range of service people. Originally brought in by parliament to recognise the gallantry of servicemen and women killed in the line of service it has been expanded in recent years to include emergency services personnel.

This legislation considers those that are known as ‘blue light’ workers as emergency service personnel, responding to an emergency situation.

The ‘blue light’ exemption for tax relief applies if the person:

  1. dies from an injury sustained, accident occurring or disease contracted at a time when that person was responding to emergency circumstances in that person’s capacity as an emergency responder.
  2. dies from a disease contracted at some previous time, the death being due to, or hastened by, the aggravation of the disease during a period when that person was responding to emergency circumstances in that person’s capacity as an emergency responder.

Inheritance tax relief is likely to be brought into focus for many families whose loved ones have lost their lives in the line of duty during the current Covid 19 pandemic leaving families to re-build their lives alone.

How far the qualification of ‘emergency responder’ will go has yet to be tested, it is not clear whether admin staff in a hospital are considered under this category. Test cases are likely to be taken to HMRC to ask for further clarification as Government policy adapts based on rapidly changing requirements.

If you would like additional information on inheritance tax relief or any other aspect of planning for the future please call Natalie Boorer or one of our Wills, trusts and probate team on 01753 889995 or email

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