Mr Gill’s estate included the house in which he lived, a brick barn and outbuildings and 21 acres of permanent pasture. During the relevant period Mr Gill did not own any livestock. He allowed farmers to graze their livestock on his agricultural land under annual grazing licences. It was not disputed that the house was of a character appropriate to the farm.
HMRC refused agricultural property relief (‘APR’) in respect of the value of the house, barn and outbuildings on the basis that neither the house nor outbuildings were occupied for the purposes of agriculture, and refused the claim to business property relief (‘BPR’) in its entirety on the basis that the business carried on by Mr Gill consisted wholly or mainly of making or holdings investments the executors appealed.
Evidence was given that Mr Gill repaired fences and netting, cleared ditches, harrowed and rolled fields and personally checked the stock on his land twice daily. He claimed Single Farm Payment and complied with the requirements that imposed. The executors argued that Mr Gill’s involvement in the land constituted ‘agriculture’; HMRC argued that it constituted no more than general maintenance and management of the land, and that a person could qualify for Single Farm Payment simply by maintaining the land in good environmental condition.
The issues for the court were:
- 1) Was the house a ‘farmhouse’, constituting ‘agricultural property’ within the meaning of s115(2) IHTA?
- 2) Did Mr Gill occupy the house and other buildings for the purposes of agriculture throughout the period of two years leading up to his death?
- 3) Was the business carried on by Mr Gill ‘relevant business property’, or did it consist wholly or mainly of making or holding investments?
- 1) The house was a farmhouse and constituted ‘agricultural property’ within the terms of s115(2) at the date of Mr Gill’s death. There are a wide range of activities which may constitute ‘agriculture’, and no special meaning need be attached to that term – Atkinson & Smith (executors of the Will of Atkinson (Decd))  UKFTT 108 (TC) followed. Although Mr Gill ceased owning livestock, his activities remained those of a farmer and he provided substantial work which could not merely be described as the provision of land for grazing. Limited weight could be attached to the receipt of Single Farm Payments, since they were by reference to a different statutory test.
- 2) There was a functional connectivity between Mr Gill’s occupation of the house and the agricultural activities which took place on the farm. He did not occupy the house solely as a residence, but farmed day to day and remained in control; his occupation was ancillary to those daily farming activities – HMRC v Atkinson  STC 289 applied. The barn and outbuildings stored machinery which Mr Gill used on the farm for the purposes of agriculture.
- 3) The business carried on by Mr Gill was ‘relevant business property’, since it did not consist wholly or mainly of making or holding investments. Activities such as hedge-cutting, harrowing, fencing, mole-trapping, herding, lookering and husbandry were those of a farmer, rather than merely an investor maintaining his property – PRs of Grace Graham v HMRC  UKFTT 0306 (TC) followed.
Appeal allowed.JUDGMENT JUDGE JENNIFER DEAN: INTRODUCTION  This appeal concerns the availability of agricultural property relief (APR) and business property relief (BPR) from inheritance tax (IH) in respect of the value of assets forming part of the estate of Thomas Gill.  By way of background, Mr Gill died on 20 November 2013 aged 79. Mr …