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Tax & Wealth Structuring

UK Trusts Register

If you are a trustee of, benefit from or administer a trust, it is important that you understand how the introduction of the UK Trusts Registers may affect you and your trust.

The Trust Register is now the only way that trusts can be notified to Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for self-assessment tax purposes. It’s essential that all new and existing trusts – both UK-based and offshore – sign up to the register if they have any form of UK tax liability.

The Register was introduced in June 2017 and we’re still awaiting final confirmation of how registration will work. We have answered some Frequently Asked Questions to help trustees navigate this new regulation but please note that details are subject to change.

You can also download our UK Trusts Register Briefing Notes for UK-based trusts or offshore trusts.

Our team of trusts experts are ready to help trusts and trustees with the registration process. Please contact us to find out more about what we can do for you.

Why Did The UK Introduce A Trust Register?

As an EU member state, the UK was required to implement the EU’s Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive into its own domestic law. This was accomplished with the publication of the Money-Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations on 22nd June 2017.

The Regulations introduced a legal requirement for trustees of certain trusts to register information about the trusts and related individuals with HMRC.

Although these regulations were motivated by an EU directive, they will remain a part of UK law post-Brexit unless any further action is taken by the UK government.

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Who Can Access The Register?

The register is not accessible to the public. It can only be accessed by:

  • UK law enforcement authorities
  • EEA financial intelligence units
  • Agencies responsible for enforcing the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive in EEA states

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Which Trusts Must Register?

A trust must register if it is UK taxable and if any of these conditions apply:

  • All individual trustees are UK tax resident
  • It has a corporate trustee that is incorporated in the UK
  • It was funded by someone who was UK resident or UK domiciled at the time and it has at least one UK trustee
  • It is offshore but has UK assets
  • It is offshore but has income from a UK source

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Which Trusts Are UK Taxable?

A trust is UK taxable if it is liable to pay any of the following in the UK:

  • Income tax
  • Capital gains tax
  • Inheritance tax
  • Stamp duty land tax
  • Land and buildings transaction tax (in Scotland)
  • Stamp duty reserve tax

The test for tax liability is applied on a yearly basis so a trust may be UK taxable in one tax year but not in the next.

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What Is The Registration Deadline?

If a trust already meets the criteria and has not previously been registered with HMRC, it must be electronically registered on or before 5th January 2018 to obtain a unique tax reference. All existing trusts must then be registered on or before 31st January 2018.

If a trust only meets registration criteria in a subsequent tax year, the deadline will be the 31st January after the end of relevant tax year.

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Who Is Responsible for Registering A Trust?

Responsibility for registration falls with the trustees. If you’re a trustee and would like any further information about registration, please contact our team for more information about how we can help.

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What Information Must Be Registered?

The information required covers the trust itself, its beneficial owners and any potential beneficiaries:

Trust Details

  • The full name of the trust
  • The date on which the trust was set up
  • A statement of accounts for the trust, describing the trust assets and identifying the value of each category of the trust assets at the date of settlement
  • The trust’s tax residence
  • Where the trust is administered
  • The trustees’ contact address
  • The full name of any advisers acting on behalf of the trustees for their tax affairs

Beneficial Owners & Potential Beneficiaries

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • The nature of the individual’s role in relation to the trust
  • National Insurance Number or unique taxpayer reference (if any)

For individuals without a National Insurance Number or unique taxpayer reference, you must provide their usual residential address.

If this address is not in the UK, you must also include the number, country of issue and expiry date of their passport or identification card. If the individual does not have either a passport or identification card, you must include the same details for any equivalent form of identification.

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Who Are A Trust’s Beneficial Owners?

The beneficial owners of a trust include a wide group of people, including:

  • The settlor
  • Trustees
  • Named/ascertained beneficiaries
  • If there are no names/ascertained beneficiaries, then the class of people in whose main interest the trust is set up or operates
  • Protectors, enforcers, guardians, appointers and anyone else who has a power to:
    • dispose of, advance, lend, invest, pay or apply trust property
    • vary or terminate the trust
    • add or remove a person as a beneficiary or to or from a class of beneficiaries
    • appoint or remove trustees or give another individual control over the trust
    • direct, withhold consent to or veto the exercise of the four powers mentioned immediately above

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How Do I Register A Trust?

Registration is made online by the trustees or (from late October 2017) by their agents using the UK ‘Government Gateway’ facility. The trustees must set up a Government Gateway account online.

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How Should I Plan For Registration?

For costs and other reasons, trustees and settlors may prefer not to have to register or the detailed information required about related individuals. For example:

  1. Protectors may wish to step down to prevent being identified as the beneficial owners of assets from which they can never benefit
  2. Settlors may review and amend letters of wishes to remove unnecessary references to individuals who are not current beneficiaries or describe such individuals by class instead

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What Is Required After Registration?

Trustees must maintain accurate and up-to-date written records of the beneficial owners of the trust and of its potential beneficiaries.

Trustees of registered trusts must notify HMRC if details they have supplied (apart from asset values) change during years when the trust is taxable.

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Visit our Tax & Wealth Structuring page to find out more about our expert trusts solicitors can help with registration and other trust administration issues.

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