Trust Registration Service – HMRC’s online registration system open for business (soon)

19 August 2021

HMRC has announced that the Trust Registration Service (TRS) online portal has been upgraded and will open for registrations by non-taxable trusts in September 2021.

This means the new deadline for registration should be circa September 2022 (as HMRC promised they would push back the original March 2022 deadline in order to give affected trustees at least 12 months to register).

When the TRS was first introduced in 2017, only “taxable relevant trusts” (broadly, UK and non-UK resident trusts with a relevant UK tax liability) had to populate the UK’s trust register and provide certain information in relation to their settlors, beneficiaries, power holders and assets. However, the scope of registrable trusts was materially expanded last year (so much so that HMRC had to upgrade their online portal to cope with the volume of new expected registrations).

In broad terms, the trustees of all of the following types of trusts will now also need to consider whether they need to register (irrespective of whether they have a relevant UK tax liability):

  • all UK resident express trusts; and
  • non-UK resident express trusts where the trustees:
    • enter into a business relationship with a relevant UK service provider and (crucially) have at least one UK resident trustee; or
    • acquire an interest in UK land, even if they have no UK resident trustees.

We have summarised the scope of the new registration triggers and the other major changes under the new regime in detail, including in particular why the registration triggers are not necessarily as broad as they at first appear and when third parties may have access to the information on the register in our article for the British Tax Review and in an earlier blog.

Since the new regime was announced, there have been a number of helpful clarifications from HMRC (including in relation to life policy trusts holding policies with a surrender value). However, some unanswered questions still remain.

  • What about registrable trusts which exist now but are terminated before the registration deadline in September 2022?
  • When will a pre-existing business relationship become a “new” business relationship?
  • Will there be any more exceptions for bare trust and nominee arrangements (which are only excluded from registration in specific situations)?

The Trust Registration Service Manual continues to evolve and further guidance from HMRC is expected in the autumn: it is hoped that progressively more of these questions will be answered.

The deadline for registrations will give trustees approximately 12 months to register from when the new service is ready to accept registrations.

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