HR pensions spotlight | Unregistered and section 615 schemes

Written on 16 Aug 2021

We look at new requirements to register with, or provide additional information to, HMRC

Registering with HMRC

You might remember that, in 2017, new anti-money laundering regulations came into force, which required trustees (including pension scheme trustees) to keep accurate and up-to-date records of all the "beneficial owners" and "potential beneficiaries" of their trust/scheme, and be ready to share information with certain people (including HMRC) on request.

The same regulations introduced a requirement for the trustees of "taxable relevant trusts" to register with HMRC. Taxable relevant trusts were trusts/schemes where, in any tax year, the trustees were liable to pay certain UK taxes, including income tax, capital gains tax or stamp duty land tax, in relation to trust assets or income. Registration was via HMRC's Trust Registration Service unless the trust in question was a pension scheme already registered with HMRC's Pension Schemes Online or Managing Pension Schemes services.

Last year, a second set of regulations was adopted in connection with implementation of the Fifth Anti- Money Laundering Directive. These regulations have extended the HMRC registration requirements.

What has changed?

Amendments to original regulation 45 mean that UK trusts/pension schemes that are "taxable relevant trusts" must provide further information to HMRC. The deadline for doing this is on or before 10 March 2022, where the trustees become liable to pay UK taxes before 9 February 2022. The trustees must then notify HMRC of any change.

More importantly, a new regulation 45ZA means that some trusts/schemes which did not need to register with HMRC under the original rules will now need to register. Regulation 45ZA extends the requirement to register to all UK express trusts (and some non-UK trusts) unless they are listed as exempt. In most cases, schemes will need to register and provide specified information on or before 10th March 2022 (although we understand that this deadline is going to be extended). They will then need to notify HMRC of any change.

From March 2022, a new regulation 45ZB will also change who can access the information on HMRC's register in some cases.

How does this affect your schemes?

Trusts "holding sums or assets of a pension scheme which is a registered pension scheme for the purposes of Part 4 of the Finance Act 2004" are exempt from the new, extended, requirement to register with HMRC. This means no change for UK registered pension schemes. Most pension arrangements available to staff, including arrangements used for automatic enrolment purposes, will be UK registered pension schemes. If you offer special arrangements for certain groups, such as high earners or overseas workers, however, the changes could affect you as explained below.

There should also be no change for UK death in service, death benefit only, excepted group life or single member-relevant death benefit schemes. In addition to the exemption above, there is one for trusts "of a life policy … paying out only … on the death ... of the person assured" and another that suggests that there will be no need to register the trust after a policy has paid out, provided the payment is distributed within two years. HMRC's Trust Registration Service Manual says that this exemption "can apply to trusts holding multiple policies so long as each policy within the trust meets the conditions" and HMRC's 2020 consultation response suggested that it intends trusts holding "[p]ure protection life insurance policies … including group policies" to be exempt.

Unregistered schemes such as EFRBS (employer funded retirement benefit schemes) and section 615 schemes (set up in the UK to provide benefits for employees working overseas) are likely to be caught by the new requirement to register. The trustees of those schemes might already have registered with HMRC's Trust Registration Service under the "taxable relevant trusts" rules. They should take advice on how the new, extended, registration and information requirements affect them.

Overseas pension schemes (for example, non-UK schemes with at least one UK resident trustee) and separate trusts set up in connection with UK pension or death benefit schemes also need to be reviewed. For example, trusts set up to hold lump sum death benefits paid out of a pension scheme or a death in service trust for the benefit of children, or someone who lacks capacity, or a separate trust set up in connection with the employer's scheme funding obligations.

Osborne Clarke comment

Employers should review any unregistered pension arrangements (such as EFRBS or s.615 schemes) that they sponsor, consult any trustees of such arrangements and consider taking legal advice on how the new information and registration requirements affect them.