After a number of delays, HMRC’s Trust Registration Service (TRS) has been expanded and is now open for non-taxable trust registrations.
The TRS was introduced by HMRC in 2017 as part of the UK's implementation of the Fourth Money Laundering Directive.
For companies operating employee benefit trusts (EBTs), the obligation to register was historically limited to trusts that incur a UK tax liability. This meant that many offshore EBTs did not need to register.
However, the position has changed (as required by the Fifth Money Laundering Directive) and the TRS is being extended to all express trusts save for a limited number of exempt categories. Most non-tax paying trusts will now need to register and provide specified information (including details of the assets and beneficiaries).
The original planned launch of the expanded TRS was delayed due to IT issues.
TRS now open for non-taxable trust registrations
On 2 September 2021, HMRC confirmed in its Trusts and Estates newsletter that the TRS is now open for non-taxable trust registrations.
It also provided clarification about the trusts that need to be registered, the trusts that are excluded and the relevant deadlines.
Unfortunately EBTs and Employee Ownership Trusts (EOTs) are not exempt and so those in existence on or after 6 October 2020 must be registered by 1 September 2022 (including those which have since been distributed).
Any non-taxable trusts created after 1 September 2022 must be registered within 90 days (a welcome relaxation from the planned 30 days), and any changes to the trust details or circumstances must also be registered within 90 days of the change.
How to register a trust
Trustees and agents can register a trust online, and HMRC has published guidance on how to register a trust as a trustee. Note that before you can register a trust as a trustee, you need to have an Organisation Government Gateway user ID and password.
For most EBTs (including EOTs), there is a concession allowing the trustee to describe the beneficiaries as a class (for example, all employees of a company or group), rather than list them with full details as is required for other trusts. An approximate number of beneficiaries in the group should also be given. HMRC's guidance confirms that when a member of a class of beneficiaries benefits from the trust, and so becomes known, their details should be provided under the TRS.
Actions for companies operating employee trust arrangements
By setting a deadline of 1 September 2022, HMRC has delivered on its promise to give trustees and agents approximately 12 months from the launch of the expanded TRS in which to register.
The legislation will be amended in the near future to reflect the new timescales (as the original legislative deadline was March 2022).
Trustees and companies operating EBTs, EOTs and other trust or nominee arrangements involving employees should consider any trust arrangements in existence on or after 6 October 2020, and (assuming that an exclusion does not apply) ensure that they are registered by 1 September 2022.
Trustees should ensure that they diarise the deadline along with calendar reminders. They should also familiarise themselves with HMRC's TRS system and gather together the required information, to enable them to register their arrangements in good time.
Please get in touch with your usual Osborne Clarke contact or one of the experts below if you have any queries or would like to discuss further.