Since 2017/18 it has been necessary for trustees to register settlements, both existing and new with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) through a new online ‘Trust Registration Service’.

Following inception of the new online service it has not been possible for the Trustees to update any details that may have changed through this service. However, now that position has changed.

Updating details

As a trustee, it is your responsibility to keep the Trust Register up to date. You can appoint your accountant as an agent to assist you with this. 

The Trust Register details must be updated for any changes to the trustees, personal representatives, beneficiaries, members of the class of beneficiaries, settlors, protectors or agents. Changes to the assets held in the trust do not need to be notified. The register must also be updated when a trust comes to an end.

Tax Liability 

Under current regulations, if there is a tax liability in the year in which the change occurred, the trustees are required to update the data on the register for those changes by 31 January following the tax year in which the change occurred.

If there was no UK tax liability in the tax year the change occurred, the requirement to update is deferred until the 31 January following the next tax year in which a tax liability arises. This applies where there is a liability to income tax, capital gains tax and other taxes such as  Stamp Duty Land Tax and inheritance tax etc.

If there are no changes to trust data in a tax year, but the trust has incurred a tax liability during the period, the trustees are required to confirm via the online register that no changes have occurred and that the details on the register are up to date on or before 31 January following the tax year.

If a trust has incurred a tax liability in the 2019/20 tax year, the trustees must access the Trust Register to either update or confirm that there have been no changes to the information previously submitted. This must be done before 31 January 2021.

If the trust has not incurred a tax liability in 2019/20 but a change has occurred in the year, the trustees must update the register by 31 January following the next tax year in which a tax liability does arise.

Obtaining a government gateway account

Whether you decide to update the Trust Register yourself or appoint your agent, you will need to obtain a government gateway account for each trust for which you are the lead trustee and digitally ‘claim the trust’.  You then have the option to appoint your accountant as your agent or to update/confirm no changes to the register yourself.

Some trustees may not be able to use the online system to appoint an agent. A digitally excluded trustee is one who, for reasons of age, disability, remoteness of location, religion or other valid reason is unable to engage with HMRC’s online digital services.

HMRC is considering how to enable such trustees to appoint an agent. If none of the trustees are able to appoint an agent digitally, one trustee should call the Trust Helpline (0300 123 1072) for help and support. If you are assessed as digitally excluded, HMRC will provide instructions of how to proceed to appoint an agent.

For further advice on this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me or your local Thomas Westcott office.

By Lisa Lane, Manager