HMRC has launched its new Trusts Registration Service, which is intended to provide a single online route for trusts and complex estates to comply with their registration obligations and provide information on the beneficial owners of the trust.

For companies operating employee benefit trusts (EBTs), the obligation to register applies to EBTs that incur a UK tax liability. This means that many off-shore EBTs will not need to be registered. However, the trustees of any EBTs which have incurred a UK tax liability do need to register their trust under the TRS.

For existing trusts that are registered for self-assessment (or do not require self-assessment registration), the trustees of a trust that incurs a UK tax liability (or the trustees’ agent) must provide beneficial ownership information using the TRS, by 31 January after the end of each tax year. For the first year of the TRS, HMRC has indicated that it will not impose a penalty on the failure to register existing trusts on TRS by 31 January 2018, providing they have been registered by 5 March 2018. HMRC also extended the TRS registration deadline for new trusts that incurred a liability to income tax or CGT for the first time in the tax year 2016 to 2017, to 5 January 2018.

Professionals involved with the establishment of an offshore EBT by a UK company are still required to inform HMRC of the creation of such a non-resident trust – this is separate to the obligation on trustees to register under the TRS. It is to be hoped that HMRC will clarify its procedures for advisers to comply with their statutory obligations in the coming months.