It has been felt for a while that Trusts were an area HMRC would revisit and this feeling has been confirmed.
Trusts have been on HMRC’s radar for a long time and between July 2012 and August 2014 there were three separate consultations on Trusts. These consultations led to the implementation of several changes to taxation.
HMRC have now opened a further consultation period on the taxation of trusts as the first stage of a review. The consultation document, which can be found here, sets out the 3 goals of the review as to:
- Address any remaining opportunities to use trusts for tax evasion;
- Ensure trust taxation does not result in unfair outcomes or unintended consequences; and
- Facilitate straightforward use of trusts where appropriate.
The policy principles used to test the effectiveness of the system will be transparency, fairness/neutrality and simplicity.
With these principles in mind, the document poses a number of questions for consideration which cover a very broad scope from ways to increase transparency, reasons for non-resident trusts, reform of inheritance tax and simplification of Vulnerable Beneficiary Trusts.
The questions do rather feel like an odd and contradictory mix. On one hand they seek to simplify, yet on another to elicit views on increasing regulation. The questions also move from the very specific, in relation to Vulnerable Beneficiary Trusts and non-resident trusts, to a very broad review of the Inheritance Tax regime.
There is no doubt that HMRC has given itself a wide canvas so it will be very interesting to see the direction the review takes once the consultation closes on 30th January 2019.