Trustee Registration Service
The Trustee Registration Service (TRS) is an online platform to maintain a register of trusts which has been introduced by HMRC in an effort to improve transparency of trusts and adherence to tax regulations.
Historically, a trust only needed to be registered if a tax liability had been incurred. However, since 1 September 2021 the registration requirement has been extended to almost all ‘express’ trusts (i.e. those trusts that have been deliberately created) regardless of whether there has been, or will be, a tax liability.
There is a handful of exclusions, most notably life assurance trusts and pension schemes; but importantly, the new requirement does extend to bare trusts and designated accounts – i.e. where investments are held in separated nominee accounts typically for the benefit of children and/or grandchildren. If you are unsure about a designated investment or trust that you are party to, please contact your usual adviser on 01676 523550 or email email@example.com.
The deadline to register an existing trust was 1 September 2022 and all new trusts have 90 days from the trust’s creation. Any changes to the details held on register also need to be updated within 90 days of the change taking place. It is the trustees who are legally required to register the trust on the TRS and maintain the register for the trust; failure to comply with the regulations will result in penalties.
The trust information required to be entered, and maintained, on the register varies depending on the type of trust, but the minimum will be personal details of all trustees, beneficiaries and settlors. A ‘lead’ trustee is nominated in all cases and as this person is the main contact for HMRC, they will also need to provide contact details on the register.
We have found that trusts where there has been some form of taxable liability in the past often have an agent (a solicitor or accountant) in tow to assist with a new registration (if necessary) and the maintenance of the register. There have, however, been challenges for trustees for whom the register is a new requirement, since it requires the trust to have its own Government Gateway login to access the TRS; and the documentation, passwords and multiple reference numbers can be daunting. In some cases, trustees have registered themselves via the gov.uk site (there is no cost for this); however, many have appointed an ‘agent’ to do this on their behalf. BRI are unable to act as your ‘agent’ but we have a range of contacts who can provide this service if required.
As maintaining the trust’s details on the TRS is an ongoing requirement, it is important that the lead trustee is comfortable in accessing the internet as this is an online service. If there are difficulties around this, then another contact or agent will need to be considered.
The situation is further evolving, since from September 2022 firms such as BRI were required to obtain and check the evidence of a trust’s registration whether this be an existing or a new trust. We have been working closely with our clients to do this, but we are now beginning to see external investment providers requesting this information with varying levels of detail. The next challenge, therefore, is satisfying their requirements with the evidence of registration to avoid any unnecessary delays in managing the trust’s investments. At the time of writing, we believe the best evidence of registration is the HMRC document titled ‘Trust Register’ that is produced in PDF format at the end of the registration process and can be obtained from the trust register at any point. We will be suggesting a review of this documentation at least annually with our clients to confirm that the details remain accurate.
We are continuing to work with and to support our clients on this topic and if you wish to discuss any aspect of the requirements, please contact your usual adviser in the first instance on 01676 523550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.