HMRC’s online Trusts Registration Service (TRS) for agents has finally arrived after months of delay, but the latest hurdle for agents has seen HMRC bombarded by a flurry of complaints. As a result, the deadline for registering trusts which have incurred an income or capital gains tax liability for the first time between 6 April 2016 and 5 April 2017 has been extended from 5 October 2017 to 5 January 2018. HMRC have stressed that this extension will only apply for this year only and the normal 5 October deadline will be back next year. HMRC have confirmed that the deadline for registering existing trusts (i.e. trusts that were within Self Assessment pre 5 April 2016) remains unchanged being 31 January 2018.
The technical difficulties that agents face continue. Whilst previously agents were unable to register at all on the new TRS, the current issue is that they cannot use TRS unless they first register their firm for an Agent Services Account, which many remain unaware of. Registration is achieved by means of an email to a provided address but agents (e.g. solicitors or offshore fiduciaries) who are not currently registered with HMRC will be unable to register. This unsophisticated registration process adds more waiting time to an already tight reporting deadline.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW) has called for HMRC to rethink the 31 January 2018 deadline as it is these trusts that will make up the bulk of the agents’ workload amidst the Self Assessment deadline frenzy. At present however, this unrealistic deadline looks set to stay.
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