Clause 29 - Estates in administration and trusts

Part of Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 16 May 2023.

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Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 10:30, 16 May 2023

Clause 29 and schedule 2 make changes to provide greater certainty and simpler tax administration for trusts and estates by legislating and extending an existing concession. The changes prevent trusts and estates having to report small amounts of income tax to HMRC, make tax calculations more straightforward for some trustees, and provide technical clarifications for estate beneficiaries.

Trustees of trusts and personal representatives of deceased persons’ estates do not have tax allowances in the same way that individuals do. As a result, they must send HMRC a self-assessment return for all income, even small amounts. HMRC operates a narrow concession so that trustees and personal representatives do not have to report small amounts of untaxed savings income.

Last year, HMRC consulted on proposals to formalise and extend the concession, and on related reforms that would apply to smaller trusts and estates. Respondents broadly welcomed the proposals. We published a summary of the responses to the consultation at the spring Budget and are proposing legislation in line with that publication.

The changes made by clause 29 and schedule 2 will provide greater certainty and simpler tax administration for trusts and estates. Part 1 of the schedule makes technical amendments relating to income distributed from a deceased person’s estate to a beneficiary. Those ensure that the beneficiary’s tax credits operate correctly, and that a person can use their savings allowance against distributed savings income.

Part 2 of the schedule introduces a tax-free amount for trusts and estates with an income of £500 or less in a tax year. That frees smaller trusts, and around one in every seven estates with income, from paying and reporting income tax. The tax-free treatment for estate income is also passed on to the estate’s beneficiaries. For groups of trusts, the £500 limit will be reduced to a minimum of £100 per trust. That will prevent individuals from splitting up their investments into multiple small trusts to build up an inappropriate amount of tax-free income. We have tabled amendment 4 to simplify that rule. It excludes certain pension schemes from consideration when determining the amount of any reduction to a trust’s £500 tax-free amount.

Part 3 of the schedule removes the default basic rate and dividend ordinary rate of tax that applies to the first £1,000 slice of income for accumulation trusts and discretionary trusts. Reducing the number of tax rates in this way will make tax calculations more straightforward. It also avoids complications with the new tax-free limit, which is better targeted at low-income trusts. The change will take about 8,000 trusts and estates out of income tax and reporting, and simplify how tax applies to bereaved beneficiaries.