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Europe doesn’t understand

As the majority of the continent is wary of trusts, is it really in a position to tell the UK what to do with them, asks Fay Copeland

27 May 2014

Trusts in the UK have taken a battering over the last decade with heavier inheritance tax (IHT) charges, the reduced numbers of children’s trusts that qualify for special tax treatment, and, more recently, the proposal to split a settlor’s IHT nil rate band.

But the latest attack comes from Europe. The most recent draft of the fourth anti-money laundering directive requires member states to establish public registers disclosing the ultimate beneficial owners of trusts in that country.

In the UK, the proposal has understandably met opposition and, frankly, disbelief. At present, there is no such register, and details of beneficiaries or other information about the trust are confidential to those who create and administer them.

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