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One minute with... Laura Harper

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What’s keeping you busy at work?

The great thing about being in the private client team at a full service firm is that there is always something keeping me busy and even if the task is similar, the client may be completely different so it keeps the work exciting and fresh.

Kingsley Napley has a great immigration team, so I work closely with them on advising people about their tax status in advance of their arrival in the UK.

If you could make one change to a tax law or practice, what would it be?

I deal a lot with American clients having previously worked at a US firm and the US tax net is so wide reaching for US citizens. It means that quite a few people are ‘accidental Americans’ who haven’t filed US tax returns when they should have or are not aware that the US could tax their estate on death. I think more could be done to better educate people outside the US about this.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known at the start of your career?

I wish I had sat my STEP exams and achieved my Trust and Estate Practitioner (TEP) qualification sooner. The TEP qualification provides such great training for anyone in a private client department, and STEP is such a wide network full of events and well-connected people.

Are there any new rules that are causing a particular problem?

The trust registration scheme (TRS) is proving difficult to manage as the scope of it is extremely wide and the service was slow to be implemented by HMRC. This appears to be causing particular difficulties in relation to SDRT. It is a tax payable on the transfer of securities, the majority of which is paid automatically on stock exchange transactions dealt with electronically via the UK Central Securities Depository (CREST). However, HMRC has confirmed that even where this is settled at source directly by CREST, if being purchased on behalf of a trust, that trust should still be registered on the TRS. This would apply to all trusts regardless of where they are resident as they are subject to a UK tax liability. Registration can be time consuming and costly and it means that many trusts that directly invest in UK securities that should be registered, probably are not. Trustees should, though, be able to overcome this issue with careful planning if the investments are made through an underlying company. The guidance provides that a trust that owns shares in a UK or non-UK company and the company owns UK assets which trigger a UK tax liability does not need to register on the TRS. Care should be taken, however, as if the ownership of the asset is treated as a ‘look through’ for any relevant tax purposes such that any UK tax liability is the tax liability of the trustees and not the company, then the trustees will need to register the trust on the TRS.

What issues have clients been raising recently?

We have had a lot of questions recently about crypto currencies and how these are taxed on sale and on death. This is proving to be a really interesting and fast developing area and HMRC has recently published its Cryptoassets Manual which provides some helpful guidance on the tax implications and how these will be assessed by HMRC. It is a bit of a learning curve still for most of us though.

And finally, you might not know this about me but...

I can’t drive. My father very bravely gave me some driving lessons when I turned 18 but I failed my test and he agreed that I was probably ‘born to be driven’. Sadly, I can no longer ask my father for lifts and my budget doesn’t run to a chauffeur, so during lockdown I retook my theory test and hope to pass soon.

Issue: 1556
Categories: One minute with