Whilst some governmental organisations have been slow to react and adapt to the challenges thrown up by Coronavirus (I'm talking about you Probate Registry!) others have taken a sensible and pragmatic approach to tackling some of the issues being faced. Perhaps surprisingly, HMRC is one organisation embracing change.
When it comes to dealing with trusts and estates HMRC has tended to take a more old fashioned approach, insisting for example on paper returns being filed and making tax repayments by cheque.
Given this rather outdated approach it's pleasing to see that the Trusts and Estates arm of HMRC are dragging themselves into the 21st century and reacting pragmatically to the virus. In their latest newsletter they have announced a raft of changes including:
- offering electronic submission of Inheritance Tax returns through a trial on Dropbox
- accepting e-signatures on Inheritance Tax returns
- accepting an agent’s signature on behalf of the personal representatives or trustees
- ceasing cheque repayments from the beginning of April and switching to using Faster payments to repay directly to taxpayers' bank accounts.
In light of the virus they have also updated their guidance on what constitutes a reasonable excuse for the late filing of returns, and made temporary changes to their Conditional Exemption Tax Incentive Scheme.
There may be a way to go before HMRC can say that they have truly embraced doing business in the 21st century but this is a start!