Profession ‘exaggerates’ trusts row

The profession may have exaggerated the scope of problems with the
government’s trusts measures, a leading adviser said this week, opening up
potential divisions among those attacking the proposals.

Robert Maas, former chairman of the ICAEW’s tax faculty technical committee,
told a meeting of the House of Lords economic affairs sub-committee on the
finance bill: ‘Many professionals are exaggerating the problem.’

Maas insisted there were still problems with the measures. ‘The government
assumes that people rewrite wills every two years. In the real world, they don’t
do that,’ he said.

The changes, which apply tax charges to trusts commonly set up automatically
in wills, have led to claims that more than a million wills will have to be

Maas also took issue with claims that the government could have consulted. ‘I
think there would have been forestalling,’ he said.

Responses to the moves have tended to focus on the large number of people who
were not using the trusts for avoidance. Though there were tax advantages, these
are no greater than those accorded to gifts from parents to children, which
continue to be outside the IHT regime.

The institutes have been working to produce analysis of the scale of the
problem, with an unprecedented alliance of professionals united against the

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