The UK's Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has been tasked with investigating options for reform of the UK's inheritance tax.
Philip Hammond, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, addressed the OTS in a letter sent January 19, 2018, asking to hear of its proposals for simplification, "to ensure that the system is fit for purpose and makes the experience of those who interact with it as smooth as possible."
He instructed the OTS that the review should focus on technical and administrative issues, such as the process of submitting returns and paying tax due, as well as practically issues around routine estate planning and disclosure.
He suggested it could also look at how current gift rules interact with the wider IHT system and whether the current framework causes any distortions to taxpayers' decisions surrounding transfers, investments, and "other relevant transactions."
Commenting on the start of the review, professional services firm RSM noted that in November 2017 HMRC had published a report into behavioral evidence around inheritance tax and reliefs.
George Bull, a senior tax partner at RSM, said: "The conclusions of this report may signal an expectation in Government that the entitlement to business property relief in particular may be curtailed in the course of the current review." He said: "It is also important to review IHT in the context of the competing and wide-ranging regimes elsewhere in the world. The US is one of the more extreme examples where potentially up to USD22m can be passed to the next generation tax-free."
Geoffrey Todd, a partner in the private client and tax team at law firm Boodle Hatfield commented: "As the Chancellor noted, IHT is a particularly complex tax and the current system is rife with inconsistencies. Any genuine simplification of the way it operates and is administered and which helps ease frustrations and delays in settling IHT-related matters with HMRC has to be welcomed provided that fairness is also maintained. Particular areas which would benefit from simplification include the taxation of lifetime gifts, the recently introduced residence nil rate band, and the IHT taxation regime for trusts."
"We will know more about the precise scope of the investigations when the terms of reference of the review are agreed in the coming weeks. It will be interesting to see how this ties in with the Government's planned consultation on how to make the taxation of trusts 'simpler, fairer, and more transparent,' announced at the Autumn Budget. The consultation and OTS review taken together could lead to real change, although this is at least a year away."
Kuwait's Cabinet approved two DTA protocols with Turkey and Bangladesh, the state news agency reported on February 5, 2018.
Barbados's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Maxine McClean, pushed for the conclusion of a DTA with Australia during recent meetings.
According to preliminary media reports, Tunisia and Germany signed a new DTA on February 8, 2018.
Saudi's Cabinet has approved the signing of a DTA with Switzerland, the state news agency reported on February 6.
Kuwait's National Assembly on February 2, 2018, approved two DTA Protocols, with India and Brunei, the state news agency reported.
According to preliminary media reports, Kazakhstan's President has approved a law to ratify the DTA Protocol signed in January 2017 with India.
DTA negotiations between Armenia and Singapore are reportedly close to conclusion.
According to a report from the Azeri state news agency, India and Azerbaijan are negotiating a DTA.
Kyrgyzstan's President on January 25, 2018, ratified the DTA with Estonia.
According to a new update from Slovakia's Finance Ministry, the nation's DTAs with Armenia and United Arab Emirates became effective on January 1, 2018.
Colombia and Italy signed a DTA on January 26, 2018.
The UK House of Commons on January 31, 2018, approved the DTA with Lesotho.
The President of Honduras has expressed an interest in the country signing a DTA with Vietnam.
Turkey's Economy Ministry on January 25, 2018, announced that Turkey will soon sign a DTA with Venezuela, during the Turkish President's official visit to Venezuela.
According to Bahrain's state news agency, Bahrain's Cabinet on January 22, 2018, approved a law to ratify the country's DTA with Egypt.
The DTA and accompanying Protocol between Qatar and Spain entered into force on February 6, 2018, following the publication of a law to ratify the agreement in the Spanish Official Gazette on December 15, 2017.
Russia and Belgium signed a DTA Protocol on January 30, 2018.
The Netherlands hopes to begin double tax treaty negotiations with Australia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Morocco, Austria, and Portugal this year, according to an update from the Ministry of Finance on January 26. It will also seek to continue negotiations with Andorra, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, France, Liechtenstein, Mozambique, Uganda, Pakistan, Senegal, Sri Lanka, and the United States.
Thailand's tax agency has confirmed the DTA with Cambodia became effective on January 1, 2018.
Bulgaria and Greece have recently agreed to update their double tax agreement to improve its tax information exchange provisions.
Jamaica and Italy signed a DTA on January 19, 2018.
Hong Kong announced on January 15, 2018, that it had entered into a competent authority agreement with France for the exchange of country-by-country reports.
Japan signed a DTA with Iceland on January 15, 2018.
According to preliminary media reports, on January 12, 2018, the Czech Republic and South Korea signed a DTA to replace their existing pact.
According to a January 12, 2018, update from the Irish Revenue, the country's DTA with Kazakhstan became effective on January 1, 2018, having entered into force on December 29, 2017.