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."
Switzerland's lower house of Parliament on May 29, 2018, approved DTAs with Kosovo and Pakistan.
The Moroccan Government has approved for ratification a DTA with the Republic of the Congo, it announced on May 29, 2018.
Argentina has approved a protocol to its DTA with Brazil, the Argentinian Official Gazette reported on May 23, 2018.
Brazil's upper house of Parliament on May 30, 2018, approved a protocol updating the DTA with Norway.
Hong Kong and Finland on May 24, 2018, signed a DTA.
Legislation ratifying a new DTA between Russia and Japan was submitted to the Russian State Assembly (the Duma) for approval on May 22, 2018.
Vietnam and Macau signed a DTA on April 16, according to a statement released by the Vietnamese Ministry of Finance on May 11, 2018.
Talks are continuing on a DTA between Jordan and Switzerland, according to a statement released by Jordan's Foreign Ministry on May 14, 2018.
The Czech Senate approved a law to ratify the DTA with Ghana on May 17, 2018.
The Philippines-Thailand DTA entered into force on March 5, and the Philippines' DTA with Sri Lanka on March 14, the Filipino tax agency announced on May 17, 2018. They will be effective from January 1, 2019.
Jordan's Minister of Planning and International Cooperation met with Luxembourg's Finance Minister to discuss enhanced cooperation between the two countries in a number of areas and agreed to seek to conclude a DTA.
Uzbekistan and Lithuania are to engage in talks towards a DTA, Uzbekistan's state news agency reported May 9, 2018.
Two Georgian committees approved the text of a DTA with Saudi Arabia and forwarded it for ratification, according to a May 17 announcement on the Georgian parliament's website.
Hong Kong gazetted an order to ratify its DTA with Saudi Arabia on May 18, 2018.
Talks are continuing on a DTA between Turkey and Afghanistan, according to a statement released by Turkey's Ministry of the Interior on May 11, 2018.
A new DTA between Finland and Spain will enter into force in January 2019, according to a May 18, 2018, announcement from the Finnish tax authority.
Andorra and Cyprus have signed a DTA, Andorra's Government announced on May 18, 2018.
Singapore and Brazil signed a DTA on May 7, 2018.
A DTA between Morocco and the Congo was signed on April 30, 2018.
The Mauritius Revenue Authority on March 19, 2018, published Government Notice No. 36 of 2018, confirming the entry into force of a Protocol updating its DTA with Barbados.
Legislation allowing for a DTA between the Netherlands and Malawi was ratified on April 30, 2018.
Switzerland and Brazil signed a DTA on May 3, 2018.
Slovakia on April 27, 2018, published Notice 123/2018 confirming the entry into force of its DTA with Ethiopia.
The Indian Government on May 7, 2018, announced that the DTA Protocol signed with Kuwait entered into force on March 26, 2018. A notice was published in India's Official Gazette on May 4, 2018.
The DTA between Slovakia and Iran became effective on May 1, 2018.