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Updated on 6 April 2024

Paying tax on trust and estate income

If you receive some income from either a trust or from the estate of a deceased person, you may have further tax to pay on the income or you may be able to claim a tax refund. In some cases, you are taxable on trust income even if you do not receive it, but you can follow the guidance below as if you had received it.

Our guidance here is only relevant to trusts that are not settlor interested (which basically means that the person who put the money into the trust can still get a benefit from it). If you want to read about settlor interested trusts, visit GOV.UK.

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Receiving money from a trust

If you are the beneficiary of a trust, the trustees might pay money to you from the trust (sometimes called a ‘distribution’). The way this money is then taxed on you depends on the type of trust and the nature of the payment – in particular, whether the payment you receive is an income distribution or a capital distribution. In this guidance we look at the tax position where an income distribution is made to you. We explain more about the different types of trust in our page Trusts and estates.

Bare trusts

If the trust is a bare trust, then any income arising within the trust is taxable on you as though you owned the trust assets personally. This is regardless of whether the income is actually paid to you. In this case, the trustees should let you know what income needs to be declared on your own tax return.

For example, if you are the beneficiary of a bare trust that owns a rental property, the trustees would need to let you have full details of the income and expenses of the rental property so that you are able to complete the property pages of your own tax return.

Discretionary trusts

If your payment is from a discretionary trust, then the trustees will have paid tax at the additional rate (45% in 2024/25) before the income is paid to you.

The trustees should provide you with a form R185 (trust income), setting out the net amount of the distribution paid to you and the tax credit. This tax credit is 45% (in 2024/25) of the gross distribution. We explain more about this on our page Trusts and estates.

Regardless of the type of income received by the trust, you are treated as receiving one type of income – trust income. If you complete a tax return each year, you need to include the income on the Trusts etc pages. For more information, see below.

If you pay tax at a lower rate than the tax deducted from your trust income, you will be able to get a tax refund. You can read how to claim your tax refund in our page Tax refunds. If no income tax was paid by the trust on the distribution made to you, then you will need to pay tax - unless your total income, including the trust distribution, falls within your personal allowance for the year.

Interest in possession trusts

If the income you have received is from an interest in possession trust, then the trustees may have paid tax on the income before it is paid to you. An exception to this is if the trust falls into the rules for low-income trusts which apply from 2024/25, in which case no income tax would have been payable by the trustees. We explain more about this on our page Trusts and estates.

Assuming the trust is taxable, interest in possession trusts are taxed at the basic rate. The trustees should provide you with a form R185 (trust income) and the distribution will be shown in the section titled ‘non-discretionary income entitlement from a trust’.

The trust income may have been taxed at a variety of tax rates, depending on the type of income received by the trust. This means you need to put the different types of income into separate boxes on the trust pages of your tax return, following the instructions on the R185 form.

If tax was paid by the trustees, it may also mean that you may be able to claim a tax refund, for example if you have not used your personal savings allowance or dividend allowance. This is because any savings and dividend income you receive from the trust will have had tax paid on it by the trust, but in your hands, no tax might be due on it. You can read how to claim a tax refund in our page Tax refunds.

Be aware, though, that the maximum rate of tax deducted from this type of income is UK basic rate (20% in 2024/25). This might mean that you have to pay extra tax on the income if you are a higher rate taxpayer or above.

Income from a deceased estate

Your income from the estate will be taxed in a similar way as the trust income from an interest in possession trust, as described above.

A key difference from 2024/25 onwards, however, is that if the estate falls within the low-income estate rules (in other words, it had total income of less than £500 and is not taxable), then that income will also not be taxable on the beneficiary when distributed. This is different to the position for trusts, where any distribution remains taxable on the beneficiary regardless of whether any tax was paid by the trustees.

If the estate was taxable, the administrators of the estate should provide you with form R185 (estate income) providing details of this income.

If you complete a tax return, you will need to put the figures from form R185 on the Trusts etc pages of the tax return (see below). There is also more information on the R185. If you do not normally pay tax, or if the income from the estate would be covered by your personal savings allowance or dividend allowance, then you may be able to claim a refund. You can read how to claim a tax refund in our in our page Tax refunds

Tax return reporting

As noted in the information above, you have to put trust income (other than bare trust income) and estate income (other than estate income which is exempt under the low-income estate rules) on the Trusts etc pages of the tax return. You will need to do this using the information shown on forms R185 (trust income) and/or R185 (estate income).

You can use the trusts pages if you fill in a paper tax return. This usually needs to be submitted by 31 October after the end of the tax year to which it relates. This means 31 October 2025 for the tax year ending 5 April 2025.

If you fill in your tax returns online, you have a longer filing date. This is 31 January 2026 for the tax year ending 5 April 2025. However, you cannot use HMRC’s own online filing system to send them a tax return including trust and estate income which would go on the trusts pages of the paper return. You can file online, but you have to use third-party software and make sure the version you use supports filing of the trust pages. For details of available software, see GOV.UK.

Further information

You can read more information about trusts on GOV.UK.

There is more information on bereavement generally in our page Bereavement: tax issues on death.

Scottish taxpayers should also read the information in our page Scottish income tax.

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