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New Reporting and Disclosure Requirements for Trusts in South Africa

lawyer  signing trust deed with trustees
Trusts - know the law

Introduction: South Africa has recently implemented new reporting and disclosure requirements for trusts, aiming to enhance transparency and compliance with tax regulations. These changes have significant implications for trustees and beneficiaries of trusts. This article will explore the key aspects of the new regulations and their impact on trust administration and taxation in South Africa.

  1. New Reporting Requirements for Trusts: Effective from 1 April 2023, South Africa has introduced new rules requiring trusts to disclose the beneficial ownership of assets [1]. These rules make trustees third-party providers of data for the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and aim to improve transparency regarding trust asset ownership.

  2. Penalties for Noncompliance: Noncompliance with the new reporting requirements can result in high and onerous penalties. Therefore, it is crucial for trustees to seek assistance and ensure compliance to avoid penalties and legal consequences [1].

  3. Additional Disclosure Requirements due to Grey Listing: South Africa's placement on the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) "grey list" has led to the introduction of additional disclosure requirements for trusts [2]. These requirements aim to demonstrate timely access to accurate and up-to-date beneficial ownership information on legal persons and arrangements, as well as applying sanctions for violations [2].

  4. Impact on Estate Planning and Asset Protection: Trusts have long been used as estate planning mechanisms in South Africa. They provide benefits such as asset protection, minimizing taxes, maintaining privacy, and controlling the transfer of assets across generations [5]. However, the new regulations necessitate careful consideration and compliance to ensure the continued effectiveness of trusts for these purposes.

  5. Capital Gains Tax and Section 7C: Any disposal, such as selling assets to a trust or company, triggers capital gains tax [7]. Section 7C of the Income Tax Act addresses interest-free loans made to trusts and imposes taxation on such loans [7]. It is essential for trustees and founders to understand the tax implications and comply with these provisions to avoid penalties.

  6. Trust Administration and Compliance: Trustees must establish a bank account for the trust, as it is a legal requirement [3]. Keeping the trust's accounts up to date, complying with due process, and fulfilling financial obligations through the trust's bank account are crucial [3]. Failure to maintain accurate records and comply with regulations may result in legal complications and challenges from creditors.

Conclusion: The new reporting and disclosure requirements for trusts in South Africa reflect the country's commitment to enhance transparency and compliance with tax regulations. Trustees must ensure they understand and comply with these regulations to avoid penalties and legal consequences. Seeking professional assistance is advisable to navigate the complex landscape of trust administration and taxation in South Africa.

References: [1] EY. (2023, May 8). South Africa | New reporting requirements for trusts. Retrieved from [2] KPMG. (2023, April 12). South Africa: Additional disclosure requirements for trusts. Retrieved from [3] South African Revenue Service (SARS). (n.d.). Taxation in South Africa. Retrieved from [5] BusinessTech. (n.d.). Major changes for trusts in South Africa, affecting wealthy taxpayers. Retrieved from


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