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HMRC internal manual

Trusts, Settlements and Estates Manual

Ownership and income tax: legal background: ownership: legal and beneficial ownership - interaction

The starting point is that the legal owner is presumed to be the beneficial owner unless there is evidence to the contrary.

In the case of Stack v Dowden [2007] 2 All ER 929, Baroness Hale of Richmond, who gave the leading judgment, commented on the general principle that ‘The onus is upon the person seeking to show that the beneficial ownership is different from the legal ownership’ and ‘The burden will be on the person seeking to show that the parties did intend their beneficial interests to be different from their legal interests, and in what way. This is not a task to be lightly embarked upon.’

For further detail about the legal background to the two types of ownership and how they interact, see TSEM6018.

TSEM9150 deals with the separation of legal and beneficial ownership.