Monday, May 30, 2011

2011 Federal Budget and deceased estates

Three relatively obscure changes announced in the budget recently have important implications for those in the estate planning space, namely –

1. Legislating the current Tax Office practice (see Practice Statement LA 2003/12) of allowing a testamentary trust to distribute an asset of a deceased person without a capital gains tax (CGT) taxing point occurring.

This is an important clarification and provides confirmation that there are effectively three CGT rollovers in deceased estates; that is -

(a) will maker to legal personal representative (LPR);

(b) LPR to testamentary trust; and

(c) testamentary trust to a beneficiary.

Unfortunately the stamp duty position is not so clear in relation to this 'third' rollover from a testamentary trust to a beneficiary.

It should be noted that it will be necessary to continue to rely on PS LA 2003/12 for the immediate future as the changes will only apply to CGT events happening on or after the day the legislation receives Royal Assent.

2. The Commissioner will be given a discretion to extend the two-year ownership period in which the trustee of a deceased estate (or beneficiary) must dispose of their interest in the deceased's dwelling to access a CGT main residence exemption.

This is also important as the two-year ownership period is currently the only CGT event where it is the date of completion (as opposed to the date of contract) that is the relevant date for CGT purposes.

3. Finally, as most will have seen, the relatively minor tax planning opportunity in relation to unearned income derived by minors through family trusts (via the low income tax offset) has been removed with effect from 1 July 2011. The indications seem to be that there will be no change however to the excepted trust income rules for minors receiving distributions via testamentary trusts.

Until next week.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Unpaid present entitlement warning

As those of you who sat through our webinars over the last few months in relation to unpaid present entitlements (UPEs) would know, there can be a number of traps in relation to the provisions of a trust deed in the context of the Tax Office’s approach in this area.

Arguably, the most concerning trust deed provision that we have seen in recent times is a clause in the deed of a relatively high profile provider that on a plain reading of the deed automatically causes any UPE to become a loan at call.

Obviously, this provision can have significantly adverse consequences, particularly for those clients wishing to 'quarantine' UPEs that existed as at 16 December 2009.

Until next week.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Business licences

The combination of the Bamford decision and the Tax Office’s attitude in relation to unpaid present entitlements have meant that we have spent a significant amount of time recently looking at optimal structures for business and investment purposes.

One approach that we have seen an increasing number of clients and advisers consider where a business is owned by a discretionary trust, is the licensing of that business to a trading company.

Obviously, there are a number of tax and stamp duty issues that need to be considered in relation to this approach.

A recent case however seems to confirm that at least in relation to the philosophical legal questions, this kind of approach is now available.

For those who are interested to learn more, a copy of the decision is at the link below. One of the most important paragraphs in the decision is number 42, which highlights the distinction between a goodwill licence and a business licence.

Until next week.

Monday, May 9, 2011

UPE deadline day rapidly approaching

Over the last couple of weeks, we have seen a significant increase in the level of enquiry about the appropriate strategies to adopt for clients that have trusts with unpaid present entitlements (UPE) owing to corporate beneficiaries.

For some months leading advisers have recommended that any specific steps be delayed for as long as possible on the basis (and hope) that there might be some relaxation or unwinding of the position adopted by the Tax Office. Indeed, there have also been rumours of a test case being run.

Given that it now appears increasingly likely that there will be nothing of substance changing the current rules before 30 June 2011, advisers and clients in this area now have less than eight weeks to have adopted one of the 'safe harbours' provided by the Tax Office.

Until next week.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Keeping it simple with company set ups

Following the last post, I had a question in relation to how the secretary position of the sole director company was resolved.

Interestingly due to relatively recent changes to the Corporations Act, there is now no longer a requirement to have a secretary for a proprietary limited company.

For those interested to explore the provisions in this regard further, the particular section of the Corporations Act is Section 204A(1).

Until next week.