Tuesday, November 29, 2022

(out of) ‘Control’** of family trusts

Under the capital gains tax small business concessions, what amounts to ‘control’ of a discretionary trust is an important issue. 

In this regard, a key aspect relates to the concept of whether the trustee of a trust ‘acts, or could reasonably be expected to act, in accordance with the directions or wishes of another person or entity’.

Arguably, the leading analysis of these rules is in the case of Gutteridge v Commissioner of Taxation [2013] AATA 947.

Briefly, the case involved sale of assets by the corporate trustee of a traditional family trust (Trust).

The sole director and shareholder of the corporate trustee was Ms McKenzie, who also controlled another company (Company).

The principal of the Trust was as third party professional adviser to the family (Mr Coffey), who provided evidence that he would always follow any directions from Ms McKenzie’s father (Mr Gutteridge) including, if necessary, removing a trustee from that role. In turn Mr Coffey confirmed he would disregard any instructions from Ms McKenzie that were contrary to those provided by Mr Gutteridge.

The Tax Office denied access to the small business concessions on the basis that Ms McKenzie controlled both the Trust and Company.

The court held however that the Trust ultimately acted in accordance with the directions of Mr Gutteridge and therefore Ms McKenzie did not control it.

The Trust was therefore able to access the small business concessions.

The case ultimately reinforces that the rules are highly dependent upon the factual matrix of each case.

As usual, please contact me if you would like access to any of the content mentioned in this post.

** For the trainspotters, the title of today's post is riffed from the Chemical Brothers song 'Out of control’.

View here: