Government Starts Consultation On Rewriting Trust Income Tax Provisions
24 November 2011 at 9:38 am
The Federal Government has released a consultation paper as part of a move to update the taxation of trusts, including charitable trusts.
The Government says it is updating and rewriting the trust income tax provisions to increase certainty and reduce compliance costs for the many hundreds of thousands of taxpayers that use trusts, according to Assistant Federal Treasurer Bill Shorten.
“This is not a ‘crack down’ on the use of trusts. The Government considers that, where used appropriately, trusts are a legitimate structure through which Australians should be able to conduct their personal and business affairs — not a form of tax avoidance.”
“The review will give the trustees and beneficiaries of over 660,000 trusts the opportunity to have a say in their own financial future,” said Shorten.
The consultation paper explores the impediments to the effective operation of the trust income tax provisions in the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936, as well as those hampering the effective taxation of trusts more broadly.
"The consultation paper highlights a number of options for reform to ensure businesses and individuals can continue to use trusts with confidence. The options are designed to achieve fair and consistent tax outcomes, while assuring the community that using trusts does not provide inappropriate opportunities to manipulate the tax system," he said.
Charitable Trusts and Foundations refer to endowed funds set up in perpetuity. They distribute funds to organizations that have charitable status.
The Board of Taxation considered issues surrounding the definition of 'fixed trust' as part of its review of the tax arrangements applying to managed investment trusts (MITs).
On 7 May 2010, the Government announced that MITs with clearly defined rights will be treated as fixed trusts.
The Government says it is aware that the current restrictive definition of 'fixed trust' is an issue for trusts other than MITs and considers that a review of different options for a more workable approach is warranted. Treasury says will release a separate discussion paper on the appropriateness of the current definition of 'fixed trust' for public consultation early next year.
The updating and rewriting of the trust income tax provisions responds to Recommendation 36 of Australia's Future Tax System review, which was conducted by an independent panel chaired by former Treasury Secretary, Dr Ken Henry.
Copies of the consultation paper can be obtained from the Treasury website. The closing date for submissions is 10 February 2012.