Tax Facts

Tax Facts contains news and alerts relating to tax practice, for the benefit of accountants and other professionals in public practice. Please click on the links below for recent issues. You may also like to peruse Tax Facts by topic category - topics are listed below to the right.

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  • Disclaimer by a discretionary trust beneficiary retrospectively avoided payroll tax grouping

    In brief:    The New South Wales Supreme Court has held that a disclaimer of his interest as a discretionary trust object was valid to retrospectively end a person’s rights to benefit from the time those rights were created. This was sufficient to break the payroll tax grouping between several entities controlled by 2 brothers, the group determined by the Chief Commissioner having included a company in liquidation with substantial outstanding payroll tax assessments.

    More:    This case is another that confirms the enthusiasm by State payroll tax authorities for the grouping of entities. Grouping is a very useful mechanism for those authorities since each member of a group is jointly and severally liable for the payroll tax liabilities of all group members. And discretionary trust objects are typically deemed to have more than a 50% interest, readily enabling grouping through broad beneficiary classes in discretionary trusts. That is the real issue – having extraordinarily wide beneficiary classes is an outdated practice that creates problems, rather than serving any useful purpose. And that is why Tax Strategies’ trusts are created quite differently and will not facilitate payroll tax grouping through such tenuous connections. (Smeaton Grange Holdings Pty Ltd v Chief Commissioner of State Revenue (NSW) [2016] NSWSC 1594)

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    15 Dec 2016

    Topic: State Taxes/Trusts

  • No small business CGT concessions because of fuel reimbursements

    In brief:    The Full Federal Court has held that there was no error by the AAT in concluding that the $2M turnover test had not been satisfied and that, consequently, no small business CGT concessions applied on the sale of mining tenements. The case turned on whether disbursements totalling $55,106 for fuel costs under 2 contracts constituted ‘*ordinary income that the entity *derives in the income year in the ordinary course of carrying on a *business.’ (s 328-120(1)). The AAT had held that receipts from fuel disbursements were ordinary income, despite the normal practice that customers of the drilling contractor provided fuel and the initial contracts for the 2 relevant drilling jobs required the customers to provide fuel.

    More:    The taxpayer’s drilling company was a ‘connected entity’ and had undertaken drilling exploration on the mining tenements from which the taxpayer derived the capital gain. And the Commissioner had accepted that the basic conditions for the small business CGT concessions would have been satisfied if the drilling company’s annual turnover had been less than $2M for the previous year of income. This case continues the steady stream relating to the small business CGT concessions and illustrates how important it is to step through each of the relevant tests for the concessions in fine detail. (Doutch v Commissioner of Taxation [2016] FCAFC 166)

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    15 Dec 2016

    Topic: CGT/Income Tax

  • Breaches of directors' duties used for tax collection

    In brief:    Company liquidators have successfully argued that the participation by directors (including a de facto director) in a tax evasion scheme breached various directors’ duties. The scheme involved back-to-back loans into Australia with untaxed offshore funds accumulated by the brothers who built the Nudie juice business. Tax debts owing by the companies were held to be part of the losses caused by such breaches and were consequently recoverable from the directors by the liquidators.

    More:    This case is the latest in a number involving the Binetter family, arising from Project Wickenby. It illustrates a relatively novel approach to the collection of tax debts owing by presumably insolvent companies, establishing a pathway for liquidators direct to the directors. The case is also a good reminder that it is a mistake to focus solely on tax laws, including in relation to legitimate tax planning arrangements – many arrangements are undone not by failings necessarily related to tax, but instead related to aspects of the general law. (BCI Finances Pty Ltd (in liq) v Binetter (No 4) [2016] FCA 1351)

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    15 Dec 2016

    Topic: Income Tax

  • Draft LCGs issued for new super reforms

    In brief:    The Commissioner has issued several draft Law Companion Guidelines in relation to the super reforms commencing on 1 July 2017. Two relate to defined benefit interests but the other 2 are particularly relevant to SMSFs. LCG 2016/D8 covers the transitional CGT relief for assets supporting exempt income streams and which are affected by the $1.6M transfer balance cap or loss of exemption relating to TRIS pensions. LCG 2016/D9 provides guidance about how the $1.6M transfer balance cap operates for account based income streams.

    More:    These LCGs will be useful in helping practitioners digest the new reforms and their implications for clients in various circumstances. That will include potential impacts on estate planning, particularly where reversionary pensions will cause the $1.6M cap to be exceeded after the death of a primary pensioner (although there will be a 12 month window to adjust benefits for the reversionary pensioner in that case). In addition to decisions about potential rearrangements relating to existing income streams and adopting the transitional CGT relief, planning prior to 1 July 2017 should also include maximising both concessional and non-concessional contributions where appropriate.

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    15 Dec 2016

    Topic: SMSFs/CGT/Income Tax