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    No tax cut for 'passive' companies

    In brief:    The reduced 27.5% corporate tax rate has applied since 1 July 2016 to companies that carry on business and have an aggregated turnover of less than $10M ($25M for the 2018 year of income). Exposure draft legislation has now been released to reduce the confusion about which companies would be taken to be carrying on business. However, rather than address that question, the draft legislation will apply the lower tax rate to companies that have aggregated turnover less than the specified threshold for the year and whose total assessable income comprises less than 80% of ‘passive income’.

    More:    Passive income for this purpose is to be defined as:

    •     dividends (but not those from holdings with voting rights of 10% or more); 
    •     non-share dividends by companies; 
    •     interest income, royalties and rent; 
    •     gains on qualifying securities; 
    •     capital gains; and 
    •     to the extent attributable to any of the above, amounts included in assessable income from a partnership or trust.

    The 80% passive income test is an annual one so must be determined each year. The threshold is arbitrary so some odd results are possible. For example, a corporate beneficiary may be eligible for the reduced rate on trust distributions attributable mainly to business income in the trust, provided that it carries on business itself and satisfies the 80% test overall. But a company carrying on business managing the rental of its commercial or residential properties would not. What constitutes carrying on business is still not defined. (Exposure Draft: Treasury Laws Amendment (Enterprise Tax Plan Base Rate Entities) Bill 2017)

    21 Sep 2017

    Topic: Income Tax

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