Timing of resolutions
Trustees (or directors of a trustee company) need to consider and decide on the distributions they plan to make by 30 June 2020 at the latest (the trust deed may actually require this to be done earlier). Decisions made by the trustees should be documented in writing, preferably by 30 June 2020.
If valid resolutions are not in place by 30 June 2020, the risk is that the taxable income of the trust will be assessed in the hands of a default beneficiary (if the trust deed provides for this) or the trustee (in which case the highest marginal rate of tax would normally apply).
Low income tax offset and minors reminder
The low-income offset has not been available to minors who only receive ‘unearned’ income (e.g. distributions from a discretionary trust) since the 2013 income year. Minors who only receive ‘unearned’ income will normally be subject to penalty rates of tax on income that exceeds $416.
Normal marginal tax rates can potentially still apply to minors who receive distributions from a deceased estate or testamentary trust.
Streaming of franked dividends and capital gains
Trustees are only able to stream franked dividends (and the franking credits that are attached to those dividends) to a particular beneficiary for tax purposes if the beneficiary’s entitlement to the franked dividends is recorded in writing by 30 June 2020. For streaming of capital gains to be effective for tax purposes, the beneficiary’s entitlement must be recorded in writing by 30 June if the capital gains form part of trust income for the year or 31 August if the capital gains do not form part of trust income.
We can assist you with this process if you do wish to stream franked dividends or capital gains to specific beneficiaries.
Tax exempt entities
If a trustee resolves to distribute income to a tax-exempt entity, the trustee will be assessed on that income at the top marginal tax rate unless:
- The trustee actually pays the entire distribution within 2 months of the end of the income year; or
- The trustee notifies the entity in writing of its entitlement within 2 months of the end of the income year.
Also, anti-avoidance rules tax the trustee on a portion of the income distributed to a tax-exempt entity where there is a mismatch between the net financial benefit to be received by the entity and the tax treatment of the distribution.