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ATO family trust changes a threat to small business

ATO changes to family trusts under the ‘Bamford decision’ will see Australian businesses subject to cost and time burdens in order to comply with two landmark rulings yesterday from the ATO effective July 1 2010.

ATO Family Trust ChangesUp to 70 percent of the two million small and medium sized businesses that operate under a family trust structure in Australia will face paying $5000 to $10,000 in consulting fees or risk an increased tax burden both in relation to future income and in some instances past distributions.

The ATO’s decision impact statement and its UPE ruling will necessitate a complete rethink on how assets are held, how a business is operated and structured and how economic growth is funded. The result of both of these ATO actions will lead to higher tax rates for businesses and less cash being available for business growth.

“These rulings present the biggest compliance speed hump for Australian businesses since the introduction of GST. As the Federal Government is trying to lessen the tax burden on small business via its budget measures, the two actions announced by the ATO have the capacity to actually increase the tax burden on small businesses,” says BDO Tax Director Brian Richards.

Mr Richards said the new rulings would undoubtedly affect the 70 per cent of Australian businesses that are built on a trust structure.

“These rulings will affect businesses in two ways. Firstly, businesses will have to ensure that existing trust deeds are compliant with the new ruling,” Mr Richards said.

“Secondly, businesses may need to think about how assets are held, how a business is operated and structured and how economic growth is funded. Either way, Australian small businesses lose out on these two new rulings.”

The application of the Bamford decision will apply from July 1, 2010, and the taxation ruling on unpaid present entitlements will apply from December 16, 2009, and in some cases retrospectively if the prior accounting treatment of the unpaid present entitlement was shown as a loan in the financial accounts.

Full details of the Bamford decision can be found on the ATO’s website here.

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David Olsen

David Olsen

An undercover economist and a not so undercover geek. Politics, business and psychology nerd and anti-bandwagon jumper. Can be found on Twitter: <a href="http://www.twitter.com/DDsD">David Olsen - DDsD</a>

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