Treasury Laws Amendment (2019 Measures No 3) Bill 2019 has passed both Houses of Parliament and is now law.
Testamentary trusts and minors
This legislation contains amendments to ensure the tax concessions available to minors in relation to income from a testamentary trust only apply in respect of income generated from assets of the deceased estate that are transferred to the testamentary trust (or the proceeds of the disposal or investment of those assets).
Broadly speaking, when a trustee distributes income to a minor it is taxed at the highest marginal rate (plus Medicare levy). However, there are certain exceptions to this rule. One such exception is where the trust is a testamentary trust – being a trust that was established as a result of the will of a deceased individual. Income from a testamentary trust is a type of ‘excepted trust income’ that is generally taxed at ordinary rates.
Prior to this legislation being passed, the previously existing law did not specify that the assessable income of the testamentary trust be derived from assets of the deceased estate (or assets representing assets of the deceased estate). As a result, assets unrelated to a deceased estate that were injected into a testamentary trust may, subject to anti-avoidance rules, generate excepted trust income that was not subject to the higher tax rates on minors. This was an unintended consequence, which allowed some taxpayers to inappropriately obtain the benefit of concessional tax treatment.
This legislation clarifies that excepted trust income of the testamentary trust must be derived from assets transferred to the testamentary trust from the deceased estate or from the accumulation of such income.
This change will apply in relation to assets acquired by or transferred to the trustee of a testamentary trust on or after 1 July 2019.
Please contact our office if you have any concerns about testamentary trusts making distributions to minor beneficiaries.