The ATO has released Taxpayer Alert TA 2017/1 to say it is reviewing arrangements that try to fragment integrated trading businesses to re-characterise trading income as more favourably taxed passive income. The ATO is concerned with cases where a single business is divided in a contrived way into separate businesses. The business income expected to be subject to company tax is artificially diverted into a trust and, on distribution from the trust, that income is ultimately subject to no tax or to a lesser rate than the corporate rate of tax.
The ATO explains that “stapled structures” are one mechanism being used in these arrangements, but the review will not be limited to arrangements involving stapled structures.
TIP: Taxpayer Alert 2014/1 deals with similar arrangements where trusts “mischaracterise” property development receipts as concessionally taxed capital gains to obtain a lower tax rate.