Table of Contents

Introduction

Understanding Family Trust Elections (FTE) and Interposed Entity Elections (IEE) is crucial in the context of Australian tax for several reasons:

1. Tax Planning: FTE and IEE are critical decisions with long-standing implications. They play a significant role in tax planning and can impact the transfer of family assets to the next generation.

2. Tax Compliance: FTE and IEE are complex areas of trust compliance. Understanding these elections is essential for complying with tax laws and regulations.

3. Financial Management: FTE and IEE can influence the financial management of trusts. They need to be front of mind when administering a client’s tax affairs, especially distribution decisions, as these may result in Family Trust Distribution Tax (FTDT) liabilities.

4. Avoiding Tax Liabilities: Incorrect or inappropriate use of FTE and IEE can lead to substantial tax liabilities. For example, making a distribution outside the family group of the specified individual in the election can result in a special 47% tax known as the FTDT.

5. Annual Review: FTEs and IEEs shouldn’t be ‘set and forget’ by trustees or their tax professionals. They should be reviewed annually to consider if the election is still needed, whether it should be revoked, and whether the specified individual remains the most suitable person.

Given the complexity of these rules, it is essential to consult with a tax professional or financial advisor to understand how FTE and IEE apply to your specific situation.

A husband and wife holding a pair of shoes for a toddler. Filed under FTE and IEE.

Understanding family trust elections

In Australian tax law, FTE stands for Full Time Equivalent. It is a standard unit that measures the workload of an employee. An FTE is not the physical number of employees. To determine the total number of FTEs, businesses must count all hours worked by all employees and divide them against the standard-hour workload. This includes employees who are full-time, part-time, casual, fixed-term, shift workers, daily hire and weekly hire, apprentices and trainees, and outworkers.

The purpose of calculating FTE is to provide a more accurate reflection of business productivity, overall employee utilization, and business operating needs. It is also important for businesses to know their exact FTE number to determine their eligibility for government subsidies and grant programs. FTE offers a cohesive view of the labor force and can be used to more accurately calculate employee productivity and other metrics. It is also necessary to establish like-for-like benchmark comparisons.

Please note that this is a high-level overview and may not cover all aspects of FTE. The rules are subject to changes and amendments, so always refer to the most recent version or seek professional advice.

Family Trust Election (FTE) is a declaration made by a family trust to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to specify who is part of the family group for tax purposes. Here’s the process of making a valid FTE:

1. Determine Eligibility: The first step is to determine if your trust is eligible to make an FTE. Generally, discretionary trusts are eligible.

2. Identify the Family Group: Identify the individual around whom the family group is formed. This individual is known as the “test individual”. The family group includes the test individual, their spouse, parents, siblings, children, and their lineal descendants.

3. Make the Election: The election is usually made in the trust tax return for the income year you want it to apply. It must specify the test individual and the income year for which it applies.

4. Lodge the Election: Lodge the election with the ATO. The election must be made in writing and signed by the trustee or a registered tax agent.

5. Keep Records: Keep records of the election and all relevant documents for at least five years.

Please note that once an FTE is made, it cannot be revoked or varied. Therefore, it’s important to consider the implications carefully and seek professional advice before making an FTE. It’s also important to note that tax laws can change, and the information I provided is based on the most recent data available to me.

Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) is a standard measure that allows businesses to evaluate and compare the workload and contributions of employees, even when their work hours vary. Making an FTE can have several consequences:

1. Workforce Planning: FTE helps businesses understand the true capacity of their workforce. By converting part-time hours into FTE units, businesses can accurately assess staffing needs and avoid over or understaffing situations.

2. Budget Planning: FTE helps in budget planning by providing a clearer picture of labor costs. It allows companies to accurately forecast expenses related to salaries, benefits, and other workforce-related expenditures.

3. Benefits Administration: FTE calculations are crucial for determining eligibility for benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off. By understanding FTE, companies can ensure fairness and consistency in benefits administration.

4. Productivity Analysis: FTE provides a relatively accurate representation of labor demands across different periods. By calculating the FTE needed during peak and off-peak seasons, businesses can better comprehend the dynamic staffing needs and plan their hiring process strategically.

5. Financial Performance: Changes in FTE levels have a direct effect on overall financial performance. An increase in FTEs suggests higher workforce engagement and productivity, which can lead to economic expansion.

However, it’s important to note that while FTE can provide valuable insights, it’s just one of many metrics businesses should consider when making decisions. If you’re unsure about how to calculate or interpret FTE, it’s always a good idea to consult with a professional or use a reliable FTE calculator.

Making a Family Trust Election (FTE) in Australia can provide several benefits:

1. Tax Efficiency: Income can be distributed to beneficiaries in lower tax brackets, allowing the income to be taxed at lower rates, thereby reducing the overall tax liability.

2. Asset Protection: Assets held within a family trust are generally protected from personal financial troubles, like bankruptcy. This provides a level of security for the family’s wealth.

3. Estate Planning: A family trust can help manage and distribute assets after death without the need for a will. This can simplify the process and ensure that assets are distributed according to the wishes of the trust settlor.

4. Flexibility: Family trusts allow for adaptable distributions to beneficiaries. This means that the distribution of income can be adjusted each year to achieve the most beneficial tax outcome.

5. Access to Tax Concessions: Once a valid FTE has been made, the trust can access certain tax concessions. For example, a family trust is subject to concessional treatment under the trust loss measures.

6. Company Loss Tracing Concession: The company loss provisions allow a company that has a non-fixed trust as a shareholder to benefit from a tracing concession where that non-fixed trust is a family trust.

7. Access to Franking Credits: The holding period rules allow the trustee and beneficiaries of a family trust that receives a franked dividend or franked non-share dividend to benefit from a franking credit concession.

8. Simplified Reporting: Generally, family trusts are exempt from the Trustee Beneficiary Reporting (TBR) rules.

Given the complexity of these rules, it is essential to consult with a tax professional or financial advisor to understand how making an FTE applies to your specific situation.

Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) is a useful measure for businesses to understand their workforce capacity. However, there are potential drawbacks associated with relying solely on FTE as a measure of workforce productivity. Here are some key points:

1. Reduced Workforce Flexibility

Organizations with a high FTE ratio may find it challenging to adjust staffing levels quickly in response to fluctuating demand or changing business conditions.

2. Overlooking Indirect Costs

FTE calculations often focus on direct labor hours but may overlook indirect costs such as employee benefits, overhead expenses, and administrative overhead. Incorporating these factors into FTE analysis provides a more comprehensive understanding of total labor costs.

3. Health Risks

There could be potential health risks associated with full-time employment, such as increased risk for higher cholesterol, depression, anxiety, blood pressure, decreased happiness/life satisfaction, altered sleep quality, back pain, and general aggravation.

4. Limited Perspective

FTE provides a numerical perspective of the workforce, but it may not fully capture the qualitative aspects of employee performance, such as the quality of work, employee engagement, and job satisfaction.

Remember, while FTE is a useful tool for workforce management, it’s important to consider these potential drawbacks and complement FTE data with other metrics and qualitative assessments for a more holistic understanding of your workforce.

Example 1: Family Trust Election for Franking Credits

Let’s consider a family trust that owns shares in an Australian company and receives franked dividends. The trust decides to make a Family Trust Election (FTE) to ensure that the franking credits can be passed on to the beneficiaries.

Example 2: FTE for Losses

Suppose a family trust has incurred losses. The trust makes an FTE to allow the losses to be distributed among the beneficiaries. This can help reduce the beneficiaries’ taxable income.

Example 3: FTE for Restructuring

A family trust is part of a business restructure where the new small business restructure roll-over is accessed. The trust makes an FTE to bring the trust within the family group of another trust.

These examples illustrate how the FTE can be used in different scenarios. However, it’s important to note that the tax implications can vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to consult with a tax professional to understand how these rules apply to your specific situation.

For more detailed case studies, you might find resources from the Tax Institute helpful. They provide practical applications of family trust elections through case studies, including discussions on the income injection test, the 50% stake test, the control test, the pattern of distribution test, and the 45-day rule.

A toddler hugging his mother. Filed under FTE and IEE.

Understanding interposed entity elections

Interposed Entity Elections (IEE) are a part of the Australian tax law, specifically related to the treatment of trusts. Here’s a brief overview:

Definition: An Interposed Entity Election is required to treat an entity without fixed entitlements as being within the family group of an individual specified in a family trust election. This enables distributions to be made to the entity without exposure to Family Trust Distribution Tax (FTD).

Purpose: The purpose of making an Interposed Entity Election is to include a company, partnership, or trust in the family group of the individual specified in a family trust that has made a Family Trust Election (FTE). This allows the entity to receive distributions from the family trust without being subject to FTD.

When to Make an IEE: A company may make an IEE if it has previously made one or more elections specifying a day in an income year before the current income year, and at least one interposed entity election has not been revoked, in an income year before the current income year.

Revocation: Changes to section 272-85 of Schedule 2F to the ITAA 1936 now allow an interposed entity election to be revoked in limited circumstances.

Remember, the rules around Interposed Entity Elections are complex and it’s crucial to understand and apply them correctly to ensure compliance with the Australian Taxation Office’s regulations. If you’re unsure, it’s always a good idea to consult with a tax professional or the ATO directly.

Making an Interposed Entity Election (IEE) in Australia involves several steps:

1. Understanding the Conditions: Before making an IEE, it’s important to understand the conditions for making such an election. For instance, to make an IEE specifying a day in 2022–23, the trust (including fund), company, or partnership must pass the family control test in section 272-87 of Schedule 2F to the ITAA 1936 at the end of that year.

2. Completing the Form: The next step is to complete the Interposed Entity Election or Revocation form. This form is used for making an IEE in accordance with section 272-85 of Schedule 2F to the ITAA 1936 specifying a day in 2004–05 or a later year, or revoking an IEE effective from 2022–23 in accordance with subsections 272-85 (5A), (5C), and (6) of Schedule 2F to the ITAA 1936.

3. Sending the Form: Once the form is completed, it should be sent to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

Please note that the process of making an IEE can be complex and it’s recommended to consult with a tax professional or financial advisor to understand how it applies to your specific situation.

In Australian tax law, an Interposed Entity Election (IEE) is used to treat an entity without fixed entitlements as being within the family group of an individual specified in a Family Trust Election. Here are the conditions for making an IEE:

1. Family Control Test: To make an IEE specifying a day in 2022–23, the trust (including fund), company, or partnership must pass the family control test in section 272-87 of Schedule 2F to the ITAA 1936 at the end of that year. This test ensures that the entity is controlled by the family group.

2. Election Commencement Time: The IEE will only be in force from the election commencement time, which is the later of the specified day and the earliest time in 2022–23 from which the trust (including fund), company, or partnership passes the family control test continuously until the end of that year.

3. Same Individual in Family Trust Election: The trustees, company, or partners can make an IEE in accordance with section 272-85 of Schedule 2F to the ITAA 1936 that the trust (including fund), company, or partnership be included in the family group of the individual specified in a family trust election in respect of more than one trust, provided the individual specified in each family trust election is the same.

Please note that this is a high-level overview and may not cover all aspects of the conditions for making an IEE. The rules are subject to changes and amendments, so always refer to the most recent version or seek professional advice.

An Interposed Entity Election (IEE) is a declaration made by an entity to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to specify that it is part of the family group for tax purposes. Here are the main consequences of making an IEE:

1. Limited Distributions: The key consequence of making an IEE is that the distributions from the trust are limited to the family group and connected entities. An entity that has an IEE is also restricted to making distributions to other members of the family group.

2. Tax Penalties: Significant tax penalties apply if the rule of limiting distributions to the family group and connected entities is breached. This is known as the Family Trust Distribution Tax (FTDT).

3. Inclusion in Family Group: Making an IEE can make an entity a member of the family group of the individual specified in a Family Trust Election (FTE).

4. Irrevocability: Once an IEE has been made, it cannot be varied or revoked except in limited circumstances.

Please consult with a tax professional to understand how these rules apply to your specific situation. It’s important to note that tax laws can change, and the information I provided is based on the most recent data available to me.

While specific case studies or examples of Interposed Entity Elections (IEE) in practice are not readily available, here are some hypothetical scenarios to illustrate how IEE might work:

Scenario 1: Family Trust and Company

Suppose you have a family trust that has made a Family Trust Election (FTE) with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). The trust owns a company, and the company receives distributions from the trust. Without an IEE, these distributions could be subject to the Family Trust Distribution Tax (FTDT). By making an IEE, the company becomes part of the family group for the trust, and the distributions to the company are not subject to FTDT.

Scenario 2: Multiple Family Trusts

Consider a situation where you have two family trusts, Trust A and Trust B. Both trusts have made an FTE, but they have different test individuals, so they are not part of the same family group. If Trust A owns a stake in Trust B and receives distributions from Trust B, these distributions could be subject to FTDT. However, if Trust B makes an IEE, it becomes part of the family group for Trust A, and the distributions to Trust A are not subject to FTDT.

Remember, these are simplified examples and the actual application of IEE can be complex. It’s always a good idea to consult with a tax professional or the ATO directly for advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

A toddler sitting on his father's neck. Filed under FTE and IEE.

Comparing FTE and IEE

Family Trust Elections (FTE) and Interposed Entity Elections (IEE) are both important aspects of Australian tax law, particularly in relation to trusts. Here are some similarities and differences between them:

Similarities:

1. Purpose: Both FTE and IEE are designed to provide tax benefits and are used in the context of managing trusts.

2. Long-Term Implications: Both elections have long-standing implications and should be considered carefully.

3. Family Trust Distribution Tax (FTDT): Both FTE and IEE can result in a special 47% tax known as the FTDT if a distribution is made outside the family group of the specified individual in the election.

Differences:

1. Entity Type: An FTE is made by a trust to become a family trust for tax purposes. On the other hand, an IEE is made by an entity (which could be a company, partnership, or trust) that is interposed between a family trust and an individual or another entity.

2. Election Impact: Making an FTE can affect the trust’s ability to distribute income to beneficiaries and claim losses. In contrast, making an IEE can affect how distributions from the interposed entity to the family trust are treated for tax purposes.

3. Benefit Scope: The benefits of making an FTE are generally broader and include the ability to pass the income injection test for claiming prior year losses, the ability to satisfy the continuity of ownership test, and exemption from the Trustee Beneficiary Reporting rules. The benefits of making an IEE are more specific and relate to the tax treatment of distributions from the interposed entity.

Given the complexity of these rules, it is essential to consult with a tax professional or financial advisor to understand how FTE and IEE apply to your specific situation.

In Australian tax law, both Family Trust Elections (FTE) and Interposed Entity Elections (IEE) have their own specific purposes and benefits. The choice between the two depends on the specific circumstances of the trust and its beneficiaries. Here are some situations where one might be preferred over the other:

Family Trust Elections (FTE)

FTEs might be preferred when the trust receives franked dividends, has losses, owns shares in a company with losses, or wants to bring the trust within the family group of another trust.


FTEs are often made to access certain tax concessions, such as the trust loss measures, company loss tracing concession, holding period rules regulating access to franking credits, and trustee beneficiary reporting (TBR) rules.


However, once an FTE has been made, it cannot be varied or revoked except in limited circumstances. Therefore, it’s important to consider whether the election is needed and whether it can, and should be, revoked.

Interposed Entity Elections (IEE)

IEEs might be preferred when there’s a need to treat an entity without fixed entitlements as being within the family group of an individual specified in an FTE.
IEEs allow the test individual specified in an FTE to be changed only once, where the new test individual was a member of the original test individual’s family.
However, making an IEE can have implications for the distribution of income or capital of the family trust or an interposed entity.

In both cases, it’s important to consider the specific needs and circumstances of the trust and its beneficiaries, and to seek professional advice.

In the context of deceased estates, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in Australia is generally not directly applicable. Here’s why:

1. No GST on Inherited Assets: Generally, there are no GST implications for beneficiaries who inherit assets from a deceased estate. This is because the transfer of assets from a deceased estate to a beneficiary is not considered a supply for GST purposes.

2. GST and Real Estate: If the deceased estate includes real estate that was used in a business, there may be GST implications if the property is sold. However, if the property was used for private or residential purposes, the sale would likely be GST-free.

3. GST and Ongoing Businesses: If the deceased was running a business and the legal personal representative (LPR) continued to run the business after the person’s death, the LPR may have to account for GST on the business’s sales and purchases.

4. GST Registration: If the deceased was registered for GST, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) should be notified of the death as soon as possible. The GST registration may need to be canceled or transferred to the LPR.

Remember, each situation can be unique, and this is a general overview. For specific cases, it’s always a good idea to seek advice from a tax professional or the ATO.

A couple taking a walk with their toddler in the middle. Filed under FTE and IEE.

Practical implications for businesses

Family Trust Election (FTE) and Interposed Entity Election (IEE) can significantly impact business tax planning and strategy in Australia. Here’s how:

1. Tax Minimization: FTE and IEE can be used as part of a tax minimization strategy. By limiting distributions to family members and connected entities, businesses can potentially reduce their overall tax liability.

2. Asset Protection: FTE and IEE can also provide asset protection benefits. Assets held within a family trust are generally protected from creditors, which can be particularly beneficial for businesses operating in high-risk industries.

3. Succession Planning: FTE and IEE can play a key role in succession planning. They allow for the smooth transition of assets and wealth between generations, while minimizing tax implications.

4. Flexibility: FTE and IEE provide flexibility in distributing income among family members, which can lead to tax advantages. For example, income can be distributed to family members in lower tax brackets to reduce the overall tax liability.

5. Compliance: Making an FTE or IEE requires careful consideration and planning. There are strict rules and significant penalties for non-compliance. Therefore, businesses need to ensure they meet all the requirements and keep accurate records.

6. Long-term Commitment: Once an FTE or IEE is made, it is generally irrevocable. This means businesses need to consider the long-term implications of making such an election.

It’s important to note that the specific impact of FTE and IEE on business tax planning and strategy can vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to consult with a tax professional to understand how these rules apply to your specific situation.

When dealing with Australian tax law, including Interposed Entity Elections (IEE), there are several potential pitfalls and common mistakes to avoid:

1. Incorrect Classification of Income: Misclassifying income as Personal Services Income (PSI) when it’s not, or vice versa, can lead to incorrect tax obligations. It’s crucial to correctly classify your income as PSI or not.

2. Inaccurate Deductions: Certain expenses can be claimed against PSI, and knowing what these are can help reduce your taxable income. However, if you misclassify your income, you might claim deductions that you’re not entitled to, or miss out on deductions that you could have claimed.

3. Non-compliance with Reporting Requirements: The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) requires you to report PSI in your tax return, even if you’re a personal services business (PSB) and the PSI rules don’t apply to you. Misclassification can lead to non-compliance with these reporting requirements.

4. Potential Penalties: If the ATO finds that you’ve misclassified your income, you could face penalties, especially if the misclassification led to a lower tax liability.

5. Failing to Declare All Income: One of the most common mistakes is failing to declare all your income. This includes cash payments and income received from associate entities like director’s fees.

6. Claiming Ineligible Deductions: Another common mistake is claiming deductions that are not eligible. It’s important to understand what deductions you’re entitled to claim.

7. Not Keeping Accurate Records: Keeping accurate records is crucial when it comes to filing tax returns. This includes records of transactions, expense claims, and income received.

8. Failing to Lodge on Time: Lodging your tax return after the due date can result in penalties and interest charges.

9. Not Seeking Professional Advice: Tax laws can be complex and difficult to navigate. It’s always a good idea to seek advice from a tax professional or the ATO directly.

Remember, these are just some of the potential pitfalls and common mistakes to avoid. The Australian tax system is complex, and it’s crucial to understand and apply the rules correctly to ensure compliance with the ATO’s regulations.

An old couple sharing a kiss by the sea. Filed under FTE and IEE.

Conclusion

Seeking professional advice when considering Family Trust Elections (FTE) and Interposed Entity Elections (IEE) is of utmost importance for several reasons:

1. Complexity: Both FTE and IEE are complex areas of tax law. Misunderstanding or misapplying these rules can lead to significant tax liabilities.

2. Long-Term Implications: Making an FTE or IEE is a critical decision with long-standing implications. Once made, these elections are difficult to revoke and can have lasting effects on your tax situation.

3. Personalized Guidance: Every individual’s or business’s tax situation is unique. A tax professional can provide personalized guidance tailored to your specific circumstances.

4. Compliance: Tax professionals can help ensure that you’re complying with all relevant tax laws and regulations. This can prevent potential penalties and interest charges associated with incorrect tax filings.

5. Peace of Mind: Knowing that a professional is handling your tax matters can provide peace of mind. You can be confident that your tax affairs are in good hands.

Remember, tax laws are complex and constantly changing. It’s always a good idea to seek professional advice when making important tax decisions.