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Tax Considerations You Need to Know About Family Trusts in Australia

A trust is a legal arrangement enabling the transfer of assets to beneficiaries in a tax-efficient manner. However, navigating the establishment and management of one’s own family trust tax rate can be complex, involving numerous tax implications. In this blog, we will explore several vital tax considerations essential for understanding family trusts in Australia, including:

What is a family trust and how does it operate?

What are the benefits of establishing a family trust?

What tax obligations does a family trust entail?

What is a family trust and how does it function?

A family trust is an agreement designed to benefit your family members. It involves a trustee who manages assets such as money or property on behalf of other individuals, known as beneficiaries. The trustee may be an individual, a company, or a combination of both. Beneficiaries typically include family members such as spouses, children, or grandchildren. The establishment of a family trust is formalized through a legal document called a trust deed, which outlines the trustee's responsibilities, limitations, and the rules governing the trust.

The family trust is formed via a legal instrument called a trust document. This document outlines the regulations and provisions that govern the trust, encompassing its guidelines and limitations, including:

  • Identification of the trustees and beneficiaries
  • Specification of the trust's assets and income
  • Guidelines on how the trustee can distribute the trust income and capital to the beneficiaries
  • Procedures for varying or terminating the trust

The family trust may comprise various asset types, including coins, shares, assets, or business activities. Trust income typically includes interest, dividends, rent, or profits generated by the trust assets.

What are the benefits of a family trust?

The benefits of a family trust are numerous, including:

Asset protection: A family trust can safeguard your assets from various risks such as creditors, legal disputes, or family disagreements. For example, if you or your beneficiaries face financial difficulties, divorce proceedings, or lawsuits, assets held within the trust may be protected from being accessed by external parties.

Income distribution flexibility: With a family trust, you have the flexibility to distribute income to your beneficiaries in a tax-efficient manner. For instance, you can allocate trust income to beneficiaries with lower tax rates, such as your spouse, children, or grandchildren. By doing so, you can potentially reduce the overall tax liability of your family.

Engaging with a reputable tax accountant in Perth can further enhance the benefits of a family trust by devising strategies to optimize income distribution and maximize tax efficiency. Their expertise can ensure that your family trust operates effectively to protect your assets and minimize tax obligations.

Tax concessions:

A family trust can also provide you with some tax concessions, such as:

The trust income is not taxed at the trust level, but rather at the beneficiary level. This means that the trust itself does not incur any income tax; instead, the beneficiaries are taxed on their portion of the trust income according to their individual tax rates.

You can transfer assets to the trust without triggering any capital gains tax (CGT) or stamp duty. This allows you to transfer your assets to the trust without being liable for tax on the increase in value or the transfer of ownership.

The trust may be eligible for the 50% CGT discount on the disposal of certain assets held for more than twelve months.

These tax concessions can offer significant advantages in managing tax obligations and maximizing the benefits of the family trust structure.

What are the tax obligations of a family trust?

A family trust also has some tax obligations that you need to be aware of, such as:

Trustee Tax: If the trustee does not distribute all of the trust income to beneficiaries within a financial year, the trustee may be liable to pay tax on the undistributed income at the highest marginal tax rate (currently 45% plus the Medicare levy). This prevents the trustee from accumulating trust income and deferring the tax payment.

Trust loss rules: If the trust incurs a loss in a financial year, it cannot distribute the loss to beneficiaries or carry it forward to offset future profits. The trust can only use the loss to reduce its income in subsequent years, subject to meeting certain tests and conditions.

Trust tax return: A family trust must lodge an annual tax return to report its income, deductions, and tax offsets. The trust itself does not pay tax unless it has undistributed income or non-resident beneficiaries.

Family Trust Election(FTE): A family trust must lodge an annual tax return to report its income, deductions, and tax offsets. The trust itself does not pay tax unless it has undistributed income or non-resident beneficiaries.

Compliance with these tax obligations is essential to ensure that the family trust operates within the framework of tax laws and regulations. Seeking advice from qualified tax accountants specializing in trust taxation can help ensure that the trust meets its obligations and maximizes available tax concessions.


In conclusion, family trusts serve as valuable tools for asset protection, tax optimization, and wealth preservation in Australia. With the guidance of knowledgeable tax accountants in Perth, individuals can confidently navigate the intricacies of trust taxation. By ensuring compliance, minimizing tax liabilities, and strategically optimizing financial outcomes, families can safeguard their assets and secure lasting benefits for future generations.

If you have any questions about maximizing your financial well-being, please feel free to contact one of our Bookkeeper / Tax Agent / Tax Accountant at 0893860047. Let’s shape your success together!