• Bonus shares

    Attention

    Warning:

    This information may not apply to the current year. Check the content carefully to ensure it is applicable to your circumstances.

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    Bonus shares are additional shares a shareholder receives for an existing holding of shares in a company. If you dispose of bonus shares received on or after 20 September 1985, you may make a capital gain. You may also have to modify the cost base and reduced cost base of your existing shares in the company if you receive bonus shares.

    The cost base and reduced cost base of bonus shares depend on whether the bonus shares are assessable as a dividend.

    As a result of changes to company and taxation laws, the paid-up value of bonus shares is now generally not assessable as a dividend. An exception to this rule is where you have the choice of being paid a cash dividend or of being issued shares under a dividend reinvestment plan. These shares are treated as dividends and the amount of the dividend is included in your assessable income.

    Table 3 explains how the time of issue of your bonus shares affects whether the paid-up value of the bonus shares is assessed as a dividend.

    Date

    Implications of timing of bonus shares

    From 20 September 1985 to 30 June 1987 inclusive

    Many bonus shares issued were paid out of a company’s asset revaluation reserve or from a share premium account. These bonus shares are not usually assessable dividends.

    From 1 July 1987 to 30 June 1998 inclusive

    The paid-up value of bonus shares issued is assessed as a dividend unless paid from a share premium account.

    From 1 July 1998

    The paid-up value of bonus shares issued is generally not assessed as a dividend unless you have the choice of being paid a dividend or being issued shares and you chose to be issued with shares.

    There are other, less common, circumstances where bonus shares will be assessed as a dividend, for example, where:

    • the bonus shares are being substituted for a dividend to give a tax advantage, or
    • the company directs bonus shares to some shareholders and dividends to others to give them a tax benefit.

    Flowchart 3.1 in appendix 3 summarises the different rules applying to different bonus shares issued on or after 20 September 1985.

    Bonus shares issued where no amount is assessed as a dividend

    Original shares acquired on or after 20 September 1985

    If your bonus shares relate to other shares that you acquired on or after 20 September 1985 (referred to as your original shares) your bonus shares are taken to have been acquired on the date you acquired your original shares. If you acquired your original shares at different times, you will have to work out how many of your bonus shares are taken to have been acquired at each of those times.

    Calculate the cost base and reduced cost base of the bonus shares by apportioning the cost base and reduced cost base of the original shares over both the original and the bonus shares. Effectively, this results in a reduction of the cost base and reduced cost base of the original shares. You also include any calls paid on partly paid bonus shares as part of the cost base and reduced cost base that is apportioned between the original and the bonus shares.

    Original shares acquired before 20 September 1985

    Your CGT obligations depend on when the bonus shares were issued and whether they are fully paid or partly paid. For more information, see flowchart 3.1 in appendix 3.

    Example 35: Fully paid bonus shares

    Chris bought 100 shares in MAC Ltd for $1 each on 1 June 1985. He bought 300 more shares for $1 each on 27 May 1986. On 15 November 1986, MAC Ltd issued Chris with 400 bonus shares from its capital profits reserve, fully paid to $1. Chris did not pay anything to acquire the bonus shares and no part of the value of the bonus shares was assessed as a dividend.

    For CGT purposes, the acquisition date of 100 of the bonus shares is 1 June 1985 (pre-CGT). Therefore, those bonus shares are not subject to CGT.

    The acquisition date of the other 300 bonus shares is 27 May 1986. Their cost base is worked out by spreading the cost of the 300 shares Chris bought on that date over both those original shares and the remaining 300 bonus shares. As the 300 original shares cost $300, the cost base of each share will now be 50 cents.

    End of example

     

    Example 36: Partly paid bonus shares

    Klaus owns 200 shares in MAC Ltd, which he bought on 31 October 1984, and 200 shares in PUP Ltd, which he bought on 31 January 1985.

    On 1 January 1987, both MAC Ltd and PUP Ltd made their shareholders a one-for-one bonus share offer of $1 shares partly paid to 50 cents. Klaus elected to accept the offer and acquired 200 new partly paid shares in each company. No part of the value of the bonus shares was taxed as a dividend.

    On 1 April 1989, PUP Ltd made a call for the balance of 50 cents outstanding on the partly paid shares, payable on 30 June 1989. Klaus paid the call payment on that date. MAC Ltd has not yet made any calls on its partly paid shares.

    For CGT purposes, Klaus is treated as having acquired his bonus PUP Ltd shares on the date he became liable to pay the call (1 April 1989). The cost base of the bonus shares in PUP Ltd includes the amount of the call payment (50 cents) plus the market value of the shares immediately before the call was made.

    The MAC Ltd bonus shares will continue to have the same acquisition date as the original shares (31 October 1984) and are therefore not subject to CGT. However, this will not be the case if Klaus makes any more payments to the company on calls made by the company for any part of the unpaid amount on the bonus shares. In this case, the acquisition date of the bonus shares will be when the liability to pay the call arises and the bonus shares will then be subject to CGT.

    End of example
    Bonus shares issued where the paid-up value is assessed as a dividend

    If the paid-up value of bonus shares is assessed as a dividend, you may have to pay CGT when you dispose of the bonus shares, regardless of when you acquired the original shares.

    Original shares acquired on or after 20 September 1985

    If your bonus shares relate to original shares that you acquired on or after 20 September 1985, the acquisition date of the bonus shares is the date they were issued. Their cost base and reduced cost base includes the amount of the dividend, plus any call payments you made to the company if they were only partly paid.

    Exception – bonus shares received before 1 July 1987

    The exception to this rule is bonus shares you received before 1 July 1987. They are taken to be acquired on the date you acquired your original shares. Their cost base is calculated as if the amount was not taxed as a dividend, see Bonus shares issued where no amount is assessed as a dividend.

    Original shares acquired before 20 September 1985

    The rules that apply where you acquired your original shares before 20 September 1985 depend on when the bonus shares were issued and whether they were partly paid or fully paid. For more details, see flowchart 3.1 in appendix 3.

    Example 37: Cost base of bonus shares

    Mark owns 1,000 shares in RIM Ltd, which he bought on 30 September 1984 for $1 each.

    On 1 February 1997, the company issued him with 500 bonus shares partly paid to 50 cents. The paid-up value of bonus shares ($250) is an assessable dividend to Mark.

    On 1 May 1997, the company made a call for the 50 cents outstanding on each bonus share, which Mark paid on 1 July 1997.

    The total cost base of the bonus shares is $500, consisting of the $250 dividend received on the issue of the bonus shares on 1 February 1997 plus the $250 call payment made on 1 July 1997.

    The bonus shares were acquired on 1 February 1997.

    If Mark held the bonus shares for more than 12 months when he sold them, he can use the indexation method to calculate his capital gain.

    Amounts payable to a company on shares in the company can be indexed only from the date of actual payment. In Mark’s case, he can only index the $250 call payment from the date he paid it (1 July 1997).

    However, indexation on the $250 dividend included in his assessable income on the issue of the bonus shares was available from 1 February 1997. This is different from the indexation treatment of amounts paid to acquire assets in other circumstances where indexation is available from the time the liability to make the payment arises. The indexation rules are explained in more detail in How to work out your capital gain or capital loss

    If Mark disposes of the shares after 11.45am (by legal time in the ACT) on 21 September 1999, he can calculate his capital gain using either the indexation method or the discount method.

    End of example
      Last modified: 08 Jul 2015QC 44187