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Franking deficit tax

Work out if you're liable for franking deficit tax.

Last updated 3 August 2020

The imputation system has some flexibility to allow entities to anticipate franking credits. However, the basic principle remains that an entity must not give its members credit for more tax than has actually been paid.

This is given effect through the franking deficit tax (FDT) rules, which require an entity to reconcile its franking account at certain times. An entity will have to pay FDT when the account is in deficit.

An FDT liability will arise if an entity's franking account is either:

  • in deficit at the end of the entity's income year (or at 30 June for certain late balancing corporate tax entities)
  • in deficit when the entity ceases to be a franking entity.

If an entity is liable for FDT, it must lodge a franking account tax return and pay the FDT by the last day of the month immediately following the end of the entity’s income year.

Payment of FDT can generally be offset against future income tax liabilities.

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Refunds received within three months of the end of the income year

If a refund of income tax for an income year is received within three months of the end of that income year, the refund is treated as though it had been received just before the end of the income year for the purpose of calculating FDT.

This rule ensures an entity does not avoid FDT by deferring the time a franking debit would arise in its account by overpaying tax in anticipation of the refund.

In these circumstances, a franking account tax return or an amended franking account tax return must be lodged, and any FDT liability paid, within 14 days of the refund being received for that income year.

Example: Deferred franking deficit tax

Always Alert Pty Ltd has a deficit of $5,000 in its franking account on 25 June 2014.

The company makes a tax payment of $5,500 on 29 June 2014 to bring the balance in the franking account on 30 June 2014 to $500. On 25 August 2014, Always Alert receives a tax refund of $3,000, due to the payment on 29 June 2014.

Because the refund is received within three months of the end of the income year, the balance of the franking account is recalculated as though the refund was received at the end of the income year.






25 June

Balance brought forward




29 June

Payment of tax




30 June

Refund of tax received 25 August




30 June

Franking deficit tax




Always Alert is liable for FDT of $2,500 on 30 June 2014 to set the balance at year-end to nil. Always Alert must lodge a franking account tax return and pay the FDT within 14 days of 25 August 2014.

End of example

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Franking deficit tax offset

Payment of FDT may be offset against future income tax liabilities in certain circumstances.

A franking entity is entitled to a tax offset for an income year if it satisfies the residency requirements and at least one of the following applies:

  • the entity has incurred a liability to pay FDT in that year
  • the entity has carried forward an amount of excess FDT offset that was unable to be applied against an income tax liability in a previous income year
  • the entity incurred a liability to pay FDT in a previous income year when it did not meet the residency requirement and was therefore not entitled to an FDT offset for that income year.

An entity satisfies the residency requirement if it is an Australian resident for more than half an income year. If the entity has existed for less than six months, it will pass the residency requirement if it was a resident at all times during the year in which it existed.

The full amount of FDT liability can be claimed as a tax offset except where the FDT offset reduction rule applies. The FDT offset is generally reduced by 30% where the FDT liability for certain debits arising in the franking account is greater than 10% of the total franking credits in that year. There are also exclusions to the FDT offset reduction rule.

The FDT offset is not refundable, but any excess is taken into account when calculating the amount of the tax offset in future income years.

There are special rules to calculate the amount of tax offset for late balancers who choose to have their FDT liability determined at 30 June.

There are also special rules for the treatment of excess franking deficit tax offsets when an entity becomes a member of a consolidated group (or MEC group).

Franking deficit tax and COVID-19

The FDT liability is generally due by 31 July 2020. If you were unable to pay by that date, you can request a payment deferral. We will consider a deferral of the payment up to 30 September 2020.

If the deficit in your franking account in the 2019–20 income year was due to unexpected downturn in your business directly related to COVID-19, and the deficit relates to franked dividends paid before 1 March 2020, we will allow you to manage your tax affairs as if the Commissioner's administrative discretion to not reduce the available tax offset has been granted. In these circumstances, the full tax offset will be available.

You can do this by:

  • printing C in the code box in the franking account tax return, and
  • providing an attachment with the following information
    • entity name and tax file number (TFN)
    • income year in which the FDT liability arose and the amount of the franking deficit
    • a statement that the deficit arose due to COVID-19 and the entity has taken advantage of the Commissioner’s administrative concession.

If your situation is different, contact us to discuss your circumstances.

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