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Specific rules for some trusts

How to work out the specific rules for your type of trust.

Last updated 11 May 2016

Unit trusts

Unit trusts are used in many commercial arrangements, including managed investment schemes. Units can often be bought and sold in a way similar to shares in a company. Some unit trusts are taxed like companies and their unit holders like shareholders.

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Managed investment trusts

A managed investment trust (MIT) is a type of managed investment scheme.

A new tax system for MITs came into effect in May 2016. The new tax system is designed to reduce complexity and increase certainty for MITs and their investors.

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Family trusts

A trust becomes a family trust when the trustee of the trust makes a 'family trust election'. To make the election, the trust must be controlled by a 'family group'.

Trusts that qualify as a family trust for the purposes of the trust loss provisions may benefit from concessional tax treatment.

However, family trust distribution tax (FTDT) applies to distributions made from these trusts if the trustee confers a present entitlement, or distributes income or capital, makes concessional loans or otherwise provides or allows the use of income or capital of the trust for less than its market value to a person or entity that is outside the trust's family group.

FTDT is payable by the trustee of the family trust at the highest marginal rate plus the Medicare levy. Beneficiaries that receive distributions on which FTDT was paid receive the distribution as non-assessable non-exempt income (against which they can't deduct expenses).

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Deceased estates

A deceased estate is technically not a trust while it is being administered, but is treated as a trust for tax purposes, with the executor or administrator of the estate taken to be the trustee.

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Super funds

Super funds are generally trusts, and have trustees and beneficiaries (members). However, super funds are taxed differently to other types of trusts.

Charitable trusts

Some types of charitable funds must be established as trusts in order to qualify for charity tax concessions.

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Special disability trusts

Immediate family members and carers can set up a special disability trust to provide for the future care and accommodation needs of a person with a severe disability. The trustee is taxed at individual marginal rates.

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How to complete the special disability trust tax return and individual return for the principal beneficiary.