If you hold a policy in an insurance company that demutualises, you may be subject to CGT either at the time of the demutualisation or when you sell your shares. A company demutualises when it changes its membership interests to shares (for example, AMP and NRMA). There are similar rules if you are a member of a non-insurance organisation which demutualises.
The insurance company may give you an option either to keep your share entitlement or to take cash by selling the shares under contract through an entity set up by the company.
If it is an Australian insurance company and you choose to keep the shares, you will not be subject to CGT until you eventually sell them. However, if you elect to sell your share entitlement and take cash, you need to include any capital gain on your tax return in the income year in which you entered into the contract to sell the shares, even though you may not receive the cash until a later income year.
The demutualising company will write to all potential 'shareholders' and advise them of the acquisition cost in each instance, sometimes referred to as the 'embedded value'. Even though you did not pay anything to acquire the shares, they have a value that is used for CGT purposes.
If you hold a policy in an overseas insurance company that demutualises, you may be subject to CGT at the time of the demutualisation. You should contact the Tax Office for advice if this applies to you.