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Trust distributions

Last updated 18 February 2018

This section explains how distributions from trusts (including managed funds) can affect your CGT position. Managed funds include property trusts, share trusts, equity trusts, growth trusts, imputation trusts and balanced trusts.

Distributions from trusts can include different amounts but only the following types of amounts are relevant for CGT purposes:

  • distributions of all or a part of the trust's income where the trust’s net income for tax purposes includes a net capital gain
  • distributions or other entitlements described as being referable to a specific capital gain or gains and
  • distributions of non-assessable amounts.

You are treated as having made a capital gain or gains if you are 'specifically entitled' to all or part of a trust's capital gain and that capital gain is reflected in the trust's net income for tax purposes.

Additionally, if there is an amount of a capital gain reflected in the net income of the trust for tax purposes to which no entity is specifically entitled, that amount will be proportionately assessed to beneficiaries in accordance with their 'adjusted Division 6 percentage' (which is based on their proportionate entitlement to certain income of the trust), or otherwise to the trustee.

In certain circumstances where you would be treated as having made a capital gain but are unable to benefit from the gain within a set period, an eligible trustee may elect to be assessed on the capital gain on your behalf.

Trustees of managed investment trusts (MITs) have had a choice to apply the rules described above for the 2010–11 and later years (see Capital gains made by a trust). That choice will continue to be available for 2015–16 and 2016–17, but will not be available to MITs after 2016–17.

If you receive a distribution from a MIT that has not applied these rules, you will be treated as having made a capital gain or gains if the trust’s net income for tax purposes includes a net capital gain. You must include as assessable income your share of the MIT’s net income for tax purposes at L Share of net income from trusts item 13 Partnerships and trusts on your tax return (supplementary section).

Non-assessable payments mostly affect the cost base of units in a unit trust (including managed funds) but can in some cases create a capital gain. Non-assessable payments to beneficiaries of a discretionary trust will not give rise to capital gains.

Trustees, including fund managers, may use different terms to describe the methods of calculation and other terms used in this guide. For example, they may use the term ‘non-discount gains’ when they refer to capital gains worked out using the indexation and 'other' methods.

Managed investment trusts

For 2015–16 and later years, a MIT may choose to apply the attribution rules in Division 276 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997. Where that choice is made, the MIT becomes known as an attribution managed investment trust (AMIT).

Generally, those rules apply to 'attribute' amounts to each member based on their interest in the AMIT, rather than a 'present entitlement' to the net income of the trust or the amount actually paid.

The attribution rules ensure that amounts from the trust retain their tax character as they flow through to you, so that for taxation purposes it is treated as if you had earned the income directly in your own right. In relation to capital gains, those rules mean you will treat the capital gains component of your trust income as your own capital gain.

These rules also mean that the cost base of your units in an AMIT may have annual upward or downward adjustments (see Cost base adjustments for AMIT members).

Your share of trust amounts attributed to you is shown on your member statement, which for an AMIT is called an AMIT Member Annual statement (AMMA) (similar to the standard distribution statement provided by a managed fund).

Otherwise, for members (unitholders) of an AMIT, there will be little discernible difference to the way income is distributed to you.

For more information on the tax system for MITs, see Managed investment trusts - overview.