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Last updated 29 May 2019

These instructions will help you complete the Trust tax return 2019. They are not a guide to income tax law. You may need to refer to other publications.

When we say you or your business in these instructions, we mean either you as the trust that conducts a business, or you as the registered tax agent or trustee responsible for completing the tax return.

These instructions contain abbreviations for names or technical terms. Each term is spelt out in full the first time it is used and there is a list of abbreviations.

What’s new?

Changes to the thin capitalisation rules to prevent double gearing structures

On 5 April 2019, legislation was enacted to improve the integrity of the income tax law by modifying the thin capitalisation rules to prevent double gearing structures. Double gearing structures involve the use of multiple layers of ‘flow-through’ entities (such as trusts and partnerships) to issue debt against the same underlying asset.

These changes apply to income years starting on or after 1 July 2018.

The changes will affect entities with interests in trusts (other than public trading trusts) and partnerships, as the threshold for the purposes of the associate entity debt, associate entity equity, and the associate entity excess amounts has been reduced from 50% to 10%.

The changes also affect how the arm’s length debt amount is calculated. To determine both the independent lender and independent borrower amounts of the test, an entity must consider the debt-to-equity ratios of any other entity in which it has an interest.

For more information, see .Stapled structures.

Increasing access to losses

On 1 March 2019, legislation was enacted that will supplement the current ‘same business test’ for trust losses with a more flexible 'similar business test'. The new test will expand access to past year losses when a listed widely held trust enters into new transactions or business activities.

The similar business test will allow a listed widely held trust to access losses following a change in ownership where its business, while not the same, is similar having regard to:

  • the extent to which the assets that are used in its current business to generate assessable income were also used in its former business to generate assessable income,
  • the extent to which the activities and operations from which its current business  is generating assessable income were also the activities and operations from which its former business generated assessable income,
  • the identity of its current business and the identity of its former business, and
  • the extent to which any changes to the former business resulted from the development or commercialisation of assets, products, processes, services or marketing or organisational methods of the former business.

As a test for accessing past year losses, the 'similar business test' will only be available for losses made in income years starting on or after 1 July 2015.

The 'same business test' and the 'similar business test' will be collectively known as the 'business continuity test'.

This measure takes effect in relation to income years starting on or after 1 July 2015. For more information, go to

See also:

  • LCR 2019/1 The business continuity test - carrying on a similar business

Instant asset write-off for small and medium entities

There have been changes to the instant asset write-off.

The instant asset write-off threshold has increased to $30,000 and has been extended to 30 June 2020.

The instant asset write-off now includes businesses with a turnover from $10 million and less than $50 million/ These businesses can claim a deduction for the business portion of each asset that cost less than $30,000 (the instant asset write-off threshold)if they are purchased and first used or installed ready to use from 7.30pm (AEDT) 2 April 2019 to 30 June 2020.

For assets purchased for $30,000 or more, the general depreciation rules must be used.

Small business (with a turnover of less than $10 million), can also continue to claim an immediate deduction for the business portion of each asset that costs less than the relevant instant asset write-off threshold that applies.