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You may need to adjust the cost base of shares or units for CGT calculations if you receive a non-assessable payment without disposing of your shares or units. A payment or distribution can include money and property.
You need to keep accurate records of the amount and date of any non-assessable payments on your shares and units.
Non-assessable payments after a recent restructure
As a result of some stapling arrangements, some investors in managed funds have received units which have a very low cost base. The payment of certain non-assessable amounts in excess of the cost base of the units will result in these investors making a capital gain.
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Non-assessable payments from a company (CGT event G1)
Non-assessable payments to shareholders are not very common and would generally be made only if a company has shareholder approval to reduce its share capital. If you receive a non-assessable payment from a company (that is, a payment that is not a dividend or an amount that is taken to be a dividend for tax purposes), you need to adjust the cost base of the shares at the time of the payment. These payments will often be referred to as a return of capital. If the amount of the non-assessable payment is not more than the cost base of the shares at the time of payment, you reduce the cost base and reduced cost base by the amount of the payment.
You make a capital gain if the amount of the non-assessable payment is more than the cost base of the shares. The amount of the capital gain is equal to the excess. If you make a capital gain, you reduce the cost base and reduced cost base of the shares to nil. You cannot make a capital loss from the receipt of a non-assessable payment.
Interim liquidation distributions that are not dividends can be treated in the same way as other non-assessable payments under CGT event G1.
The exception is if the payment is made to you by a liquidator after the declaration and the company is dissolved within 18 months of such a payment. In this case, you include the payment as capital proceeds on the cancellation of your shares (rather than you making a capital gain at the time of the payment). In preparing your tax return, you may delay declaring any capital gain until your shares are cancelled unless you are advised by the liquidator in writing that the company will not cease to exist within 18 months of you receiving the payment.
Example 45: Non-assessable payments
Rob bought 1,500 shares in RAP Ltd on 1 July 1994 for $5 each, including brokerage and stamp duty. On 30 November 2007, as part of a shareholder-approved scheme for the reduction of RAP Ltd’s share capital, he received a non-assessable payment of 50 cents per share. Just before Rob received the payment, the cost base of each share (without indexation) was $5.
As the amount of the payment is not more than the cost base (without indexation), he reduces the cost base of each share at 30 November 2007 by the amount of the payment to $4.50 ($5.00 – 50 cents). As Rob has chosen not to index the cost base, he can claim the CGT discount if he disposes of the shares in the future.
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Non-assessable payments from a unit trust (CGT event E4)
Unit trusts often make non-assessable payments to unit holders. Your CGT obligations in this situation are explained in Trust distributions.
When you sell the units, you must adjust their cost base and reduced cost base. The amount of the adjustment is based on the amount of non-assessable payments you received during the income year up to the date of sale. You use the adjusted cost base and reduced cost base to work out your capital gain or capital loss.
Non-assessable payments under a demerger
If you receive a non-assessable payment under an eligible demerger, you do not deduct the payment from the cost base and the reduced cost base of your shares or units. Instead, you adjust your cost base and reduced cost base under the demerger rules. You may make a capital gain on the non-assessable payment if it exceeds the cost base of your original share or unit, although you will be able to choose a CGT rollover.
An eligible demerger is one that has happened on or after 1 July 2002 and satisfies certain tests. The head entity will normally advise shareholders or unit holders if this is the case.
For more information about demergers, see Demergers.
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