ATO Interpretative Decision

ATO ID 2003/137


Retirement income entities - Trade Dollars (Barter Credits) FOI status: may be released
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If you reasonably apply this decision in good faith to your own circumstances (which are not materially different from those described in the decision), and the decision is later found to be incorrect you will not be liable to pay any penalty or interest. However, you will be required to pay any underpaid tax (or repay any over-claimed credit, grant or benefit), provided the time limits under the law allow it. If you do intend to apply this decision to your own circumstances, you will need to ensure that the relevant provisions referred to in the decision have not been amended or repealed. You may wish to obtain further advice from the Tax Office or from a professional adviser.


Are Trade Dollars considered to be money pursuant to the definition of 'acquire an asset' under subsection 66(5) of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (SISA)?


No. Trade Dollars are not negotiable instruments and as such are not money.


Bartering involves the direct exchange of goods or services for other goods or services without reference to money or a monetary value.

Bartering may occur on a private basis (e.g. exchange of vegetables) or in a commercial field (e.g. a firm agrees to purchase goods from another firm provided its own products are taken in exchange)

Counter trading is a more refined form of bartering, typically controlled by member-only organisations where credit units have become the medium of exchange. For example, an organisation itself acts as a third party record keeper, using credit units called 'Trade Dollars' to monitor the value of cashless transactions.

Reasons for Decision

Subsection 66(5) of SISA defines that 'acquire an asset' does not include accept money.

The term 'money' covers more than just legal tender and includes cheques and other equivalent negotiable instruments.

The term 'money' generally includes banknotes as well as coins, although it may be limited to such of each as is legal tender at the time and place in question. The term is sometimes used to include not only actual cash but also a right to receive cash, as, for example, sums standing to the credit of a bank account or invested in securities. Money also serves as a common standard of value by reference to which the comparative values of different commodities are ascertained, as a unit of account in which debts and liabilities are expressed, and as a store of value or purchasing power.

Negotiable instruments are written orders promising to pay a specified sum of money at a predetermined time (or within a certain period of time) to the order of a specified person or bearer. Negotiable instruments are normally considered to be such things as cheques, bills of exchange or promissory notes.

A bill of exchange as defined in subsection 8(1) of the Bills of Exchange Act 1909 is an unconditional order in writing, addressed by one person to another, signed by the person giving it, requiring the person to whom it is addressed to pay on demand, or at a fixed or determinable future time, a sum certain in money to or to the order of a specified person, or to bearer.

A promissory note as defined in section 83 of the Bills of Exchange Act 1909 is an unconditional promise in writing made by one person to another signed by the maker, engaging to pay, on demand or at a fixed or determinable future time, a sum certain in money, to, or to the order of, a specified person or to a bearer.

Unlike bills of exchange and promissory notes, Trade Dollars are not unconditional, nor convertible to cash, nor a promise or order given in writing and have no assigned monetary value. That is, Trade Dollars can generally only be exchanged for goods and services. Also, credit units arising from barter and counter trade transactions are not acceptable forms of payment for parties external to the bartering arrangements, for example credit units are not acceptable for the payment of tax. Therefore, Trade Dollars are not negotiable instruments and as such are not money.

Date of decision:  3 February 2003

Siebel/TDMS Reference Number:  3344584

Legislative References:
Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993
Subsection 66(5)Bills of Exchange Act 1909
Subsection 8(1)
Section 83

Related ATO Interpretative Decisions

ATO ID 2003/138

Self managed superannuation funds
SMSF acquisition of assets
SMSF exotic assets

Business Line:  Superannuation

Date of publication:  15 March 2003

ISSN: 1445-2782

  Date: Version:
  3 February 2003 Original statement  
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