Income tax: capital gains: are there any circumstances in which the premises used in a business of providing accommodation for reward may satisfy the active asset test in section 152-35 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 notwithstanding the exclusion in paragraph 152-40(4)(e) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 for assets whose main use is to derive rent?
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1. Yes. In certain circumstances the premises used in a business of providing accommodation for reward will satisfy the active asset test in section 152-35 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (ITAA 1997) notwithstanding the exclusion in paragraph 152-40(4)(e) of the ITAA 1997 for assets whose main use is to derive rent. It will depend on the particular circumstances of each case.
Example 1: rental properties
2. Commercial Property Co owns 5 commercial rental properties. The properties have been leased for several years under formal lease agreements to various commercial tenants which have used them for office and warehouse purposes. The terms of the leases have ranged from 1 year to 3 years with a 3 year option and provide for exclusive possession. The company has not engaged a real estate agent to act on its behalf and manages the leasing of the properties itself.
3. In this situation, the company has derived rental income from the leasing of a number of properties. Accordingly, the main (only) use of the properties is to derive rent and they are therefore excluded from being active assets under paragraph 152-40(4)(e) of the ITAA 1997 regardless of whether the activities constitute the carrying on of a business.
Example 2: commercial storage
4. Christine carries on a business of providing commercial storage space. The storage facility comprises 50 storage sheds which are available for hire for periods of 1 week to 2 years or more. Christine provides office facilities and 24 hour on-site security. She also provides various items of equipment for sale or loan to clients such as trolleys, cardboard boxes, brooms, tape, pens, locks, bolt cutters, torches and shelves. A cleaning service is also provided and charged for.
5. Christine enters into a storage agreement with each client. The agreements provide that in certain circumstances she can relocate the client to another space or enter the space without consent and that the client cannot assign the rights under the agreement.
6. The arrangements entered into in this situation indicate that the users of the storage sheds do not have the right to exclusive possession but rather only the right to enter and use the sheds for certain purposes. Some of the arrangements entered into were short term and a range of services were provided to the users. There was also no intention by the parties to grant a lease.
7. Having regard to all the circumstances, the Tax Office considers a tenant/landlord relationship does not exist between the parties in this example and therefore the amounts received are not rent. Accordingly, the storage facility is not excluded by paragraph 152-40(4)(e) of the ITAA 1997 and is therefore an active asset.
Example 3: boarding house
8. David owns an 8 bedroom property which he operates as a boarding house. He resides on the premises. Boarders enter into arrangements to occupy single rooms with the average length of stay being 4-6 weeks. No notice is required to quit the rooms. There are rules requiring visitors to leave the premises by a certain time and David retains the right to enter the rooms. David pays for all utilities (gas, electricity, water) and provides the following services and facilities to boarders:
- room cleaning and general maintenance;
- linen and towels; and
- common areas such as a TV/lounge room, kitchen, bathrooms, laundry and a recreation area.
9. In this example, the services and facilities provided to boarders are relatively significant and the average length of stay is relatively short. David retains a significant degree of control over the premises through being on the premises most of the time. The arrangements entered into indicate that those staying in the boarding house do not have the right to exclusive possession of a room but rather only a right to occupy the room.
10. These circumstances indicate that the relationship between David and those staying at the boarding house is not that of landlord/tenant under a lease agreement. Accordingly, the income derived is not 'rent' and therefore the paragraph 152-40(4)(e) exclusion does not apply. If David's activities amount to the carrying on of a business, the boarding house will be an active asset under section 152-40 of the ITAA 1997.
Example 4: holiday apartments
11. Linda owns a complex of 6 holiday apartments. The apartments are advertised collectively as a motel and are booked for periods ranging from 1 night to 1 month. The majority of bookings are from 1 to 7 nights.
12. Linda is responsible for bookings, checking guests in and out and cleaning the apartments. She also provides clean linen and meal facilities to guests. Linda does not enter into any lease agreements with guests staying at the apartments.
13. In this example, the apartments are operated similar to a motel. The guests do not have exclusive possession of the apartment they are staying in but rather only a right to occupy the apartment on certain conditions. The usual length of stay by guests is very short term and room cleaning, linen and meals are also provided to guests.
14. These facts indicate that the relationship between Linda and the guests is not that of landlord/tenant under a lease agreement. Accordingly, the income derived is not 'rent'. If Linda's activities amount to the carrying on of a business, the paragraph 152-40(4)(e) of the ITAA 1997 exclusion would not apply and the apartments would be active assets under section 152-40 of the ITAA 1997.
Example 5: mixed use
15. Mick owns land on which there are a number of industrial sheds. He uses one shed (45% of the land by area) to conduct a motor cycle repair business. He leases the other sheds (55% of the land by area) to unrelated third parties. The income derived from the motor cycle repair business is 80% of the total income (business plus rentals) derived from the use of the land and buildings.
16. In determining if the main use of the land is to derive rent, it is appropriate to consider a range of factors. In this case, a substantial (although nevertheless not a majority) proportion by area of the land is used for business purposes. As well, the business proportion of the land derives the vast majority (80%) of the total income. In all the circumstances, the Tax Office considers the main use of the land in this case is not to derive rent and accordingly the land is not excluded from being an active asset by paragraph 152-40(4)(e) of the ITAA 1997.
Date of effect
17. This Determination applies to years commencing both before and after its date of issue. However, it does not apply to taxpayers to the extent that it conflicts with the terms of a settlement of a dispute agreed to before the date of the determination (see paragraphs 75 and 76 of Taxation Ruling TR 2006/10).
Commissioner of Taxation
20 December 2006
Appendix 1 - Explanation
|This Appendix is provided as information to help you understand how the Commissioner's view has been reached. It does not form part of the binding public ruling.|
18. For the small business concessions in Division 152 of the ITAA 1997 to apply to reduce or disregard a capital gain, the relevant CGT asset must satisfy the active asset test in section 152-35 of the ITAA 1997. The active asset test requires the relevant CGT asset to be an active asset:
- for a total of at least half of the period specified in subsection 152-35(2) of the ITAA 1997 if you have owned the asset for 15 years or less; or
- for a total of at least 7½ years during the period specified in subsection 152-35(2) of the ITAA 1997 if you have owned the asset for more than 15 years.
- it is used (or held ready for use) in the course of carrying on a business by you, your affiliate or an entity connected with you (paragraph 152-40(1)(a) of the ITAA 1997); or
- it is an intangible asset that is inherently connected with a business that is carried on by you, your affiliate, or an entity connected with you (paragraph 152-40(1)(b) of the ITAA 1997).
Main use to derive rent
21. Paragraph 152-40(4)(e) of the ITAA 1997 excludes, among other things, assets whose main use is to derive rent (unless such use was only temporary). Such assets are excluded even if they are used in the course of carrying on a business. Of course, if the activities carried on do not amount to the carrying on of a business, it is unnecessary to consider whether the main use of the asset is to derive rent.
- the amount payable by a tenant to a landlord for the use of the leased premises (C.H. Bailey Ltd v. Memorial Enterprises Ltd  1 All ER 1003 at 1010, United Scientific Holdings Ltd v. Burnley Borough Council  2 All ER 62 at 76, 86, 93, 99);
- a tenant's periodical payment to an owner or landlord for the use of land or premises (The Australian Oxford Dictionary, 1999, Oxford University Press, Melbourne); and
- recompense paid by the tenant to the landlord for the exclusive possession of corporeal hereditaments. ....... The modern conception of rent is a payment which a tenant is bound by contract to make to his landlord for the use of the property let (Halsbury's Laws of England 4th Edition Reissue, Butterworths, London 1994, Vol 27(1) 'Landlord and Tenant', paragraph 212).
23. A key factor therefore in determining whether an occupant of premises is a lessee is whether the occupier has a right to exclusive possession (Radaich v. Smith (1959) 101 CLR 209; Tingari Village North Pty Ltd v. Commissioner of Taxation  AATA 233 at paragraphs 44-46, 2010 ATC 10-131, 78 ATR 693 and associated Decision Impact Statement 2008/4646 & 2008/4647). If, for example, premises are leased to a tenant under a lease agreement granting exclusive possession, the payments involved are likely to be rent and the premises not an active asset. On the other hand, if the arrangement allows the person only to enter and use the premises for certain purposes and does not amount to a lease granting exclusive possession, the payments involved are unlikely to be rent.
24. If premises are operated as a boarding house, the issue arises as to whether an occupant of part of the premises is a tenant or alternatively only a lodger/boarder with a licence to occupy. Similarly, if residential units are operated as holiday apartments, the issue arises as to whether the occupants of the apartments are tenants/lessees or only have licences to occupy.
25. Ultimately, these are questions of fact depending on all the circumstances involved. Relevant factors to consider in determining these questions (in addition to whether the occupier has a right to exclusive possession) include the degree of control retained by the owner and the extent of any services provided by the owner such as room cleaning, provision of meals, supply of linen and shared amenities (Allen v. Aller (1966) 1 NSWR 572), Appah v. Parncliffe Investments Ltd  1 All ER 838 and Marchant v. Charters  3 All ER 918).
26. If an asset is used partly for business and partly to derive rent at any given time, it will be a question of fact dependent on all the circumstances as to whether the main use of the asset at that time is to derive rent. No one single factor will necessarily be determinative, and resolving the matter is likely to involve a consideration of a range of factors such as:
- the comparative areas of use of the premises (between deriving rent and other uses); and
- the comparative levels of income derived from the different uses of the asset.
27. It should be noted however, that many arrangements involving holiday apartments and the like will not satisfy the active asset test, such as where the activities do not amount to the carrying on of a business or where the arrangement does in fact involve the derivation of rent.
28. As noted in the Treasurer's Press Release No. 38 of 2006 (9 May 2006), the Board of Taxation's report on its Post-Implementation Review of the small business CGT concessions contains a number of administrative recommendations. This Taxation Determination is part of the Commissioner's response to Recommendation 7.3 of the Board's report.
active asset test
basic conditions for relief
capital gains tax
CGT small business relief
small business relief
Allen v. Aller
(1966) 1 NSWR 572
Appah v. Parncliffe Investments Ltd
 1 All ER 838
C.H. Bailey Ltd v. Memorial Enterprises Ltd
 1 All ER 1003
Marchant v. Charters
 3 All ER 918
Radaich v. Smith
(1959) 101 CLR 209
Tingari Village North Pty Ltd v Commissioner of Taxation
 AATA 233
2010 ATC 10-131
78 ATR 693
United Scientific Holdings Ltd v. Burnley Borough Council
 2 All ER 62
Decision Impact Statement on Tingari Village North Pty Ltd v. Commissioner of Taxation - DIS 2008/4646 & 2008/4647
The Australian Oxford Dictionary, 1999, Oxford University Press, Melbourne
Halsbury's Laws of England 4th Edition Reissue, Butterworths, London 1994, Vol 27(1) 'Landlord and Tenant'
Treasurer's Press Release No. 38 of 2006