Income tax: deductibility of expenses incurred in establishing and administering an employee share scheme
Please note that the PDF version is the authorised version of this ruling.
|Table of Contents||Paragraph|
|What this Determination is about|
|Date of effect|
|Appendix - Explanation|
|Not deductible under section 8-1 as capital or of a capital nature|
|Deductible under section 40-880|
Relying on this Determination
This publication (excluding appendix) is a public ruling for the purposes of the Taxation Administration Act 1953.
If this Determination applies to you, and you correctly rely on it, we will apply the law to you in the way set out in this Determination. That is, you will not pay any more tax or penalties or interest in respect of the matters covered by this Determination.
1. An employer company may incur expenses in establishing and administering an employee share scheme (ESS) as part of its remuneration strategy. This expenditure often includes establishing and administering an employee share trust (EST) that holds shares or rights for employees participating in the ESS.
- legal fees incurred in establishing the EST and ESS plan rules
- start-up costs; for example, trustee company commencement charges, and
- registration fees with various authorities; for example, stamp duty and Australian Securities & Investments Commission fees.
8. Expenses incurred amending an ESS are deductible to the employer company in equal proportions over five years under section 40-880 to the extent that the business is carried on for a taxable purpose.
- legal fees paid amending the EST and ESS plan rules, and
- regulatory fees and stamp duty paid to authorities.
- brokerage fees
- audit fees
- bank charges
- making new offers to employees under an existing ESS, and
- other ongoing administrative expenses.
12. This Determination applies both before and after its date of issue. However, this Determination will not apply to taxpayers to the extent that it conflicts with the terms of settlement of a dispute agreed to before the date of issue of this Determination (see paragraphs 75 and 76 of Taxation Ruling TR 2006/10 Public Rulings).
Commissioner of Taxation
6 April 2022
|This Explanation 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.|
13. An expense is capital or of a capital nature if it relates to the business entity, structure or organisation established for the earning of profit as opposed to the process by which the organisation operates to obtain its income.
There are, I think, three matters to be considered, (a) the character of the advantage sought, and in this its lasting qualities may play a part, (b) the manner in which it is to be used, relied upon or enjoyed, and in this and under the former head recurrence may play its part, and (c) the means adopted to obtain it; that is, by providing a periodical reward or outlay to cover its use or enjoyment for periods commensurate with the payment or by making a final provision or payment so as to secure future use or enjoyment.
15. In GP International Pipecoaters Pty Ltd v Commissioner of Taxation (Cth), the High Court stated:
The character of expenditure is ordinarily determined by reference to the nature of the asset acquired or the liability discharged by the making of the expenditure, for the character of the advantage sought by the making of the expenditure is the chief, if not the critical, factor in determining the character of what is paid ...
16. An ESS sets up a strategy to remunerate employees to reward, motivate and retain staff while linking some of their personal remuneration to shareholder wealth creation.
18. The establishment expenses are one-off in nature and used in setting up the ESS as part of the employer company's remuneration structure. The character of the advantage sought is the enduring benefit of having the ESS in its business structure to deliver ESS interests.
19. In working out whether an expense is capital in nature, there is also a need to identify a counterfactual. The High Court in Commissioner of Taxation v Sharpcan Pty Ltd opined that (emphasis added):
... specifically, whether the outgoing is calculated to effect the acquisition of an enduring advantage to the business. And the identification of what (if anything) is to be acquired by an outgoing ultimately requires a counterfactual, not an historical, analysis: specifically, a comparison of the expected structure of the business after the outgoing with the expected structure but for the outgoing, not with the structure before the outgoing.
20. In comparing the business structure after the payment of establishment expenses with the expected structure but for the expense, an employer company would not have been able to offer its employees an ESS interest.
21. Therefore, the expense is capital or of a capital nature as it has an enduring benefit to the employer company. The purpose of setting up the ESS (being a one-off) was for it to be part of the employer company's business structure. Therefore, these expenses are capital or of a capital nature.
24. Broadly, section 40-880 allows deductions for certain business capital expenditure that fall outside the scope of the deduction provisions of the income tax law. It requires the expenditure to be capital and in relation to the business.
29. Therefore, establishment expenses are deductible in equal proportions over five years under section 40-880 to the employer company to the extent that the business carried on is for a taxable purpose.
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Has the meaning given by subsection 83A-10(2) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997.
As defined in subsection 130-85(4) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997. See also Taxation Determination TD 2019/13 Income tax: what is an 'employee share trust'?
Sun Newspapers Limited v Federal Commissioner of Taxation  HCA 73 (Sun Newspapers).
 HCA 25.
Paragraph 1.26 of the Explanatory Memorandum to the Tax Laws Amendment (2009 Budget Measures No. 2) Bill 2009 states:
Tax support is provided on the grounds that aligning the interests of employees and employers encourages positive working relationships, boosts productivity through greater employee involvement in the business, reduces staff turnover and encourages good corporate governance.
 HCA 36 at .
AusNet Transmission Group Pty Ltd v Federal Commissioner of Taxation  HCA 25 at ; Commissioner of Taxation v Healius Ltd  FCAFC 173 at .
See Taxation Ruling TR 2011/6 Income tax: business related capital expenditure - section 40-880 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 core issues.
Pursuant to subsection 995-1(1), 'taxable purpose' is defined in section 40-25.
ITAA 1997 8-1
ITAA 1997 8-1(2)
ITAA 1997 40-25
ITAA 1997 40-880
ITAA 1997 40-880(3)
ITAA 1997 40-880(4)
ITAA 1997 40-880(5)
ITAA 1997 40-880(6)
ITAA 1997 40-880(7)
ITAA 1997 40-880(8)
ITAA 1997 40-880(9)
ITAA 1997 Div 83A
ITAA 1997 83A-10(1)
ITAA 1997 83A-10(2)
ITAA 1997 130-85(4)
ITAA 1997 995-1(1)
AusNet Transmission Group Pty Ltd v Federal Commissioner of Taxation
 HCA 25
255 CLR 439
2015 ATC 20-521
99 ATR 816
Commissioner of Taxation v Healius Ltd
 FCAFC 173
2020 ATC 20-766
384 ALR 408
112 ATR 306
Commissioner of Taxation v Sharpcan Pty Ltd
 HCA 36
2019 ATC 20-715
GP International Pipecoaters Pty Ltd v Commissioner of Taxation (Cth)
 HCA 25
170 CLR 124
90 ATC 4413
21 ATR 1
Sun Newspapers Limited v Federal Commissioner of Taxation
 HCA 73
61 CLR 337
5 ATD 87
Explanatory Memorandum to the Tax Laws Amendment (2009 Budget Measures No.2) Bill 2009