You cannot rely on this record in your tax affairs. It is not binding and provides you with no protection (including from any underpaid tax, penalty or interest). In addition, this record is not an authority for the purposes of establishing a reasonably arguable position for you to apply to your own circumstances. For more information on the status of edited versions of private advice and reasons we publish them, see PS LA 2008/4.
Edited version of your written advice
Authorisation Number: 1051373410433
Date of advice: 15 May 2018
Subject: Foreign superannuation fund
Is the Country y Central Provident Fund a foreign superannuation fund under subsection 995-1(1) the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (ITAA 1997)?
Is any part of the withdrawal amount received from the country y Central Provident Fund in 201X assessable in Australia?
This ruling applies for the following period:
Year ending 30 June 201X
The scheme commences on:
1 July 201X
Relevant facts and circumstances
You ceased work in Country Y in the 20XX income year.
You became a resident of Australia for taxation purposes in the 20XX income year.
You were a member of the Central Provident Fund of Country Y (the Fund) which is established overseas.
You redeemed your interests in the Fund in the 20XX income year.
Relevant legislative provisions
Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 Section 99
Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 Section 770
Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 Subsection 295-95(2)
Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 Subsection 995-1(1)
Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 Section 10
Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 Section 19
Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 Section 62
Reasons for decision
Foreign superannuation fund
A foreign superannuation fund is defined in subsection 995-1(1) of the ITAA 1997 as follows:
(a) A superannuation fund is a foreign superannuation fund at a time if the fund is not an Australian superannuation fund at that time; and
(b) A superannuation fund is a foreign superannuation fund for an income year if the fund is not an Australian superannuation fund for the income year.
Subsection 295-95(2) of the ITAA 1997 defines Australian superannuation fund as follows:
A superannuation fund is an Australian superannuation fund at a time, and for the income year in which that time occurs, if:
(a) the fund was established in Australia, or any asset of the fund is situated in Australia at that time; and
(b) at that time, the central management and control of the fund is ordinarily in Australia; and
(c) at that time either the fund had no member covered by subsection (3) (an active member) or at least 50% of:
(i) the total market value of the fund’s assets attributable to superannuation interests held by active members; or
(ii) the sum of the amounts that would be payable to or in respect of active members if they voluntarily ceased to be members;
(iii) is attributable to superannuation interests held by active members who are Australian residents.
A superannuation fund that is established outside of Australia and has its central management and control outside of Australia would qualify as a foreign superannuation fund. The fact that some of its members may be Australian residents would not necessarily alter this.
Subsection 995-1(1) of the ITAA 1997 defines a superannuation fund as having the meaning given by section 10 of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (SISA) that is:
(a) a fund that:
(i) is an indefinitely continuing fund; and
(ii) is a provident, benefit, superannuation fund or retirement fund; or
(b) a public sector superannuation scheme.
Provident, benefit, superannuation or retirement fund
The High Court examined both the terms superannuation fund and fund in Scott v Commissioner of Taxation of the Commonwealth (No. 2) (1966) 10 AITR 290; (1966) 40 ALJR 265; (1966) 14 ATD 333 (Scott). In that case, Justice Windeyer stated:
I have come to the conclusion that there is no essential single attribute of a superannuation fund established for the benefit of employees except that it must be a fund bona fide devoted as its sole purpose to providing for employees who are participants money benefits (or benefits having a monetary value) upon their reaching a prescribed age. In this connexion “fund”, I take it, ordinarily means money (or investments) set aside and invested, the surplus income therefrom being capitalised. I do not put this forward as a definition, but rather as a general description.
The issue of what constitutes a provident, benefit, superannuation or retirement fund was discussed by the Full Bench of the High Court in Mahony v Commissioner of Taxation (Cth) (1967) 41 ALJR 232; (1967) 14 ATD 519 (Mahony). In that case, Justice Kitto held that a fund had to exclusively be a ‘provident, benefit or superannuation fund’ and that ‘connoted a purpose narrower than the purpose of conferring benefits in a completely general sense…’. This narrower purpose meant that the benefits had to be ‘characterised by some specific future purpose’ such as the example given by Justice Kitto of a funeral benefit.
Furthermore, Justice Kitto’s judgement indicated that a fund does not satisfy any of the three provisions, that is, ‘provident, benefit or superannuation fund’, if there exist provisions for the payment of benefits ‘for any other reason whatsoever’. In other words, though a fund may contain provisions for retirement purposes, it could not be accepted as a superannuation fund if it contained provisions that benefits could be paid in circumstances other than those relating to retirement.
In section 62 of the SIS Act, a regulated superannuation fund must be ‘maintained solely’ for the ‘core purposes’ of providing benefits to a member when the following events occur:
(a) on or after retirement from gainful employment; or
(b) attaining a prescribed age; and
(c) on the member’s death. (This may require the benefits being passed on to a member’s dependants or legal representative).
Though section 62 of the SIS Act also allows a superannuation fund to provide benefits for ‘ancillary purposes’, such as, benefits paid on the termination of employment in the event of ill-health and benefits for dependants following the death of a member after retirement or attaining the prescribed age, it should be noted that they do not extend to general or non-retirement purposes such as education, home purchases or medical expenses et cetera.
Notwithstanding the SIS Act applies only to ‘regulated superannuation funds’, as defined in section 19 of the SIS Act, and foreign superannuation funds do not qualify as regulated superannuation funds, as they are established and operate outside Australia, the Commissioner views the SIS Act (and its regulations) as providing guidance as to what ‘benefit’ or ‘specific future purpose’ a superannuation fund should provide.
In view of the legislation and the decisions made in Scott and Mahony, the Commissioner’s view is that for a fund to be classified as a superannuation fund, it must exclusively provide a narrow range of benefits that are characterised by some specific future purpose. That is, the payment of superannuation benefits upon retirement, invalidity or death of the individual or as specified under the SIS Act.
Therefore, notwithstanding the fact that a foreign superannuation fund may possess some features for the provision of funds in retirement, the Commissioner considers such a fund as not being a superannuation fund for Australian tax purposes if the fund:
(a) can also be used as a savings plan for non-retirement purposes; and/or
(b) contains provisions for pre-retirement withdrawals for general non-retirement purposes such as housing, education and medical expenses.
It is noted that the Fund satisfies some of the requirements of a foreign superannuation fund as it is established and operated outside Australia and the central management and control is outside of Australia. However, the Fund is not exclusively a provident, benefit or superannuation fund because it does not provide benefits solely for the specific future purposes of the individual’s retirement. Members can withdraw benefits to purchase health cover, housing or for education. In other words the Fund provides for the payment of benefits for reasons other than retirement and is not solely (that is exclusively) for retirement purposes.
Accordingly, the Fund does not fall within the definition of a foreign superannuation fund.
Tax consequences of proceeds from a foreign trust
The Commissioner considers that the overseas fund is not a ‘foreign superannuation fund’ as defined in subsection 995-1(1) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (ITAA 1997). The overseas fund is a foreign trust as defined in subsection 481(3) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 (ITAA 1936) and is therefore a foreign investment fund (FIF).
Repeal of FIF measures
On 14 July 2010, the FIF measures were repealed and do not apply from the 2010-11 income year onwards.
If you have an interest in a FIF, you will be subject to the general tax rules applicable to your circumstances – for example, the general tax rules relating to trust income.
Assessability of trust income
Section 6-10 of the ITAA 1997 provides that the assessable income of a resident taxpayer includes statutory income amounts that are not ordinary income but are included in assessable income by another provision.
Subsection 6-10(4) of the ITAA 1997 provides that for an Australian resident, your assessable income includes statutory income derived from all sources, whether in or out of Australia, during the income year.
Section 10-5 of the ITAA 1997 lists certain statutory amounts that form part of assessable income. Included in this list is income derived pursuant to section 99B of the ITAA 1936.
Subsection 99B(1) of the ITAA 1936 provides that where, during a year of income, a beneficiary who was a resident at any time during the year is paid a distribution from a trust, or has an amount of trust property applied for their benefit, the amount is to be included in the assessable income of the beneficiary.
Subsection 99B (2) of the ITAA 1936 modifies the rule in subsection 99B (1) and has the effect that the amount to be included in assessable income under subsection (1) is not to include any amount that represents either:
● the corpus of the trust (paragraph 99B(2)(a) of the ITAA 1936)
● amounts that would not have been included in the assessable income of a resident taxpayer
● (paragraph 99B(2)(b) of the ITAA 1936), and
● amounts previously included in the beneficiaries income under section 97 of the ITAA 1936
● (paragraph 99B (2) (c) of the ITAA1936).
Paragraph 99B (2) (a) of the ITAA 1936 requires regard to be had to whether or not the amount derived by a trust estate was of a kind that would have been assessable if derived by a resident taxpayer. Thus, for example, if, in accordance with the terms of the trust, income were accumulated and added to corpus and the capitalised amount is subsequently paid or applied for the benefit of a beneficiary, the beneficiary would be assessable on the amount provided (subject to other paragraphs of subsection 99B(2) of the ITAA 1936).
Application to your circumstances
In this case, you have withdrawn your interest in the Country y Fund during the 201X financial year.
A withdrawal of an amount that represents amounts deposited by you would come within paragraph 99B (2) (a) of the ITAA 1936. Distributions, to the extent that they come within subsection 99B (2) of the ITAA 1936, would be excluded from amounts assessable under subsection 99B (1) of the ITAA 1936.
However, the income accumulated in the fund is normally taxable in Australia and has not been previously subjected to tax in Australia would be assessable to you under subsection 99B (1) of the ITAA 1936.
ATO View documents
Straight forward application of the law
Other references (non ATO view)
Scott v Federal Commissioner of Taxation (No. 2) (1966) 10 AITR 290; (1966) 40 ALJR 265; (1966) 14 ATD 333.
Mahony v Commissioner of Taxation (Cth) (1967) 41 ALJR 232; (1967) 14 ATD 519.