The ATO's recently released interpretation of the tax treatment of capital gains distributed by an Australian discretionary trust to non-resident beneficiaries will have a significant negative impact for some.
Two new determinations released by the ATO deal with the complex and technical issues that arise when a resident discretionary trust makes a distribution of capital gains to non-resident beneficiaries. The ATO's view is that in some circumstances, non-resident beneficiaries can be taxed in Australia on gains relating to foreign assets, which would not have been taxed in Australia had they been made by the beneficiary directly.
The ATO's position will be counterintuitive for many as there is a Capital Gains Tax (CGT) exemption for non-resident taxpayers for assets that are not classified as taxable Australian property (TAP). This exemption means that in some circumstances, capital gains and losses are disregarded for non-residents.