The Truth Behind Trusts - 2018's WA Trusts Half Day

Trusts, particularly discretionary trusts, have become a fundamental tool in structuring businesses and investments in Australia. Figures from the Australian Tax Office show there are now more than 800,000 trusts with assets totalling more than $3 trillion operating in Australia.

As a result, tax practitioners are increasingly faced with varied and complex issues with respect to the taxation of trusts. In practice, these issues require an application of tax law and trust law, as well as an understanding of ATO views and judicial interpretations.

At May’s Trusts Half Day in Perth, Modiesha Stephens, CTA and Lucy Ferreira (both HHG Legal Group) present the session ‘The Truth Behind Trusts’, a case study-focused session looking at some of the common practical issues relating to trusts. We spoke to Modiesha about some of the issues they’ll be covering.

“The Truth Behind Trusts focuses on some of the practical problems that arise when you deal with trusts, from lost trust deeds or unexpectedly short vesting dates, to requests to add or remove beneficiaries, incapacity of guardians and appointors, and other issues which require either variation or rectification of the trust deed.”

Modiesha Stephens, CTA

“While trusts provide a number of advantages over other structures they also present unique and even occasionally uncertain and risky challenges. In some cases it will be clear that there is an issue and, as an adviser, there may be little you can do to prevent it, for example if your client has lost the trust deed or “inherited” a trust with a short vesting date, but in other cases identifying potential problems early is critical – the session will help our attendees identify potential problems with trust deeds before they actually become problems.

Modiesha and Lucy’s session looks at issues including vesting dates and perpetuity periods, covering the key differences between them and when which of the two can be extended, rectification versus variation, and more.

“Our focus will be on identifying potential problems with trust deeds before they actually become problems; and offering some practical advice on how you can advise your clients on how to resolve the issues if they do become a problem.”

A tax and commercial lawyer, Modiesha has been practising in state and federal tax law since 2000, focusing on providing transactional tax advice (income tax, CGT, GST, transfer duty and payroll tax) as well as assisting clients with tax disputes with the ATO and the Office of State Revenue. She also advises individuals and SMEs with complex commercial and trust law matters

Asked which other sessions at the Half Day she was interested in attending she said “The session that opens the event from Antony Barrier, FTI on non-resident trust beneficiaries looks particularly interesting”.

A member of The Tax Institute since 2000, Modiesha has recently become more actively involved with the Institute and is now a member of WA’s SME Technical Committee, Professional Development Committee, Women in Tax Committee and the State Council.

When Modiesha isn’t found at HHG Legal Group or sitting on an Institute committee she says “I adore spending time with my two young children – you never know if you’re going to be invited to a tea party, an impromptu ballet recital or asked to read the same book over and over and over”

This year’s Trusts Half Day program also includes interactive workshops and presentations on trust distribution minutes, accounting for trust losses, trust streaming, as well as the tax implications relating to non-resident trustees and non-resident beneficiaries.

View the full program on our website and join us 23 May 2018 at City West Receptions in Perth.


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