Duty exemptions and concessions for trusts: answering common questions

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There are duty concessions and exemptions for transactions involving trusts in each state and territory, with similar, but not uniform rules. That leaves practitioners plenty of questions: is there an obligation to lodge? If required to self-assess, can we still lodge and have the document stamped? Is nominal duty payable or is the transaction exempt from duty?

We caught up with Rosalie Cattermole, CTA, Arnold Bloch Leibler, to talk all things trust duty exemptions and concessions.

Rosalie began her legal career working primarily in family law with some criminal law and found that for high net-worth family law property matters, she was turning her attention to tax and duty issues on a daily basis.

“I wanted to understand the issues myself rather than having to rely on accountants, tax lawyers or counsel for input on the valuation issues and the drafting of orders. To this end, I started a Master of Taxation at Monash University and before too long, I became a tax lawyer and have been working in tax for about 17 years now,” she explains.

“Before crossing over to the dark side of indirect tax, I was a senior associate and special counsel in direct tax at a top-tier multinational and mid-tier law firms in Brisbane,” she says.

Now, Rosalie is Special Counsel at Arnold Bloch Leibler based in Melbourne has, “the pleasure” she says, of advising on the stamp duty and land tax implications of a broad range of complex transactions across Australia.

“There is something about stamp duty and land tax and in particular, dealings in property (of various types) that is really interesting.”

She also got involved with us at The Tax Institute, first attending seminars and events, then as an event presenter, member of the Membership Committee, a Queensland State Councillor and ultimately the founding chair of Queensland’s State Taxes Committee.

This September, Rosalie is returning to speak at the 2021 Trust Intensive Series. Spanning over two weeks covering 8 technical sessions, the Trust Intensive Series covers everything you need to know about Trusts and their effective use.
Rosalie will be presenting a session called Tips and Traps: Duty exemptions and concessions for Trusts on day 2 of the Intensive.

“My presentation focuses on the duty concessions and exemptions for trusts Australia wide. Some will be well known to practitioners whilst others will be less familiar,” she said.0766NAT_2021_Trust_Intensive_Blog-MREC-300x250.png

“My goal is to de-mystify (if that is a word!) the process of determining whether a duty exemption or concession is available. In 50 minutes, attendees will not become duty experts but should gain a greater understanding of the available options.”

In the words of the late great Donald Rumsfeld, Rosalie explained, “You will know what you do not know.”

Trusts in general are an ever-present and tricky part of many tax professional’s work. Duty exemptions and concessions add an extra layer of complexity. But avoiding the issues is not the right strategy, Rosalie says.

“Burying one’s head in the sand is a common reaction when confused or overwhelmed. I have been guilty of this unhelpful response too. I intend to lift the lid on the duty exemptions and concessions for trusts and by this process, tax professionals will also gain an understanding of the circumstances when duty is chargeable for common transactions involving trusts.”

But if you’re thinking of tuning into Rosalie’s session, you might already be concerned about wrapping your head around the complexity of duty exemptions and concessions. Rosalie explains that, if you’re unaware that duty is likely chargeable on the transaction, you may not even consider the availability of a duty exemption or concession.

If that’s the case for you, don’t worry – you’re not on your own.

“There are many tax issues that I am aware of and broadly understand, but I do not hold myself out as being an expert on these issues. When dealing with clients it is helpful for tax professionals to be able to highlight a potential duty issue even if the next step is to seek the assistance of a specialist in the area,” Rosalie says.

“There is value in tax professionals referring potential duty matters to a duty specialist. The duty specialist should be able to spot the issues reasonably quickly and let you know if further analysis is required. This way you have dealt with your risk on the duty side of things and most clients will appreciate a tax professional considering the broader implications even if they are not across the finer detail.”

You’ll catch Rosalie at the 2021 Trust Intensive series, running on 8 September and 15 September 2021. Find out more about the event.

About Rosalie

Copy of Firstname-Lastname-Circle-160x160 (21)Rosalie Cattermole, CTA, is a Special Counsel at Arnold Bloch Leibler specialising in stamp duty Australia wide. Prior to recently moving back to Victoria, Rosalie was the founding Chair of TTI Queensland’s State Taxes Committee and a Queensland State Councillor for TTI. Rosalie has a strong background in both indirect and direct taxes with over 17 years of experience acting for a broad range of clients including private groups and high net worth individuals. She has significant experience across the property and mining sectors. Rosalie holds a Master of Taxation from Monash University and is a regular presenter for TTI.

Rosalie is also a qualified ski instructor and 2021 is her third year of instructing at Mt Buller.


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