The ATO is investigating arrangements where a private company with accumulated profits channels franked dividends to a self-managed super fund (SMSF) instead of to the company’s original shareholders. As a result, the original shareholders escape tax on the dividends and the original shareholders (or individuals associated with the original shareholders) benefit as members of the SMSF from franking credit refunds to the SMSF.

The ATO was concerned that contrived arrangements are being entered into by individuals (typically SMSF members approaching retirement) so that dividends subsequently flow to, and are purportedly treated as exempt from income tax, in the SMSF because the relevant shares are supporting pensions. The ATO also warned the arrangement has features of dividend stripping which could lead the ATO to cancel any tax benefit for the transferring shareholder and/or deny the SMSF the franking credit tax offset.


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