The trustee of a unit trust scheme can apply for registration of the scheme as:
- a declared public unit trust scheme
- a wholesale unit trust scheme
- an imminent wholesale unit trust scheme, or
- a declared wholesale unit trust scheme.
The effect of registration is that a unit trust scheme is provided with concessionary treatment under the landholder provisions. As a result of being registered, a scheme that would otherwise be treated as a private unit trust scheme is treated as either a public unit trust scheme or a wholesale unit trust scheme.
The benefit for a scheme being registered as a declared public unit trust scheme is that acquisitions of less than 90 per cent are generally not subject to duty under the landholder provisions. However, depending on the conditions attached to the scheme’s registration, an acquisition of an interest of less than 90 per cent may result in a liability for duty as a consequence of a disqualifying circumstance occurring in the scheme.
For a scheme registered as a wholesale unit trust scheme, imminent wholesale unit trust scheme or declared wholesale unit trust scheme, the acquisition of units is only subject to duty if a person acquires an interest of 50 per cent or more (rather than 20 per cent or more in a private unit trust scheme).
Ordinarily, registration of a unit trust scheme will start from the date the application for registration is made. Registration can be backdated to a date prior to the date of application if the unit trust scheme met the criteria for registration at that time and the Commissioner is satisfied that there are good reasons for backdating the date of registration.
However, the Commissioner will not backdate registration of a unit trust scheme to prevent a liability from arising on an acquisition of an interest in the scheme. In these circumstances the Commissioner takes the view that registration of the scheme is being sought for the purpose (or collateral purpose) of avoiding or reducing the duty otherwise applicable under the Duties Act 2000 (the Act).
Please refer to ss. 89P to 89Y of the Act and Revenue Rulings DA-061, DA-062 and DA-063v2 for more information on registering a unit trust scheme.