In a move to streamline and align the tax treatment of off-market share buy-backs, the 2023 October Budget introduced changes that have now become law (as of December 2023).
These alterations, effective for listed public companies offering off-market share buy-backs post 7:30 pm AEDT on October 25, 2022, bring about significant shifts in how shareholders are taxed, now mirroring the treatment of on-market share buy-backs.
Traditionally, off-market share buy-backs occur when a company opts to repurchase its shares directly from shareholders rather than executing the transaction through a stock exchange. Typically, shareholders receive a written offer from the company detailing the buy-back terms.
The key change in tax treatment revolves around the categorisation of the buy-back price. For off-market share buy-backs initiated by listed public companies post the specified date, the entire buy-back price will be treated as capital proceeds. This marks a departure from previous practices where a portion of the buy-back price was treated as a dividend.
Furthermore, the revisions extend to the taxation of distributions related to selective share cancellations offered by listed public companies. Going forward, these distributions will be treated as unfrankable, adding an extra layer of clarity to the tax landscape.
It’s important to note that these changes exclusively apply to listed public companies. Off-market share buy-backs offered by companies not listed on the public exchange remain unaffected by these alterations.
For shareholders who have participated in off-market share buy-backs before the implementation of these changes, referencing the dividend or distribution statement, or any applicable class ruling, is recommended for a comprehensive understanding of the tax implications.
In essence, these changes aim to create consistency and fairness in the tax treatment of share buy-backs, offering investors clearer guidelines and aligning the treatment of on-market and off-market transactions in the realm of listed public companies.
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