Repeal of branch equivalent tax accounts of companies and conduit tax relief accounts

2012 Act removes branch equivalent tax accounts of companies and conduit tax relief accounts and repeals associated provisions.

The Taxation (International Taxation, Life Insurance, and Remedial Matters) Act 2009 made major changes to the tax treatment of foreign investments.

Those changes made branch equivalent tax accounts of companies (BETAs) and conduit tax relief accounts (CTRAs) obsolete.

At the time, the Government announced that these memorandum accounts would be retained for a transitional period of two years, to allow the use of remaining BETA debits (to prevent double-taxation of foreign income) and the distribution of conduit-relieved income (to prevent the dilution of foreign dividend payment credits).

The new Act removes the BETAs and CTRAs at the end of the relevant period, and repeals associated provisions and references.

Application date

The repeal of BETAs and related provisions applies, in most cases, from the beginning of the fourth income year after the taxpayer becomes subject to the new international tax rules (that is, the first income year beginning on or after 1 July 2012).

A restriction on elections to use BETA debit balances, limiting the use to relieving tax on attributed foreign income that is allocated to the second year under the international tax rules or to an earlier year, applies from the first income year beginning on or after 1 July 2009.

The repeal of CTRAs and related provisions applies from the beginning of the first income year beginning on or after 1 July 2011.

Key features

BETAs have been repealed after three years under the international tax rules passed in
2009. Debit balances will be able to be used to relieve tax on attributed foreign income only where that income is allocated to the second year under the new rules or to an earlier year. BETAs remain for the third year only to allow determination of income and filing of returns for the second year.

CTRAs have been repealed after two years under the 2009 international tax rules. Dividends not paid before that date will not be able to have conduit tax credits attached to them.

Detailed analysis

All references are to the Income Tax Act 2007, unless noted.

Branch equivalent tax accounts (BETAs) of companies

Branch equivalent tax accounts of companies are being phased out. Branch equivalent tax accounts of individuals (non-companies) are unaffected.

Paragraph FM 6(3)(d)

Paragraph FM 6(3)(d) has been repealed along with BETA accounts of companies. Dividends between companies in a consolidated group are normally ignored, but are still taken into account for the purposes of the rules relating to BETAs. Once BETAs of companies cease to exist, this section will become redundant.

Section GB 40

Section GB 40 has been repealed. Arrangements to avoid continuity restrictions on BETA account balances will cease to be relevant when BETA account balances are repealed.

Arrangements affecting balances before the repeal will still be caught, since the section applied at the time.

Paragraphs OA 2(1)(d), 5(5)(a), 5(5)(c), 6(5)(a), 6(5)(c), subparagraphs OA 7(2)(d)(i) and (iii), paragraphs OA 8(6)(c) and (g)

These provisions have been repealed or altered. With the repeal of BETAs of companies from the first income year beginning on or after 1 July 2012, no further credits or debits will arise in the accounts and there will not be any balances in the accounts. No further BETA debits will be used by companies to meet tax liabilities.

Section OA 9(4), paragraphs OA 10(1)(d) and 10(3)(c), subsection OA 14(6), and paragraphs OA 15(1)(c) and 15(3)(c)

These provisions have been repealed or altered. Previously, if an amalgamating company had a BETA, BETA debits and credits had to be transferred across to the BETA of the amalgamated company. The requirement to transfer will no longer be necessary if either the amalgamating or amalgamated company has no BETA account.

Paragraph OB 4(3)(h)

Paragraph OB 4(3)(h) has been repealed. From the beginning of the first income year beginning on or after 1 July 2012, a company will not be able to make an election to use a BETA debit balance to meet an income tax liability. In addition, even if it makes an election before that date, it will not be able to make the election in respect of a tax liability for income relating to an income year beginning on or after 1 July 2011. Paragraph (h) will therefore be redundant.

Subsections OE 7(3) and OP 101(2)

When the repeal of BETAs of companies was announced, the Government said that there would be a two-year transitional period during which existing debit balances could continue to be used.

That is, companies will still be able to reduce their tax liability for attributed foreign income earned in the first two income years following application of the new income tax rules.

Because the amount of income for the second year will not be known immediately, it will be impractical to make elections to use BETA debit balances before the end of the second year. For that reason, BETAs will remain for a third year.

New requirements have been introduced in sections OE 7 and OP 101 to prevent elections to use BETA debits unless:

  • the election is made before the end of the third income year; and
  • the election relates to a tax liability for attributed foreign income that has been allocated to the second year or to an earlier year.

These requirements apply retrospectively from the date of application of the new international tax rules.

Subsections OE 1(1) and (3), sections OE 2 to OE 4, OE 6 to OE 16B and OP 97 to OP 104B

These provisions, which impose requirements on BETA companies to keep BETAs and make appropriate entries in them, have been repealed with effect from the first income year beginning on or after July 2012. The BETA mechanism for companies and requirements to keep such accounts will be no longer required from that date.

Accounts must still be kept for the final year of the BETAs, even if only for a part tax year because of the repeal (BETAs always have a 31 March "balance" date, which may not correspond to the end of an income year). Relevant information must also be provided in an imputation credit account (ICA) return for the final year, and records must continue to be kept for the normal record-keeping period (see commentary on changes to the Tax Administration Act 1994, below).

Subsection OE 5

This provision has been modified to apply only to BETA accounts of individuals, following the repeal of the rules for companies.

Section OZ 16

This provision was repealed at the same time as BETAs of companies. This was a transitional provision to reduce remaining balances in BETAs following changes to the corporate tax rate in Budget 2010.

Subparagraph YC 17(12)(b)(iii) and subsection YC 18B(3)

These provisions have been repealed or modified to remove redundant references to BETAs.

Paragraph 22(2)(f) and subsection 22(7) of the Tax Administration Act 1994

References to BETA accounts were redundant from the time those accounts were repealed, so have been removed. Records for periods when BETA accounts were in existence are still required to be kept – that requirement arose before the repeal.

Paragraph 69(1)(e) of the Tax Administration Act 1994

This paragraph has been repealed. BETA information of companies will no longer have to be included in the annual ICA return under this section, once returns have been completed for the tax years up to and including the year during which BETAs were repealed. It is possible that the BETA will not exist for the entire tax year in the year BETAs are repealed. Nevertheless, under the existing provision, the company is still required to include relevant BETA information in the ICA return (the person was a BETA company during the tax year).

Section 77 of the Tax Administration Act 1994

This provision has been repealed. The provision previously required an amended annual ICA return if a retrospective election to be a BETA company was made, to ensure that a complete record of BETA transactions would be returned. It will not be possible to make elections to become a BETA company from the beginning of the income year beginning on or after 1 July 2012, retrospective or not. Since an ICA return must already (under section 69) be provided for any tax year falling wholly or partly within the last income year for which a BETA exists, section 77 is now redundant.

Conduit tax relief accounts

Section CW 11

Section CW 11 has been repealed. Dividends that are fully credited for conduit tax relief will no longer be exempt income of conduit tax relief holding companies if they are paid later than the beginning of the first income year of the recipient beginning on or after 1 July 2011. A number of consequential amendments have been made to remove references to section CW 11 in other provisions.

Section FE 21(12)(a)(ii)

Section FE 21(12)(a)(ii) has been repealed. It will neither be possible for companies to attach conduit tax relief credits to dividends, nor to be conduit tax relief holding companies, from income years beginning on or after 1 July 2011. This makes section FE(12)(a)(ii) redundant from the beginning of that income year.

Section GZ 2

Section GZ 2 has been repealed, on the same date as CTRAs (income years beginning on or after 1 July 2011). This was an anti-avoidance rule, which after the repeal of CTRAs, became redundant and its removal from the Income Tax Act 2007 therefore aids clarity. Note that prior to the date of repeal, the Taxation (International Investment and Remedial Matters) Act 2012 makes some remedial amendments to section GZ 2.

The rule in section GZ 2 was enacted to prevent people from accumulating CTRA credit balances in anticipation of them being cancelled under the 2009 international tax rules, and then effectively directing tax-relieved income to residents.

The rules apply to an arrangement involving transactions that occurred between the date on which repeal of conduit accounts was announced and the enactment of the international tax rules, after which further conduit tax relief was prevented. The anti-avoidance rule will still apply to such arrangements even after repeal of section GZ 2. The rule still applies because the arrangement was entered into before the repeal and the rule would have applied at that time, triggering the imposition of additional income tax.

Section HG 2(4)(c)

Section HG 2(4)(c) has been repealed. This provision states that partnerships are not subject to the "no streaming" rules in subsection HG 2(2) in respect of CTR additional dividends. There will be no such dividends paid in any income year beginning on or after 1 July 2011.

Section LQ 5

Section LQ 5 has been repealed. Since conduit tax credits will no longer be attached to dividends by a company in any income year beginning on or after 1 July 2011, CTR additional dividends will not be payable by the company from that time either.

Paragraph OA 2(1)(c), subsections 5(4) and 6(4), paragraph OA 7(2)(c), and subsections OA 8(5) and 18(1)

These paragraphs and subsections have been repealed. With the repeal of CTRAs from the first income year beginning on or after 1 July 2011, no further credits or debits will arise in the accounts and there will not be any balances in the accounts. No further CTR credits will be attached to dividends.

Paragraphs OA 10(1)(c), 10(3)(b), subsection OA 10(4) and paragraphs OA 15(3)(b), OB 24(3)(c) and OB 53(3)(c)

These paragraphs have been repealed or altered. At one time, if an amalgamating company had a CTRA but the amalgamated company did not, CTR credits were converted to imputation credits and FDP was paid. The requirement to transfer the credits ceased when the 2009 international tax rules came into force.

Sections OC 19 and OP 70

These sections were repealed because CTRAs have ceased. They allow for a transfer from a foreign dividend payment memorandum account to a CTRA in certain circumstances. With no CTRA, such transfers will no longer be possible.

Subpart OD and sections OP 78 to 80, OP 83 to 87, OP 89 to 94 and OP 96

The subpart and sections, which impose requirements on CTR companies to keep CTRAs and make appropriate entries in them, have been repealed with effect from the first income year beginning on or after July 2011. From that time, there will be no CTRAs to meet requirements for.

Accounts must still be kept for the final year of the CTRAs, even if only for a part tax year because of the repeal (CTRAs always have a 31 March "balance" date, which may not correspond to the end of an income year). Relevant information must also be provided in an ICA return for the final year, and records must continue to be kept for the normal record-keeping period (see commentary on changes to the Tax Administration Act 1994, below).

Section OZ 17

Section OZ 17 was repealed at the same time as CTRAs. This was a transitional provision to reduce remaining credit balances in CTRAs following changes to the corporate tax rate in Budget 2010.

Paragraphs RF 8(1)(c) and (f), subsections RF (9)(1), 9(6) and (7), paragraph RF 10(3)(a), subsection RF 10(4), paragraph RF 10(5)(e) and subsection RF 10(7)

These paragraphs were repealed or modified at the same time as CTRAs, since it will no longer be possible to attach CTR credits to dividends or to pay a CTR additional dividend.

Sections YD 9 to YD 11

Sections YD 9 to YC 11 were repealed at the same time as CTRAs. A CTRA holding company must be a CTR company, so these provisions have become redundant following the repeal of CTRAs.

Paragraph 22(2)(k) and sections 29, 30A and 68A of the Tax Administration Act 1994

References to CTR accounts or to CTR credits were redundant from the time those accounts were repealed. CTR credits can no longer be attached to dividends, so these references have been removed.

Paragraph 69(1)(f) of the Tax Administration Act 1994

This paragraph has been repealed. CTRA information no longer has to be included in the annual ICA return under this section, once returns have been completed for the tax years up and including the year during which CTRAs were repealed. It is possible that the CTRA will not exist for the entire tax year in the year CTRAs are repealed. Nevertheless, under the existing provision, it is still required to include relevant CTRA information in the ICA return (the person was a CTR company during the tax year).