Considerations and tax implications

Succession planning is a crucial process for family businesses, involving the transfer of control or eventual sale of the business to the next generation or other family members. It is essential to incorporate tax considerations into your succession plan to avoid unforeseen tax issues down the line. This article explores the importance of adopting a sound tax governance framework, the tax implications involved in succession planning, and the significance of seeking professional advice to ensure accurate tax treatment and outcomes.


Sound tax governance framework

Implementing a tax governance framework helps manage tax issues related to succession planning before they become problematic. While succession planning may not have an immediate tax impact, it is recommended to include tax considerations in the plan to prevent unexpected tax issues during its implementation.


Restructuring business operations

Transferring control of a family business to the next generation often requires restructuring business operations, such as changes to share structure, trustee and appointor of a trust, or partnership structures. It may also involve transferring assets to family members through the creation of trusts or other entities. These events can have legal and tax implications that should be carefully considered and documented.


Understanding capital gains tax consequences

When disposing of or transferring business assets, capital gains tax (CGT) consequences are likely to arise. It is important to be aware of the potential CGT liabilities and plan accordingly. Additionally, the sale of a business may trigger other tax obligations related to GST, wine equalisation tax, fuel tax credits, and excise duty.


Pre-CGT assets and carried-forward losses

For assets acquired before the introduction of CGT, it is essential to understand and document the tax consequences for both the business owner and beneficiaries. Changes in business operations may impact the pre-CGT status of assets or shares, and the availability of carried-forward losses should be considered.


Documentation and record-keeping

Significant changes to business structures or operations, including asset disposals, should be thoroughly documented, taking into account their tax impact. Proper documentation of asset information such as acquisition dates and cost base ensures accurate tax treatment for subsequent disposals. Each strategy employed should be carefully considered, and relevant transactions should be recorded and retained.


Case study: transitioning to retirement

Consider a scenario where the owner of a successful family business prepared a basic succession plan many years ago but now needs to update it due to business expansion and the involvement of their children. This case study highlights the option of restructuring the business as a family trust to maintain some control while reducing day-to-day involvement. The article emphasises the importance of understanding the tax consequences of this strategy and seeking professional advice for comprehensive guidance.


Documenting plans and seeking professional advice

Regardless of the strategies chosen for business succession, it is crucial to document plans and seek advice from professional advisers where necessary. This not only reduces the risk of incorrect tax treatment and outcomes but also helps avoid potential penalties.



Succession planning for family businesses requires careful consideration of tax implications to ensure a smooth transition of control or eventual sale. By adopting a sound tax governance framework, understanding the tax consequences of different strategies, and seeking professional advice, business owners can mitigate risks and achieve favourable tax outcomes. Documenting plans and transactions is essential for accurate tax treatment and compliance. With proper planning and expert guidance, family businesses can secure their legacy and facilitate a successful transfer to the next generation.

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