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34. Chapter 24: Appendix B: Rate Structure

I. Present Duties and Grossing-Up

24.B1. The present Commonwealth estate and gift duties favour lifetime giving as against bequeathing property on death. This may be illustrated as follows. Assume that a taxpayer dies domiciled in Australia and by his will bequeaths all of his estate to persons who are not related to him, and that the value of the estate is $600,000. The total duty payable, ignoring duties at the State level, will be $161,400. Assume that another taxpayer with an estate of $600,000 makes a gift of cash of $400,000, three months before death, to a person not related to him, files a gift duty return, is assessed and pays the duty. Assume also that the value of the remainder of his property does not change between the gift and death. In this case the total duty payable will be $131,683, calculated as follows:

Gift  400,000 
Gift duty  105,600 
Actual estate after gift  200,000 
less Gift duty paid out of estate  105,600 
Actual estate on death  94,400 
plus Notional estate  400,000 
Estate on death  494,400 
Gross estate duty  131,683 
less Credit for gift duty  105,600 
Estate duty liability  26,083 

Total estate and gift duty is thus $29,717 less than the duty on the estate of the first taxpayer. There would, of course, be no tax saving in the second case if the notional estate were grossed up, for estate duty purposes, by the amount of gift duty on the gift.

II. Illustration of a Scale of Integrated Duty

24.B2. The Committee does not wish to recommend a particular rate scale for an integrated estate and gift duty. The following rate scale is illustrative only: it was necessary to devise a scale for the purpose of constructing the examples of inflation adjustment and quick-succession relief presented later in this appendix.

Value of estate   Marginal rate  
per cent 
60,001–120,000  20 
120,001–200,000  30 
200,001–300,000  40 

The amount of tax that would be imposed by such a scale on estates of varying sizes is as follows:

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Value of estate   Duty  
50,000  nil 
100,000  (20% of $40,000)  8,000 
150,000  (20% of $60,000 + 30% of $30,000)  21,000 
200,000  (20% of $60,000 + 30% of $80,000)  36,000 
250,000  (20% of $60,000 + 30% of $80,000 + 40% of $50,000)  56,000 

III. Adjusting the Rate Scale

24.B3. In paragraph 24.42, the Committee has indicated the principles that must be followed in changing the rate structure and in relating gifts made at different times. These principles are now illustrated.

24.B4. If it is decided to adjust the rate structure to take account of inflation of say, 10 per cent, each slice would be increased by 10 per cent. The scale in paragraph 24.B2 would become:

Former slice   Rate   New slice  
$’000  per cent  $’000 
0–60  0–66 
60–120  20  66–132 
120–200  30  132–220 
200–300  40  220–330 

24.B5. If it is then decided to increase the weight of the tax, the marginal rates would be increased. The scale would then become:

Value of estate   Rate  
$’000  per cent 
66–132  22 
132–220  33 
220–330  44 

24.B6. If a person makes a gift of $92,000 when the scale in paragraph 24.B2 applies (all previous gifts being exempt), the duty will be $8,000. A gift of $92,000, when grossed up, will represent the whole of the first slice and two-thirds of the second slice. Thus, if the scale is revised in the manner indicated in paragraph 24.B5, the balance of the second slice available to the donor will be one-third, i.e. $22,000. If the donor dies when the scale in paragraph 24.B5 is in force without having made any other taxable gifts and with an estate of $40,000, the estate (assuming no exemptions apply) will attract duty as follows:

22 per cent of $22,000  4,800 
33 per cent of $18,000  5,940 

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It will be noted that the gift duty on any gift is finally determined at the time of the gift and expresses the weight of tax then applying.

IV. Quick-Succession Relief

24.B7. The principles to be followed in granting quick-succession relief are outlined in paragraph 24.48. The application of the principles is illustrated below:

Example 1

Assume that the estate of John Smith, on his death, is made up as follows:

House: value on death  60,000 
Shares: value on death  120,000 
Moneys on deposit or in hand  30,000 
less Capital gains tax on death  20,000 
Net value of the estate  190,000 

Assume that Smith, during his life, gave $50,000 to his wife and made no other non-exempt gifts. Assume that Smith leaves the whole of his estate to his wife. Duty will be assessed on $180,000, i.e. $190,000 less the remaining $10,000 of the wife's exemption (paragraph 24.34), all but $10,000 of the exemption having been used before death. Duty, on the basis of the scale in paragraph 24.B2, will be $30,000. Assume that Mrs Smith dies 3 years later, leaving an estate with a net value of $230,000. The house and share portfolio bequeathed to Mrs Smith may form part of the estate or may have been sold. This will not affect the quick-succession relief. The full relief will be available in that Mrs Smith has died within 5 years of her husband's death and because the estate (net value $230,000) may be assumed to include an amount equivalent to the value of the inherited assets ($190,000). Assume that the scale in paragraph 24.B2 has not been changed and that the whole estate is left to the adult children of Mr and Mrs Smith:

Duty on $230,000  48,000 
less Relief  30,000 
Duty payable on Mrs Smith's estate  18,000 

24.B8. In example 1, it was assumed that no change in the rate scale occurred between the deaths of Mr and Mrs Smith. As indicated in paragraph 24.51, where there has been a change in the width of slices in the rate scale to take account of inflation, the Committee favours measures to bring about an equivalence in value between tax paid on an inheritance and tax against which relief is available. These measures should relate a gift or an estate to slices and parts of slices in the rate scale so that, if the scale has thus varied, so too will the quantum of the gift or estate. The following examples of quick-succession relief illustrate the principle.

Example 2

Assume that, in example 1, Mrs Smith dies exactly 9 years and 1 month after her husband and that, on her death, the rates are those in paragraph 24.B5. The tax on the death of Mr Smith was $30,000, assessed on an estate of $190,000. The equivalent of an estate of $190,000, under the scale in paragraph 24.B5, is one of $205,333, and the

  ― 482 ―
equivalent tax on such an estate is $38,720. Mrs Smith's estate (net value $230,000) can be assumed to include an amount equivalent to the value of the inherited assets ($205,333), so that the whole of the $38,720 less four-tenths of it (9 complete years having elapsed since the death of Mr Smith) will be available as a credit:

Duty on $230,000  47,960 
less Relief (6/10 × $38,720)  23,232 
Duty payable on Mrs Smith's estate  24,728 

Example 3

Assume that, in example 1, Mr Smith left half his estate to his wife and the other half on trust for his wife during her life and thereafter to his adult son. Assume that Mrs Smith dies 9 years and 1 month after her husband and that, on her death, the rate scale in paragraph 24.B5 applies, that the value of the assets in the trust fund is $120,000, that the value of Mrs Smith's actual estate is $30,000, and that Mrs Smith leaves her actual estate to her adult son. The equivalent of an estate of $95,000 (i.e. ½ × $190,000) under the scale in paragraph 24.B5 is an estate of $104,500, and the equivalent tax on such an estate is $19,965 (i.e. ½ the tax on 2 × $104,500). Mrs Smith's estate will be:

Actual  30,000 
plus Life estate  120,000 
Duty on $150,000  20,460 
Duty attributable to trust estate $120,000/$150,000 × $20,460  16,368 

The trust estate (net value $120,000) may be assumed to include an amount equivalent to the inherited assets ($104,500)—indeed, unless the trustee has made distributions from corpus it can always be assumed to include such an amount—so that part of the relief will be available:

Duty on the trust estate  16,368 
less Relief (6/10 × $19,965)  11,979 
Duty payable by the trust estate  4,389 

Mrs Smith's actual estate ($30,000) cannot be assumed to include all of the inherited assets ($104,500), so that the relief will be limited as follows:

Duty on Mrs Smith's actual estate  $30,000 × $20,000  4,092 
less Relief  (6/10 × $30,000 × $19,965)  3,434 
Duty payable on actual estate  658