The government tweaked the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) tax incentives enacted last year, in a bid to provide certainty for investors who are looking to invest in start-ups and certain venture capital arrangements through an interposed trust.
“This [change] ensures that investors are able to access the capital gain concessions provided by the tax incentives for early-stage investors and the new arrangements for venture capital limited partnerships measures,” Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer said.
BDO’s tax partner Mark Molesworth explained what this would mean for investors.
“The legislation was tidying up a small technical issue with that 10-year capital gains tax holiday, where if that capital gains tax exemption had been earned by a unit trust, then it was likely when that exempt gain was paid out to unit holders, there would be a taxation consequence to those unit holders,” Mr Molesworth said.
“So what the legislation passed yesterday did was to make sure there was no taxation consequence for those unit holders.”
While Mr Molesworth believes the incentives are “a step in the right direction”, he warned investors to ensure that the company they are looking to invest in meets the strict requirements of an early-stage innovation company to take advantage of the tax concessions.
He said unsophisticated investors would be limited to a $50,000 investment, reducing their tax concessions advantage, as compared to the $1 million limit on wholesale investors.
“A wholesale investor is an entity that has more than $2.5 million in assets or income of more than $250,000 a year for the last two years. There are a limited number of them that are around so it’s more of trying to encourage mum and dad investments,” Mr Molesworth said.
“Depending on your point of view, that’s either a good thing because it means mum and dad investors or unsophisticated investors don’t put all of their life savings into a single entity so that’s probably a good social outcome but it does restrict the amount that people can invest in these companies and take advantage of these tax concessions.”