A beneficiary of two trusts whose assessable income was increased from some $70,000 to some $13 million in light of her entitlement to distributions from the trusts has been unsuccessful in claiming on appeal that she had “disclaimed her interests” in the trusts.

Instead, the AAT found that she could not argue she had disclaimed her interests in the distributions. This finding was on the basis that she did not bring up having made “disclaimers” when she originally objected to amended assessments that the Commissioner of Taxation issued in 2013. Additionally, in any event, the AAT found that the disclaimers were legally ineffective because of the significant period of time between the distributions being made (in 2006 and 2007) and the disclaimers being made (in 2015).

TIP: Any attempt to disclaim an interest in a trust for tax purposes must be legally valid first – and the key consideration is that there must not have been behavior that indicates implied acceptance of the interest. In this case, the taxpayer’s behavior was problematic because she did not act until well after she received the distributions and they were assessed as part of her income.