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Section 100a Explained

In the realm of accounting, it is essential for accountants, bookkeepers and tax agents to stay informed about regulations. One such regulation that needs to be paid attention to is section 100a of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936

This article will offer advisors a summary of section 100a, its consequences, and some strategies for handling potential risks.

What is Section 100a?

Section 100a, found in the Income Tax Assessment Act of 1936, serves as a safeguard against individuals exploiting reimbursement agreements to avoid their tax obligations. In this context, a reimbursement agreement refers to an arrangement where one person receives benefits from a trust while another person is presently entitled to income and subject to taxation.

For section 100a to be applicable, certain conditions must be met:

  1. Agreement Connection - The present entitlement must have a connection with an agreement, arrangement or understanding.
  2. Provision of Benefits - Some form of benefit must be provided to someone else. This benefit can take many forms like transferring trust property, making payments, loans or providing services.
  3. Tax Reduction Purpose - At least one party involved should have the intention of reducing or postponing income tax.

It is important to note that there are exceptions within section 100a for specific situations. 

These exceptions cover situations like regular family or business arrangements, cases with beneficiaries under 18 or facing legal disabilities, and instances where there was no pre-existing agreement when the beneficiary became entitled.

Key Points to Remember About Section 100a

To effectively serve clients when section 100a applies, advisors must have a solid understanding of section 100a and its potential impact on tax liabilities. 

Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Trust Income Allocation - Normally, trust income is allocated to beneficiaries, who are then responsible for paying taxes at their individual rates. However, if there is a reimbursement agreement in place, the trustee might end up paying taxes at the highest marginal rate.
  2. Exemptions - It's important to note that section 100a doesn't apply to transactions carried out as part of ordinary family or commercial dealings, which are generally considered low risk. Additionally, it excludes cases involving beneficiaries under 18 or those without a relevant agreement when they become entitled.
  3. Risk Assessment - Advisors should carefully assess whether section 100a could apply to their client's situation, particularly regarding trust entitlements during a specific income year. Seeking guidance from a registered tax agent or requesting a private ruling can be advantageous in such scenarios.

Understanding these aspects can financial advisors navigate the complexities of section 100a and ensure they provide accurate advice tailored to their client's needs.

Consequences of Section 100a

When section 100a is applicable, the tax implications of the beneficiary's entitlement are not considered. Instead, the trustee is liable to pay taxes on the beneficiary's portion of the trust's taxable income at the highest tax rate. It is important to note that this only affects how taxes are calculated for the beneficiary and does not impact the legal outcomes under trust laws.

Examples to Clarify Section 100a

Let's take a look at a couple of example scenarios to demonstrate how section 100a can be applied:

Scenario 1: Loan without a Reimbursement Agreement

Meet John, he is a university student who lives with his parents. His parents also lent him money to cover his living expenses. Towards the end of the year, John starts earning income from a trust, and the trust uses this income to repay the loan provided by his parents. In this case, section 100a does not come into play because there's no agreement for reimbursement involved.

Scenario 2: Risky Arrangement

Now, let's consider another scenario where a university student has no other sources of income and suddenly becomes entitled to receive a significant amount. The student agrees to repay their parents for expenses incurred during their minor years after deducting taxes. This particular situation falls under the high-risk category and might potentially trigger section 100A.

Managing Section 100a Risks

To manage the risks associated with section 100a, advisors should follow these three steps:

  1. Utilise guidance materials provided by tax authorities to gain a comprehensive understanding of what is considered "ordinary family or commercial dealing" and the specific scenarios where section 100a might be applicable.
  2. Refer to the guidance available on the ATO website, which provides examples of situations where section 100a may or may not be relevant.
  3. Maintain thorough records that clearly explain all transactions and arrangements involved. These records should include trust deeds, loan agreements, as well as evidence demonstrating that beneficiaries have received or benefited from their entitlements.

In cases where there is uncertainty or a belief that section 100a could potentially apply to a client's affairs, advisors should seek professional advice from registered tax agents and can also consider applying for a private ruling.

How QuickBooks Can Help

Section 100a is a necessary regulation that advisors and tax agents should be familiar with. It's important for them to understand its intricacies and stay updated on the latest guidance to assist their clients in navigating the complex realm of taxation while ensuring compliance with tax laws.

QuickBooks is a tool that can help advisors with compliance. Its accounting features help simplify record keeping and reporting, making it easier to track trust income, beneficiary entitlements and reimbursement agreements.


By utilising QuickBooks, accountants and bookkeepers can efficiently handle their client's accounts. Sign up to QuickBooks Online Accountant today and streamline your operations as an advisor.

If you liked this article have a look at our guide to section 99b.


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