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ATO Interpretative Decision

ATO ID 2003/998 (Withdrawn)

Income Tax
Capital Allowances: holder of a depreciating asset -possession and right to legally own in the future - family arrangement

Attention This ATO ID is withdrawn. Guidance on this issue can be found in Guide to depreciating assets 2016 (NAT1996).
Attention This document has changed over time. View its history.
FOI status: may be released
Status of this decision: Decision withdrawn 22 September 2017.

CautionCAUTION: This is an edited and summarised record of a Tax Office decision. This record is not published as a form of advice. It is being made available for your inspection to meet FOI requirements, because it may be used by an officer in making another decision.

This ATOID provides you with the following level of protection:

If you reasonably apply this decision in good faith to your own circumstances (which are not materially different from those described in the decision), and the decision is later found to be incorrect you will not be liable to pay any penalty or interest. However, you will be required to pay any underpaid tax (or repay any over-claimed credit, grant or benefit), provided the time limits under the law allow it. If you do intend to apply this decision to your own circumstances, you will need to ensure that the relevant provisions referred to in the decision have not been amended or repealed. You may wish to obtain further advice from the Tax Office or from a professional adviser.


Is the taxpayer the holder under section 40-40 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (ITAA 1997) of a depreciating asset which the taxpayer possesses under a family arrangement, but has been initially purchased and registered in the name of the taxpayer's relative?


Yes. The taxpayer is the holder of the depreciating asset under item 6 of the table in section 40-40 of the ITAA 1997.


The taxpayer wished to purchase a car but was unable to obtain finance until after a probationary period of employment had expired. The taxpayer therefore entered into an arrangement with a relative which provided that the relative would initially acquire the car from a car dealer, the car would be registered in the relative's name and the taxpayer would immediately take possession of the vehicle. The required deposit was to be paid by the taxpayer directly to the car dealer. The arrangement also provided that once the taxpayer obtained finance, the relative would be paid the amount of the initial car purchase price, less the deposit already paid, and the car registration would be transferred to the taxpayer. No money would be paid by the taxpayer to the relative prior to transfer of registration and no interest would be charged by the relative.

Both parties to the arrangement anticipated that the taxpayer would soon successfully complete the probationary period of employment and be able to obtain the bank loan which would allow the taxpayer to pay the relative the initial purchase price in exchange for full legal ownership.

Reasons for Decision

Division 40 of the ITAA 1997 provides a deduction for the decline in value of a depreciating asset you hold, to the extent the asset is used for a taxable purpose (section 40-25 of the ITAA 1997).

The table in section 40-40 of the ITAA 1997 identifies who is the holder of a depreciating asset. The effect of the table is that, unless another item provides otherwise, the legal owner of the depreciating asset is the holder (item 10 of the table). Item 6 of the table provides that the economic owner, and not the legal owner, is the holder where:

  the taxpayer (the economic owner) has possession, or an immediate right to possession, of the asset combined with a right, the exercise of which would make them the holder (for example, an option to acquire); and
  it is 'reasonable to expect' that the taxpayer will become the holder by exercising that right or that the asset will be disposed of at their direction and for their benefit.

The effect of item 6 applying to an arrangement is that the entity in possession of the asset is taken to be the holder of the depreciating asset for the purposes of Division 40 of the ITAA 1997, and the legal owner is not the holder.

The taxpayer possessed the vehicle during the income year and had a right to obtain legal title to it. Exercise of this right would have resulted in the taxpayer being the holder under item 10 of the table in section 40-40 of the ITAA 1997. During the period that the taxpayer possessed the vehicle it was reasonable to expect that the taxpayer would exercise this right.

The 'reasonable to expect' test is satisfied in these particular circumstances because the taxpayer's arrangement was agreed to by both parties under the reasonable expectation that each party would be willing and able to fulfil their obligations under the arrangement and there is nothing to suggest that it is reasonable to expect that this would not happen.

The taxpayer was the holder of the depreciating asset under item 6 of the table in section 40-40 of the ITAA 1997 from the time the taxpayer took possession of the vehicle to the time that the vehicle was registered in the taxpayer's name. The relative was not the holder during this period.

Date of decision: 6 October 2003

Year of income:Year ended 30 June 2003

Legislative References:
Income Tax Assessment Act 1997
   section 40-25
   section 40-40

Related ATO Interpretative Decisions
ATO ID 2001/314
ATO ID 2003/148
ATO ID 2003/149

Capital Allowances CoE
Family members
Hold a depreciating asset
Uniform capital allowances system

Siebel/TDMS Reference Number: 3631861

Business Line: Small Business/Individual Taxpayers

Date of publication: 14 November 2003

ISSN: 1445-2782

ATO ID 2003 history   Top  
   Date   Version 
    6 October 2003   Original statement   
 You are here ®  22 September 2017   Withdrawn   


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