Dear Fellow Shareholder,
Last week, we became aware that the Federal Government has proposed another policy for consultation which would impact Australian companies and their ability to pay fully franked dividends to their shareholders.
We disagree with the proposed fundamental change to former Prime Minister Paul Keating’s legislation, originally introduced to eliminate double taxation of company earnings, and the inequitable policy proposed by the Federal Government. We will continue to advocate for shareholders who will be impacted by the changes put forward.
The proposed new legislation seeks to prevent Australian companies from paying franked dividends to shareholders in circumstances where Treasury believes that the fully franked dividend can be directly or indirectly linked to funding received through capital raising. Rather than going after the recipients of franking credits as occurred in 2019 and failed, Labor are now going after the source, Australian companies who pay their taxes and will be denied the opportunity to reward their shareholders with fully franked dividends.
As drafted, the proposed legislation would appear to inadvertently impact situations of legitimate company operations and could accordingly delay or discourage the normal processes of capital raising, investment and economic growth in Australia and interfere with the operation and the efficiency of the Australian capital markets. The legislation does not sufficiently distinguish between acceptable activities and the tax avoidance situations it intends to address.
We note the retrospective application to 19 December 2016 would unfairly prejudice franked dividends paid out to shareholders of Australian companies during this time and leave them with unexpected tax bills for dividends they have since received, to be paid at a time of economic uncertainty.
This legislation was initially drafted by the previous Liberal Government which we also disagreed with.
The Government has called for submissions on its policy by 5 October 2022, an unacceptably short time frame for Australian companies and shareholders to respond. We have today written to Treasury requesting an extension to this deadline. Our team is currently working on its submission and intends to share it with you shortly along with details on how you can write your own submission if you wish to do so.
We are determined that everyone’s voice is heard by the Federal Government and will continue to advocate for retail shareholders and investors who are set to be impacted by this poorly constructed policy. You can read our comments and concerns on the proposed policy in The Australian Financial Review, The Australian and Sydney Morning Herald and from others in The Australian Financial Review.
If you would like to discuss this matter further, please call us on (02) 9247 6755 or email us on email@example.com.
Geoff Wilson AO