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Understanding Tax Structures for Sophisticated Investors and Family Offices in Australia

Designing and implementing tax-efficient investment structures is a critical component of any investor’s overall investment strategy. The Australian tax system is complex and always evolving. This is why you need to explore a range of legal and regulatory issues to structure your investments in a way that minimises your tax liabilities and maximises your returns. 

Whether you’re a sophisticated investor or a family office looking to optimise your investments, it is important to understand the different tax structures available for investing in the country. This article will give you an overview on some of the tax structures commonly used by sophisticated investors and family offices in Australia, as well as what do banking and finance lawyers do in relation to this aspect.

Common Tax Structures for Investors and Family Offices in Australia


In the Australian banking and finance industry, trusts are a popular investment vehicle for high net worth individuals and family offices in Australia. It is a legal arrangement in which one or more individuals (known as trustees) hold and manage assets for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. Trusts can be set up as discretionary trusts, unit trusts or hybrid trusts, depending on the specific needs of the investor.

This structure offers several advantages, including flexibility in the way it can be structured and tax efficiency. It also offers asset protection, as the assets held in trust are legally separate from the individual investors’ personal assets. This can help to shield investors from personal liability in the event of legal action against the trust.


A company is a separate legal entity from its shareholders, meaning that it can enter into contracts, borrow money and hold assets in its own right.

From a tax perspective, companies are subject to a corporate tax rate, which is currently set at 30% in Australia. This means that profits earned by the company are taxed at the corporate level, and then any dividends paid to shareholders are taxed at their individual tax rates.

There are a number of tax benefits associated with using a company as a tax structure for investment in Australia, including limited liability, tax planning and capital raising.

  1. Limited liability: Shareholders in a company are generally not personally liable for the debts and obligations of the business. This means that their personal assets are protected in the event that the company experiences financial difficulties.
  2. Tax planning: Companies can provide investors with greater flexibility in terms of tax planning, as profits can be retained within the company or distributed to shareholders in the form of dividends.
  3. Capital raising: Companies can also be an effective way for investors to raise capital, as they can issue shares to investors in exchange for investment capital.

Self-Managed Superannuation Funds (SMSFs)

An SMSF is a type of superannuation fund that is managed by its members, who are also the trustees of the fund. SMSFs can have up to four members, and they are regulated by the Australian Taxation Office.

One of the main advantages of SMSFs is their tax efficiency. SMSFs offer a range of tax benefits for investors. For one, SMSFs are taxed at a concessional rate of 15%, which is lower than the top marginal tax rate for individuals.

In addition, investment earnings in an SMSF are generally tax-free once the members have retired and are in the pension phase. SMSFs can also benefit from capital gains tax concessions, including the ability to discount capital gains by up to 33% for assets held for more than 12 months.


Partnerships can also be a tax-efficient investment structure for sophisticated investors and family offices in Australia. These can be structured as general partnerships or limited partnerships, depending on the specific needs of the investor.

Like with other flow-through entities, partnerships are considered tax-transparent, meaning that the profits and losses of the partnership are passed through to the individual partners, who are then taxed at their individual tax rates.

In terms of ownership and management, partnerships offer a high degree of flexibility. This allows investors to tailor the structure to suit their specific needs and goals.

Partnerships can also provide investors with access to a range of tax deductions and concessions, such as deductions for business expenses and depreciation on capital assets.

Joint Ventures

A joint venture is a business arrangement between two or more parties who agree to combine their resources and expertise to achieve a specific goal or project. These can be used to undertake specific projects or investments and can be structured in a tax-efficient manner to minimise the tax liabilities of the investors. This allows investors to tailor the structure to suit their specific needs and goals. For example, investors can choose to contribute capital, expertise or a combination of both to the joint venture.

Like partnerships, joint ventures are also considered tax-transparent. They can also help to reduce the risk of investing in a new business or project, as investors are able to share the risk with other parties.

The Role of  Banking and Finance Lawyers

The tax structures commonly used by sophisticated investors and family offices in Australia are closely tied to the Australian banking and finance industry, which is highly regulated. There are many legal and tax considerations to take into account when structuring investments. This is where banking and finance lawyers come in.

Banking and finance lawyers play an important role in helping sophisticated investors and family offices in Australia go through the world of tax structures. These lawyers specialise in the complex legal and regulatory issues that arise in the banking and finance sector, and they help their clients design and implement tax-efficient investment structures that meet their business goals.

So, what do banking and finance lawyers do in relation to tax structures for sophisticated investors and family offices in Australia? Here are some of their key responsibilities:

  1. Provide advice on tax-efficient investment structures

Banking and finance lawyers provide expert advice to their clients on the tax implications of different investment structures. They can help you design and implement investment structures that are tax-efficient and help you achieve your financial objectives.

  1. Explore the challenging world of tax laws

The Australian laws are constantly changing. Banking and finance lawyers stay up-to-date with the latest tax laws and regulations to help their clients navigate this dynamic landscape. They can help you structure your investments in a way that minimises your tax liabilities and maximises your returns.

  1. Negotiate complex agreements

Sophisticated investors and family offices often require complex agreements to be negotiated with various parties, such as other investors, banks and fund managers. Banking and finance lawyers can help negotiate these agreements to ensure their clients’ interests are protected and that the investment structure is tax-efficient.

  1. Assist with regulatory compliance

The financial industry is heavily regulated, and banking and finance lawyers help their clients stay compliant with the relevant regulations. They can help you ensure that investment structures are set up in accordance with all relevant laws and regulations, minimising the risk of any regulatory issues down the line.

How Madison Marcus Can Help You

Choosing the right tax structure is crucial for sophisticated investors and family offices in Australia who want to invest. By working with a knowledgeable lawyer, investors can structure their investments in a tax-efficient manner and minimise their tax liabilities whilst maximising their investment returns.

If you’re looking for expert advice and guidance on banking and finance matters, Madison Marcus can help you. We understand the complexities of the financial industry and can provide you with the insight and expertise you need to make informed decisions and achieve your financial goals. We can help you navigate complex financial regulations, provide expert guidance on investment strategies and assist with a range of financial transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, securities offerings, and debt financing. Whether you are an individual investor or a large corporation, we are committed to providing you with the highest level of service and support. 

For all enquiries, contact us here


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