A trust is an obligation imposed on a person - a trustee - to hold property or assets (such as business assets) for the benefit of others. These others are known as beneficiaries.
Setting up a trust can be expensive, as a formal deed is required and there are formal yearly administrative tasks for the trustee to undertake. A trust deed outlines how the trust is to operate.
If you operate your business as a trust, the trustee is legally responsible for its operations. A trustee of a trust can be a company, providing some asset protection.
Knowing the main features of a trust business structure may help you decide if this structure is best for your business.
Tax file number (TFN)
A trust must have its own TFN to use when lodging its annual tax return. If you are the trustee of the trust, you must apply for a tax file number for the trust. You can apply for a TFN for the trust on the ABN application form.
Australian business number (ABN)
If the trust is carrying on an enterprise in Australia, as the trustee you must register for an ABN for the trust.
Goods and services tax (GST)
If the trust is carrying on an enterprise, you can register for GST as trustee of the trust. You can do this using the ABN application form. A trust must be registered for GST if its annual GST turnover is $75,000 or more.
The registration threshold for non-profit organisations is $150,000.