A partnership is generally defined as a group of two or more people who carry on a business together for profits.
While desirable, a written agreement is not a requirement for a business arrangement to be treated as a partnership under tax law.
Broadly speaking, the net income received from a partnership is calculated as its assessable income; less all allowable deductions. In other words, it is as if the partnership were a resident taxpayer in its own right: with all Australian and overseas’ sourced income and deductions included.
Losses that cannot be deducted in the current year under these rules are generally referred to as ‘non-commercial losses’. They are carried forward (or deferred), in the partners’ own individual tax return to offset against any assessable income derived from the same (or similar), business activity in the subsequent income year, (subject to the requirements for deductibility being met).
The ATO generally considers the payment of a salary to a partner as being a distribution of partnership profits and, therefore, not a tax-deductible partnership expense.
This is because a partner cannot legally, be an employee of a partnership, i.e. a person cannot employ him or herself.
A partnership is required to lodge a partnership tax return each year by the due date. However, a partnership does not pay tax on its own income.
Instead, the profits from the partnership are allocated to the partners, and they pay tax on it in their own, individual tax returns.
Each partner is then taxed on his or her share of the partnership’s taxable income – or they may claim a deduction for their share of any partnership tax loss.
In other words, a partnership itself does not pay tax, but is required to lodge a tax return nonetheless.
A business partnership tax return is due by October 31.
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