Share trading and the ATO

Information verified correct on December 3rd, 2016

share-trader

If you’re a share trader, find out how you can claim losses as a tax deduction.

If you meet the Australian Tax Office definition of a share trader, you can benefit from tax benefits. The ATO defines a share trader as, "a person who carries out business activities for the purpose of earning income from buying and selling shares.” Traders and investors are taxed differently; traders can claim losses on the market as a tax deduction, but if you’re an investor, your losses are deducted from your capital gains only.

The ATO assess individuals on a case-by-case basis. Factors such as whether you have a business plan, how often you trade and the way you do it all play a part in the ATO’s decision. The ATO can also look at precedent from previous decisions when assessing your case. This page gives an insight into how the ATO classifies traders and investors and the tax implications of either classification.

Compare share and CFD trading accounts

Rates last updated December 3rd, 2016
Rates last updated December 3rd, 2016
Details Features
Halifax Online
Halifax Online
Trade US and Australian shares, options, futures and CFDs with no registration fees. Trade 24/7 on your desktop, tablet or smartphone. Commission - AUS shares: $10 or 0.12% Go to site More info
TradeDirect365 CFD Trading
TradeDirect365 CFD Trading
Trade CFDs on over 500 ASX shares, as well as international shares, indices, foreign exchange and commodities with TradeDirect365. Stop loss orders and a 24 hour trade desk available. Commission - AUS shares: $5 or 0.07% Go to site More info
Plus500 CFD Service
Plus500 CFD Service
Trade Australian and international CFDs on shares, forex, indices, commodities and more. $30 welcome bonus available. T&C's apply. Commission - AUS shares: Spread only Go to site More info
FP Markets CFD Account
FP Markets CFD Account
Trade CFDs with FP Markets using the IRESSTrader platform. Trade CFDs on international equities, futures and forex. Commission - AUS shares: $10 or 0.10% Go to site More info
Rates last updated December 3rd, 2016
Details Features
FP Markets FX Trading Account
FP Markets FX Trading Account
Trade forex using an Electronic Communications Network (ECN) model, meaning FP Markets doesn't profit from client losses. Two account types to choose from. Spreads: From 0.8 pips Go to site More info
Plus500 CFD Forex Trading Service
Plus500 CFD Forex Trading Service
Trade Australian and international CFDs on shares, forex, indices, commodities and more. $30 welcome bonus available. T&C's apply. Spreads: Spread only Go to site More info
TradeDirect365 CFD Trading
TradeDirect365 CFD Trading
Trade CFDs on over 500 ASX shares, as well as international shares, indices, foreign exchange and commodities with TradeDirect365. Stop loss orders and a 24 hour trade desk available. Spreads : $5 or 0.07% Go to site More info
IG Forex Trading Account
IG Forex Trading Account
Trade from over 10,000 markets with Australia's leading service for CFD trading and forex. Spreads: From 0.6 pips Go to site More info
CMC Markets Forex Trading Account
CMC Markets Forex Trading Account
Trade shares, warrants, options, EFTs, managed funds, bonds and IPOs with CMC Markets today. Spreads: From 0.7 pips Go to site More info

Rates last updated December 3rd, 2016
Details Features
Commonwealth Financial Planning
Commonwealth Financial Planning
Free initial consultation offer with a financial planner Commonwealth Financial Planners could help you:
  • Grow your super
  • Insure your family and assets
  • Plan your investments
  • Prepare for retirement
Enquire More info

How does the ATO classify share traders and share investors?

The ATO defines a business for tax purposes as any money making venture where you’re not an employee. Share trading fits this definition; however, there are no black and white rules about who is a share trader and who isn’t. The ATO gives some guidelines but ultimately makes decisions on a case-by-case basis.

The ATO assess the nature of your trading activities when deciding to classify you as a share trader or investor. This involves whether you’re trading in a regular manner, how much you trade and whether this is comparable to other share traders.

The ATO also looks at your business or trading plan. This should include information such as why you’ve decided to hold and sell shares, in addition to your assessment of potential investments.

What are the tax implications of share trading?

If you can satisfy the ATO’s definition of being a share trader, you can claim any gains from the share market as your personal income and any losses as a tax deduction. Share investors need to pay attention to Capital Gains Tax (CGT) and the timing of the sale of shares. Any profits made after June 30 won’t be taxed until the following year.

Tax deductions

Share traders

  • Money from the sale of shares and share dividends are included in assessable income.
  • The costs of buying and selling shares can be claimed as a tax deduction.
  • Share traders can claim the costs of items such as computers, as they are necessary to making trades and keeping records. You can also claim depreciation on items costing more than $300.

Share investors

  • Can’t claim the purchase price of shares as a tax deduction.
  • Capital losses are subtracted from capital gains.
  • Any net profit is subject to CGT.
  • Can claim deductions on the prepayment of expenses such as internet fees, seminars or subscriptions for up to 12 months in advance.

Capital gains tax (CGT)

Share investors must pay CGT on any capital gains from investments. The CGT is based on a number of factors such as how long you’ve held the investment and your tax rate. If you’re considered a share investor rather than a share trader, you can benefit from a 50% reduction of the CGT rate if you’ve held your shares for more than 12 months. Also note the timing of the sale of shares and the effects of making a capital gain or loss before or after June 30.

What are franking credits?

Franking credits can be used by shareholders for a tax break on share dividend payments. Franking stops dividend payments from being taxed twice and can be claimed as a tax refund by shareholders depending on the shareholder’s marginal tax rate.

How does the tax office define a trader?

Tax implications are different for traders and investors. The ATO will classify you as a trader if you can answer yes to the following:

  1. You purchase shares on a regular basis in a routine way. The ATO will also look at the volume of shares traded and the size of the investment(s).
  2. You have a trading plan. The ATO will look at whether you have a registered business and  whether you have  business premises and all the relevant qualifications and licences.
  3. You make use of share trading techniques, such as market analyses.
  4. You have a Plan B in case your shares run at a loss.

What is a share trading plan?

You have a share trading plan if you can answer yes to the following:

  1. You carry out analyses of future investments.
  2. You look at the market to identify areas of potential gain.
  3. You make a decision to buy or hold shares based on future value.
Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Related Posts

Ask a Question

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Disclaimer: At finder.com.au we provide factual information and general advice. Before you make any decision about a product read the Product Disclosure Statement and consider your own circumstances to decide whether it is appropriate for you.
Rates and fees mentioned in comments are correct at the time of publication.
By submitting this question you agree to the finder.com.au privacy policy, receive follow up emails related to finder.com.au and to create a user account where further replies to your questions will be sent.

Ask a question
feedback