Tax treatment of compensation from financial institutions

August 2019

By 30 June 2019, five major financial institutions paid $119.7 million in compensation for poor financial advice to 6,318 customers. The question is, how are these payments treated for tax purposes?

Major financial institutions came under intense scrutiny at the Banking Royal Commission, particularly how they provided – or rather, didn't provide – financial advice and other products to clients.

Five major institutions have paid out compensation to clients, so the question has to be asked: What does this mean from a tax perspective?

The answer is: it depends

The tax treatment varies according to why the compensation was paid and who the payment was made to.

Compensation payments are made for a number of reasons including fee for no service, deficient advice, or overcharging for insurance premiums for death or disability insurance cover. Each one has different tax consequences.

Capital gains tax

In some cases, the compensation will be assessable income and in others will impact the cost base of any underlying investment. If an investment has already been sold, the compensation may trigger a capital gains tax liability and in some cases it will be necessary to amend prior year tax returns.


There may also be GST consequences. In general, the GST treatment will mirror the GST consequences for the financial institution that made the payment. If you or your superannuation fund claimed GST credits, these may need to be repaid where a compensation amount includes a GST component.

Speak to your accountant to ensure you get the right tax treatment

Managing the tax treatment of compensation payments can be tricky. If you or your superannuation fund has received a compensation payment, please let us know as soon as possible on 02 9957 4033 so we can assist you get the tax treatment right.

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This article is provided for information purposes only and correct at the time of publication. It should not be used in place of advice from your accountant. Please contact us on 02 9957 4033 to discuss your specific circumstances.

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