Geoff Wilson calls for ‘thorough analysis’ of franking system changes
The chair of Wilson Asset Management has called for a Senate Inquiry into plans to change the way companies pay fully franked dividends.
Last year, Labor announced proposed changes to prevent Australian companies from paying franked dividends to shareholders in circumstances where Treasury believes that the fully franked dividend can be directly or indirectly linked to funding received through capital raising.
Labor introduced a bill into Parlaiment to implement the changes last month, which is currently before the House of Representatives.
In an update issued on Wednesday, Wilson Asset Management chair Geoff Wilson said that further action what needed in relation to the changes to ensure the long-term protection of the Australian franking system.
“A thorough analysis is needed of the proposed legislation changes to the franking system through a Senate Inquiry. At this time we need to raise our voices again to ensure the legislation is voted down in the Senate,” said Mr Wilson.
Mr Wilson said that over the last few months the asset manager has been meeting with Australian Federal Senators and Members of Parliament to discuss the damage the two proposed legislation changes will have to the franking system and their impact on Australian investors and the economy more broadly.
“We've met with representatives from the Labor, Liberal and Greens parties as well as a number of Independents, and there is broad concern about the complexity and unintended consequences the proposed changes will have,” he stated.
“Of the two pieces of legislation, the one that concerns us the most relates to the Government’s plan to stop companies paying fully franked dividends that in Treasury’s view are directly or indirectly funded by capital raisings. This legislation will stop small growth companies from raising capital and paying fully franked dividends and encourage large companies to focus on minimising tax paid in Australia.
The second piece of legislation regarding the off-market buy-backs will restrict a company’s ability to equitably manage its capital.”
Mr Wilson said that he has proposed that a Senate Inquiry be held to ensure that the two proposed legislative changes are adequately analysed.
“This inquiry will take a deeper look at the details of each draft and ensure that all Members of Parliament are correctly informed on the unintended consequences before any legislation is passed. This proposal has been met favourably from those we have met,” he stated.
“We are eager to work with members of Government on behalf of our shareholders to prevent the unintended consequences of these changes before the Australian franking system, and its enormous benefits for the Australian economy, is dismantled.”