A family discretionary trust structure is a slightly more complicated and costly structure but it has more flexibility than a holding company structure for distributing income tax effectively while also being capable of having limited liability protection for the franchisor along with potential access to the company tax rate through a beneficiary company.
But is one trust enough?
For asset protection and management reasons it may be multiple structures are desirable into the future to separately hold IP and property interests (including lease interests to be sub-let).
Trust a conduit to beneficiaries
A family trust can distribute business profits as trust distributions as a conduit of taxable income to adult resident beneficiaries.
Division 7A would not usually apply
A significant advantage with a family trust structure is that Division 7A does not apply to loans from the trust to associated parties (where companies are not involved) to treat them as taxable/unfrankable deemed dividends.
Capital gains tax advantages
The adult resident beneficiaries of a family trust can also use the CGT discount if the trust makes a capital gain. Sometimes a trust is a more difficult structure than a company if a new franchise venture makes losses (say due to difficulties finding and keeping franchisees on good terms).
Bringing in new equity
A family trust isn’t as good as a unit trust or a company for bringing in new equity participants however it appears that, with the new small business restructure CGT rollover relief, a later conversion to a unit trust structure can be done for a low cost.
CGT discount and small business CGT concessions
Capital gains made by a family trust structure could attract the CGT discount and the small business concessions (a company can only get the latter), such as the 50% active assets reduction. A family trust structure has the tax advantage over a company structure if CGT assets of the business, including goodwill, are at some stage sold for a capital gain by the trust.