2019 Practical Updates

December 2019 Update

PAYG and deductions for payments to workers

The ATO has reminded business taxpayers they can no longer claim deductions for certain payments to workers if they have not met their PAYG withholding obligations from 1 July 2019.

If the PAYG withholding rules require an amount to be withheld, to claim a deduction for most payments to a worker, a business taxpayer must:

  • withhold the amount from the payment before they pay their worker; and
  • report that amount to the ATO.

Importantly, where a taxpayer simply makes a mistake and withholds or reports an incorrect amount, they will not lose their deduction, although any such errors should be corrected as soon as possible so as to minimise penalties.

Additionally, a deduction is still available if they voluntarily disclose to the ATO prior to the commencement of an audit or other ATO compliance activity involving their PAYG withholding obligations or deduction claims.

Ref: ATO website, 18 November 2019

 

STP and superannuation guarantee

In a presentation at the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees Chairs Forum, the ATO’s Deputy Commissioner confirmed that as a result of STP, the ATO now has an “unprecedented level of visibility” of super information.

In particular, the ATO’s examination of Super Guarantee (‘SG’) contributions of some 75 million payment transactions for the first three quarters of 2019 (for approximately 400,000 employers) has shown that 90 – 92% of contribution transactions by volume and 85 – 90% of transactions by dollar value were paid on time.

The ATO is now starting to actively use this data to warn employers who appear not to be paying the required SG on time (or at all).

As a result, it has notified 2,500 employers that they have paid their SG contributions late during 2019.  Due-date reminders were also sent to a further 4,000 employers.

Ref: ATO Presentation, ATO insights and actions across superannuation, 14 October 2019

 

No CGT main residence exemption for non-residents

The Government recently tabled legislation, making its second attempt to deny access to the CGT main residence exemption for individuals who are foreign residents (i.e., non-resident taxpayers for Australian tax purposes).

The restrictions to this CGT exemption will apply to taxpayers who are a non-resident at the time of the relevant CGT event (i.e., generally as at the contract date).

If enacted, the proposed changes will potentially impact foreign residents in the two ways outlined below.

 

  1. Transitional rules for properties held before 7:30pm (AEST) on 9 May 2017

Firstly, for properties held prior to the 2017 Federal Budget (i.e., before 7:30pm AEST on 9 May 2017), the CGT main residence exemption will only be able to be claimed, for a non-resident, for disposals that occur up until 30 June 2020.

For disposals of properties occurring on or after 1 July 2020, foreign residents will have no access to the CGT main residence exemption, unless specified ‘life events’ occur within a continuous period of six years of the taxpayer becoming a foreign resident. These ‘life events’ include:

  • The terminal illness of the taxpayer, their spouse or a child under the age of 18 years.
  • The death of a spouse or child under the age of 18.
  • A transfer of the relevant asset as a result of a divorce, separation or similar maintenance agreement.

 

  1. Properties acquired at or after 7:30pm (AEST) 9 May 2017

Secondly, for properties acquired at or after the 2017 Budget night, the CGT main residence exemption will no longer be available for non-resident taxpayers, unless the same specified ‘life events’ (as outlined above) occur within a continuous period of six years of the taxpayer becoming a foreign resident.

Ref: ATO Website, 29 October 2019

 

ATO November 2019 bushfire assistance

Following the devastating bushfires across large parts of NSW and Queensland in November, the ATO has offered ongoing support.

In particular, a specific helpline (1800 806 218) has been established that can be used by those impacted to seek assistance, such as to:

  • obtain extra time to pay tax debt or lodge tax forms;
  • obtain assistance in finding lost TFNs;
  • obtain re-issued income tax returns, activity statements and notices of assessment;
  • obtain assistance in re-constructing tax records that are lost or damaged;
  • have any refunds owed fast tracked;
  • negotiate payment plans tailored to individual circumstances (including interest-free periods); and
  • negotiate the remission of penalties or interest charged during the time a taxpayer has been affected.

Should you find yourself impacted by a natural disaster, even an alternative disaster to the November 2019 bushfires,  please contact our office so we can provide you with any additional assistance you may need at this difficult time.

Ref: ATO website, 21 November 2019

 

SMSs for SMSFs!

In the interests of protecting SMSF members and their retirement savings from fraud and misconduct, the ATO has announced it will send out an email and/or a text message via an SMS when changes (including updates to the SMSF financial details or member information) are made.

Accordingly, the ATO has urged all SMSF members to ensure they update their contact details either:

  • online at abr.gov.au (with an AUSkey or an ABN linked to their myGov account);
  • through their registered tax agent;
  • by phoning 13 10 20 (for authorised contacts of the relevant SMSF); or
  • by lodging the paper form (NAT 3036).

 

The ATO has urged SMSF members who are concerned about notified changes to first speak with the other trustees of the SMSF or the authorised agent of their SMSF, before contacting the ATO.

As the ATO moves over to the digital world at a rapidly increasing pace, it has also reminded SMSF members that any ATO sanctioned emails and text messages would never ask for the recipient to reply by text or email, or to provide otherwise personal information.

Importantly, where an SMSF member is concerned about the authenticity of an email or text purportedly from the ATO, the ATO’s current SMS and email activities can be viewed on its website by searching for QC 40936.

Ref: ATO website, 22 November 2019

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November 2019 Update

Super guarantee opt-out for high income earners now law

From 1 January 2020, eligible individuals with multiple employers can apply to opt out of receiving super guarantee (‘SG’) from some of their employers, to help them avoid unintentionally going over the concessional contributions cap.

If appropriate for them, they should submit the relevant ATO form to apply for an SG employer shortfall exemption certificate, which releases one or more of their employers from their SG obligations for up to four quarters in one financial year.

Editor: We can assist with the lodgment of this form.

Note that this measure may not benefit everyone who is eligible, so before lodging the form, it is important to consider the individual’s employment arrangements, such as how their pay and other entitlements may change (if at all), and the effect of any relevant award or workplace agreement applicable to them.

The measure only became law on 2 October 2019, so to give eligible employees time to make an application, the ATO will accept applications for the 2019/20 financial year as follows:

  • third quarter commencing 1 January 2020 — lodge on or before 18 November 2019; and
  • fourth quarter commencing 1 April 2020 — lodge on or before 31 January 2020.

A separate application is required for each financial year.

 

ATO recommends updating ABN details for disastrous reasons

The ATO has provided a novel, though important, reason for businesses to update their ABN details: to help businesses to manage the coming disaster season.

ABN details are used by emergency services and government agencies to help identify and contact businesses during times of emergency and potential disaster.

Therefore, to make sure they don’t miss out on receiving important information, the ATO asks that businesses update their ABN details, including authorised contacts, physical location, email and phone number.

Also, if a taxpayer is no longer in business, the ATO asks they cancel their ABN so they aren’t contacted unnecessarily.

 

Reporting asset disposals for CGT

As the ATO’s data-matching capabilities increase, they are paying close attention to capital gains made on shares, property and cryptocurrency.

Therefore, it’s important to let us know about any asset disposals (which can include an asset’s sale, loss or destruction) and to keep records relating to CGT events, including asset disposals, for at least five years after the year in which the event occurred (and maybe longer if you make a capital loss).  Good records will also help to work out a capital gain or loss correctly.

 

Government passes other superannuation legislation

The Government has recently passed legislation requiring insurance in superannuation for new members under 25, and members with low balance accounts, to only be offered on an opt-in basis from 1 April 2020.

Importantly, low balance account holders and young members will still be able to opt in if they want to take out insurance.

Additionally, a targeted exemption will allow trustees to elect to provide insurance on an opt-out basis to members employed in emergency services, such as police, ambulance officers or firefighters, or other workers employed in the top 20% riskiest occupations.

 

Super Lookup ‘status’ will change if SMSF annual returns are late

The ATO considers the lodgment of an SMSF’s annual return on time to be a fundamental part of an SMSF trustee’s obligations.

Consequently, from 1 October 2019, if an SMSF is more than two weeks overdue on any annual return lodgment due date and hasn’t requested a lodgment deferral, the ATO will change their status on Super Fund Lookup (‘SFLU’) to ‘Regulation details removed’ until any overdue lodgments have been brought up to date.

Editor: We can request a lodgment deferral on your behalf to ensure the SMSF’s status remains ‘complying’ (unless the fund does not meet the agreed date of referral).

Having a status of ‘Regulation details removed’ means APRA funds won’t roll over any member benefits to the SMSF and employers won’t make any super guarantee (‘SG’) contribution payments for members to the SMSF.

The ATO says it is taking this approach because “non-lodgment combined with disengagement indicates that retirement savings may be at risk”.

While the fund’s status is ‘Regulation details removed’, members should alert their employer to make any SG payments into the employer’s default super fund or a fund of the member’s choice until the SFLU status of the SMSF has been updated to ‘complying’.

 

Taxpayer liable for excess transfer balance tax despite commutations

A taxpayer has unsuccessfully tried to challenge an excess transfer balance tax liability, despite following the ATO’s instructions.

The taxpayer was receiving three pensions in 2017, including two capped defined benefit income streams and one account based pension.

Based on information reported by the super funds, the ATO became aware that the taxpayer had exceeded his $1.6 million transfer balance cap, and so it issued the taxpayer with an excess transfer balance determination of $376,646.72 on 3 January 2018.

The taxpayer then commuted $376,646.00 from his account based pension on 31 January 2018, but additional earnings continued to accrue due to the commutation being 72 cents short, so the ATO had to issue another excess transfer balance determination of $3,841.96 on 1 July 2018 (which the taxpayer acted on by making another commutation in August 2018).

Finally, in September 2018, the ATO issued an excess transfer balance tax notice of assessment, assessing the taxpayer for excess transfer balance tax of $2,867.85.

The taxpayer challenged this before the AAT, contending that, despite doing what was required of him by the 3 January 2018 letter, he was still liable for the excess transfer balance tax, to which the AAT replied:

“That is true but the problem for the applicant is that the determination period on which the tax liability is based is not determined by reference to when the taxpayer is first informed of his excess transfer balance.  Further, the applicant does not avoid a tax liability by complying with the request to commute funds out of his superannuation income streams.  That is made clear by the letter from the Commissioner dated 3 January 2018 which requests the applicant to commute the necessary funds but goes on to say “when you are no longer in excess of your cap we will send you a separate ‘Excess transfer balance tax notice of assessment’ detailing the tax amount payable”.”

The AAT agreed with the ATO’s contention that the taxpayer was liable for the excess transfer balance tax, that it had been calculated in accordance

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October 2019 Update

$30,000 instant asset write-off

The ATO is reminding businesses that are looking to expand or improve their business and thinking of buying new or second hand assets, that medium sized businesses with a turnover up to $50 million (but at least $10 million) are eligible for the instant asset write-off.

This now applies to assets that cost up to $30,000 and which were purchased and first used or installed ready for use from 7:30pm (AEDT) on 2 April 2019 to 30 June 2020.

Medium sized businesses may purchase and claim a deduction for each asset that costs less than the $30,000 threshold.

For assets over $30,000 the general depreciation rules apply (which may depend on the entity).

 

Federal Court provides clarification on the PSI rules

The Federal Court recently handed down two decisions relating to the personal services income (‘PSI’) rules.

Income is classified as PSI when more than 50% of the income received under a contract is for a taxpayer’s labour, skills or expertise.

The PSI rules are integrity provisions which ensure individuals cannot reduce or defer their income tax by (for example) diverting income for their personal services through companies, partnerships or trusts.  If the rules apply, the individual is taxed on the income directly.

The rules do not apply if at least 75% of the individual’s PSI is for producing a result, where the individual supplies all the required ‘tools of trade’ and is liable for rectifying defects in the work (this is known as the ‘results test’).

In the first case, the Federal Court confirmed that the taxpayer did not meet the ‘results test’.

The taxpayer argued that the ‘results test’ is still satisfied even if they do not get paid for achieving a result, provided they can show this is the custom or practice of independent contractors in their industry.

The Federal Court rejected this, agreeing with the ATO’s earlier determination to apply the PSI laws to tax the individual’s contract income as his own income, rather than income split through a partnership with his spouse (which also meant certain deductions were not allowable).

The Federal Court also affirmed the imposition of penalties for recklessness.

However, in the second case, the Federal Court allowed the taxpayer’s appeal from an earlier AAT decision, that he has failed the ‘unrelated clients test’ despite advertising his services on LinkedIn.

The Federal Court found the ATO and AAT had applied an exception for services provided through intermediaries (e.g., recruitment agencies) too broadly, and instead the Court preferred a narrow interpretation of the exception.

This matter has now been referred back to the AAT to be reconsidered, and the ATO has said it will consider this decision and whether an appeal is appropriate.

 

Deductions for a company or trust home-based business

The ATO has reminded taxpayers that, if they run their home-based business as a company or trust, their business should have a genuine, market-rate rental contract (or similar agreement) with the owner of the property.

The agreement will determine which expenses the business pays for and can claim as a deduction.

If there isn’t a genuine rental contract, there may be tax implications for the homeowner and the business for providing benefits to any individuals.

If an individual earns PSI, they may not be able to deduct some occupancy expenses.

If the business pays for or reimburses an employee of the business for some of the expenses of running the business from home, the employee can’t claim a deduction for those expenses in their individual income tax return.

Also, the business may have to pay FBT if it pays or reimburses the individual for certain expenses as an employee (although exemptions and concessions may apply to reduce the FBT liability), and may need to keep additional records for FBT purposes.

 

ATO impersonation scam update

Unbelievably, scammers are still successfully bilking Australians out of tens of thousands of dollars, as a recent ATO scam report shows.

According to the July 2019 ATO impersonation scam report:

  • 6,179 online scam reports were received in the first month of their new online reporting form going live;
  • 6,645 phone scam reports were officially recorded, and 465 phishing scam emails were reported to reportemailfraud@ato.gov.au;
  • 520 taxpayers provided scammers with their personal identifying information including date of birth, tax file number, driver’s licence number and notice of assessment details; and
  • $197,057 was reported as being paid to scammers, mostly by iTunes and Google Play.

 

Using the cents per kilometre method

The ‘cents per kilometre’ method broadly allows an individual taxpayer to claim up to a maximum of 5,000 business kilometres per car, per year without the need to keep any written evidence (e.g., receipts) of car expenses.

Importantly, taxpayers making a ‘cents per kilometre’ claim are required to demonstrate that they worked out the number of business kilometres they claimed on a reasonable basis.

Taxpayers claiming under this method will generally fall into one of two categories, being either those who undertake a regular or irregular pattern of work-related travel.

If a taxpayer has a regular pattern of work-related travel (e.g., a 60 kilometre round trip to the warehouse to pick up supplies twice a week, 40 weeks in the year), then this type of explanation would generally be sufficient to justify the claim.

However, if the taxpayer has an irregular pattern of work-related travel, then they would need to make a note (e.g., in a diary) of each trip.

Also, remember that, for the 2019 income year, the rate that is applied (up to the 5,000 business kilometre maximum) is 68 cents (up from 66 cents in 2018) per business kilometre travelled.

Measuring the integrity of the ABR

From September, the Australian Business Register (‘ABR’) will contact a random sample of ABN holders across all entity types to:

  • confirm their business information;
  • discuss how they use the ABN, and check their understanding of how ABNs are used;
  • find out about their registration experience and ask for suggestions for how they can improve it; and
  • if applicable, confirm their entitlement to the ABN (although the ABR will not cancel ABNs unless requested).

The ABR is trying to understand and improve the experience for clients applying for, maintaining and cancelling an ABN, and will use the information to measure A

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September 2019 Update

 

“Outrageous” deductions rejected

The ATO has published some of the most unusual claims that they disallowed last financial year.

Nearly 700,000 taxpayers claimed almost $2 billion of ‘other’ expenses, but the ATO’s systematic review of claims had found, and disallowed, some very unusual expenses, including:

  • claims for Lego sets bought as gifts for children, and sporting equipment or membership fees for their child athletes;
  • claims for dental expenses (“believing a nice smile was essential to finding a job”);
  • some taxpayers tried to claim the purchase of a brand new car (in excess of $20,000 each!), with one “particularly charitable” taxpayer trying to claim for a car purchased as a gift for their mother;
  • one taxpayer made a claim for “the cost of raising twins”, while another claimed for the “cost of raising three children” (and another taxpayer was obviously shocked at the cost of having children, simply stating “New born baby expensive” when making their claim);
  • other taxpayers claimed child support payments, private school fees, school uniforms, before school care and other school expenses, as well as health insurance costs and medical expenses; and
  • one taxpayer decided to claim the cost of their wedding reception.

The ‘other’ deductions section of the tax return is for expenses incurred in earning income that don’t appear elsewhere on the return — such as income protection and sickness insurance premiums.

The ATO is reminding taxpayers that, in order to claim an ‘other’ deduction, the expenses must be directly related to earning income and they need to have a receipt or record of the expense.

 

ATO guidance regarding incorrect ENCC determinations

The ATO has acknowledged that an incorrect excess non-concessional contribution (‘ENCC’) determination may issue due to a known system issue with the calculation of some SMSF member’s total super balance (‘TSB’).

Recent super reforms have meant that individuals are restricted from making non-concessional contributions where their TSB equals or exceeds $1.6 million.

This is due to an individual’s pension being incorrectly ‘double counted’ in the calculation of their TSB (which may have occurred where the individual commenced a pension on 30 June 2017 and/or 1 July 2017).

If an incorrect ENCC determination does issue, the ATO advises that there is no need for the SMSF to amend its reporting — an amended determination should issue within 4 weeks.

If you get one of these, please contact our office and we’ll help sort it out.

 

ATO watching for foreign income this Tax Time

The ATO is urging taxpayers who receive any foreign income from investments, family members or working overseas to make sure they report it this tax time.

New international data sharing agreements allow the ATO to track money across borders and identify individuals not meeting their obligations.

“This year, the ATO has received records relating to more than 1.6 million off-shore accounts holding over $100 billion and is now using data-matching and sophisticated analytics to identify foreign income that has not been reported,” Assistant Commissioner Karen Foat said.

The ATO has shared data on financial account information of foreign tax residents with over 65 foreign tax jurisdictions across the globe, including information on account holders, balances, interest and dividend payments, proceeds from the sale of assets, and other income.

In addition to a small number of individuals deliberately engaging in tax avoidance, the ATO is concerned about a large number that are unsure of how to meet their obligations.

“If you’re an Australian resident for tax purposes, you are taxed on your worldwide income, so you must declare all of your foreign income no matter how small the amount may be.  This may include income from offshore investments, employment, pensions, business and consulting, or capital gains on overseas assets,” Ms Foat said.

“Even if you have paid tax on the overseas income it must be reported to the ATO, however you may be able to claim a foreign income tax offset to account for any foreign tax paid.”

 

The ATO hits the road

The ATO plans to visit almost 10,000 businesses this financial year in all States and Territories, across a variety of industries, as part of their strategy to deal with the black economy (they visited nearly 9,000 businesses in the 2018/19 financial year).

According to Assistant Commissioner Peter Holt, there are a number of businesses in some areas not registered for GST or PAYG withholding, which can be a sign of the black economy, as well as a number of businesses with overdue tax returns.

Other black economy signs that the ATO looks out for are things like lifestyle and assets far exceeding reported business income, sham contracting, a failure to provide pay slips, reports that employers are paying their workers cash in hand and keeping them off the books, or a lack of merchant payment facilities like EFTPOS.

Some businesses are more likely than others to get a visit from the ATO, including:

  • Residential building construction;
  • Building completion and installation services, and other construction services;
  • Building cleaning, pest control, and gardening services;
  • Accommodation;
  • Pharmaceutical and other store-based retailing;
  • Automotive repair and maintenance;
  • Cafes, restaurants, and takeaway food services;
  • Personal care services;
  • Legal and accounting services;
  • Computer system design and related services; and
  • Adult, community and other education services

 

Motor vehicle registries data matching program protocol

The ATO will match the data provided by the State and Territory motor vehicle registering authorities against the ATO’s taxpayer records with the objective of identifying those who may not be meeting their registration, reporting, lodgment and payment obligations.

Details will be requested where records indicate a vehicle has been transferred or newly registered during the 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 financial years where the purchase price or market value is equal to or exceeds $10,000 (approximately 2 million transactional records a year).

This data will allow compliance checks on luxury car tax, FBT and fuel schemes, as well as identifying higher risk taxpayers with outstanding taxation lodgments, and those with undeclared income or concealing the real accumulation of wealth.

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August 2019 Update

Single Touch Payroll Update

Employers with 19 or fewer employees are required to start reporting through Single Touch Payroll (‘STP’) from 1 July 2019.

 

Tax cuts become law

The Government has announced that more than 10 million Australians will receive immediate tax relief following the passage of legislation through the Parliament, which increases the top threshold for the 19% tax rate from $41,000 to $45,000 and increases the low income tax offset from $645 to $700 in 2022/23.

In combination with the legislated removal of the 37% tax bracket in 2024/25, the Government is also “delivering structural reform to the tax system” by reducing the 32.5% tax rate to 30%.

 

Low and middle income tax offset also now law

In addition, from the 2018/19 income year (i.e., last income year):

  • The low and middle income tax offset (‘LAMITO’) has been increased from a maximum amount of $530 to $1,080 per annum and the base amount increased from $200 to $255 per annum; and
  • Taxpayers with a taxable income:
    • of $37,000 or below can now receive a LAMITO of up to $255;
    • above $37,000 and below $48,001 can now receive $255, plus an amount equal to 7.5% to the maximum offset of $1,080;
    • above $48,000 and below $90,001 are now eligible for the maximum LAMITO of $1,080; and
    • above $90,000 but is no more than $126,000 are now eligible for a LAMITO of $1,080, less an amount equal to 3% of the excess.

The ATO is implementing the necessary system changes so taxpayers that have already lodged their 2018/19 tax return will receive any increase to the LAMITO they are entitled to (any tax refund should be deposited in the taxpayer’s nominated bank account).  There will not be any need to request an amendment.

Those who are yet to lodge their tax return will have any offset they are entitled to taken into account during the normal processing of their return.

 

ATO “puts the brakes” on dodgy car claims

The ATO is making work-related car expenses a key focus again during Tax Time 2019.

Assistant Commissioner Karen Foat said over 3.6 million people made a work-related car expense claim in 2017/18, totalling more than $7.2 billion.

“We are still concerned that some taxpayers aren’t getting the message that over-claiming will be detected and if it is deliberate, penalties will apply,” she said.


“While some people do make legitimate mistakes, we are concerned that many people are deliberately making dodgy claims in order to get a bigger refund. We see taxpayers claiming for things like private trips, trips they didn’t make, and car expenses their employer paid for or reimbursed them for.”

One in five car claims are exactly at the maximum limit that doesn’t require receipts.

Under the cents per kilometre method, taxpayers don’t need to keep receipts, but they do need to be able to demonstrate how they worked out the number of kilometres they travelled for work purposes.

The ATO’s sophisticated analytics compares taxpayer claims with others earning similar amounts in similar jobs.

Where the ATO identifies questionable claims, they will contact taxpayers and ask them to show how they have calculated their claim, and in some cases the ATO may even contact employers to confirm whether a taxpayer was required to use their own car for work-related travel.

 

Case studies

The ATO’s sophisticated data analytics found a range of unsupported claims in 2018, including:

  • When the ATO asked a taxpayer to provide the logbook to support a claim of $4,800, they found the taxpayer was referring to a car service logbook rather than a logbook kept for calculating their work use car percentage (the taxpayer had not undertaken any work-related car travel during the year).
  • Another claim was flagged by the ATO’s analytics indicating a taxpayer, a retail worker, had incorrectly claimed $350 for the cost of public transport to and from work.
  • The ATO also identified an office worker claiming $3,300 for 5000 kilometres of work-related travel using the cents per kilometre method, but it turned out the taxpayer’s claim was based on trips he made from home to work.

 

Private health insurance statements now optional

Taxpayers with private health insurance should be aware that insurance providers are no longer required to provide statements to their members.

Taxpayers lodging their tax returns using a registered tax agent should have their health insurance details ‘pre-filled’ into their return (but they will need to contact their health insurer if they cannot get this information for some reason).

 

FBT and taxi travel

Taxi travel by an employee is an exempt benefit for FBT purposes if the travel is a single trip beginning or ending at the employee’s place of work (or if it is a result of sickness or injury in certain circumstances).

However, the ATO is reminding taxpayers that this exemption is limited to travel undertaken in a vehicle that is licensed to operate as a taxi by the relevant State or Territory, and does not extend to travel undertaken in a ride-sourcing vehicle or other vehicle for hire that do not hold such a licence.

 

ATO rates and thresholds

Editor: The ATO has updated a number of rates and thresholds on their website, including the following.

 

Division 7A – benchmark interest rate

The Division 7A benchmark interest rate for the 2020 income year is 5.37% (up from the rate for the 2019 income year of 5.20%).

 

Car cost limit for depreciation

The maximum value taxpayers can use for calculating depreciation of cars is the car limit in the year in which they first used or leased the car.

In the 2019/20 income year, the car limit is $57,581, unchanged from the 2018/19 year.

 

Capital improvement threshold

The improvement threshold for the 2019/20 income year is $153,093, up from $150,386 for the 2018/19 income year.

 

SMSF LRBA interest rates

An interest rate of 5.94% charged by an SMSF in the 2020 income year under a limited recourse borrowing arrangement (‘LRBA’) to acquire real property would be consistent with the ATO’s safe harbour terms (or 7.94% for listed shares or units).

 

ATO Data Matching Program: HELP, VSL and/or TSL debts

The ATO is conducting a data matching program for the 2019/20, 2020/21 and 2021/22 financial years to identify individuals with an existing Higher Education Loan Program (‘HELP’), Vocational Education and Training Student Loan (‘VSL’) and/or Trade Support Loans (‘TSL’) debt who may not be meeting their registration, lodgment and/or payment obligations.

This data collection is expected to involve approximately 3 million individuals each year.

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July 2019 Update

 

Single Touch Payroll Update

Employers with 19 or fewer employees are required to start reporting through Single Touch Payroll (‘STP’) from 1 July 2019.

The ATO will be working with employers to support them as they transition to STP, including allowing small employers to start reporting any time from 1 July to 30 September (and the ATO will also be “generous” in granting deferrals to small employers who need more time to start STP reporting).

Note also that employers with 19 or less employees do not need to report ‘closely held payees’ in 2019/20 and can report closely held payees information quarterly from 1 July 2020.

 

‘Cash in hand’ payments to workers no longer tax deductible

The ATO has reminded employers that any ‘cash in hand’ payments made to workers from 1 July 2019 will not be tax deductible.

‘Cash in hand’ refers to cash payments to employees that do not comply with pay as you go (‘PAYG’) withholding obligations.

Payments made to contractors where the contractor does not provide an ABN and the business does not withhold any tax will also not be tax deductible from 1 July.

In addition to the loss of a tax deduction, employers caught not complying with their PAYG withholding obligations may be penalised for failing to withhold and report amounts under the PAYG withholding system.

However, employers who mistakenly classify their employee as a contractor will not lose their deduction where their worker provides them with an ABN.

 

Uber drivers not employees

The Fair Work Ombudsman has completed its investigation relating to Uber Australia Pty Ltd and its engagement of drivers, concluding that the relationship between Uber Australia and the drivers is not an employment relationship.

The investigation found that Uber drivers are not subject to any formal or operational obligation to perform work.

Instead, Uber drivers have control over whether, when, and for how long they perform work, on any given day or on any given week, and, in particular, Uber Australia does not require drivers to perform work at particular times.

As a consequence, the FWO will not take compliance action in relation to this matter.

 

Making a Division 293 election

The ATO is reminding taxpayers and tax practitioners that the process to release money from super fund accounts to pay additional tax on concessional contributions (referred to as ‘Division 293’) changed on 1 July 2018.

Since then, practitioners or their clients must send the Division 293 election form to the ATO, not to the super fund (if the election form is sent to the fund it will be rejected and returned to the sender).

When the ATO receives the election form, they will have the client’s nominated super fund release and send the money to the ATO, which will then be offset against any outstanding tax or other Australian Government debts before they refund any remaining balance to the client.

 

ATO targeting false laundry claims

The ATO will target false clothing and laundry work-related expense claims this Tax Time.

In 2018, around six million people claimed work-related clothing and laundry expenses totalling nearly $1.5 billion.

Assistant Commissioner Karen Foat said although many Australians can claim clothing and laundry expenses, it’s unlikely that half of all taxpayers are required to wear uniforms, protective clothing or occupation-specific clothing to earn their income.

“Last year a quarter of all clothing and laundry claims were exactly at the record-keeping limit”, Ms Foat said.

“But don’t think that we won’t scrutinise a claim because we don’t require receipts”.

She also said the ATO does not ignore incorrect claims “just because they are small, because small amounts add up”.

The ATO is also concerned about the number of people claiming deductions for conventional clothing, such as retail workers claiming normal clothes “because their boss told them to wear a certain colour, or items from the latest fashion clothing line”, or others claiming normal clothes because they only wear them to work.

The ATO’s sophisticated data analytics is constantly improving and can identify unusual claims by comparing taxpayer claims to others in similar occupations.

Taxpayers who can’t substantiate their claims should expect to have them refused, and may be penalised for failing to take reasonable care when submitting their tax return.

 

Lifestyle assets data matching program

The ATO has released details of their “Lifestyle assets 2013-14 and 2014-15 financial years data matching program protocol”.

They will obtain information on insurance policies for certain classes of assets, including marine vessels, enthusiast motor vehicles, thoroughbred races horse, fine art and aircraft to improve their profiling of taxpayers and provide a more comprehensive view of their assets and accumulated wealth.

 

Tax time tips for small business

To lend a ‘helping hand’ to small businesses to get their tax right this Tax Time, the ATO has identified the top 3 issues they see when small businesses lodge their tax returns:

  • Failing to report all of their income;
  • Not having the necessary records to prove small business expenses claims; and
  • Claiming private expenses as business expenses (such as travel expenses).

 

Fixing incorrectly issued excess NCCs determinations

The ATO has recently identified a system error that inadvertently led them to issue incorrect pre-dated excess non-concessional (superannuation) contributions (‘NCCs’) determinations to clients.

The ATO will extend the election due dates for all affected clients, so this issue will not disadvantage them, and will not take default action in relation to these affected clients who do not make their election by the due date.

Amended determinations will automatically issue on a case-by-case basis in coming weeks to any clients that will have a modified excess NCC amount due once their income tax return is processed.

 

Car parking threshold for 2020 FBT year

The car parking threshold for the FBT year commencing on 1 April 2019 is $8.95 (replacing the amount of $8.83 that applied in the previous year commencing 1 April 2018).

 

Trustee obligations on the ATO’s radar: TFN reports

The ATO is currently reviewing adherence to certain trustee obligations, including the lodgment of Tax File Number (‘TFN’) reports for TFN withholding for closely held trusts.

Beneficiaries are required to quote their TFN to trustees to avoid having tax withheld from payments or unpaid present entitlements, and trustees must lodge a TFN report for any quarter in which a beneficiary quotes their TFN to the trustee.

If beneficiaries have not quoted their TFN to the trustee, the trustee must:

  • withhold tax at the rate of 47% from the distribution;
  • pay this tax to the ATO; and
  • report, in an annual report, details of all withheld amounts.

 

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June 2019 Update

Single Touch Payroll Update

Employers with 19 or fewer employees are required to start reporting through Single Touch Payroll (‘STP’) from 1 July 2019.

The ATO will be working with employers to support them as they transition to STP, including allowing small employers to start reporting any time from 1 July to 30 September (and the ATO will also be “generous” in granting deferrals to small employers who need more time to start STP reporting).

Note also that employers with 19 or less employees do not need to report ‘closely held payees’ in 2019/20 and can report closely held payees information quarterly from 1 July 2020.

 

Employees and payment summaries

The ATO has also reminded employees that how they get their end of financial year information from their employer, showing their earnings for the year, depends on how their employer reports their income, tax and super information to the ATO.

Specifically:

  • Employers that are not yet reporting through STP will continue to provide employees with a payment summary by 14 July.
  • Employers that report through STP are no longer required to give employees a payment summary; instead this information will be provided in an ‘income statement’, available via the employee’s myGov account by 31 July (i.e., when the employer marks it as ‘Tax Ready’).

We will be able to access employee clients’ payment summaries or income statement information through our connections with the ATO (this has not changed).

Please contact our office if you have any queries about STP (whether as an employer or employee).

 

Cryptocurrency data matching program

The ATO is collecting bulk records from Australian cryptocurrency designated service providers (‘DSPs’) as part of a data matching program to ensure people trading in cryptocurrency are paying the right amount of tax, and correctly meeting their tax (and superannuation) obligations.

The ATO will collect data from cryptocurrency DSPs to identify individuals or businesses who have or may be engaged in buying, selling or transferring cryptocurrency during the 2014/15 to 2019/20 financial years (the ATO estimates that there are between 500,000 to one million Australians that have invested in crypto-assets, including SMSF trustees).

The ATO has also noted that cryptocurrency can be considered a “high risk, volatile investment”, and they have already seen incidences of SMSFs losing significant amounts of their retirement savings.

They strongly recommend all trustees undertake their own investigation and appropriate due diligence before investing with any organisation investing super assets into cryptocurrency holdings.

 

Tax office to double audits of ‘dodgy’ rental deductions

Rental property owners are being warned to ensure their claims are correct this tax time, as the ATO has announced it will double the number of audits scrutinising rental deductions, with a specific focus on:

  • over-claimed interest;
  • capital works claimed as repairs;
  • incorrect apportionment of expenses for holiday homes let out to others; and
  • omitted income from accommodation sharing.

Assistant Commissioner Gavin Siebert said:

“A random sample of returns with rental deductions found that nine out of 10 contained an error.  We are concerned about the extent of non-compliance in this area and will be looking very closely at claims this year.”

“We use a range of third party information including data from financial institutions, property transactions and rental bonds from all states and territories, and online accommodation booking platforms, in combination with sophisticated analytics to scrutinise every tax return,” Mr Siebert said.

“Once our auditors begin, they may search through even more data including utilities, tolls, social media and other online content to determine whether the taxpayer was entitled to claims they’ve made”.

The number one cause of the ATO disallowing a claim is taxpayers being unable to produce receipts or other documents to support a claim.

Furnishing fraudulent or doctored records will attract higher penalties and may also result in prosecution.

The ATO has also reminded taxpayers that, since 1 July 2017, they can no longer claim travel expenses related to inspecting, maintaining or collecting rent for a residential rental property, unless they are an “excluded entity”.

 

Paying super to backpackers

The ATO has issued the following reminders to employers, that backpackers on working holidays:

  • are considered temporary residents, and are entitled to superannuation guarantee if they are paid $450 or more before tax in a calendar month; and
  • who leave Australia can claim the super paid to them as a Departing Australia superannuation payment (‘DASP’), providing all requirements are met.
  • Anyone employing backpackers should:
  • check they hold a valid visa using the Visa Entitlement Verification Online (‘VEVO’) service;

 

  • use the ATO’s Super guarantee eligibility decision tool to determine if they are eligible for super;
  • offer them a choice of super fund if requested, and follow the same steps as for any other worker before they start working for the employer; and
  • advise them that they can start their DASP application using the ATO’s free online application system while they are in Australia.

 

New rules for immediate write-offs

Small business entity (‘SBE’) taxpayers who choose to depreciate their assets under the simplified depreciation rules are entitled to an immediate deduction with respect to low-cost assets in the year they are first used or installed ready for use for a taxable purpose.

Thanks to recent changes, SBE taxpayers may be entitled to an immediate deduction in the 2019 income year for acquiring certain depreciating assets costing up to $30,000 (net of entitlement to GST input tax credits) for assets used or installed ready for use from 7:30pm AEST on 2 April 2019 until 30 June 2019.

Assets acquired prior to 2 April 2019 may also be eligible for immediate write-off, although the thresholds may be lower (e.g., the threshold is $20,000 for assets used or installed ready for use from 1 July 2018 until 28 January 2019, and $25,000 for assets used or installed ready for use from 29 January 2019 until 7:30pm AEST on 2 April 2019).

On top of this, for the first time, medium sized businesses (with an aggregated turnover of less than $50 million) may also be eligible to claim an immediate deduction for acquiring assets from 2 April 2019.

While helpful, these changes have complicated matters for the 2019 year, so please contact us if you need any help.

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May 2019 Update

Federal Election called!

The Federal Election has been called for Saturday 18 May 2019, and the Governor-General has ‘prorogued’ the Parliament from 11 April 2019 until 18 May 2019 and dissolved the House of Representatives.

The election will also be for half the Senate.

As a result, all outstanding Bills have also lapsed (so any measures not yet passed will need to be reintroduced in new Bills after the election if they are to become law).

 

2019/20 Budget Update

The Government handed down the 2019/20 Federal Budget on Tuesday 2 April 2019.

Some of the important proposals include:

Increasing and expanding access to the instant asset write-off from 7:30 pm (AEDT) on 2 April 2019 (i.e., ‘Budget night’) until 30 June 2020, as follows:

  • Increasing the instant asset write-off threshold from $25,000 to $30,000.
  • Making the instant asset write-off available to medium sized businesses (with aggregated annual turnover of $10 million or more, but less than $50 million).

The legislation to make the above changes to the instant asset write-off has already been passed and received Royal Assent.

Allowing individuals aged 65 and 66 years to:

  • make voluntary superannuation contributions (both concessional and non-concessional) without meeting the work test from 1 July 2020; and
  • make up to three years of non-concessional contributions under the bring-forward rule (without satisfying the work test).
  • Increasing the upper threshold of the 19% personal income tax bracket to $45,000 from 1 July 2022 and reducing the 32.5% marginal tax rate to 30% from 1 July 2024 (in addition to changes already legislated).
  • Increasing the Low- and Middle-Income Tax Offset (‘LAMITO’), with effect from the 2019 income year, to provide tax relief of up to $1,080 per annum, as well as an increased base amount of $255 per annum.

 

New industries entering the taxable payments reporting system

The ATO has reminded businesses that provide road freight, information technology (‘IT’), security, investigation, or surveillance services that they need to lodge a Taxable payments annual report (‘TPAR’) each year to tell the ATO about the payments they make to contractors who use an Australian business number (‘ABN’) (even if these services are only part of their business activities).

Such clients’ first TPAR will be due by 28 August 2020 for payments made from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020.

We can help with the lodgement of this report but affected clients will need to keep records of the payments made to contractors.  The required information, including the contractor’s ABN, name, address, and total amounts paid during the financial year (including GST) will normally be contained in the invoices received from the contractors.

 

Scammers impersonate ATO phone numbers

The ATO is warning that scammers have adopted ‘Robocall’ technology to target taxpayers across the country.

Assistant Commissioner Gavin Siebert said: “Scammers are sending pre-recorded messages in record numbers and are manipulating caller identification so that your phone displays a legitimate ATO phone number despite coming from an overseas scammer”.

“If the scammers do make contact, they will request payment of a tax debt – usually through unusual methods like bitcoin, gift cards and vouchers.  Legitimate ways to pay your tax debt are listed on our website.  The scammers will threaten you with immediate arrest, attempt to keep you on the line until payment is made and may become rude or aggressive.”

The technique of displaying misleading phone numbers is known as “spoofing” and is commonly used by scammers to make their interactions with taxpayers appear legitimate.

 

FBT issues on the ATO’s radar

The ATO has updated its list of ‘What attracts our attention’, with six items that specifically relate to fringe benefits tax (‘FBT’), as follows:

  • Failing to report motor vehicle fringe benefits, incorrectly applying exemptions for vehicles or incorrectly claiming reductions for these benefits.
  • Incorrectly calculating car parking fringe benefits due to:
    • significantly discounting market valuations;
    • using non-commercial parking rates; or
    • parking rates not being supported by adequate evidence.
  • Mismatches between the amount reported as an employee contribution on an FBT return compared to the income amounts on an employer’s tax return.
  • Claiming entertainment expenses as a deduction but not correctly reporting them as a fringe benefit, or incorrectly classifying entertainment expenses as sponsorship or advertising.
  • Not reporting fringe benefits on business assets that are provided for the personal enjoyment of employees or associates.
  • Not lodging FBT returns (or lodging them late) to delay or avoid payment of tax.

 

FBT: Record-keeping exemption threshold

The exemption threshold for the FBT year commencing 1 April 2019 is $8,714 (up from the amount of $8,552 that applied in the previous year).

 

FBT: Benchmark interest rate

The benchmark interest rate for the FBT year commencing on 1 April 2019 is 5.37% per annum (up from the rate of 5.20% that applied for the previous FBT year).

This rate is used to calculate the taxable value of:

  • a fringe benefit provided by way of a loan; and
  • a car fringe benefit where an employer chooses to value the benefit using the operating cost method.

Example

On 1 April 2019 an employer lends an employee $50,000 for five years at an interest rate of 5% p.a. with interest charged and paid six-monthly, and no principal being repaid until the end of the loan.

The actual interest payable by the employee for the current year is $2,500 (i.e., $50,000 x 5%).

However, the notional interest, with a 5.37% benchmark rate, is $2,685, so the taxable value is $185 (i.e., $2,685 – $2,500).

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April 2019 Update

Continued focus on the cash economy

ATO Assistant Commissioner Peter Holt has announced that, in the 2019/20 financial year, the ATO will be visiting a further 10,000 small businesses across the country, including up to 500 small businesses in Tasmania.

He further said that businesses that advertise as ‘cash only’ and businesses that are operating outside of the ATO’s performance benchmarks for their industry will be especially targeted for a visit from the ATO.

“Businesses that pay cash in hand or fail to lodge income tax or business activity statements, get an unfair advantage and make it harder for other businesses who are doing the right thing.  By detecting and addressing this behaviour, we’re helping ensure a level playing field for honest small businesses.”

Businesses in the following industries are most likely to get a visit from the ATO:

  • Restaurants and cafes;
  • Vehicle repairers;
  • Personal care businesses including
  • hairdressers and nail salons;
  • Pharmacies;
  • Construction businesses;
  • Clothing stores;
  • Grocery stores / small supermarkets; and

Whilst on the road, ATO officers will also be available to help those businesses that are trying to do the right thing.

Mr Holt said the ATO will not hesitate to take strong enforcement action against those deliberately avoiding their tax and super obligations and the visits may uncover this deliberate non-compliance.

“If businesses know they have made mistakes we encourage them to let us know and work with us or their tax professional.”

 

Common errors with new GST withholding rules

The ATO has noticed some common errors made in activity statements since the introduction of “GST at settlement” on 1 July 2018.

These new laws require purchasers to withhold GST on settlement (and pay it to the ATO directly) generally when buying ‘new residential premises’ from developers.

In particular, the new “GST at settlement” law does not affect a supplier’s obligation to lodge their activity statement and report their GST liabilities on taxable supplies in the activity statement period in which settlement occurred.

In addition, suppliers are advised not to report GST that has been withheld at settlement and paid to the ATO by the purchaser.

Instead, a credit for the amount the purchaser withheld and paid will appear on the supplier’s activity statement account once the activity statement is processed.

 

Latest ATO benchmarks released

The ATO has released updated benchmark data drawn from over 1.5 million small businesses around the country to “help small businesses across the country . . . gauge the strength of their business and keep an eye on their competition”.

Updated benchmarks for more than 100 industries are now available for the following categories:

  • Accommodation and food;
  • Building and construction trade services;
  • Education, training, recreation and support
  • services;
  • Health care and personal services;
  • Manufacturing;
  • Automotive electrical services;
  • Machinery and equipment repair and maintenance;
  • Architectural services;
  • Veterinary services;
  • Retail trade; and
  • Transport, postal and warehousing.

The benchmarks are one of the tools the ATO uses to crack down on the black economy, along with data matching and referrals from the community.

“Businesses operating outside the benchmarks may trigger a red flag for businesses we suspect could be engaging in the black economy,” Mr Holt said.

“A frequent red flag is a business reporting minimal profit while the business owner seems to be maintaining a lifestyle far exceeding their personal income.”

“If you use a registered tax professional, it’s also a good idea to have a chat with them about where your business sits in comparison with our benchmarks.  They might have some advice about steps you can take to improve your performance.”

 

ATO warning regarding annual leave loading and OTE

The ATO has recently warned employers that it considers that annual leave loading should normally be part of ordinary time earnings (‘OTE’) for superannuation guarantee (‘SG’) purposes, unless it is referable to a “lost opportunity to work overtime”.

Therefore, if employers have self-assessed on the basis that their annual leave loading is not OTE, and there is a lack of evidence to demonstrate the purpose of the entitlement, there is a risk that they may have historical SG shortfalls and be liable for the SG charge.

However, the ATO acknowledges the uncertainty around this topic, and the evidentiary difficulties in identifying the purpose for annual leave loading entitlements, and will apply a concessional compliance approach where certain requirements are met.

 

If this is a concern for your business, please contact our office and we can help with your SG obligations and (if necessary) determine whether you will be eligible for the ATO’s concessional compliance approach.

 

Taxpayer living in serviced apartments overseas not a resident

The Full Federal Court has found that a taxpayer had a “permanent place of abode” in Bahrain, even though he lived in temporary accommodation, and therefore allowed his appeal against a decision that he was a resident of Australia.

This decision confirms that the correct focus of the “permanent place of abode” residency test is whether there has been an abandonment of Australian residence (i.e., to live permanently outside of Australia), rather than whether a person lives in permanent accommodation overseas.

In particular, the Full Court considered that the phrase “place of abode” is not a reference to a person’s house or flat or other dwelling but rather the town or country in which a person is physically residing permanently.

 

Mostly vacant property still an ‘active’ asset

The AAT has held that a block of land next door to a taxpayer’s main residence, which they used to store materials, tools and other equipment for their business, was still an ‘active asset’ for the purpose of the small business CGT concessions.

The small business CGT concessions can reduce, or eliminate, the tax payable on the sale of an ‘active asset’ (basically, a business asset).

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March 2019 Update

Changes to the small business instant asset write-off

On 29 January 2019, the Prime Minister announced that legislation will be introduced to:

  • extend the small business instant asset write-off by 12 months to 30 June 2020; and
  • increase the write-off threshold from less than $20,000 to less than $25,000(effective immediately).

The current threshold of $20,000 has applied since 7.30pm AEST on 12 May 2015 and was due to revert to $1,000 on 1 July 2019.

Under the proposed changes, from 29 January 2019until 30 June 2020, small businesses with an aggregated annual turnover of less than $10 millionmay claim an immediate deduction for the business-use portion of each depreciating asset costing less than $25,000.

Example

To illustrate, assume an individual acquires a van for $22,000 (excluding GST entitlements) on 1 February 2019.

The individual is a small business entity and estimates the van will be used 90% for the business and 10% for private purposes.

Under the current rules, while the business-use portion of the cost of the van is less than $20,000 (i.e., $22,000 x 90% = $19,800), an immediate deduction is not available because the entire cost is $20,000 or more.

However, the van may be depreciated as part of the taxpayer’s SBE small business pool.

In contrast, an immediate deduction of $19,800 may now be claimed under the proposed changes, as the entire cost of the van is below the new threshold of $25,000.

This measure is expected to benefit more than 3 million eligible small businesses.

 

On 13 February 2019, the Treasury Laws Amendment (Increasing the Instant Asset Write-Off for Small Business Entities) Bill 2019 was introduced in the House of Representatives.

Once this Bill becomes law, it will open up opportunities for small businesses to claim an immediate deduction for depreciating assets (where they cost less than $25,000) up until 30 June 2020.

 

Tax scammer alert

The ATO has again warned taxpayers to be alert for scammers impersonating the ATO, as it appears they have changed tactics in 2019.

Specifically, the ATO is seeing the emergence of a new tactic where:

“scammers are using an ATO number to send fraudulent SMS messages to taxpayers asking them to click on a link and hand over their personal details in order to obtain a refund”.

The ATO has received reports of scammers maliciously manipulating the calling line identification so the phone number that appears is different to the number from which the call originated.

This is referred to as “spoofing” and is a common technique used by scammers to appear legitimate.

It appears these scams aim to steal taxpayers’ personal details and identities.

The ATO has advised it will not:

  • send an email or SMS asking a taxpayer to click on a link to provide login, personal or financial information, or to download a file or open an attachment;
  • use aggressive or rude behaviour, or threaten taxpayers with arrest, jail or deportation;
  • request payment of a debt via iTunes or
    Google Play cards, pre-paid Visa cards, cryptocurrency or direct credit to a personal bank account; or
  • request a fee in order to release a refund owed to taxpayers.

If you are unsure about a call, text message or email purportedly received from the ATO, the best advice is not to reply.

Should you have any concerns, please contact our office directly, or alternatively you can call the ATO on 1800 008 540 to check if the contact was legitimate or to report a scam.

 

Non-compliant payments to workers

The rules for claiming deductions for payments to workers are changing.

From 1 July 2019, businesses can only claim deductions for certain payments made to workers wherethey’ve met the Pay As You Go (‘PAYG’) withholding obligation for that payment.

Specifically, a business can only claim a deduction for the following payments if it complies with the relevant PAYG withholding rules:

  • Salary, wages, commissions, bonuses or allowances to an employee.
  • Directors’ fees.
  • Payments to a religious practitioner.
  • Payments made under a labour hire arrangement.
  • Payments made for a supply of services (except from supplies of goods and real property) where the contractor has not provided their ABN.

Where the PAYG withholding rules require an amount to be withheld, the business must:

  • withhold the amount from the payment before they pay their worker; and
  • report that amount to the ATO.

Importantly, a deduction will not be lost if an incorrect amount is withheld (or reported) by mistake.
What’s new for Australian business

The ATO has recently reminded small businesses of the expanded tax concessions potentially available to them, as outlined below:

  • The pending increase in the small business instant depreciating asset write-off to less than $25,000(as discussed in further detail above).
  • Accelerated depreciation deductions for primary producers for eligible fodder storage assets, as well as for fencing and water facilities.
  • Assistance for primary producers impacted by drought at Drought Help, or by contacting the ATO on 1800 806 218.
  • A lower company tax rate of 5%for companies qualifying as a Base Rate Entity (‘BRE’).
  • Increased Small Business Income Tax Offset (‘SBITO’) for eligible sole traders and individual partners and beneficiaries.

Finally, the ATO has reminded taxpayers that more businesses are now eligible for most small business tax concessions.

Specifically, from 1 July 2016, a range of small business tax concessions became available to all businesses with an aggregated turnover of less than $10 million(i.e., the turnover threshold).

Previously the turnover threshold was less than $2 million.  The $10 million turnover threshold applies to most concessions, except for:

  • the SBITO – which has a $5 millionturnover threshold from 1 July 2016; and
  • the small business CGT concessions – which continue to have a $2 millionturnover threshold.

Note: The relevant turnover threshold for accessing the lower company tax rate is $50 millionfrom the 2019 income year (increased from $25 million in the 2018 income year).

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