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The Super Guarantee Timing Trap for Employers

How employers are being caught out by the timing of superannuation guarantee payments.

Employers can generally only claim a deduction for superannuation contributions in the income year in which the contribution is made. Super contributions are made when the payments are received by the trustee of a complying superannuation fund.

It's not uncommon for employers to be caught out by timing problems, many in the belief that the contribution has been made at the point the payment is made rather than when it is credited to the superannuation fund provider's account. Many forms of electronic transfer however are not guaranteed to be automatic or next day. BPay for example may take up to 2 days, a delay that is often not factored in.

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Employees with multiple employers can now opt-out of superannuation guarantee from all but one employer.

Employers are required to pay 9.5% superannuation guarantee for all eligible employees. But what happens if you are an employee with multiple employers? Until recently, these compulsory payments meant some employees risked unintentionally breaching their concessional contributions caps. New laws however provide a potential solution.

Legislation that passed Parliament late last month allows an employee to apply to the Commissioner of Taxation for an employer shortfall exemption certificate to opt-out of the SG system for specific employers. This certificate prevents their employer from having a superannuation guarantee shortfall if they do not make superannuation contributions for the period covered by the certificate.

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Bushfire Relief from ATO Obligations

The ATO has provided relief from lodgement compliance and payment obligations for those impacted by the bushfires. An automatic two month deferral for activity statements lodgements and payments due has been provided to those in affected postcodes.

Taxpayers can also call the ATO directly to request further assistance, such as requesting extra time to manage tax debt or lodgements, help finding lost documentation such as Tax File Numbers, reconstructing tax documentation, fast tracking refunds, interest free periods, and remittance of penalties or interest charged during the crisis.

The countdown to Christmas is now on and we're in the midst of the headlong rush to get everything done and capitalise on any remaining opportunities before the Christmas lull. Busy period or not, Christmas causes a period of dislocation and volatility for most businesses. This dislocation and volatility mean that it is not 'business as usual' and for many businesses, it is the change that causes the problem.

Most business owners cope well with consistent trading conditions, where trading and business conditions are predictable as are the solutions to issues that arise, but it is a different story during periods of disruption. Here are some things to watch out for:

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Australia Embraces Black Friday and Cyber Monday

The Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale concepts have well and truly arrived in Australia with retailers embracing this latest retail event to stimulate what has been an economically lack lustre year.

Why 'Black Friday'?

For many Australians, Black Friday is just confusing – shouldn't Black Friday' be on Friday 13th? In the US, the Black Friday sales follow Thanksgiving in a similar way to the Australian Boxing Day sales. The Black Friday sales also lay a clear runway to Christmas, stimulating consumer spending.

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Woolworths is the latest company facing a fallout from the underpayment of staff. In what is believed to be the largest remediation of its kind, Woolworths have stated that they have underpaid 5,700 salaried team members with remediation expected to be in the range of $200m to $300m (before tax).

The discovery was made as part of a 2 year review following the implementation of a new enterprise agreement but could have been occurring since the implementation of the modern award in 2010.

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You might have seen the recent spate of media freedom advertisements as part of the Your Right to Know campaign. The prime-time advertising states that the Australian Tax Office (ATO) can take money from your account without you knowing. The question is, do you really know what powers the ATO have?

The ATO is one of the most powerful institutions in Australia with very broad and encompassing powers. Over the last few years the approach has been to work with taxpayers to ensure that the tax they owe is paid. But this level of understanding only lasts so long and they will take action where taxpayers are unwilling to work with them, repeatedly default on an agreed payment plan, or don't take steps to resolve the situation (these steps include an expectation that you go into debt to clear your tax debt). And, there are also circumstances where the ATO can swoop in where they believe there is a need to secure assets such as bank accounts if there is a risk of disposal or flight risk.

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Calculating Super Guarantee: The New Rule

From 1 July 2020, new rules will come into effect to ensure that an employee's salary sacrifice contributions cannot be used to reduce the amount of superannuation guarantee (SG) paid by the employer.

Under current rules, some employers are paying SG on the salary less any salary sacrificed contributions of the employee. Currently, employers must contribute 9.5% of an employee's Ordinary Time Earnings (OTE) and they choose whether or not to include the salary sacrificed amounts in OTE.

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Legislation that passed through Parliament last month prevents taxpayers from claiming a deduction for expenses incurred for holding vacant land. The amendments are not only retrospective but go beyond purely vacant land.

Previously, if you bought vacant land with the intent to build a rental property on it, you may have been able to claim tax deductions for expenses incurred in holding the land such as loan interest, council rates and other ongoing holding costs.

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The Government has resurrected its plan to remove access to the main residence exemption for non-residents – a move that will impact on expats and foreign residents.

Back in the 2017-18 Federal Budget, the Government announced that it would remove the ability for non-resident taxpayers to claim the main residence exemption. The unpopular measures were introduced into Parliament but stymied. An election later, a recomposition of Parliament, and the Government has again introduced the reforms but in a modified form. 

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cpa xero  tax  MYOB