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Client Alert for June 2019

Requirement registered to lodge 2019 tax and other returns

The Notice of Requirement to Lodge a Return for Income Year Ended 30 June 2019 has been registered. This covers income tax returns and other lodgments for franking account returns, including special rules for late balancing corporate tax entities that elect to use 30 June as a basis for determining their franking deficit tax liability; venture capital deficit tax returns; ancillary fund returns; trustees of SMSFs; and member information statements by superannuation providers.

The Notice also covers use of approved forms for lodgment, lodgment deferrals, lodgment exemptions, and penalties for non-lodgment.

The Notice of Requirement for Parents with a Child Support Assessment to Lodge for the Income Year Ended 30 June 2019 has also been registered.

Payment summaries and STP this tax time – taxpayers may need a myGov account

While it is being reported that many businesses are not ready for Single Touch Payroll (STP), one report suggests that 70% of small and medium-sized entities (SMEs) are not ready, the employees of businesses that are operating STP face some changes. Read more…

Client Alert for May 2019

ATO to ramp up ABN investigations and cancellations

As part of the ATO's work to ensure the integrity of the Australian Business Register, it investigates the business activities of Australian Business Number (ABN) holders when it seems their ABN is no longer being used – for example, if business income isn't being reported, or where the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) deregisters a company. The ATO may then cancel the ABN where there's sufficient evidence the business is inactive. An ABN will also be cancelled when the taxpayer themselves advises they've stopped their business activities, or when they lodge their final tax return.

The ATO is ramping up its focus on cancelling inactive ABNs over the coming months, saying it's refined its models to help identify businesses that are no longer active or whose owners have forgotten to cancel their ABN when they ceased business.

If an ABN is cancelled and the holder is still running a business, or an ABN application is refused, the taxpayer can object to the decision within 60 days.

TIP: If your ABN seems to be inactive, the ATO may ask you for evidence that you're setting up or still running a business. We can help you with putting together this information, or with applying to have your ABN reinstated if it's incorrectly cancelled.

Fringe benefits tax: rates, thresholds and ATO focus for 2019–2020

The ATO has issued its annual rulings about rates and thresholds that apply for the new FBT year (1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020), including the benchmark interest rate, the cents-per-kilometre amounts for calculating the value of a fringe benefit from private use of a motor vehicle other than a car, the threshold for the FBT record-keeping exemption, state-by-state amounts for valuing housing benefits, and the the weekly amounts the ATO considers reasonable for food and drink expenses incurred by employees who receiving a living-away-from-home allowance.

TIP: We can help you reduce your business's FBT liability with useful strategies like providing employee benefits that are tax-deductible or FBT-exempt, using employee contributions or providing cash bonuses.

The ATO will focus on monitoring a range of FBT issues this year, including looking for employers who fail to report motor vehicle fringe benefits or incorrectly apply exemptions for vehicles; identifying mismatches between amounts on FBT returns and the income amounts on the employer's tax return; looking for incorrect classifications of entertainment expenses; monitoring issues around car parking fringe benefits; and following up with taxpayers who don't lodge FBT returns on time. Read more…

Client Alert for April 2019

Things to get right this FBT season

Fringe benefits tax (FBT) returns will soon be due and as always, it's vital to make sure you use the latest rates and rely on the correct information.

FBT rates have recently been updated for the year, and a range of other factors may be need to be considered, including using the best car parking valuations, correctly identifying which travel expenses are deductible, considering how FBT applies to your arrangements with employees and independent contractors, and making sure you keep within the entertainment benefits rules. Another issue to keep an eye on is employees' private use of work vehicles.

TIP: We can provide advice on these matters and more, and help get your FBT return lodged on time.

Tax concierge service available to small businesses

The Small Business Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, has announced that taxpayers wanting an external review of an adverse tax decision by the ATO through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) can now contact the office of the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman for assistance.

From 1 March 2019, small business owners without legal representation can access an hour with an experienced small business tax lawyer at a significantly reduced cost, subsidised by the office of the Ombudsman. Lawyers can review relevant documents and provide advice on the viability of an appeal. And should an appeal progress, the Ombudsman's case managers will help the small business owner through the process.

Small business taxation decisions will be finalised within 28 days from the date of a hearing at the AAT.

ATO small business benchmarks updated

The ATO has released its latest small business benchmarks, providing over 100 different industries with average cost of sales and average total expenses. Businesses can see clearly what the relevant benchmarks are for their industry. The benchmark data is drawn from over 1.5 million small businesses around Australia.

Business owners can use the benchmarks to gauge the strength of their business and keep an eye on their competition.

The benchmarks also help the ATO identify small businesses that may be doing the wrong thing and not properly reporting some or all of their income.

TIP: Using the business performance check tool in the ATO app is the quickest and easiest way to work out how your small business compares to the benchmarks. Search for "Australian Taxation Office" on the App Store or Google Play. Read more…

Client Alert for March 2019

Single Touch Payroll reporting for small businesses: get ready!

Legislation has recently passed to bring in Single Touch Payroll (STP) reporting for all small employers (with fewer than 20 employees) from 1 July 2019.

STP is a payday reporting arrangement where employers need to send tax and superannuation information to the ATO from their payroll or accounting software each time they pay their employees. For large employers (with 20 or more employees), STP reporting started gradually from 1 July 2018, and until now it has been optional for small employers.

ATO Commissioner Chris Gordon has said he wants to "reassure small business and give my personal guarantee that our approach to extending Single Touch Payroll will be flexible, reasonable and pragmatic".

The basics of STP reporting

• With STP reporting, employers no longer need to provide payment summaries to employees for payments reported through STP. Payments not reported through STP, like employee share scheme (ESS) amounts, still need to be reported on a payment summary.

• Employers no longer need to provide payment summary annual report (PSARs) to the ATO at the end of the financial year for STP reported payments.

• Employees can view their year-to-date payment information using the ATO's online services, accessible through their myGov account, or can ask the ATO for a copy of this information.

• Employers need to complete a finalisation declaration at the end of each financial year.

• Employers need to report employees' super liability information for the first time through STP. Super funds will then report to the ATO when the employer pays the super amounts to employees' funds.

• From 2020, the ATO will pre-fill some activity statement information for small to medium withholders with the information reported through STP. Employers that currently lodge an activity statement will continue to do so.

TIP: Contact us today for more information about STP for your business. Read more…

Client Alert for February 2019

Tax clinic trial to reduce tax regulatory burden

To help reduce the regulatory burden on businesses, including the tax burden, the government has allocated $1 million to set up 10 tax clinics across Australia under a trial program based on the Curtin University Tax Clinic.

Each clinic will receive up to $100,000 for 12 months to support unrepresented individual or small business taxpayers by providing general taxation advice and helping them with their tax obligations and reporting requirements. The clinics, through identifying issues and building greater understanding of the tax system in operation, are also designed to improve the interactions that small businesses and individual taxpayers have with the ATO.

The clinics will cover advice, representation, education and advocacy, and will offer students training in the profession the opportunity to work with taxpayers, under the direct supervision of qualified tax professionals. Read more…

Client Alert for December 2018

Work-related tax deductions down for 2018

The ATO has reported a decline in the overall value of work-related deductions for tax time 2018. In his opening statement to Senate Estimates on 24 October 2018, Commissioner Chris Jordan said taxpayers appear to be taking extra care when claiming work-related expenses in their 2017–2018 income tax returns. This follows recent ATO awareness and education efforts to close the income tax gap for individuals.

ATO identifies 26,000 incorrect rental property travel expense claims

The ATO has identified 26,000 taxpayers who have claimed deductions during tax time 2018 for travel to their investment residential rental properties, despite recent changes to tax laws.

From 1 July 2017, investors cannot claim travel expenses relating to inspecting, maintaining or collecting rent for a residential rental property as deductions, subject to certain exceptions. An exclusion does apply for this restriction if the expenditure is necessary for the income-producing purposes of carrying on a business (for example, a rental property business), or if the costs are incurred by an "excluded entity". Read more…

Newsletter for November 2018

 

Accelerated tax rate reduction for small business

Small business is still a vote winner with the Government and Opposition teaming up to accelerate tax cuts for the sector by 5 years impacting on an estimated 3.3 million businesses.

 

Parliament recently passed legislation to accelerate the corporate tax rate reduction for corporate tax entities that are base rate entities (BREs). Under the new rules:

 

·       A 26% rate will apply to BREs for the year ending 30 June 2021, and

·       A 25% rate will apply to BREs from 1 July 2021

 

Year

Aggregated annual turnover threshold

Eligible companies*

Entities under the threshold

Other corporate tax entities

2015-16

$2m

SBE ($2m threshold)

28.5%

30%

2016-17

$10m

SBE ($10m threshold)

27.5%

30%

2017-18

$25m

BRE

27.5%

30%

2018-19 to 2019-20

$50m

BRE

27.5%

30%

2020-21

$50m

BRE

26%

30%

2021-22

$50m

BRE

25%

30%

* Small business entity (SBE), Base rate entity (BRE) Read more…

Client Alert for November 2018

Transfer balance cap: ATO highlights admin issues

On 30 August 2018, ATO Assistant Commissioner Superannuation Tara McLachlan gave a speech on "Administration issues under the transfer balance cap" at the Tax Institute Sixth National Superannuation Conference.

TIP: The superannuation transfer balance cap is a limit on the total amount of super that you can transfer into retirement phase. The current cap is $1.6 million.

Ms McLachlan highlighted several issues regarding common superannuation events that will need to be reported to the ATO (such as the start of new pensions that began to be in retirement phase on or after 1 July 2017), multiple transfer balance events, excess transfer balance determinations and more. Read more…

Client Alert for October 2018

Claiming work-related expenses: ATO guides and toolkits

This year, the ATO has launched its biggest ever education campaign to help taxpayers get their tax returns right. The ATO says the campaign, which is running throughout tax time, includes direct contact with over three million selected taxpayers, as well as specialised guides and toolkits for taxpayers, agents, employers and industry bodies. A key component of the campaign is simple, plain English guidance for people with the most common occupations, like teachers, nurses, police officers and hospitality workers.

ATO Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson says that last year work-related expenses totalled a record $21.3 billion, "and we have already flagged that over-claiming of deductions is a big issue". The most popular topics this year include car, clothing, travel, working from home, and self-education expenses, and the guides for tradies, doctors, teachers, office workers and IT professionals have been popular. Read more…

Client Alert for September 2018

Super sector must address trust deficit

In a speech to the Financial Services Council Summit on 26 July 2018, Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) Chair James Shipton said the superannuation sector must restore the "trust deficit" and be more mindful of the responsibilities that come with being the custodians of other people's money. Mr Shipton said the super industry has been exploiting opportunities to make money from members, citing examples of conduct that could lead to poor member outcomes, including poor advice, treatment of customers and defensiveness when it came to transparency about fund operations.

Mr Shipton said there is an urgent need for super funds to invest in systems, procedures and policies that can quickly identify emerging conduct and systemic issues. A recent ASIC review of 12 banking groups found that it took an average of four years between an issue occurring and being identified internally for investigation, before a significant breach report was finally lodged with ASIC. Read more…

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