Due to the ongoing economic impacts of COVID-19 on large parts of Australia, the ATO has announced the extension of various COVID-19 relief measures for trustees of self managed superannuation funds (SMSFs). The relief previously only applied to the 2019–2020 and 2020–2021 financial years, but will now also be available for the 2021–2022 financial year.
SMSF residency test
To be a complying super fund and receive tax concessions, SMSFs must be an “Australian super fund” at all times during the year. This requires, among other things, for the central management and control of the SMSF (ie individual trustees, or directors of a corporate trustee) to ordinarily be in Australia. Under the relief, a fund will still meet this requirement even if its central management and control is temporarily outside of Australia for up to two years.
If an SMSF or a related party has continued to provide rental relief based on the current market conditions, whether it be a rental reduction, waiver or deferral to a tenant, the ATO will provide relief in the form of not taking any compliance action against the fund. However, this is predicated on the rental relief being offered on commercial terms, and there being proper documentation with regards to the arrangement.
Loan repayment relief
For loan repayment relief provided by an SMSF to a related or unrelated party due to the financial impacts of COVID-19, where the relief is offered on commercial terms and the changes to the loan agreement are properly documented, the ATO will provide relief on similar terms as the interim rental relief – that is, it will not take any compliance action against the fund. This will also apply to limited recourse borrowing arrangements (LRBAs).
Where an SMSF exceeds the 5% in-house asset threshold at 30 June 2021 due to the financial impacts of COVID-19, trustees must still prepare a written plan to reduce the market value of the fund’s in-house assets to below 5% by 30 June 2022. However, the ATO has said it will not take any compliance action where the plan has not been executed by the due date as a result of the market not having recovered, or in some cases the plan may be unnecessary because of market recovery.
The ATO has confirmed that its penalty and interest relief for excessive PAYG variations applies to SMSFs that continue to be impacted by COVID-19 during 2021–2022. The ATO will not apply penalties or interest for excessive variations of PAYG instalments during the 2021–2022 income year, provided that the taxpayer has taken reasonable care to estimate their end-of-year tax.
The ATO has also extended to 2021–2022 its existing COVID-19 relief in the Addendum to the Auditor/actuary contravention report (ACR). The ACR relief for 2021–2022 will apply for rental relief (including rental reductions, waivers and deferrals), loan repayment relief (including for LRBAs), and in-house assets.
TIP: If you’re a trustee of an SMSF and you or your fund’s members have been affected by COVID-19, we can help you work out the potential tax implications and relief available, and put the proper documentation in place.
Directors of companies will soon have to enrol in the Director Identification Number regime. This requires current and future directors to apply for director identification numbers (DIN) which will be permanently
linked to the individual, even if they are no longer a director. It is hoped the regime will make it easier to trace relationships across companies and reduce instances of phoenixing and other illegal activity. Most existing directors will have until 30 November 2022 to apply for the DIN through the ATO.
The Director Identification Number regime came into force late in 2020 as a tool for the Federal Government to reduce phoenixing and black economy activities.
Tip: Illegal phoenix activity is when a company shuts down to avoid paying its debts. A new company is then started to continue the same business activities, without the debt.
Individuals that operate under the Corporations Act 2001 and became a director on or before 31 October 2021 are required to apply for a DIN before the end of the transitional period, which is between 4 April 2021 and 30 November 2022.
Directors who operate under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 and became a director on or before 31 October 2021 will have even more time to apply for a DIN – until 30 November 2023 (with a transition period between 4 April 2021 and 30 November 2023).
Any individuals who are appointed directors between 1 November 2021 and 4 April 2022 will have within 28 days of their appointment to apply for the DIN, and from 5 April 2022 individuals seeking to become directors will need to apply for a DIN before their appointment.
Any conduct that undermines the DIN requirement will be subject to civil and criminal penalties. This includes deliberately providing false identity information, intentionally providing a false DIN or intentionally applying for multiple DINs.
Directors will be able to use the new Australian Business Registry Services (ABRS) online services to register from 1 November 2021. Sign-ins and director identity verification will be conducted using the myGovID app.
A new data matching program designed to identify and address non-compliance with tax and super obligations is under way in relation to government payments for the 2018–2019 to 2022–2023 income years. It covers most services that the Commonwealth Government pays third-party program providers to deliver.
The ATO will obtain data from Comcare, the Department of Health, the National Disability Insurance Agency, the National Indigenous Australian Agency, the Department of Home Affairs, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the clean energy regulator. This will add to the information the ATO currently receives from government entities through the taxable payments annual report (TPAR).
This means that contractors, subcontractors and consultants in any type of business structure (sole trader, company, partnership or trust) that receive payments from government under these agencies’ programs may be subject to extra scrutiny.
It is estimated that 36,000 service providers will be captured under this program each financial year. Of that number, approximately 11,000 will be individuals and the rest will be companies, partnerships, trusts and government entities.
TIP: If you’re a service provider under one of the affected government programs, you should ensure you’re meeting all your registration and lodgement obligations. We can help review your records and correct any problems so you don’t get a surprise letter from the ATO.
The ATO has recently issued an alert warning taxpayers against disguising undeclared foreign income as gifts or loans from related overseas entities, including family and friends. It says it has continued to encounter situations where Australian resident taxpayers have derived amounts of income or capital gains offshore that are assessable, but the taxpayers have failed to declare the amounts in their income tax returns.
TIP: If you’re an Australian resident for tax purposes, your worldwide income (not just money you make from Australian sources) is assessable and should be reported to the ATO in your annual tax return.
The ATO will now be looking closely at arrangements where taxpayers are aware of their residency status and the tax implications that flow from it, but attempt to avoid or evade tax of their foreign assessable income by disguising amounts as either gifts or loans from a related overseas entity.
If family or friends who live overseas have provided a genuine monetary gift or loan to you or your business, you should keep as much supporting documentation as possible about it. This is because if there is any uncertainty about whether particular amounts are genuine gifts or loans, the ATO will form a view based on all of the available evidence.
Contemporaneous and complete records should include detailed financial records, full loan documentation, formal identification of the giver and any declarations they made about the money in their country of residence. A deed of gift or a statutory declaration may not be accepted as conclusive evidence.
Inheritances also count as “gifts”. If you receive an inheritance from overseas, a certified copy of the person’s will or a distribution statement for the estate should be a part of your recordkeeping.
MySuper performance test results and new super comparison tool
This year marks the beginning of annual performance tests on MySuper products, run by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA). The tests were introduced as part of the Federal government’s Your Future, Your Super reforms, aiming to hold super funds to account for underperformance and enhance industry transparency. The first annual test of 76 MySuper products from various super funds or registrable superannuation entities found that 13 products failed to meet the benchmark. These products will need to notify their members of the failed test and make the improvements needed to ensure they pass next year’s test.
A new interactive online super comparison tool, YourSuper, is also now available on the ATO website and via MyGov. It displays a table of MySuper products ranked by fees and net returns (updated quarterly), and you can compare up to four MySuper products at a time in more detail.
The performance tests conducted by APRA only relate to MySuper products, which are basic super accounts without unnecessary features and fees. Registrable superannuation entities usually offer multiple products in addition to MySuper products, so don’t panic if you see the name of your super fund on the list of underperforming products. However, if you see the name of your specific product or receive a letter indicating that the fund you’re in has failed the APRA performance test, it may be time to investigate the reasons why or switch to a different product.
Employers get ready – there’ll soon be an extra step involved when it comes to hiring new employees. From 1 November 2021, employers will need to determine if a new employee has a “stapled” super fund and request the details from the ATO where a new employee has not nominated a super fund.
A stapled super fund is essentially an existing super account that is linked – or “stapled” – to an individual and follows them throughout their job changes.
Currently, when a new employee starts a new job they are eligible to choose the super fund that their super guarantee contributions will go to. If they do not choose their own fund, the super contributions will be paid into the employer’s default fund. The stapling change aims to reduce unnecessary account fees by avoiding having a new super account opened every time a person starts a new job.
To ensure you’re ready for this change, check ATO online services to confirm that your business has the required access levels. You’ll need to have the “Employee Commencement Form” permission in order to request a stapled fund.
After 1 November you’ll still need to offer your eligible employees a choice of super fund and pay their super into the account they nominate – that part of your obligations doesn’t change. However, if your employee doesn’t choose a fund, you’ll need to request the stapled fund details from the ATO. In most cases, a request can be made after you’ve submitted a TFN declaration or a Single Touch Payroll (STP) pay event linking the new employee to your business.
Responses will usually be received through the online portal in minutes. The ATO will also notify the associated employee of the stapled fund request and the fund details provided.
Remember, an employer cannot provide recommendations or advice about super to its employees, unless the business is licensed by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to provide financial advice. Penalties may apply if your business fails to meet the “choice of super fund” obligations.
Closing a business? Don’t forget the GST registration
If the current prolonged lockdowns and economic conditions have prompted you to sell or close your business, it’s important to be aware of the need to cancel the related GST registration within a certain period, unless your business is in a specific industry or performs a specific role.
TIP: Generally, you must cancel your GST registration within 21 days if you sell or close your business. If you change your business structure, for example from a partnership structure to a company structure, you must still cancel your GST registration within 21 days, unless the old entity carries on another business.
Cancelling a GST registration will also cancel other registrations such as fuel tax credits, luxury car tax and wine equalisation tax, even if the ABN is not cancelled. If you’re registered for PAYG, PAYG instalments or have FBT obligations, you will need to keep lodging business activity statements (BASs) even if you cancel your GST registration.
While you can usually cancel your GST registration from a date you choose (which should be the last day you want your previous business to be registered), you cannot cancel the registration retrospectively if you were still operating on a GST-registered basis after that date. Similarly, if you choose a cancellation date and then continue to operate on a GST-registered basis, you will not be able to cancel the registration.
When you cancel your business’s GST registration, you’ll need to lodge any outstanding BASs and complete a final GST activity statement which should include all sales, purchases and importations made in the final tax period. This should include the sale of the business, sale of any of business assets, adjustments for any assets held after cancellation, and/or any other adjustments. If you operate on a cash basis, all the sales and purchases that still need to be attributed from a previous tax period must be recorded.
If you’re cancelling a GST registration because the business has been restructured, sold or closed, the associated ABN must also be cancelled. If a company was not restructured, sold or closed, but simply no longer carries on a business, the GST registration must still be cancelled but there’s a choice to keep the ABN registration active.
Additional financial support for child care providers
The Prime Minister and the Minister for Education and Youth recently announced new support measures for child care providers that are impacted by extended COVID-19 lockdowns.
Child care services in Commonwealth-declared hotspots will be eligible for new fortnightly payments of 25% of their pre-lockdown revenue, and outside school hours care (OSHC) services will be eligible for fortnightly payments of 40% of pre-lockdown revenue.
This measure will apply to services seven days after the hotspot is declared, where state and territory governments have directed families to keep their children at home. Where children are still allowed to attend child care, the supports will kick in four weeks after the hotspot declaration.
The new payments will immediately benefit services in affected areas of Sydney, the ACT and Melbourne. Other services will become eligible after seven days of lockdown, with payments backdated to 23 August. The support will then be available for services that meet the criteria in any future extended lockdowns.
Payments are made available directly to providers. Families in affected areas are not required to do anything.
State and territory COVID-19 support developments
Australian Capital Territory
Expanded and additional support will be available for businesses affected by COVID-19 lockdowns, in the form of two grant programs:
• COVID-19 Business Support Grants: An additional COVID-19 Business Grant Extension payment of $10,000 for employing businesses and $3,750 for non-employing businesses will be available to businesses eligible for the existing Business Support Grants and in industries “still significantly impacted by the health restrictions”.
• COVID-19 Tourism, Accommodation Provider, Arts and Events and Hospitality Grants: Further one-off grants will be available in October to eligible businesses in the tourism, accommodation provider, arts and events and hospitality industries.
Federal and state funded emergency support packages worth $52.8 million will be available to assist Queensland businesses suffering due to the NSW–Queensland border restrictions, and to provide targeted support to tourism and hospitality businesses facing significant hardship. These special hardship grants will be available from mid-October.
The COVID-19 Tourism and Hospitality Support Grant will be available for businesses in eligible tourism and hospitality sectors, and other sectors such as performing arts, creative artists, taxis and car rental, that have already received the COVID-19 Additional Business Support Grant.
There is also a new COVID-19 Business Hardship Grant for certain employing businesses that haven’t been eligible for previous business grant support since July 2021.
In addition, the SA government is increasing its Major Events Support Grant, to provide up to $100,000 for large cancelled or postponed events where more than 10,000 attendees were expected.
The existing Business Support Package will be boosted from $20 million to $50 million, with grants of up to $50,000 available to eligible businesses across two funding rounds.
In addition, the Tasmanian government will offer eligible tourism and hospitality industry businesses payroll tax relief, waived vehicle registration and passenger transport accreditation fees and waived Parks & Wildlife license fees. Businesses can apply immediately.
New regulations have been made to provide relief under the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme for small and medium-sized commercial tenants struggling with rent payments. Eligibility has been broadened, and businesses will get relief in the form of a rent reduction proportionate to the amount of turnover lost due to COVID-19.
The Victorian Small Business Commission will provide information so that landlords and tenants can negotiate an agreement, and free mediation for those who need assistance.
Land tax relief will be available to help landlords that are doing the right thing by eligible tenants, and eligible small landlords can apply for payments from a $20 million hardship fund.
WA tourism businesses impacted by COVID-19 will soon be able to apply for funding support under a new joint Commonwealth–State program. About 3,500 businesses will be eligible for grants of up to $10,000, including tourism operators, accommodation providers and travel agents.
Reminder: super changes for the 2021 financial year
The government’s long-slated “flexibility in superannuation” legislation is finally law. This means from 1 July 2021, individuals aged 65 and 66 can now access the bring-forward arrangement in relation to non-concessional super contributions. The excess contributions charge will be removed for anyone who exceeds their concessional contributions cap, and individuals who received a COVID-19 super early release amount can now recontribute it without hitting their non-concessional cap.
Previously, if you made super contributions above the annual non-concessional contributions cap, you could automatically access future year caps if you were under 65 at any time in the financial year.
The bring-forward arrangement allows you to make non-concessional contributions of up to three times the annual non-concessional contributions cap in that financial year.
Tip: For the 2021 income year, the non-concessional contributions cap is $110,000, which means that individuals aged 65 and 66 can now access a cap of up to $330,000.
Previously, individuals who exceeded their concessional contributions cap would have to pay the excess contributions charge (around 3%) as well as the additional tax due when excess contributions were re-included in their assessable income. However, people who exceed their cap on or after 1 July 2021 will no longer pay the charge, but will still receive a determination and be taxed at their marginal tax rate on any excess concessional contributions amount, less a 15% tax offset to account for the contributions tax already paid by their super fund.
Recontributions of COVID-19 early released super
Under the COVID-19 early release measures, individuals could apply to have up to $10,000 of their super released during the 2019–2020 financial year and another $10,000 released between 1 July and 31 December 2020. Between 20 April 2020 and 31 December 2020, the ATO received 4.78 million applications for early release, totalling $39.2 billion worth of super.
Not everyone who applied to have super released ended up needing to use it once the government ramped up its financial support programs. From 1 July 2021, people who received a COVID-19 super early release amount can recontribute to their super up to the amount they released, and those recontributions will not count towards their non-concessional contributions cap. The recontribution amounts must be made between 1 July 2021 and 30 June 2030 and super funds must be notified about the recontribution either before or at the time of making the recontribution.
The government is seeking to legislate compulsory reporting of information for sharing economy platforms in order to more easily monitor the compliance of participants, while at the same time reducing the need for ATO resources.
As the sharing economy becomes more prevalent and fundamentally reshapes many sectors of the economy, the government is scrambling to contain the fall-out. While there no standard definition of the term “sharing economy”, it’s usually taken to involve two parties entering into an agreement for one to provide services, or to loan personal assets, to the other in exchange for payment. Examples of platforms include Uber, Airbnb, Car Next Door, Menulog, Airtasker and Freelancer, to name a few.
With the rapid expansion of various sharing economy platforms, the government’s Black Economy Taskforce has noted that without compulsory reporting, it is difficult for the ATO to gain information on compliance without undertaking targeted audits. Putting formal reporting requirements in place will align Australia with international best practice.
The government has now released draft legislation for consultation to define the scope of compulsory reporting requirements in order to ensure integrity of the tax system and reduce the compliance burden on the ATO.
This new compulsory reporting regime would apply to all operators of an electronic service, including websites, internet portals, apps, gateways, stores and marketplaces. Any platforms that allow sellers and buyers to transact will be required to report information on certain transactions. However, the reporting requirement will generally not apply if the transaction only relates to supply of goods where ownership of the goods is permanently changed, where title of real property is transferred, or the supply is a financial supply.
Based on the draft legislation, platform operators will be required to report transactions that occur on or after 1 July 2022 if they relate to a ride-sourcing or a short-term accommodation service, unless an exemption applies. From 1 July 2023 all other categories of sharing economy platforms will be required to report, unless an exemption applies.
Tip: It’s expected that only the aggregate or total transactions relating to a seller over the reporting period will need to be provided; that is, information will not need to be provided on a transactional basis.
The initial reporting is expected to be biannual (1 July to 31 December, and 1 January to 30 June) with electronic service operators required to report the relevant information by 31 January and 31 July respectively.
This tax time, the ATO is again closely monitoring claims in relation to rental properties. The ATO has data-matching programs in place that collect detailed information about properties and owners for income years all the way from 2018–2019 to the 2022–2023. These programs expand the rental income data collected directly from third-party sources, including sharing economy platforms, rental bond authorities and property managers.
In the 2019–2020 financial year over 1.8 million taxpayers owned rental properties and claimed $38 billion in deductions. While most taxpayers do the right thing and are able to justify their claims, the ATO notes that over 70% of the 2019–2020 returns selected for review of rental information needed adjustments.
The most common mistake that rental property owners and holiday homeowners make is not declaring all their income, and their capital gains from selling property.
Another area of concern involves claims for interest charges on personal loans. For example, if you take out a loan to buy a rental property and rent it out at market rates, the interest on the loan is deductible. However, if you redraw money from that mortgage for personal use (eg to buy a car or pay off the mortgage of the house you’re living in), then you can’t claim interest on that part of the loan.
You should also be careful when claiming deductions for capital works. While the cost of repairs for wear and tear are immediately deductible if you’re replacing or fixing an existing item (eg a broken toilet), the cost of upgrading the property or areas of the property is considered capital works and any deductions need to be spread over a number of years.
The ATO is expanding the information that businesses send through Single Touch Payroll (STP). From 1 January 2022, most employers will be required to send additional information such as the start and end date of employment for employees, and their reasons for leaving employment and work type.
According to the ATO, the Phase 2 report will also include a six-character tax treatment code for each employee. The code will be automatically generated by the STP software and is an abbreviated way of outlining the factors that can influence amounts withheld from payments.
STP was originally introduced in 2016 as a way for employers to report their employees’ tax and super information to the ATO in real time. Most employers, regardless of the number of their employees, were required to start reporting from 1 July 2021.
Employers with a withholding payer number (WPN) have until 1 July 2022 to start reporting payments through STP, and small employers that make payments to closely held payees are exempt from reporting these payees through STP for the 2019–2020 and 2020–2021 financial years.
While the Phase 2 increase in information will be automatically taken care of in most STP software solutions, the increased stratification of reporting may require you to pay more attention to your business’s payroll, to ensure all the information you enter into the system is correct.
Having insurance through superannuation can be a tax-effective and cost-effective way of protecting yourself and your loved ones. Most funds offer three different types of insurance through super, each covering different contingencies: life insurance, total and permanent disability (TPD) insurance and income protection insurance.
Life cover pays a lump sum or income stream to your beneficiaries when you die, or if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness. TPD insurance pays a benefit if you become permanently or seriously disabled and are unlikely to work again. Income protection insurance pays you a regular income for a specified period if you can’t work due to temporary disability or illness.
It’s estimated that around 70% of Australians who have life insurance hold it through their super fund. However, according to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) the costs of this insurance may go up.
Data collected by APRA on life insurance claims and dispute statistics, showed and increase in superfund during 2019 - 2020. This is similar to the 2012 - 2016 trend in which substantial premium reductions resulted in significat losses for the insurers, resulting in large premium increases and more restrictive cover terms for insurance holders.
APRA notes that should this trend continue, super members are likely to be adversely affected by further substantial increases in insurance premiums and/or reductions in the value and quality of life insurance in superannuation. The regulator goes as far as saying that the ongoing viability and availability of life insurance through super may be at risk, which will impact a large proportion of the population.
It’s not time to panic just yet, but it’s important to regularly review what insurance you actually need, what cover you have through your super, and what you’re paying for it, as premiums can add up and erode your super – especially if you’re unnecessarily paying them to multiple funds!
For now, APRA is continuing to monitor the situation to ensure that registrable superannuation entity (RSE) licensees take appropriate steps to safeguard pricing, value and benefits for members that adequately reflect the underlying risks and expected experience.
For small and medium businesses, depending on the length of the lockdown, the Federal government will fund up to 50% small and medium business support payments to be administered by the states.
Non-employing businesses (eg sole traders) will also be eligible.
The Federal government will also seek to make various state business grants tax exempt and provide support for taxpayers through the ATO with reduced payment plans, waiving interest charges on late payments and varying instalments on request.
For individuals, the COVID-19 Disaster Payment will be available in any state or territory where a lockdown has been imposed under a state public health order.
New South Wales
Eligible businesses will be able to claim state government grants under the business grants program. Smaller and micro businesses that experience a specified decline will be eligible for a payment per fortnight of restrictions.
Payroll tax waivers will be available for certain businesses, as well as payroll tax deferrals and interest free payment plans.
Commercial, retail and residential landlords who provide rental relief to financially distressed tenants will be able to claim land tax relief. Residential landlords that are not liable for land tax may be able to claim a capped grant where they reduce rent for tenants.
The NSW government will also be protecting tenants with a short-term eviction moratorium for rental arrears where a residential tenant suffers a loss of income due to COVID-19 and meets a range of other criteria. There will also be no recovery of security bonds, lockouts or evictions of impacted retail/commercial tenants prior to mediation.
Businesses in Victoria will be provided with cash grants from the state government. These payments will be automatically made to eligible businesses and sole traders to minimise delays. The state government estimates that up to 90,000 business that previously received assistance payments in relation to previous lockdowns will receive the new cash grants.
Small and medium-sized businesses that suffer a significant loss of income or were forced to close as a result of South Australia’s seven-day lockdown are being offered an emergency cash grant as part of a $100 million business support package. The package also includes a new cash grant for eligible small businesses that don’t employ staff.
In addition, the SA government will provide fully-funded income support payments for eligible workers in regional SA who live or work outside of the Commonwealth-declared “hotspot” local government areas, and are therefore not entitled to the Federal COVID-19 Disaster Payment.
However, the asset can be stored – not displayed – in non-private-residence premises owned by a related party. For example, an artwork can’t be displayed in the business premises of a related party where it would be visible to clients and employees, but it could be stored in a cupboard. It could also be leased to unrelated parties on arm’s length terms.
The ability to insure must also be considered where your SMSF is investing in collectables or personal use assets. The items must be insured within seven days, under either separate policies or one collective policy. The owner and beneficiary of the policy must be the SMSF itself. If the SMSF has already made the investment but cannot obtain insurance, the ATO must be notified.
From 1 July 2021, the rate of super guarantee increased from 9.5% to 10%. Businesses using manual payroll processes should be careful that this change doesn’t lead to unintended underpayment of super, which may attract penalties.
The new rate of 10% is the minimum percentage now required by law, but employers may pay super at a higher rate under an award or agreement.
Most payroll and accounting systems will have incorporated the increase in their super rate, but it’s always good to check. If your business is still using a manual process to pay your employees, you’ll need to work out how much super to pay under the new rate.
Tip: The rate you should use to calculate your employee’s super contributions depends on the date that you are paying your employees – it doesn’t matter if the work was performed in a different quarter. The new rate applies to all super payments made after 1 July 2021.
This latest increase to 10% is by no means the last time the super guarantee rate will change over the next few years. From 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023 (ie next financial year) the rate will increase to 10.5%, followed by another 0.5% point increase to 11% in the 2023–2024 financial year. So, employers will need to be on their toes to make sure the right amount of super guarantee is paid for the next few years.
Workplace giving versus salary sacrifice donations
Have you made donations either through workplace giving or salary sacrifice arrangements with your employer? If so, and you want to claim a deduction in your tax return, it’s important to know that the tax treatment differs depending on which method you used to make the donation.
Essentially, workplace giving is a streamlined way for employees to regularly donate to charities and deductible gift recipients (DGRs). Usually a fixed portion of your salary is deducted from your pay each pay cycle and your employer forwards the donation on to the DGR. However, the amount of your gross salary remains the same and, depending on your employer’s payroll systems, the amount of tax you pay each pay period may or may not be reduced to take into account the donation.
On the other hand, under a typical salary sacrificing donation arrangement, you agree to have a portion of your salary donated to a DGR in return for your employer providing you with benefits of a similar value. Your gross salary is reduced by the salary sacrificed amount and the amount of tax you pay each pay period will be reduced. Your employer makes the donation to the DGR.
If you’ve made a donation under workplace giving, you can claim a deduction in your tax return. This is regardless of whether or not your employer reduced the amount of tax you paid each pay cycle to account for the amount of the donation. Your employer will give you a letter or email stating the total amount donated to DGRs, and the financial year in which the donations were made. Alternatively, your employer will provide the total amount of donations you made for the year in your tax time payment summary, under the “Workplace giving” section.
If you’ve made a donation to a DGR under a salary sacrifice arrangement, however, you’re not entitled to claim a deduction in your tax return, since it’s your employer that is making the donation to the DGR – not you.
If you make donations outside the workplace, remember that for a donation to be deductible it must be made to a DGR and truly be a gift or donation of $2 or more. You can still claim a deduction if you receive a token item in recognition of your donation (eg a lapel pin, wristband or sticker).
Tip: It's important to note that many crowdfunding campaigns and sites are not run by DGRs, so any donations made to those causes should be carefully examined before claiming them – it’s likely they won’t be deductible.
If your business is experiencing financial difficulties due to the latest lockdowns, the ATO may be able to help by processing your tax return faster and expediting the release of any refund to you. To be eligible for priority processing, you’ll need to apply to the ATO and provide supporting documents (within four weeks of your submission) outlining your circumstances. “Financial difficulty” may include many situations such as disconnection of an essential service, pending legal action or repossession of a business vehicle.
Tip: Priority processing of a business tax return doesn’t guarantee a refund. If your business has outstanding tax or other debts with Australian government agencies, the credit from a return may be used to pay down those debts.
You can apply for ATO priority processing over the phone or through your tax professional after the lodgment of the tax return in question. Once the initial request for priority processing is received, you’ll be notified and contacted if more information is required. Processing will take more time for businesses that have lodged several years’ worth of income tax returns of amendments at the same time, and those that have unresolved tax debts.
Before lodging any priority processing request, check the progress of your return through online services, over the phone or by contacting us as your tax professional. If the return is in the final stages of processing, you may not need to lodge a priority processing request – the return will be finalised before the ATO has an opportunity to consider the request.
ATO tax time support: COVID-19 and natural disasters
The ATO has a range of year-end tax time options to support taxpayers who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and recent natural disasters.
Income statements can be accessed in ATO online services through myGov accounts from 14 July.
The ATO also reminds those who may have lost, damaged or destroyed tax records due to natural disasters that some records can be accessed through their myGov account or their registered tax agent. For lost receipts, the ATO can accept “reasonable claims without evidence, so long as it’s not reasonably possible to access the original documents”. A justification may be required on how a claim is calculated.
Tip: Even if you can’t pay, it’s still important to lodge on time. We can help you understand your tax position and find the best support for you.
Payments received as an employee will be automatically included in the employee’s income statement as either salary and wages or as an allowance. However, sole traders who received JobKeeper payment on behalf of their business will need to include the payment as assessable income for the business.
Payments received will be automatically included in the tax return at the Government Payments and Allowances question from 14 July.
Stand down payments
Employees receiving one-off or regular payments from their employer after being temporarily stood down due to COVID-19 should expect to see those payments automatically included in their income statement as part of their tax return.
COVID-19 Disaster Payment
The Australian Government (through Services Australia) COVID-19 Disaster Payment for people affected by restrictions is taxable. Taxpayers are advised to ensure they include this income when lodging their returns.
The tax treatment of assistance payments can vary; the ATO website outlines how a range of disaster payments impact tax returns and includes guidance on COVID-19 payments, including the taxable pandemic leave disaster payment.
Early access to superannuation
Early access to superannuation under the special arrangements due to COVID-19 is tax free and does not need to be declared in tax returns.
Would you like to hold a wine collection, artworks, or a classic car in your self managed superannuation fund (SMSF)? Well, you can if you follow some strict rules.
Firstly, the investment in collectibles or personal use assets must be for genuine retirement purposes and not to provide any present day benefit to either the members of the SMSF or related parties. Secondly, the assets cannot be used by members or related parties in any capacity. Thirdly, the asset must be insured in the fund’s name within seven days of acquisition. All of these requirements, plus other rules, need to be met to avoid falling afoul of super rules.
This means that whatever collectable or personal use asset your SMSF purchases, it can’t be used by members or related parties in any capacity. Consider a classic car: if it is owned by the SMSF as an investment, it cannot be driven by a member or any related party for any reason. This holds true even if the only reason for driving the car is to maintain it or to perform restoration work.
The rules also mean that any collectable or personal use asset owned by your SMSF can’t be stored at the private residence of any member or related party. However, the asset can be stored – not displayed – in non-private-residence premises owned by a related party. For example, an artwork can’t be displayed in the business premises of a related party where it would be visible to clients and employees, but it could be stored in a cupboard. It could also be leased to unrelated parties on arm’s length terms.
The ability to insure must also be considered where your SMSF is investing in collectables or personal use assets. The items must be insured within seven days, under either separate policies or one collective policy. The owner and beneficiary of the policy must be the SMSF itself. If the SMSF has already made the investment but cannot to obtain insurance, the ATO must be notified.
Businesses that have accessed government economic stimulus measures need to take extra care this tax time. The ATO has announced that it will increase its scrutiny, conducting compliance activity on various economic stimulus measures introduced to help businesses recover from the effects of COVID-19. These stimulus measures include loss carry-back, temporary full expensing and accelerated depreciation.
While the ATO will continue to support businesses, most of whom are doing the right thing, it is looking at behaviour or development of schemes designed to deliberately exploit various stimulus measures. All taxpayers who’ve used the schemes should review their claims to ensure they are eligible, and that the amounts claimed are correct.
The loss carry-back measure allows eligible corporate entities to claim a refundable tax offset in their 2020–2021 and 2021–2022 company tax returns. In essence, companies get to “carry back” losses to earlier years in which there were income tax liabilities, which may result in a cash refund or a reduced tax liability.
The temporary full expensing measure allows immediately deducting the business portion of the cost of eligible new depreciating assets or improvements. Eligible businesses also have access to the accelerated depreciation measure for the 2019–2020 and 2020–2021 income years, in which the cost of new depreciating assets can be deducted at an accelerated rate.
The ATO will review claims as part of its tax time compliance activities as well as actively identifying tax schemes and arrangements seeking to exploit those schemes. The ATO will actively pursue concerning or fraudulent behaviours, including imposing financial penalties, prosecution and imprisonment for the most serious of cases.
Tip: If your business used the various stimulus measures, we can help you confirm your eligibility and the amount of deduction claimed to avoid potentially costly compliance activity from the ATO down the line.
Cryptocurrency trading is subject to tax: new ATO data-matching program
Over 600,000 Australian taxpayers have invested in crypto-assets in recent years. The ATO has recently issued a reminder that although many people may believe that gains made through cryptocurrency trading are tax-free, or only taxable when the holdings are cashed back into “real” Australian dollars, this is not the case – capital gains tax (CGT) does apply to crypto-asset gains or losses.
While it may appear that cryptocurrencies operate in an anonymous digital world, the ATO does closely track where these assets interact with the “real” financial world through data from banks, financial institutions and cryptocurrency online exchanges, following the money back to the taxpayer.
This year the ATO will write to around 100,000 people with cryptocurrency assets explaining their tax obligations and urging them to review their previously lodged returns. It also expects to prompt 300,000 taxpayers to report their cryptocurrency capital gains or losses as they lodge their 2021 tax returns.
Alongside these communications, the ATO is beginning a new data-matching program focused on crypto-asset transactions. It will acquire account identification and transaction data from cryptocurrency designated service providers for the 2021 financial year through to the 2023 financial year inclusively. The ATO estimates that the records relating to approximately 400,000 to 600,000 individuals will be obtained each financial year.
Is your private health insurance getting more expensive every year? Part of the reason could be that the government has once again introduced legislation to freeze the related income thresholds, which were originally meant to be indexed with inflation on 1 April each year.
While the government likes to blame the funds for hikes adding to the cost of living, the reality is that the income thresholds for the private health insurance incentive have also not been indexed to keep pace with inflation since the 2014–2015 income year, and the rebate percentage is staying the same this year as for the 2019–2020 income year.
Most people with private health insurance take the private health insurance incentive in the form of reduced premiums on their cover, although it can also be taken as a tax offset.
For individuals and families with private health insurance, the rebate adjustment factor remaining the same as in the 2019–2020 income year will translate into a real-life cut in the rebated amount.
For example, private health insurance for basic (Bronze) hospital cover plus extras for two adults and two young children ranges from $300 to $600 per month. At an average figure of $450 per month, the annual cost of the insurance would equate to roughly $5,400. Assuming the adults are under 65 and earning less than $180,000 as a family, the total rebate on the yearly premium would be $1,354.
If the family applies the rebate to reduce the premiums for their cover, instead of paying $450 per month they would pay $337 per month. However, because indexation is now frozen until 1 July 2023, if private health insurance prices increase next year in line with previous average increases, the same family earning the same amount of money will end up paying more for their private health insurance, because the rebate percentage will stay the same.
The average 2021 price increase for health insurance premiums was 2.74%, the lowest increase since 2001. However, most large insurers increased their prices more, with the maximum increase by a fund listed as 5.47%. According to some figures, health insurance premiums have increased by 57% in the last decade, while the consumer price index (CPI, or inflation) has only grown by 20%.
Extending from our example, if the average price of $450 per month increases by 5% for 2022, the family will pay $22 extra per month before the rebate is applied. The total annual premium would be $5,670 and the total rebate on the yearly premium would be $1,420.
Again, if the family applies the rebate to reduce their premiums, they will end up paying $354 per month in 2022, which equates to $17 a month extra for the same policy with the same benefits, while they are earning substantially the same amount due to stagnant wages growth.
Tip: In a time when household budgets are coming under increasing strain, it’s good to know about changes on the horizon. If you’d like to know more specifically about how this freeze could affect you, contact us today.
The Federal Government has announced a temporary COVID Disaster Payment to assist workers who live or work in a Commonwealth declared hotspot, who are unable to attend work and earn an income as a result of state-imposed health restrictions that last for longer than one week.
The payment, available for Australian citizens, permanent residents and eligible working visa holders, is up to $500 per week for recipients who lose 20 hours or more of work, and $325 per week those who lose under 20 hours of work.
Access to the payment is available through Services Australia from 8 June 2021.
The ATO and Services Australia have issued a warning about a new email phishing scam doing the rounds. The emails claim to be from “myGov” and include screenshots of the myGovID app. myGovID can be used to prove who you are when accessing Australian government online services.
This scam is all about collecting personal information rather than gaining access to live information via myGov or myGovID. ATO systems, myGov and myGovID have not been compromised.
The ATO and myGov do send emails and SMS messages, but they will never include clickable hyperlinks directing you to a login page for online services.
If you’ve opened an email that looks suspicious, don’t click any links, open any attachments or reply to it.
The best way to check if the ATO or another government service has actually sent you a communication is to visit the myGov site, my.gov.au, directly (without clicking an emailed link) or to download the myGovID app. You can then log in securely and check your myGov inbox and linked services.
If you’ve received a suspicious email and mistakenly clicked a link, replied and/or provided your myGov login details or other information, change your myGov password and if you’ve provided your banking details, contact your bank.
Cold calls and emails encouraging superannuation rollovers
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has recently advised it is aware of
scams that target Australians and encourage them to establish self managed superannuation funds (SMSFs).
People are cold-called or emailed, and scammers pretending to be financial advisers encourage the transfer of funds from an existing super account to a new SMSF, claiming it will lead to high returns of 8% to 20% (or more) per year.
In fact, people’s super balances are instead transferred to bank accounts controlled by the scammers.
Scammers use company names, email addresses and websites that are similar to legitimate Australian companies that hold an Australian financial services licence. They even use a “legitimate” company to ensure the SMSF is properly established and compliant with Australian laws, including creating a separate SMSF bank account set up in the investor’s name.
The scammers then transfer money from the existing super fund, either with or without the knowledge of the investor, and steal it by using the real identification documents the person has provided to set up the SMSF in an account fully controlled by the scammers.
If you’re contacted by any person or company who encourages you to open an SMSF and move funds, you should always make independent enquiries to make sure the scheme is legitimate. This is especially true if you weren’t expecting the phone call or email!
Always verify who you are dealing with before handing over your identification documents, personal details or money.
ASIC has also received an increased number of reports from people who have lost money after responding to advertisements promoting crypto-assets (or cryptocurrency) and contracts for difference (CFD) trading, disguised as fake news articles.
Some advertisements and websites falsely use ASIC logos or misleadingly say the investment is “approved” by ASIC.
A common scam tactic is promoting fake articles via social media. They look realistic and impersonate real news outlets like Forbes Business Magazine, ABC News, Sunrise and The Project.
Once someone clicks on these advertisements or fake articles, they’re directed to a site that is not linked with the impersonated publication, and asked to provide their name and contact details. Scammers then get in contact, promising investments with unrealistically high returns.
Many of these scams originate overseas. Once money has left Australia it’s extremely hard to recover, and banks and ASIC are unlikely to be able to get it back.
Crypto-assets are largely unregulated in Australia and are high-risk, volatile investments. Don’t invest any money in digital currencies that you’re not prepared to lose, and always seek professional advice when making investment decisions.
Remember that most reputable news outlets, and especially government-funded broadcasters like the ABC, don’t offer specific investments as part of their news coverage.
ASIC does not endorse or advertise particular investments. Be wary of any website or ad that says the investment is approved by ASIC or contains ASIC’s logo – it’s a scam. ASIC does not authorise businesses to use its name and branding for promotion.
If your business has provided fringe benefits to your employees, you should be aware that the 2021 FBT return (for the period 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021) is due, and payment of any associated FBT liability is required immediately.
If you prepare your own return, it can be lodged up until 25 June 2021 without incurring a “failure to lodge on time” penalty. However, the associated FBT liability must have been paid by 21 May 2021, and a general interest charge will apply to any payments made after that date.
If your business hasn’t paid FBT before, you are required to make the payment in a lump sum for the year on 21 May. This also applies where your business paid FBT in the previous year, but the liability was less than $3,000. If you paid $3,000 or more in the previous year, the FBT liability will be paid in quarterly instalments with your business’s activity statements in the following year, with the balancing payment to be made on 21 May.
You also need to be aware that while there have been a lot of recent announcements about changes to FBT, many of these proposed changes are not yet law. In those instances, you need to apply the legislation current at the time of your return, and make the appropriate amendments later when the changes do become law.
For example, the government recently announced an FBT exemption for retraining and reskilling benefits that employers provide to redundant (or soon to be redundant) employees where the benefits may not be related to their current employment. While this change is intended to apply from the date of the announcement once the legal change is enacted, businesses need to apply the current legislation to this latest FBT return and amend it later if necessary.
Tip: The change to allow businesses with less than $50 million in turnover to access certain existing FBT small business concessions will apply to benefits provided to employees from 1 April 2021 onwards.
ATO’s discretion to retain refunds extends to income tax
As a part of a suite of measures introduced by the government to combat phoenixing activities, the ATO now has the power to retain an income tax refund where a taxpayer (including both businesses and individuals) has outstanding notifications. The discretion to retain refunds previously only applied in relation to notifications under the business activity statement (BAS) or petroleum resources rent tax (PRRT) but has now been expanded.
This new extension of powers applies to all notifications that must be given to the ATO (eg income tax returns) but does not include outstanding single touch payroll (STP) or instances where the ATO requires verification of information contained in a notification.
The ATO notes that its new powers to retain refunds will not be taken lightly and will only be exercised where the taxpayer has been identified as engaged in “high-risk” behaviour and/or phoenixing activities.
Tip: Illegal phoenix activity is when a company shuts down to avoid paying its debts. A new company is then started to continue the same business activities, without the debt.
Once the ATO decides to use its discretion to retain a refund, it will be retained until either the taxpayer has given the outstanding notification or an assessment of the amount is made, whichever event happens first. There are also circumstances where the taxpayer can apply to have the retained amount refunded and/or apply to have the decision reviewed.
As the economy adjusts to the removal of most COVID-19-related government support measures, coupled with the slow national vaccination rollout and mostly closed international borders, there is no doubt that many Australians are facing financial difficulties in the immediate short term. If you have a tax debt that is compounding your financial difficulties, there may be a solution – you may be able to apply to be permanently released from the debt, provided you meet certain criteria.
To be released from a tax debt you need to be in a position where paying those debts would leave you not able to provide for yourself, your family or others you’re responsible for. This includes providing items such as food, accommodation, clothing, medical treatment and education.
When someone applies to be released from a tax debt, the ATO will look at their household income and expenditure to determine if they have the ability to pay all or part of the debt, and will set up a payment plan if required. It will also look at the person’s household assets and liabilities including their residential home, motor vehicle, household goods, tools of trade, savings for necessities, collections etc. and identify whether the sale of a particular asset could repay all or part of the tax debt.
Even when the ATO has established that the payment of a tax debt would cause the taxpayer serious hardship, it will look at other factors within that person’s control that may have contributed to this hardship. For example, it will consider how the tax debt arose and whether the person has disposed of funds or assets without providing for tax debts, as well as their compliance history. It will also check whether the person may have structured their affairs to place themselves in a position of hardship (eg by placing assets in trusts or related entities).
Debts that the ATO can consider for release include income tax, PAYG instalments, FBT and FBT instalments, Medicare levy and surcharge amounts, certain withholding taxes, and some penalties and interest charges associated with these debts.
The ATO has announced it will run a new data-matching program to collect property management data for the 2018–2019 to 2022–2023 financial years, and will extend the existing rental bond data-matching program through to 30 June 2023.
Each year the ATO conducts reviews of a random sample of tax returns to calculate the difference between the amount of tax it has collected and the amount that should have been collected – this is known as a “tax gap”. For the 2017–2018 year the ATO estimated a net tax gap of 5.6% ($8.3 billion) for individual taxpayers, with rentals making up 18% of the gap amount. The new and extended data-matching programs are intended to address this gap, making sure that property owners are reporting their rental income correctly and meeting their related tax obligations.
The information will include property owner identification details, addresses, email addresses, contact numbers, bank account details, and business contact names and ABNs (if applicable).
Rental property details will include addresses, dates that properties were first available for rent, periods and dates of leases, rental bonds details, rent amounts and periods, dwelling types, numbers of bedrooms, rental income categories and amounts, rental expense categories, rental expense amounts and net rent amounts. The programs will also obtain details of the property managers involved.
Tip: If you’re not sure whether you’ve included the right amount of rental income in your return, we can help you get on the front foot with the ATO and lodge an amendment if necessary.
COVID-19 has changed many people’s work situations, and the ATO expects their work-related expenses will reflect this during tax time in 2021. In 2020 tax returns, around 8.5 million Australians claimed nearly $19.4 billion in work-related expenses.
“Our data analytics will be on the lookout for unusually high claims this tax time”, Assistant Commissioner Tim Loh has said. “We will look closely at anyone with significant working from home expenses, that maintains or increases their claims for things like car, travel or clothing expenses. You can’t simply copy and paste previous year’s claims without evidence.”
The ATO does know that some “unusual” claims may be legitimate, and wants to reassure people who have evidence to explain their claims that they have nothing to fear. It also recognises that tax rules can be confusing and sometimes people make mistakes on their returns while acting in good faith.
Remember, to claim any work-related expense you must have spent the money yourself and not been reimbursed by your employer. The expense needs to be directly related to earning your income (not a private expense), and you need to keep relevant records (receipts are best).
Working from home
The temporary shortcut method for working from home expenses is available for the full 2020–2021 financial year. This allows an all-inclusive rate of 80 cents per hour for every hour people work from home between 1 July 2020 and 31 June 2021, rather than needing to separately calculate costs for specific expenses.
All you need to do is multiply the number of hours you worked at home by 80 cents, keeping a record such as a timesheet, roster or diary entry.
Remember – the shortcut method is temporary. To claim part of an expense over $300 (such as a desk or computer) in future years, you still need to keep your receipts.
The temporary shortcut method can be claimed by multiple people living under the same roof and (unlike the existing methods) doesn’t require you to have a dedicated work area at home.
The shortcut is all-inclusive. You can’t claim the shortcut and then claim for individual expenses such as telephone and internet costs and the decline in value of new office furniture or a laptop.
Tip: The existing fixed rate and actual cost methods are also still available for claiming work-related expenses instead – we can advise on what’s best for your situation.
Personal protective equipment
If your specific work duties involve physical contact or close proximity to customers or clients, or your job involves cleaning premises, you may be able to claim personal protective equipment (PPE) items such as gloves, face masks, sanitiser or anti-bacterial spray.
This includes industries like healthcare, cleaning, aviation, hair and beauty, retail and hospitality.
Car and travel expenses
If you’re working from home due to COVID-19 but need to travel to your regular office sometimes, you can’t claim the cost of travel from home to work, because these are still private expenses.
Tax time 2021 is almost here, but it’s likely to be anything but routine. Many people on reduced incomes or who have increased deductions may be eager to lodge their income tax returns early to get their hands on a refund. However, as always the ATO is warning against lodging too early, before all your income information becomes available. It’s important to remember that employers have until the end of July to electronically finalise their employees’ income statements, and the same timeframe applies for other information from banks, health funds and government agencies.
For most people, income statements have replaced payment summaries. So, instead of receiving a payment summary from each employer, the income statements will be finalised electronically and the information provided directly to the ATO. The income statement can be accessed through myGov and the information is automatically included in the tax return for people who use myTax.
Tip: Tax agents can also access this information, and we’re here to help you get your return right this year.
Although you may be eager to lodge as soon as possible, the ATO has warned against lodging too early, as much of the information on your income may not be confirmed until later. It’s generally important to wait until income statements are finalised before lodging a tax return to avoid either delays in processing or a tax bill later on. Your income statement will be marked “tax ready” on myGov when it’s finalised, and other information from banks, health funds and government agencies will be automatically inserted into your tax return when it’s ready towards the end of July.
If you still choose to lodge early, the ATO advises carefully reviewing any information that’s pre-filled so you can confirm it’s correct. When lodging early you’ll also have to formally acknowledge that your employer(s) may later finalise income statements with different amounts, meaning you may need to amend your tax return and additional tax may apply.
ASIC extends deadlines for financial reports and AGMs
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has announced that it will extend the deadline to lodge financial reports for listed and unlisted entities by one month for balance dates from 23 June to 7 July 2021 (inclusive). ASIC said the extension will help alleviate pressure on resources for the audits of smaller entities and provide adequate time for the completion of the audit process, taking into account the challenges presented by COVID-19 conditions. This relief will not apply to registered foreign companies.
ASIC will also extend its “no-action” position for public companies to hold their annual general meetings (AGMs) from within five months to within seven months after the end of financial years that end up to 7 July 2021.
The extensions don’t apply for reporting for balance dates from 8 January 2021 to 22 June 2021, as ASIC doesn’t consider there to be a general lack of resources to meet financial reporting and audit obligations. However, the regulator has said it will consider relief on a case-by-case basis.
NSW announces tougher penalties for payroll tax avoidance
The NSW Government has announced that it will introduce new legislation to increase penalties for payroll tax avoidance, as well as providing it with the ability to name taxpayers who have underpaid payroll tax on wages.
The changes are directed at those employers who underpay wages, which of course reduces the employers’ payroll tax liabilities, but also deprives workers of their due wages. Modelling suggests that this amounts to $1.35 billion in wages per year Australia-wide, and affects some 13% of workers.
Revenue NSW will be able to reassess payroll tax more than five years after the initial tax assessment when wages have been underpaid.
The penalties will be increased five-fold in some instances. For example, penalties for making records known to contain false or misleading information and for knowingly give false or misleading information will both go up from $11,000 to $55,000.
The ATO has announced a new data-matching program that will use information collected from the Department of Home Affairs. It is designed to determine whether business entities and individuals are Australian residents for tax purposes, and whether they’ve met their lodgment and registration obligations.
This is in addition to the existing visa data-matching program, which has been operating for more than 10 years. The new program will include data from income years 2016–2017 to 2022–2023.
According to the ATO, the compliance activities from data obtained will largely be confined to verification of identity and tax residency status for registration purposes, as well as identifying ineligible claims for tax and superannuation entitlement. In addition to compliance activities, the data will be used to refine existing ATO risk detection models, improve knowledge of overall level of identity and residency compliance risks, and identify potentially new or emerging non-compliance and entities controlling or exploiting ATO methodologies.
The data collected will include full names, personal identifiers, dates of birth, genders, arrival dates, departure dates, passport information (including travel document IDs and country codes), and status types (eg visa status, residency, lawful, Australian citizen). It is expected that the personal information of approximately 670,000 individuals will be collected and matched each financial year.
Can your business claim a tax deduction for bad debts?
April 2021 has been a closely observed month financially, with many government COVID-19 economic supports coming away.
There’s no doubt that some businesses will find themselves owed debts that cannot be recovered from customers or other debtors.
If your business is facing this type of unrecoverable debt, commonly known as a “bad debt”, you may be able to claim a tax deduction for the unrecoverable amount, depending on the accounting method you use.
If your business accounts for its income on an accruals basis – that is, you include all income earned for work done during the income year even if the business hasn’t yet received the payment by the end of the income year – a tax deduction for a bad debt may be claimable.
To claim a deduction for a bad debt, the amount must have been included in your business’s assessable
income either in the current year tax return or an earlier income year. You’ll also need to determine that the debt is genuinely bad, rather than merely doubtful, at the time the business writes it off. Whether or not a debt is genuinely bad depends on the circumstances of each case, with the guiding principle being how unlikely it is that the debt can be recovered through reasonable and/or commercial attempts.
Tip: According to the ATO, making such attempts doesn’t always mean you need to have commenced formal proceedings to recover the debt. Evidence of communications seeking payment of debt, including reminder notices and attempts to contact the debtor by phone, mail and email, may be sufficient.
The next step in claiming a bad debt deduction is to write off the debt as bad. This usually means your business has to record (in writing) the decision to write off the debt before the end of the income year in which you intend to claim a deduction.
There may also be GST consequences for your business when writing off a bad debt. For example, if the business accounts for GST on a non-cash basis, a decreasing adjustment can be claimed where you have made the taxable sale and paid the GST to the ATO, but subsequently have not received the payment. However, the debt needs to have been written off as bad and have been overdue for 12 months or more.
Businesses that account for income on cash basis cannot claim a deduction for bad debts. This is because these businesses only include an amount in their assessable income when it’s received, which means the bad debts have no direct income tax consequences.
More than 158,000 businesses have now reported all their payments made to contractors in the 2019–2020 year, and the ATO is using its Taxable Payments Reporting System (TPRS) to make sure the payments, totalling more than $172 billion, have been properly declared by both payers and recipients.
The TPRS captures data about contractors who have performed services including couriering (including food delivery), cleaning, building and construction, road freight, information technology, security, investigation and surveillance services.
The ATO is now using this data to contact contractors or their tax agents to ensure that they have declared all of their income, including any from part-time work, and is checking the GST registration status and Australian Business Numbers (ABNs) of contractors that are businesses to ensure their relevant obligations are met.
The ATO matches the contractor information provided by businesses in their taxable payments annual report (TPAR) to the figures in contractors’ own tax returns. Where discrepancies between business reports and contractor returns are identified, the ATO will send the contractor a letter in the first instance, prompting them to explain.
Tip: If you’ve forgotten to include income from contracting services in your tax return, an amendment can still be lodged to correct the mistake. Where we lodged your initial return as your tax agent, we can also complete an amendment to the return on your behalf – contact us today to find out more.
While it appears that the ATO won’t initially apply penalties or interest in relation to under-reported contracting income, contractors will still need to pay any additional tax owed, and it’s likely that people who ignore a letter from the ATO and fail to lodge an amended tax return will face penalties at a future date.
The ATO has recently announced it’s keeping an eye out for areas of concern in relation to JobKeeper, including what may constitute “fraudulent behaviour”.
It is paying special attention to situations where employers may have used the JobKeeper scheme in ways that avoided paying employees their full and rightful entitlements.
Businesses are being examined where the ATO is concerned they may have:
made claims for employees without a nomination notice or have not paid their employees the correct JobKeeper amount (before tax);
made claims for employees where there is no history of an employment relationship;
amended their prior business activity statements to increase sales in order to meet the turnover test; or
recorded an unexplained decline in turnover, followed by a significant increase.
Individuals are also being investigated where the ATO suspects they may have knowingly made multiple claims for themselves as employees or as eligible business participants, or made claims both as an employee and an eligible business participant.
Independent resolution process for small businesses now permanent
Small businesses now have another pathway to resolve tax disputes, with the ATO making its independent review service a permanent option for eligible small businesses (those with a turnover of less than $10 million) after a successful multi-year pilot.
The service’s original pilot commenced in 2018 and centered around income tax audits in Victoria and South Australia. It was expanded in 2020 to include income tax audits in all other Australian states and territories, along with other areas of tax including GST, excise, luxury car tax, wine equalisation tax and fuel tax credits.
“Small businesses who participated in our pilot told us they found the process to be fair and independent, irrespective of the independent review outcome, so this is a great result, and is a big part of why we are locking this service in permanently”, ATO Deputy Commissioner Jeremy Geale has said.
If your small business is eligible for a review of the ATO’s finalised audit findings, your ATO case officer will make contact and a written offer of independent review will be included in the audit finalisation letter.
Tip: An offer to use the independent review service won’t be the first opportunity you get to respond to an ATO audit. Initial findings will be disclosed in an interim paper, so you’ll have a chance to raise areas of disagreement before receiving the final audit letter.
If you wish to proceed with the review, you’ll need to contact the ATO through the relevant email address within 14 days of the date of the audit finalisation letter, clearly specifying and outlining each area of your disagreement with the audit position.
You’ll be asked to complete and return a consent form to extend the amendment period, which will allow the ATO to complete the review before the period of review for the relevant assessment ends.
Once your business obtains approval to use the review service, an independent reviewer will be allocated to the case and will contact you to discuss the process. This officer will be from a different part of the ATO to your audit case officer, and will not have been involved in the original audit.
It’s important to note that superannuation, FBT, fraud and evasion finding, and interest are not covered by the independent review service. If your dispute with the ATO relates to those areas, or if you don’t want to use the independent review service, your other options including lodging an objection or using an in-house facilitation service. You can also raise matters with the Inspector-General of Taxation and Tax Ombudsman or the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman.
The ATO is reminding owners of businesses that provide various services to lodge their taxable payments annual report (TPAR) for the 2019–2020 income year. It estimates that around 280,000 businesses were required to lodge a TPAR for the 2019–2020 financial year, but at the beginning of March around 60,000 businesses still had not complied with the lodgment requirements. The reports were originally due on 28 August 2020. To avoid possible penalties, these businesses are encouraged to lodge as soon as possible.
The ATO notes that many businesses that have engaged delivery services (including food delivery services) though a contractor/subcontractor may not know they have to lodge a report.
The TPAR was introduced to combat the “black economy” which is estimated to cost the Australian community around $50 billion, or 3% of gross domestic product (GDP). It is designed to help the ATO identify contractors or subcontractors who either don’t report or under-report their income (eg through hiding amounts received as “cash in hand”).
The report is required for businesses that make payments to contractors/subcontractors and provide any of the following services:
building and construction;
courier services, including delivery of items or goods (letters, packages, food, etc) by vehicle or bicycle, or on foot;
road freight services;
IT services, either on site or remotely; and
security, investigation or surveillance services.
For example, during the past year many eateries, grocery stores, pharmacies and other general retailers pivoted to providing home delivery for their customers. As such, they may have needed to engage contractors or subcontactors to provide courier services. If the total income received for these deliveries or courier services amount to 10% or more of their total business income, they will be required to lodge a TPAR even though they may not have needed to do so previously.
If your business is required to lodge a TPAR, the details you’ll need to report about each contractor should be easy to find and are generally contained on the invoice you receive from them. This includes details such as their ABN, name and address, and the gross amount paid for the financial year (including GST).
If your business has provided any benefits to your employees, you may be liable for fringe benefits tax (FBT). This includes benefits to current, prospective and former employees, as well as their associates. It’s important to keep in mind that this applies no matter what structure your business has – sole trader, partnership, trustee, corporation, unincorporated association, etc. If a benefit was provided in respect of employment, then it may be a taxable fringe benefit.
Although the Australian income tax year runs from 1 July to 30 June, the FBT year is different, running from 1 April to 31 March the following year – so now is the time to consider your business’s FBT obligations and organise your records for the year 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.
In total, there are 13 different types of taxable fringe benefits, each with their own specific valuation rules. The FBT tax rate of 47% may seem fearsome, but there are ways to reduce the amount of FBT your business may have to pay where a benefit has been provided.
One of the simplest ways to reduce the amount of your business’s FBT liability is for your employees to make payments towards the cost of providing the fringe benefit. This is known as employee contribution, and certain conditions still apply.
Your business can also take advantage of various exemptions and concessions to reduce FBT liability, but you’ll need to keep specific and careful records, including employee declarations and invoices and receipts. As a general rule, you should keep these documents for at least five years after the relevant FBT return is lodged.
The Treasury Laws Amendment (Your Future, Your Super) Bill 2021 has been introduced to Parliament to implement some of the “Your Future, Your Super” measures announced in the 2020–2021 Federal Budget. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has said the measures are intended to save $17.9 billion over 10 years by holding underperforming super funds to account and strengthening protections around people’s retirement savings. The changes include:
“stapling” your chosen super fund so it follows you when you change jobs, and you don’t end up paying fees for multiple accounts;
requiring funds to pass an annual performance test, and report underperformance to fund regulators and members;
strengthening trustees’ obligations to only act in the best financial interests of fund members; and
creating an interactive online YourSuper comparison tool which will encourage funds to compete harder for members’ super.
If you’re nearing retirement and have a large amount in your transfer balance account, it may be wise to delay until 1 July 2021 to take advantage of the upcoming pension transfer cap increase from $1.6 million to $1.7 million due to indexation.
At the time you first commence a retirement phase superannuation income stream, your “personal transfer balance cap” is set at the general transfer balance cap for that financial year.
Essentially, the transfer balance cap is a lifetime limit on the total amount of super that you can transfer into retirement phase income streams, including most pensions and annuities, so a larger cap amount means you can have a bit more money in your pocket throughout your retirement.
This cap amount takes into account all retirement phase income streams and retirement phase death benefit income streams, but the age pension and other types of government payments and pensions from foreign super funds don’t count towards it.
The ATO has confirmed that when the general transfer balance cap is indexed to $1.7 million from 1 July 2021, there won’t be a single cap that applies to all individuals. Rather, every individual will have their own personal transfer balance cap of between $1.6 million and $1.7 million, depending on their circumstances.
The ATO is kicking into gear in 2021 with another two data-matching programs specifically related to the JobMaker Hiring Credit and early access to superannuation related to COVID-19. While the data collected will mostly be used to identify compliance issues in relation to JobMaker and early access to super, it will also be used to identify compliance issues surrounding other COVID-19 economic stimulus measures, including JobKeeper payments and cash flow boosts.
As a refresher, the temporary early access to super measure allowed citizens or permanent residents of Australian or New Zealand to withdraw up to two amounts of $10,000 from their super in order to deal with adverse economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The JobMaker Hiring Credit is a payment scheme for businesses that hire additional workers. Both measures have particular eligibility conditions to meet for access.
The ATO expects that data relating to more than three million individuals will be collected from Services Australia (Centrelink) for the temporary early access to super program, as well as data about around 450,000 positions related to JobMaker. Approximately 100,000 individuals’ data will also be collected from the state and territory correctional facility regulators.
While the data collected will primarily be used to verify application, registration and lodgment obligations as well as identify compliance issues and initiate compliance activities, the ATO will also use it to improve voluntary compliance, and to ensure that the COVID-19 economic response is providing timely support to affected workers, businesses and the broader community.
Small employers with closely held payees have been exempt from reporting these payees through single touch payroll (STP) for the 2019–2020 and 2020–2021 financial years. However, they must begin STP reporting from 1 July 2021.
For STP purposes, small employers are those with 19 or fewer employees.
A closely held payee is an individual who is directly related to the entity from which they receive a payment. For example:
family members of a family business;
directors or shareholders of a company; and
beneficiaries of a trust.
Small employers must continue to report information about all of their other employees (known as “arm's length employees”) via STP on or before each pay day (the statutory due date). Small employers that only have closely held employees are not required to start STP reporting until 1 July 2021, and there’s no requirement to advise the ATO if you’re a small employer that only has closely held payees.
The ATO has now released details of the three options that small employers with closely held payees will have for STP reporting from 1 July 2021:
option 1: report actual payments through STP for each pay event;
option 2: report actual payments through STP quarterly; or
option 3: report a reasonable estimate through STP quarterly – although there are a range of details and steps to consider if you take this option.
With insecure, contract and casual work becoming increasingly common, particularly in the current COVID-19 affected economy, it’s no surprise that many young and not-so-young Australians may have income from more than one job. If you are working two or more jobs casually or have overlapping contract work, your need to be careful to avoid unexpected end of financial year tax debt.
This type of debt usually arises where a person with more than one job claims the tax-free threshold in relation to multiple employers, resulting in too little tax being withheld overall. To avoid that, you need to look carefully at how much you’ll be making and adjust the pay as you go (PAYG) tax withheld accordingly.
Currently, the tax-free threshold is $18,200, which means that if you’re an Australian resident for tax purposes, the first $18,200 of your yearly income isn’t subject to tax. This works out to roughly $350 a week, $700 a fortnight, or $1,517 per month in pay.
When you start a job, your employer will give you a tax file number declaration form to complete. This will ask whether you want to claim the tax-free threshold on the income you get from this job, to reduce the amount of tax withheld from your pay during the year.
A problem arises, of course, when a person has two or more employers paying them a wage, and they claim the tax-free threshold for multiple employers. The total tax withheld from their wages may then not be enough to cover their tax liability at the end of the income year. This also applies to people who have a regular part-time job and also receive a taxable pension or government allowance.
The ATO recommends that people who have more than one employer/payer at the same time should only claim the tax-free threshold from the employer who usually pays the highest salary or wage. The other payers will then withhold tax from your payments at a higher rate (the “no tax-free threshold” rate).
If the total tax withheld from of your employer payments is more than needed to meet your year-end tax liability, the withheld amounts will be credited to you when your income tax return is lodged, and you’ll get a tax refund. However, if the tax withheld doesn’t cover the tax you need to pay, you’ll have a tax debt and need to make a payment to the ATO.
Tax planning or tax avoidance – do you know the difference? Tax planning is a legitimate and legal way of arranging your financial affairs to keep your tax to a minimum, provided you make the arrangements within the intent of the law. Any tax minimisation schemes that are outside the spirit of the law are referred to as tax avoidance,and could attract the ATO’s attention.
The ATO has outlined some common features of tax avoidance schemes, and we can help you to steer clear of them. While it’s not always easy to identify these schemes, the old adage of “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is” is a good rule of thumb.
Tax avoidance schemes range from mass-marketed arrangements advertised to the public, to individualised arrangements offered directly to experienced investors. Other schemes exploit the social/environmental conscience of people or their generosity. As different as these schemes are, the common threads involve promises of reducing taxable income, increasing deductions, increasing rebates or entire avoidance of tax and other obligations.
Schemes may include complex transactions or distort the way funds are used in order to avoid tax or other obligations. They may also incorrectly classify revenue as capital, exploit concessional tax rates, or inappropriately move funds through several entities including trusts to avoid or minimise payable tax.
Currently, the ATO has its eyes on retirement planning schemes, private company profit extraction and certain problematic financial products.
The Federal Minister for Families and Social Services has now registered the legal instrument that ensures the COVID-19 Supplement will continue to be paid until 31 March 2021 for recipients of:
Partner Allowance; and
It will be paid at the rate of $150 a fortnight (down from the previous $250 a fortnight) from 1 January 2021 to 31 March 2021.
The period for which people are considered as receiving a social security pension or benefit at nil rate, meaning they keep their access to benefits such as concession cards, has also been extended until 16 April 2021.
A number of other temporary social security measures will also remain until 31 March 2021, including waivers of waiting periods for certain payments, some requirement changes and exemptions, and more permissive income-free areas and payment taper rates.
The ATO advises that the “shortcut” rate for claiming work-from-home running expenses has been extended again, in recognition that many employees and business owners are still required to work from home due to COVID-19. This shortcut deduction rate was previously extended to 31 December 2020, but will now be available until at least 30 June 2021.
Eligible employees and business owners therefore can choose to claim additional running expenses incurred between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2021 at the rate of 80 cents per work hour, provided they keep a record (such as a timesheet or work logbook) of the number of hours worked from home during the period.
The expenses covered by the shortcut rate include lighting, heating, cooling and cleaning costs, electricity for electronic items used for work, the decline in value and repair of home office items such as furniture and furnishings in the area used for work, phone and internet expenses, computer consumables, stationery and the decline in value of a computer, laptop or similar device.
With a range of government COVID-19 economic supports such as the JobKeeper and JobSeeker schemes winding down in the next few months, businesses that are seeking to employ additional workers but still need a bit of help can now apply for the JobMaker Hiring Credit Scheme. Unlike the JobKeeper Payment, where the money has to be passed onto your employees, the JobMaker Hiring Credit is a payment that your business gets to keep. Depending on new employees’ ages, eligible businesses may be able to receive payments of up to $200 a week per new employee.
TIP: The scheme started on 7 October 2020, and employers will be able to claim payments relating to employees hired up until 6 October 2021. The first claim period for JobMaker starts on 1 February 2021 and businesses must first register with the ATO. To claim the payment in the first JobMaker period, your business must register by 30 April 2021.
To be eligible for the scheme, you need to satisfy the basic conditions of operating a business in Australia, holding an ABN, and being registered for PAYG withholding. Your business will also need to be up to date with its income tax and GST obligations for two years up to the end of the JobMaker period you claim for, and satisfy conditions for payroll amount and headcount increases. Non-profit organisations and some deductible gift recipients (DGRs) may also be eligible.
Beware, however, that businesses receiving the JobKeeper Payment cannot claim the JobMaker Hiring Credit for the same fortnight.
For example, businesses that wish to claim the payment for the first JobMaker period must not have claimed any JobKeeper payments starting on or after 12 October 2020, and employers currently claiming other wage subsidies – including those related to apprentices, trainees, young people and long-term unemployed people – cannot receive the JobMaker subsidy for the same employee.
If you think your business may be eligible, the next step is to determine whether you are employing eligible additional employees.
Generally, the employee needs to:
be aged 16–35 when their employment started (payment rates are $200 per week for 16 to 29 year-olds and $100 for 30 to 35 year-olds);
be employed on or after 7 October 2020 and before 7 October 2021;
have worked or been paid for an average of at least 20 hours per week during the JobMaker period;
have not already provided a JobMaker Hiring Credit employee notice to another current employer; and
received a JobSeeker Payment, Parenting Payment or Youth Allowance (except if they were receiving Youth Allowance due to full-time study or as a new apprentice) for at least 28 consecutive days in the 84 days before to starting employment.
Since the aim of JobMaker is to subsidise an increase in the number of employees a business hires – not to reduce the cost of replacing employees – businesses wishing to claim the payment must also demonstrate increases in both in headcount and employee payroll amount.
This is meant to reduce instances of rorting by businesses that might replace existing non-eligible employees with eligible employees. Employers will need to send information such as their baseline headcount and payroll amounts to the ATO for compliance purposes.
If you own a small business still recovering from the COVID-19 induced downturn, remember that you can take advantage of FBT concessions to lower the amount of FBT you may need to pay. The concessions include exemptions for car parking in some instances, and work-related portable electronic devices.
All this could mean more cash to invest in the revitalisation and ultimate success of your business.
For small business employers, the car parking benefits provided to employees could be exempt if the parking is not provided in a commercial car park and the business satisfies the total income or the turnover test. This is the case if the business is not a government body, listed public company or a subsidiary of a listed public company.
The second exemption relates to work-related devices. Small businesses can to provide their employees with multiple work-related portable electronic devices that have substantially identical functions in the same FBT year, with all devices being exempt from FBT. Note, however, that this only applies to devices that are primarily used for work, such as laptops, tablets, calculators, GPS navigations receivers and mobile phones.
Important changes to Australia’s insolvency laws commenced operation on 1 January 2021. The Federal Government has called these the most important changes to Australia’s insolvency framework in 30 years.
The measures apply to incorporated businesses with liabilities less than $1 million. The intention is that the rules change from a rigid “one size fits all” model to a more flexible “debtor in possession” model, which will allow eligible small businesses to restructure their existing debts while remaining in control of their business. For those businesses that are “unable to survive”, a new simplified “liquidation pathway” will apply for small businesses to allow faster and lower-cost liquidation.
The measures are expected to cover around 76% of businesses currently subject to insolvency, 98% of which have fewer than 20 employees. The new rules do not apply to partnerships or sole traders.
To be eligible to access this new process a company must:
be incorporated under the Corporations Act 2001;
have total liabilities which do not exceed $1 million on the day the company enters the process – this excludes employee entitlements;
resolve that it is insolvent or likely to become insolvent at some future time and that a small business restructuring practitioner should be appointed; and
appoint a small business restructuring practitioner to oversee the restructuring process, including working with the business to develop a debt restructuring plan and restructuring proposal statement.
The Federal Government’s Coronavirus Supplement has been extended for a further three months. The Supplement payments were due to end on 31 December 2020, but the latest extension will allow them to run until 31 March 2021, which will be welcome news for many individuals still struggling with unemployment and other economic difficulties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Supplement rate will be further cut from 1 January 2021 to $150 per fortnight.
The supplement was originally introduced in April 2020 at a rate of $550 per fortnight, which effectively doubled the rate of certain social security payments, including JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and Austudy. Individuals eligible for these payments received the full amount of the $550 Coronavirus Supplement on top of their payment each fortnight, lifting the total payment to $1,100 for most people.
The initial supplement was extended until 31 December 2020 at $250 per fortnight, and while the latest extension may be welcome news for unemployed or underemployed Australians, the supplement will now be further reduced to $150 per fortnight from 1 January 2021 (until 31 March 2021).
Previous arrangements that increased the income-free area of the JobSeeker payment to $300 per fortnight will continue from 1 January 2021 to 31 March 2021, meaning that recipients of various payments can earn income of up to $300 per fortnight and still receive the maximum payment rate. The partner income test cut-out will be retained at an increased rate of $3,086.11 per fortnight ($80,238.89 per year), allowing recipients to continue accessing various payments.
Those on various support payments need to also be aware of the return of mutual obligation requirements which apply to recipients in all states and territories except Victoria (at the time of writing). This includes performing tasks and activities in the individual’s Job Plan, attending to tasks in online employment services, and/or attending all appointments with their employment provider either over the phone, online or in person. Failure to fulfil these mutual obligations could lead to suspensions of payments, and penalties.
Former employees, sole traders and self-employed individuals thinking of applying for the JobSeeker payment should also be aware that the assets test now applies, as well as the liquid assets waiting period, which could see those with savings having to wait up to 13 weeks to receive payments.
On 10 November 2020, the ATO advised that the recent reduction in the company tax rate had not been applied correctly in its systems from 1 July 2020. The error, which resulted in pay-as-you-go (PAYG) instalments being calculated using the former rate of 27.5% and not the correct 26%, affected companies that are base rate entities with an aggregated turnover of less than $50 million.
The ATO has now corrected the error and will issue a new PAYG instalment letter to affected companies reflecting their correct instalment rate or amount.
The ATO says that all future activity statements will have the correct rate applied.
If you have varied your instalment rate or amount, the variation will continue until the start of the next income year. You can continue to vary your activity statements if your rate or amount does not reflect your current trading situation.
Small businesses who have lodged and paid
If you have lodged your activity statements and paid an amount based on the incorrect instalment calculation, the ATO will refund the overpaid amount shortly. No further action is needed.
Small businesses yet to lodge
When you lodge:
if you choose to lodge based on the current instalment calculation on your activity statement, the ATO will apply the correct rate and refund any excess amount due to the error; or
if you have intended to vary your instalment rate or amount, you can still vary, and the ATO will not adjust the varied amounts.
The ATO has recently outlined its expectations for businesses post-COVID. Overall, it warns companies against using loopholes to obtain benefits from the various government stimulus packages and urged them to follow not only the letter of the law, but also the spirit of the law.
Specifically, it reminds taxpayers that measures such as the expanded instant asset write-off and the loss carry-back scheme should not be used in artificial arrangements for businesses to obtain an advantage.
In a recent speech, ATO Second Commissioner of Client Engagement Jeremy Hirschhorn outlined the expectations for businesses, noting that while companies are largely compliant – with 92.5% voluntary compliance at lodgment and 96.3% after compliance activity – the ATO is seeking to increase the percentages to 96% and 98% respectively.
Corporate taxpayers can use ATO information to compare their performance against those of their peers in relation to income tax. The ATO also urges those taxpayers to use its GST analytics tool, which allows businesses to reconcile financial statements to business activity statements (BASs) and to follow its GST best practice governance guide.
Businesses have been entrusted with leading economic recovery via access to a range of government stimulus measures, and with this trust comes increased expectations around corporate behaviour – including tax. Ultimately, Mr Hirschhorn said, a tax system is about underpinning a country’s social contract by collecting the revenue that funds its program and services.
The Federal Government has released an exposure draft of the rules for the JobMaker Hiring Credit, which was announced in the 2020–2021 Budget in October.
JobMaker will take the form of a payment to employers for each new eligible job they create over the next 12 months. It is estimated that the scheme will cost $4 billion and support about 450,000 employees.
Generally, the amount of the JobMaker Hiring Credit payment depends on the age of the eligible additional employee when their employment starts. Employers can receive up to $200 per week for each eligible additional employee aged 16 to 29 years, and up to $100 per week for each eligible additional employee aged 30 to 35 years.
JobMaker starts on 7 October 2020 and ends on 6 October 2022, but payments will only apply for eligible people who commence employment between 7 October 2020 and 6 October 2021 (that is, during the first year).