SJM Accountants Pty Ltd


June 2022 Tax Round Up
June 20, 2022, 8:17 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Tax Time Targets

 The ATO has flagged four priority areas this tax season where people are making mistakes.

With tax season almost upon us the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has revealed its four areas of focus this tax season.

  1. Record-keeping
  2. Work-related expenses
  3. Rental property income and deductions, and
  4. Capital gains from crypto assets, property, and shares.

In general, there are three ‘golden rules’ when claiming tax deductions:

  • You must have spent the money and not been reimbursed.
  • If the expense is for a mix of work related (income producing) and private use, you can only claim the portion that relates to how you earn your income.
  • You need to have a record to prove it.

1.0 Record keeping

101 of working with the ATO is that you can’t claim it if you can’t prove it. If you are audited, the ATO will disallow deductions for unsubstantiated or unreasonable expenses. Even if the expense is below the substantiation threshold of $300 ($150 for laundry), the ATO might ask how you came up with that number. For example, if you claim $300 in work related expenses (that is, make a claim right up to the substantiation threshold), how did you come up with that number and not something else?

In addition to the obvious records of salary, wages, allowances, government payments or pensions and annuities, you need to keep records of:

  • Interest or managed funds.

Records of expenses for any deductions claimed including a record of how that expense relates to the way you earn your income. That is, the expense must be related to how you earn your income. For example, if you claim the cost of RAT tests, you need to be able to prove that the RAT test was necessary to enable you to work. If you were working from home and not required to leave home, it will be harder to claim the cost of the test.

  • Assets such as shares or units in a trust, rental properties or holiday homes, if you purchased a home or inherited a property, or disposed of an asset (including cryptocurrency).

You need to keep your records for five years. These can be digital copies of the records as long as they are clear and legible copies of the original. If your records are digital, keep a backup.

Records can be tax invoices, receipts, diary entries or something else that proves you incurred the expense and how it related to how you earn your income.

2.0 Work-related expenses

To claim a deduction, you need to have incurred the expense yourself and not been reimbursed by your employer or business, and the expense needs to be directly related to your work.

What expenses are related to work?

You can claim a deduction for all losses and outgoings “to the extent to which they are incurred in gaining or producing assessable income except where the outgoings are of a capital, private or domestic nature, or relate to the earning of exempt income.” That is, there must be a nexus between the expenses you are claiming and how you earn your income.

It all sounds simple enough until you start applying this rule. Take the example of an actor. To land the acting job she needs to attend auditions. She wants to claim the cost of having her hair and make-up done for the audition. But, because she is not generating income at the stage of the audition, she cannot claim her expenses. The expense must be related to how you are currently earning your income, not future potential income. The same issue applies to upskilling. If you attend investment seminars with the intention of building your investment portfolio the seminar is not deductible as a self-education expense unless it relates to managing your existing investment portfolio – not a future one. Or, a nurse’s aide who attendees university to qualify as a nurse. The university degree and the expenses associated with this are not deductible as the nursing degree is not required to fulfil the role of a nurse’s aide.

The second area of confusion is over what can be claimed for work. If the item is “conventional” it’s unlikely to be deductible. For example, you can’t claim conventional clothing (including footwear) as a work-related expense, even if your employer requires you to wear it and you only wear the items of clothing at work. To be deductible clothing must be protective, occupation specific such as a chef’s chequered pants, a compulsory uniform, or a registered non-compulsory uniform.

Work related or private?

Another area of confusion is where expenses are incurred for work purposes but used privately. Internet access or mobile phone services are typical. A lot of people take the view that the expense had to be incurred for work so what does it matter if it’s used for private purposes? But, if you use the service on more than an ad-hoc basis for any purpose other than work, then the expense needs to be apportioned and only the work-related percentage claimed as a deduction. And yes, the ATO does check usage in an audit.

Claims for COVID-19 tests will be a test of this rule. COVID-19 tests are deductible from 1 July 2021 if the purpose was to determine whether you may attend or remain at work. The tax deduction does not apply if you worked from home and didn’t intend to attend your workplace, or the test was used for private purposes (for example, to tests the kids before school).

Claiming work from home expenses

Last financial year, one in three Australians claimed working from home expenses. Now we’re out of the pandemic, the ATO will be focussing specifically on what is being claimed. If you claimed work from home expenses last year and returned to the office this year, then there should be a reduction in your work from home claim. The ATO will be looking for discrepancies.

If you are claiming your expenses, there are three methods you can use:

  • The ATO’s simplified 80 cents per hour short-cut method – you can claim 80 cents for every hour you worked from home from 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2022. You will need to have evidence of hours worked like a timesheet or diary. The rate covers all of your expenses and you cannot claim individual items separately, such as office furniture or a computer.
  • Fixed rate 52 cents per hour method – applies if you have set up a home office but are not running a business from home. You can claim 52 cents for every hour and this covers the running expenses of your home. You can claim your phone, internet, or the decline in value of equipment separately.
  • Actual expenses method – you can claim the actual expenses you incur (and reduce the claim by any personal use and use by other family members). You will need to ensure you have kept records such as receipts to use this method.

It’s this last method, the actual method, the ATO is scrutinising because people using this method tend to lodge much higher claims in their tax return. Ineligible expenses include:

  • Personal expenses such as coffee, tea and toilet paper
  • Expenses related to a child’s education, such as online learning courses or laptops
  • Claiming large expenses up-front (instead of claiming depreciation for assets), and
  • Occupancy expenses such as rent, mortgage interest, property insurance, and land taxes and rates, that cannot generally be claimed by employees working from home (especially by those who are working from home solely due to a lockdown).

3.0 Rental property income and deductions

For landlords, the focus is on ensuring that all income received, whether long-term, short-term, rental bonds, back payments, or insurance pay-outs, are recognised in your tax return.

If your rental property is outside of Australia, and you are an Australian resident for tax purposes, you must recognise the rental income you received in your tax return (excluding any tax you have paid overseas), unless you are classified as a temporary resident for tax purposes. You can claim expenses related to the property, although there are some special rules that need to be considered when it comes to interest deductions. For example, if you have borrowed money from an overseas lender you might be subject to withholding tax obligations.

Co-owned properties

For tax purposes, rental income and expenses need to be recognised in line with the legal ownership of the property, except in very limited circumstances where it can be shown that the equitable interest in the property is different from the legal title. The ATO will assume that where the taxpayers are related, the equitable right is the same as the legal title (unless there is evidence to suggest otherwise such as a deed of trust etc.,).

This means that if you hold a 25% legal interest in a property then you should recognise 25% of the rental income and rental expenses in your tax returns even if you pay most or all of the rental property expenses (the ATO would treat this as a private arrangement between the owners).

The main exception is where the parties have separately borrowed money to acquire their interest in the property, then they would claim their own interest deductions.

4.0 Capital gains from crypto, property or other assets

If you dispose of an asset – property, shares, crypto or NFTs, collectables (costing $500 or more) – you will need to calculate the capital gain or loss and record this in your tax return. Capital gains tax (CGT) does not apply to personal use assets such as a boat if you bought it for less than $10,000.

Crypto and capital gains tax

A question that often comes up is when do I pay tax on cryptocurrency?

If you acquire the cryptocurrency to make a private purchase and you don’t hold onto it, the crypto might qualify as a personal use asset. But in most cases, that is not the case and people acquire crypto as an investment, even if they do sometimes use it to buy things.

Generally, a CGT event occurs when disposing of cryptocurrency. This can include selling cryptocurrency for a fiat currency (e.g., $AUD), exchanging one cryptocurrency for another, gifting it, trading it, or using it to pay for goods or services.

Each cryptocurrency is a separate asset for CGT purposes. When you dispose of one cryptocurrency to acquire another, you are disposing of one CGT asset and acquiring another CGT asset. This triggers a taxing event.

Transferring cryptocurrency from one wallet to another is not a CGT disposal if you maintain ownership of the coin.

Record keeping is extremely important – you need receipts and details of the type of coin, purchase price, date and time of transactions in Australian dollars, records for any exchanges, digital wallet and keys, and what has been paid in commissions or brokerage fees, and records of tax agent, accountant and legal costs. The ATO regularly runs data matching projects, and has access to the data from many crypto platforms and banks.

If you make a loss on cryptocurrency, you can generally only claim the loss as a deduction if you are in the business of trading.

Gifting an asset might still incur tax

Donating or gifting an asset does not avoid capital gains tax. If you receive nothing or less than the market value of the asset, the market value substitution rules might come into play. The market value substitution rule can treat you as having received the market value of the asset you donated or gifted for the purpose of your CGT calculations.

For example, if Mum & Dad buy a block of land then eventually gift the block of land to their daughter, the ATO will look at the value of the land at the point they gifted it. If the market value of the land is higher than the amount that Mum & Dad paid for it, then this would normally trigger a capital gains tax liability. It does not matter that Mum & Dad did not receive any money for the land.

Donations of cryptocurrency might also trigger capital gains tax. If you donate cryptocurrency to a charity, you are likely to be assessed on the market value of the crypto at the point you donated it. You can only claim a tax deduction for the donation if the charity is a deductible gift recipient and the charity is set up to accept cryptocurrency.

What to expect from the new Government

Anthony Albanese has been sworn in as Australia’s 31st Prime Minister and a Government formed. We look at what we know so far about the policies of the new Government in an environment with plenty of problems and no easy fixes.

The economy

The Government has stated that its economic priority is, “creating jobs, boosting participation, improving and increasing productivity, generating new business investment, and increasing wages and household incomes.”

A second Federal Budget will be released in October this year to set the fiscal policy direction of the Government. The Albanese Government has stated that its focus is on growing the economy as opposed to increasing taxes, but it is a delicate balance to keep growth ahead of inflation. Treasurer Jim Chalmers has said that the Government will look to “redirect spending from unproductive purposes to more productive purposes.”

 In a recent speech, Treasury Secretary Dr Steven Kennedy, summed it up when he said that the most significant economic development of late has been the, “…higher-than-expected surge in inflation. Headline inflation reached 5.1% in the March quarter of 2022, the highest rate of inflation in more than 2 decades… Price increases are reflecting a range of shocks, some temporary and some more persistent.” These shocks include:

  • Increased global demand for goods straining supply chains, increasing shipping costs, and clogging ports;
  • The Russian invasion of Ukraine which sharply increased the price of oil, energy and food. Russia accounts for 18% of global gas and 12% of global oil supply. Together Russia and Ukraine account for around one quarter of global trade in wheat; and
  • COVID-19 lockdowns in China impacting supply chains. China maintains a zero-COVID policy.

In Australia, energy prices have contributed strongly to inflation (the temporary reduction in fuel excise ends on 28 September 2022).

Personal income tax

The 2019-20 Budget announced a series of personal income tax reforms. Stage 3 of those reforms is legislated to commence on 1 July 2024. Stage 3 radically simplifies the tax brackets by collapsing the 32.5% and 37% rates into a single 30% rate for those earning between $45,001 and $200,000. Mr Albanese told Sky News, “People are entitled to have that certainty of the tax cuts that have been legislated… We won’t be changing them. What we want going forward is that certainty.”

Where will the money come from?

It is unclear at this stage how the Government intends to tackle the $1.2 trillion deficit. The general commentary from Finance Minister Katy Gallagher is that Treasury and Finance have been tasked with working through the Budget line by line to, “…see where there are areas where we can make sensible savings and return that money back to the Budget.”

Multinationals

Multinationals paying their fair share of tax was a go-to target during the election campaign. The plan for multinationals implements elements of the OECD’s two-pillar framework to reform international taxation rules and ensure Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) are subject to a minimum 15% tax rate from 2023. Australia and 129 other countries and jurisdictions, representing more than 90% of global GDP, are signatories to the framework.

The Government’s multinational policy supports the OECD framework by:

  • Limiting debt-related deductions by multinationals at 30% of profits, consistent with the OECD’s recommended approach, while maintaining the arm’s length test and the worldwide gearing ratio.
  • Limiting the ability for multinationals to abuse Australia’s tax treaties when holding intellectual property in tax havens from 1 July 2023. A tax deduction would be denied for payments for the use of intellectual property when they are paid to a jurisdiction where they don’t pay sufficient tax.
  • Introducing transparency measures including reporting requirements on tax information, beneficial ownership, tax haven exposure and in relation to government tenders.

The reforms will follow consultation and are not anticipated to take effect until 2023.

No change to SG rate and rate increase

No change to the legislated superannuation guarantee rate increase. The SG rate will increase to 10.5% on 1 July 2022 and steadily increase by 0.5% each year until it reaches 12% on 1 July 2025.

ATO refocus on debt collection

The ATO has not pursued many business tax debts during the pandemic and allowed tax refunds to flow through even if the business had a tax debt.  That position has now changed and the ATO has resumed debt collection and offsetting tax debts against refunds. If you have a tax debt that has been on-hold, expect the ATO to offset any refunds against this debt, and take steps to actively pursue the payment of the debt.  Small business account for around two thirds of the total debt owed to the ATO. If you have a tax debt, it is important that you engage with the ATO to work out how this debt will be paid.

Note: The material and contents provided in this publication are informative in nature only.  It is not intended to be advice and you should not act specifically on the basis of this information alone.  If expert assistance is required, professional advice should be obtained.



May 2022 Tax Round Up
May 10, 2022, 3:29 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

The 120% deduction for skills training and technology costs

It’s a great headline isn’t it? Spend $100 and get a $120 tax deduction. Days after the Federal Budget announcement that businesses will be able to claim a 120% deduction for expenditure on training and technology costs, we started receiving marketing emails encouraging us to spend now to access the deduction.

But, there are a few problems. Firstly, the announcement is just that, it is not yet law. And, given the Government is in caretaker mode for the Federal election, we do not know the position of the incoming Government on this measure. And, even if the incoming Government is supportive, we are yet to see draft legislation or detail to determine the practical application of the measure.

What was announced?

The 2022-23 Federal Budget announced two ‘Investment Boosts’ available to small businesses with an aggregated annual turnover of less than $50 million.

The Skills and Training Boost is intended to apply to expenditure from Budget night, 29 March 2022 until 30 June 2024. The business, however, will not be able to claim the deduction until the 2023 tax return. That is, for expenditure between 29 March 2022 and 30 June 2022, the boost, the additional 20%, will not be claimable until the 2022-23 tax return, assuming the announced start dates are maintained if and when the legislation passes Parliament.

The Technology Investment Boost is intended to apply to expenditure from Budget night, 29 March 2022 until 30 June 2023. As with the Skills and Training Boost, the additional 20% deduction for eligible expenditure incurred by 30 June 2022 will be claimed in the 2023 tax return.

The boost for eligible expenditure incurred on or after 1 July 2022 will be included in the income year in which the expenditure is incurred.

Technology Investment Boost

A 120% tax deduction for expenditure incurred by small businesses on business expenses and depreciating assets that support their digital adoption, such as portable payment devices, cyber security systems, or subscriptions to cloud-based services, capped at $100,000 per annum.

We have received a lot of questions about the specific expenditure the boost might apply to, for example does it cover website development or SEO services? But until we see the legislation, nothing is certain.

Skills and Training Boost

A 120% tax deduction for expenditure incurred by small businesses on external training courses provided to employees. External training courses will need to be provided to employees in Australia or online, and delivered by entities registered in Australia.

Some exclusions will apply, such as for in-house or on-the-job training and expenditure on external training courses for persons other than employees.

We are waiting on further details of this initiative to be released to confirm whether there will need to be a nexus between the training program and the current employment activities of the employees undertaking the course. So once again, until we have something more than the announcement, we cannot confirm how the measure will apply in practice or how broad (or otherwise) the definition of skills training is.

What happens if I have already spent money on training and technology in anticipation of the bolstered deduction?

If the measure becomes law, and the start date of the measure remains the same, we expect that any qualifying expenditure incurred in the 2021-22 financial year will be claimed in your tax return. But, the ‘boost’, the extra 20% will not be claimable until the 2022-23 financial year.

If the measure does not come to fruition, you should be able to claim a deduction under normal rules for the actual business expense.

Fuel tax credit changes

The Government temporarily halved the excise and excise equivalent customs duty rates for petrol, diesel and all other petroleum-based products (except aviation fuels) for 6 months from 30 March 2022 until 28 September 2022. This has caused a reduction in fuel tax credit rates.

During this 6 month period, businesses using fuel in heavy vehicles for travelling on public roads won’t be able to claim fuel tax credits for fuel used for this purpose. This is because the road user charge exceeds the excise duty payable, and this reduces the fuel tax credit rate to nil.

You can find the ATO’s updated fuel tax credit rates that apply for the period from 30 March 2022 to 30 June 2022 here. The ATO’s fuel tax credit calculator has been updated to apply the current rates.

Can I claim a tax deduction for my gym membership?

There are lots of reasons to keep fit but very few of them have to do with how we earn our income. As a result, a tax deduction for a gym membership isn’t available to most people. And yes, the Tax Office has heard all the arguments before about how keeping fit reduces sickness and therefore is important to earning an income, and ‘…the way I look is important to my job’.

In general, a tax deduction for fitness expenses is only available if your job requires you to have an extremely high level of fitness. The nexus between how you earn your income and the deduction is about the physical demands and requirements of your specific role. Firefighters are a case in point. A person with what the ATO describes as a “general duties firefighter” role cannot claim a deduction for the money they have spent keeping fit, but a firefighter in a specialist search and rescue operations team for example, trained in a range of specialist skills including structural collapses and tunnel emergencies, and who is tested on fitness and ongoing strenuous physical activity as an essential part of their job, would be able to claim fitness expenses. Similarly, a professional ballet dancer is likely to be able to claim their fitness expenses. A model however, might not be able to claim their expenses as, while they need to look a particular way, their modelling role does not require physical training and exertion (clearly the ATO has not seen some the poses that models have to hold!). So, access to a deduction is about the specialist physical demands and requirements of your role.

A recent case before the administrative appeals tribunal (AAT) explored the boundary of who can claim fitness expenses, confirming that a prison dog handler could claim a deduction for the cost of his gym membership. In this case, the dog handler was responsible for training and maintaining two dogs. He was required to be available to assist in emergencies that might arise. While these emergencies didn’t arise often, the handler had to be prepared for the possibility of an emergency arising at any time. Reaching this decision, the AAT noted the handler:

  • Was required to maintain a high degree of anaerobic fitness (including muscle strength sufficient to control a large German shepherd on a lead in a volatile situation);
  • Was required to maintain a high degree of aerobic fitness (that is, a degree of speed and agility sufficient to enable him to move effectively with, and control and direct, his dog in an emergency); and
  • Must also be prepared to restrain prisoners himself.

While the employer in this case did not specify any particular level of fitness for the dog handler role, the AAT held that a superior level of fitness was implicitly demanded. However, it did not all go the way of the dog handler. His claim for supplement expenses, travel to and from the gym, and gym clothing was denied.

While some commentators have suggested that the floodgates are now open for gym membership claims, as always, the devil is in the detail. To claim a tax deduction for fitness expenses it is generally necessary to be part of a specialist workforce. Police Officers for example cannot generally claim fitness expenses despite the fact that, like the dog handler in the AAT case, they need to respond quickly to emergencies and may need to subdue people. Unless they are part of a specialist response unit that is required to have a specific, high level of fitness, they are unlikely to be able to claim their gym membership expenses.

So, for the rest of us, gym memberships will continue to be a labour of self-love and care and not an essential part of how we earn our income.

What’s changing on 1 July 2022?

A series of reforms and changes will commence on 1 July 2022. Here’s what is coming up:

For business

Superannuation guarantee increase to 10.5%

The Superannuation Guarantee (SG) rate will rise from 10% to 10.5% on 1 July 2022 and will continue to increase by 0.5% each year until it reaches 12% on 1 July 2025.

If you have employees, what this will mean depends on your employment agreements. If the employment agreement states the employee is paid on a ‘total remuneration’ basis (base plus SG and any other allowances), then their take home pay might be reduced by 0.5%. That is, a greater percentage of their total remuneration will be directed to their superannuation fund. For employees paid a rate plus superannuation, then their take home pay will remain the same and the 0.5% increase will be added to their SG payments.

$450 super guarantee threshold removed

From 1 July 2022, the $450 threshold test will be removed and all employees aged 18 or over will need to be paid superannuation guarantee regardless of how much they earn. It is important to ensure that your payroll system accommodates this change so you do not inadvertently underpay superannuation.

For employees under the age of 18, super guarantee is only paid if the employee works more than 30 hours per week.

Profits of professional services firms

The ATO has been concerned for some time about how many professional services firms are structured – specifically, professional practices such as lawyers, accountants, architects, medical practices, engineers, architects etc., operating through trusts, companies and partnerships of discretionary trusts and how the profits from these practices are being taxed.

New ATO guidance that comes into effect from 1 July 2022, takes a strong stance on structures designed to divert income in a way that results in principal practitioners receiving relatively small amounts of income personally for their work and reducing their taxable income. Where these structures appear to be in place to divert income to create a tax benefit for the professional, Part IVA may apply. Part IVA is an integrity rule which allows the Tax Commissioner to remove any tax benefit received by a taxpayer where they entered into an arrangement in a contrived manner in order to obtain a tax benefit. Significant penalties can also apply when Part IVA is triggered.

A new method of assessing the level of risk associated with profits generated by a professional services firm and how they flow through to individual practitioners and their related parties, will come into effect from 1 July 2022. Professional firms will need to assess their structures to understand their risk rating, and if necessary, either make changes to reduce their risks level or ensure appropriate documentation is in place to justify their position.

Lowering tax instalments for small business – PAYG

PAYG instalments are regular prepayments made during the year of the tax on business and investment income. The actual amount owing is then reconciled at the end of the income year when the tax return is lodged.

Normally, GST and PAYG instalment amounts are adjusted using a GDP adjustment or uplift. For the 2022-23 income year, the Government has set this uplift factor at 2% instead of the 10% that would have applied. The 2% uplift rate will apply to small to medium enterprises eligible to use the relevant instalment methods for instalments for the 2022-23 income year:

  • Up to $10 million annual aggregated turnover for GST instalments, and
  • $50 million annual aggregated turnover for PAYG instalments

The effect of the change is that small businesses using this PAYG instalment method will have more cash during the year to utilise. However, the actual amount of tax owing on the tax return will not change, just the amount you need to contribute during the year.

Trust distributions to companies

The ATO recently released a draft tax determination dealing specifically with unpaid distributions owed by trusts to corporate beneficiaries. If the amount owed by the trust is deemed to be a loan then it can potentially fall within the scope of the integrity provisions in Division 7A. If certain steps are not taken, such as placing the unpaid amount under a complying loan agreement, these amounts can be treated as deemed unfranked dividends for tax purposes and taxable at the taxpayer’s marginal tax rate. The ATO guidance deals specifically with, and potentially changes, when an unpaid entitlement to trust income will start being treated as a loan depending on the wording of the resolution to pay a distribution. The new guidance applies to trust entitlements arising on or after 1 July 2022.

For you

Home loan guarantee scheme extended

The Home Guarantee Scheme guarantees part of an eligible buyer’s home loan, enabling people to buy a home with a smaller deposit and without the need for lenders mortgage insurance. An additional 25,000 guarantees will be available for eligible first home owners (35,000 per year), and 2,500 additional single parent family home guarantees (5,000 per year).

Your superannuation

Work-test repeal – enabling those under 75 to contribute to super

Currently, a work test applies to superannuation contributions made by people aged 67 or over. In general, the work test requires that you are gainfully employed for at least 40 hours over a 30 day period in the financial year.

From 1 July 2022, the work-test has been scrapped and individuals aged younger than 75 years will be able to make or receive non-concessional (including under the bring-forward rule) or salary sacrifice superannuation contributions without meeting the work test, subject to existing contribution caps.

The work test will still apply to personal deductible contributions.

This change will also see those aged under 75 be able to access the ‘bring forward rule’ if your total superannuation balance allows. The bring forward rule enables you to contribute up to three years’ worth of non-concessional contributions to your super in one year.

Downsizer contributions from age 60

From 1 July 2022, eligible individuals aged 60 years or older can choose to make a ‘downsizer contribution’ into their superannuation of up to $300,000 per person ($600,000 per couple) from the proceeds of selling their home. Currently, you need to be 65 years or older to utilise downsizer contributions.

Downsizer contributions can be made from the sale of your principal residence that you have owned for the past ten or more years. These contributions are excluded from the age test, work test and your total superannuation balance (but not exempt from your transfer balance cap).

First home saver scheme – using super to save for a first home

The First Home Super Saver Scheme enables first home buyers to withdraw voluntary contributions they have made to superannuation and any associated earnings, to put toward the cost of a first home. At present, the maximum amount of voluntary contributions you can make and withdraw is $30,000. From 1 July 2022, the maximum amount will increase to $50,000. The benefit of this scheme is the concessional tax treatment of superannuation.

ATO ramps up heat on directors

Throughout March, the ATO sent letters to directors who are potentially in breach of their obligations to ensure that the company they represent has met its PAYG withholding, superannuation guarantee charge, or GST obligations.

These letters are a warning shot and should not be ignored.

The director penalty regime ensures that directors are personally liable for certain debts of the company if the debts are not actively managed. The liability applies to both current and former directors.

To recover this debt, the ATO will issue a director penalty notice to the individual directors. The ATO can then take action to recover the unpaid amount, including:

  • By issuing garnishee notices,
  • By offsetting tax credits owed to the director against the penalty, or
  • By initiating legal recovery proceedings against the director.

In some cases it is possible for the penalty to be remitted but this depends on when the PAYGW, GST or SGC amounts are reported to the ATO. For example, in some cases the penalty can be remitted if an administrator or small business restructuring practitioner is appointed to the company, or the company begins to be wound up. However, this is normally only possible for PAYGW and GST amounts if they are reported to the ATO within 3 months of the due date. For SGC amounts this is only possible if the unpaid amount is reported by the due date of the SGC statement.

If the unpaid amounts are not reported to the ATO by the relevant deadline then the only way for the penalty to be remitted is for the debt to be paid in full. Winding up the company at this stage will not make the liability of the directors go away.

If you have received a warning letter from the ATO or a director penalty notice then please contact us immediately.

Note: The material and contents provided in this publication are informative in nature only.  It is not intended to be advice and you should not act specifically on the basis of this information alone.  If expert assistance is required, professional advice should be obtained.



Setting up a Director ID
April 4, 2022, 5:01 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

How to set up your Director ID

Directors are now required to register for a unique identification number that they will keep for life.

What is a director ID?

A director ID is a 15 digit identification number that, once issued, will remain with that director for life regardless of whether they stop being a director, change companies, change their name, or move overseas.

The introduction of the Director Identification Number (DIN) is part of the Government’s Modernisation of Business Registers (MBR) Program creating greater transparency, and preventing the potential for fraud and phoenix company activity. The MBR will unify the Australian Business Register and 31 ASIC business registers, including the register of companies. In effect, the system will create one source of truth across Government agencies for individuals and entities and will be managed by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

For those concerned about their privacy, the director ID will not be searchable by the public and will not be disclosed without the consent of the Director.

Who needs a director ID?

All directors of a company, registered Australian body, registered foreign company or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation will need a director ID. This includes directors of a corporate trustee of self-managed super funds (SMSF).

You do not need a director ID if you are running a business as a sole trader or partnership, or you are a director in your job title but have not been appointed as a director under the Corporations Act or Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act (CATSI).

The company secretary or officeholder should keep a register of the IDs of their directors in a secure place – director IDs are governed by the same privacy rules that apply to Tax File Numbers (TFNs) and should not be disclosed unless required.

Timeframes for registration

For Corporation Act directors:

Date you become a directorDate you must apply
On or before 31 October 2021By 30 November 2022
Between 1 November 2021 and 4 April 2022Within 28 days of appointment
From 5 April 2022Before appointment

For CATSI directors:

Date you become a directorDate you must apply
On or before 31 October 2022By 30 November 2023
From 1 November 2022Before appointment

If the company intends to appoint new directors, it will be important to ensure that they are aware of the requirements and timeframes to establish their director ID if they do not already have one.

How to set up a director ID

If you are an Australian resident director, you will need to complete a number of steps and have a number of identification documents available and ready (for non-resident directors see Foreign directors and the director ID system below).

1 Verify your identify

If you establish your director ID online, and you have not already set up myGovID, you will need to download the app onto your phone or device and create an account.

The myGovID does not create your director ID –  the app’s only purpose is to validate your identity, and once validated, issue a code that can be used to identify you on government online services without going through the same verification process.

myGovID uses your phone/device’s camera to scan your forms of ID such as your passport, driver’s license and/ or VISA (check the documentation requirements here), to validate who you say you are. Be careful when you are scanning your documentation as the system does not always read the scan correctly.

2 Apply for your director ID through Australian Business Registry Services

Once you have set up your myGovID, you need to apply to the Australian Business Registry Services (ABRS) for your director ID. Use the email you used to create your myGovID to start the process.

In addition to your myGovID, you will need to have on hand documentation that matches the information held by the ATO. If you have a myGov account linked to the ATO, you can find the details on your profile. You will need:

  • Your tax file number
  • The residential address held on file by the ATO; and
  • Two documents that verify your identify such as:
    • Your bank account details held by the ATO (on your myGov ATO account, see ‘my profile/financial institution details’).
    • Dividend statement investment reference number
    • Notice of assessment (NOA) – date of issue and the reference number (on your myGov ATO account, see Tax/lodgements/income tax/history).
    • The gross amount from your PAYG payment summary
    • Superannuation details including your super fund’s ABN and your member account number

The final stage requests your personal contact details (not the company’s).

Once complete, your director ID will be issued immediately on screen. This information should be provided to your company secretary or office holder.

If any of your details change, for example a change of residential address or phone number, you will need to update your details through the ABR. You will also need to notify your company within seven days (14 days for CATSI Act directors) and the company will then need to notify the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) within 28 days.

Applying by phone or using paper forms

You can choose to verify your identify and apply for your director ID by phone (13 62 50) or on paper. You will need to have your identification documents available. If you are applying using the paper form, your identify documentation will need to be certified by an authorised certifier such as a Barrister, Justice of the Peace etc.

Foreign directors and the director ID system

Foreign directors of Australian companies have the same requirements and deadlines as Australian resident directors, however, the verification process is only accessible in paper form.

One primary and two secondary forms of identification are required to accompany the application that have been certified by a notary publics or by staff at the nearest Australian embassy, high commission or consulate, including consulates headed by Austrade honorary consuls. Primary forms of identification include a birth certificate or passport, and secondary include driver’s licence, foreign government identifier, or national photo identification card.

In the presence of the applicant, the authorised certifier must certify that each copy is a true and correct copy of the original document by sighting the original document, stamping, signing and annotating the copy of the identity document to state, ‘I have sighted the original document and certify this to be a true and correct copy of the original document sighted’. initialling each page listing their name, date of certification, phone number and position.

The form and the accompanying documents will need to be sent by mail to Australian Business Registry Services using the details provided.

Directors in name only

It’s important that anyone agreeing to be a director understands the implications. Being a director is not just a title; it is a responsibility. At a financial level, directors are responsible for ensuring that the company does not trade while insolvent. The by-product of this is that the directors may be held personally liable for the debt incurred. The director penalty regime has also tightened up in recent years to ensure that directors are personally liable for PAYG withholding, net GST, and superannuation guarantee charge liabilities if the company fails to meet its obligations by the due date. For many small businesses, the directors are also often personally responsible for company loans secured against property such as the family home.

Tax and the Normalisation of Cryptocurrency

The Australian Taxation Office recently updated its guidance on tax and cryptocurrency.

In early November, the Commonwealth Bank announced that it is now Australia’s first bank to offer customers the ability to buy, sell and hold crypto assets, directly through the CommBank app. You know when the banks come on board, cryptocurrency has become normal.

But cryptocurrency is only one part of the blockchain universe. Non-fungible tokens or NFTs (fungible means interchangeable) are one-of-a-kind digital assets which are part of the Ethereum blockchain. An example is the CryptoKitties game that allows players to purchase, collect, breed and sell unique virtual cats – and, before you laugh, the game transacted over $1 million in virtual cats in its first few days of launching.

NFTs are also rapidly rising in popularity in the artworld because ownership of the asset is on the blockchain and in some cases, the artist can take a percentage of every transaction of that artwork – so, no more starving artists because they can generate an income from the asset over time not just on the first sale. A stellar example is the sale of a NFT artwork by the digital artist Beeple, which was sold at auction by Christies in March 2021 for $69 million (USD).

Let’s look at what the Australian Taxation Office has to say about some of the commonly asked questions about the implications of investing in blockchain.

Is mining cryptocurrency income or an asset?

If you receive crypto from providing services to others, this can represent income. If you create crypto, you acquire a capital gains tax (CGT) asset. A taxing event will arise when you exchange crypto for Australian Dollars or another crypto asset.

Does the ATO really know about my crypto transactions?

The ATO is using various sources for data collection including digital service providers (DSPs) and analysis software to track taxpayer compliance. There are several data-mining projects (no pun intended) underway looking specifically at cryptocurrency and cryptocurrency platforms.

What happens if my cryptocurrency is stolen?

You may be able to claim a capital loss if you lose your cryptocurrency private key or your cryptocurrency is stolen. Generally, where an item can be replaced it is not lost. A lost private key can’t be replaced. Therefore, to claim a capital loss you must be able to provide the following kinds of evidence:

  • When you acquired and lost the private key
  • The wallet address that the private key relates to
  • The cost you incurred to acquire the lost or stolen cryptocurrency
  • The amount of cryptocurrency in the wallet at the time of loss of private key
  • That the wallet was controlled by you (for example, transactions linked to your identity)
  • That you are in possession of the hardware that stores the wallet
  • Transactions to the wallet from a digital currency exchange for which you hold a verified account or is linked to your identity.

I mine cryptocurrency as a hobby so I should not have to pay tax on it?

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely mining for fun will allow you to avoid tax. The circumstances where you can generate cryptocurrency or transact it without paying tax are very limited.

Can I get a tax deduction for computer equipment purchased for mining?

If you are in the business of mining, then you can claim a deduction for the equipment you purchase to generate income. If you are not carrying on a business, then the crypto is held as an investment and the equipment is not deductible.

How is my NFT artwork taxed?

As with any other cryptocurrency, an NFT can be held for personal use. Personal use assets are CGT assets that you keep mainly for your personal use or enjoyment.

NFT is not a personal use asset if it is kept or used mainly:

  • As an investment
  • In a profit-making scheme, or
  • In the course of carrying on a business.

The relevant time for working out if an asset is a personal use asset is at the time of its disposal. During a period of ownership, the way that an NFT is kept or used may change (for example, NFTs may originally be acquired for personal use and enjoyment, but ultimately kept or used as an investment, to make a profit on ultimate disposal or as part of carrying on a business).

The longer an NFT is held, the less likely it is that it will be a personal use asset – even if you ultimately use it for personal use or consumption.

Capital gains you make from personal use assets acquired for less than $10,000 are disregarded for CGT purposes. However, all capital losses you make on personal use assets are disregarded. Collectables are not classed as personal use assets and may be subject to CGT.

Can my Self Managed Superannuation Fund invest in cryptocurrency?

The issue is not so much can you acquire cryptocurrency within an SMSF but should you?  The June 2021 ATO statistical report shows that Australians held approximately $212m in cryptocurrency assets as at 30 June 2021- only 0.03% of total assets. The simple reason is that the volatility of cryptocurrency makes it harder to rationalise under Section 62 of the Superannuation Industry Supervision (SIS) Act, particularly if the asset allocation ratio of cryptocurrency assets in the SMSF is high. But, it’s not impossible if managed correctly at an investment and administrative level.

With Bitcoin as low as $14k on 13 September 2020, and $61k on 12 September 2021, it’s easy to see the appeal for investors with the appetite for risk (335% return across 12 months). In this same period, Ethereum grew 767%. But the world was in a different place in September 2020, not just in cryptocurrency.

Before investing in cryptocurrency there are a few things SMSF trustees need to be aware of:

  • Trust Deed – the trust deed of the fund must allow for cryptocurrency assets. Most SMSF trust deeds are drafted broadly to enable trustees to invest in assets permitted by the superannuation laws and leave the investment strategy to manage the choice of assets and their appropriateness. However, it is important to check.
  • Investment strategy – Your Investment Strategy is a major consideration with any investment within an SMSF but with cryptocurrency’s high volatility and risks, there must be clearly articulated information in the Investment Strategy. That is, it must articulate the trustees’ plan for making, holding and realising assets in a way that is consistent with the retirement goals of members being mindful of the member’s individual circumstances.
  • Separation of assets – it’s important that the cryptocurrency assets are held in a wallet in the name of the SMSF and the IP address is provided to the SMSF auditors to verify the transactions (against the fund bank account). Problems can often arise when a wallet (in the name of the SMSF) is connected to a personal credit card to acquire cryptocurrency. In these cases, the payment is seen as either a contribution or a loan to the SMSF.

The ATO also suggests you look at the diversity of the SMSF’s investments.

How tax applies to blockchain and the generation of income or assets is still a work in progress. Please contact us if we can assist.

SMSF COVID-19 Audit Relief Extended

The ATO has extended COVID-19 relief for SMSF trustees. The relief measures, which protect trustees from COVID-19 related contraventions of the super laws, now extend from the 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 financial years. The relief measures provide:

  • Residency relief where the pandemic has prevented members from returning to Australia. This measure prevents the SMSF from breaching the residency conditions to be an Australian super fund.
  • Rental relief where a COVID-19 reduction, waiver or deferral has been provided to a tenant.
  • Loan repayment relief where relief is provided on commercial terms.
  • In-house asset relief where the SMSF exceeded the 5% in-house asset threshold at 30 June due to the impacts of COVID-19. 

Overseas gifts and loans in the spotlight

The ATO has recently issued an alert on gifts or loans from overseas. The ATO is particularly concerned about schemes and arrangements designed specifically to circumvent Australian tax laws. In general, Australian-resident taxpayers need to declare their worldwide income in their Australian tax return. Some schemes however disguise offshore capital gains or income as a gift or loan.

So, how do the ATO know if money from overseas is a genuine gift or loan? Generally, the ATO will expect to see some form of evidence that the gift is genuine such as a deed of gift prepared by the donor, formal identification of the donor, a copy of the donor’s bank account, or in the case of an inheritance, the will or distribution statement from the estate.

If you have received a loan from overseas, the ATO will expect to see properly executed loan documentation, and other documentation supporting why the loan was made and its purpose. Third party documentation is best as documentation from a family member may not be accepted as conclusive evidence of a loan.

The ATO will form its view based on the evidence available.

Loans received from companies or trusts can still trigger tax issues in Australia.

Note: The material and contents provided in this publication are informative in nature only.  It is not intended to be advice and you should not act specifically on the basis of this information alone.  If expert assistance is required, professional advice should be obtained.



The ATO’s Attack on Trusts and Trust Distributions
March 14, 2022, 2:04 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Late last month, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) released a package of new guidance material that directly targets how trusts distribute income. Many family groups will pay higher taxes (now and potentially retrospectively) as a result of the ATO’s more aggressive approach.

Family trust beneficiaries at risk

The tax legislation contains an integrity rule, section 100A, which is aimed at situations where income of a trust is appointed in favour of a beneficiary but the economic benefit of the distribution is provided to another individual or entity. If trust distributions are caught by section 100A, then this generally results in the trustee being taxed at penalty rates rather than the beneficiary being taxed at their own marginal tax rates.

The latest guidance suggests that the ATO will be looking to apply section 100A to some arrangements that are commonly used for tax planning purposes by family groups. The result is a much smaller  boundary on what is acceptable to the ATO which means that some family trusts are at risk of higher tax liabilities and penalties.

ATO redrawing the boundaries of what is acceptable

Section 100A has been around since 1979 but to date, has rarely been invoked by the ATO except where there is obvious and deliberate trust stripping at play. However, the ATO’s latest guidance suggests that the ATO is now willing to use section 100A to attack a wider range of scenarios.

There are some important exceptions to section 100A, including where income is appointed to minor beneficiaries and where the arrangement is part of an ordinary family or commercial dealing. Much of the ATO’s recent guidance focuses on whether arrangements form part of an ordinary family or commercial dealing. The ATO notes that this exclusion won’t necessarily apply simply because arrangements are commonplace or they involve members of a family group. For example, the ATO suggests that section 100A could apply to some situations where a child gifts money that is attributable to a family trust distribution to their parents.

The ATO’s guidance sets out four ‘risk zones’ – referred to as the white, green, blue and red zones. The risk zone for a particular arrangement will determine the ATO’s response:

White zone

This is aimed at pre-1 July 2014 arrangements. The ATO will not look into these arrangements unless it is part of an ongoing investigation, for arrangements that continue after this date, or where the trust and beneficiaries failed to lodge tax returns by 1 July 2017.

Green zone

Green zone arrangements are low risk arrangements and are unlikely to be reviewed by the ATO, assuming the arrangement is properly documented. For example, the ATO suggests that when a trust appoints income to an individual but the funds are paid into a joint bank account that the individual holds with their spouse then this would ordinarily be a low-risk scenario. Or, where parents pay for the deposit on an adult child’s mortgage using their trust distribution and this is a one-off arrangement.

Blue zone

Arrangements in the blue zone might be reviewed by the ATO. The blue zone is basically the default zone and covers arrangements that don’t fall within one of the other risk zones. The blue zone is likely to include scenarios where funds are retained by the trustee, but the arrangement doesn’t fall within the scope of the specific scenarios covered in the green zone.

Section 100A does not automatically apply to blue zone arrangements, it just means that the ATO will need to be satisfied that the arrangement is not subject to section 100A.

Red zone

Red zone arrangements will be reviewed in detail. These are arrangements the ATO suspects are designed to deliberately reduce tax, or where an individual or entity other than the beneficiary is benefiting.

High on the ATO’s list for the red zone are arrangements where an adult child’s entitlement to trust income is paid to a parent or other caregiver to reimburse them for expenses incurred before the adult child turned 18. For example, school fees at a private school. Or, where a loan (debit balance account) is provided by the trust to the adult child for expenses they incurred before they were 18 and the entitlement is used to pay off the loan. These arrangements will be looked at closely and if the ATO determines that section 100A applies, tax will be applied at the top marginal rate to the relevant amount and this could apply across a number of income years.

The ATO indicated that circular arrangements could also fall within the scope of section 100A. For example, this can occur when a trust owns shares in a company, the company is a beneficiary of that trust and where income is circulated between the entities on a repeating basis. For example, section 100A could be triggered if:

  • The trustee resolves to appoint income to the company at the end of year 1.
  • The company includes its share of the trust’s net income in its assessable income for year 1 and pays tax at the corporate rate.
  • The company pays a fully franked dividend to the trustee in year 2, sourced from the trust income, and the dividend forms part of the trust income and net income in year 2.
  • The trustee makes the company presently entitled to some or all of the trust income at the end of year 2 (which might include the franked distribution).
  • These steps are repeated in subsequent years.

Distributions from a trust to an entity with losses could also fall within the red zone unless it is clear that the economic benefit associated with the income is provided to the beneficiary with the losses. If the economic benefit associated with the income that has been appointed to the entity with losses is utilised by the trust or another entity then section 100A could apply.

Who is likely to be impacted?

The ATO’s updated guidance focuses primarily on distributions made to adult children, corporate beneficiaries, and entities with losses. Depending on how arrangements are structured, there is potentially a significant level of risk. However, it is important to remember that section 100A is not confined to these situations.

Distributions to beneficiaries who are under a legal disability (e.g., children under 18) are excluded from these rules.

For those with discretionary trusts it is important to ensure that all trust distribution arrangements are reviewed in light of the ATO’s latest guidance to determine the level of risk associated with the arrangements. It is also vital to ensure that appropriate documentation is in place to demonstrate how funds relating to trust distributions are being used or applied for the benefit of beneficiaries.

Companies entitled to trust income

As part of the broader package of updated guidance targeting trusts and trust distributions, the ATO has also released a draft determination dealing specifically with unpaid distributions owed by trusts to corporate beneficiaries. If the amount owed by the trust is deemed to be a loan then it can potentially fall within the scope of another integrity provision in the tax law, Division 7A.

Division 7A captures situations where shareholders or their related parties access company profits in the form of loans, payments or forgiven debts. If certain steps are not taken, such as placing the loan under a complying loan agreement, these amounts can be treated as deemed unfranked dividends for tax purposes and taxable at the taxpayer’s marginal tax rate.

The latest ATO guidance looks at when an unpaid entitlement to trust income will start being treated as a loan. The treatment of unpaid entitlements to trust income as loans for Division 7A purposes is not new. What is new is the ATO’s approach in determining the timing of when these amounts start being treated as loans. Under the new guidance, if a trustee resolves to appoint income to a corporate beneficiary, then the time the unpaid entitlement starts being treated as a loan will depend on how the entitlement is expressed by the trustee (e.g., in trust distribution resolutions etc):

  • If the company is entitled to a fixed dollar amount of trust income the unpaid entitlement will generally be treated as a loan for Division 7A purposes in the year the present entitlement arises; or
  • If the company is entitled to a percentage of trust income, or some other part of trust income identified in a calculable manner, the unpaid entitlement will generally be treated as a loan from the time the trust income (or the amount the company is entitled to) is calculated, which will often be after the end of the year in which the entitlement arose.

This is relevant in determining when a complying loan agreement needs to be put in place to prevent the full unpaid amount being treated as a deemed dividend for tax purposes when the trust needs to start making principal and interest repayments to the company.

The ATO’s views on “sub-trust arrangements” has also been updated. Basically, the ATO is suggesting that sub-trust arrangements will no longer be effective in preventing an unpaid trust distribution from being treated as a loan for Division 7A purposes if the funds are used by the trust, shareholder of the company or any of their related parties.

The new guidance represents a significant departure from the ATO’s previous position in some ways. The upshot is that in some circumstances, the management of unpaid entitlements will need to change. But, unlike the guidance on section 100A, these changes will only apply to trust entitlements arising on or after 1 July 2022.

Immediate Deductions Extended

Temporary full expensing enables your business to fully expense the cost of:

  • new depreciable assets
  • improvements to existing eligible assets, and
  • second hand assets

in the first year of use.

Introduced in the 2020-21 Budget and now extended until 30 June 2023, this measure enables an asset’s cost to be fully deductible upfront rather than being claimed over the asset’s life, regardless of the cost of the asset. Legislation passed by Parliament last month extends the rules to cover assets that are first used or installed ready for use by 30 June 2023.

Some expenses are excluded including improvements to land or buildings that are not treated as plant or as separate depreciating assets in their own right. Expenditure on these improvements would still normally be claimed at 2.5% or 4% per year.

For companies it is important to note that the loss carry back rules have not as yet been extended to 30 June 2023 – we’re still waiting for the relevant legislation to be passed. If a company claims large deductions for depreciating assets in a particular income year and this puts the company into a loss position then the tax loss can generally only be carried forward to future years. However, the loss carry back rules allow some companies to apply current year losses against taxable profits in prior years and claim a refund of the tax that has been paid. At this stage the loss carry back rules are due to expire at the end of the 2022 income year, but we are hopeful that the rules will be extended to cover the 2023 income year as well.

Federal Budget 2022-23

The Federal Budget has been brought forward to 29 March 2022. With the pandemic and the war in Ukraine we have seen a lot less commentary this year about what to expect in the Budget. But, as an election budget, we typically expect to see a series of measures designed to boost productivity, many of which are likely to benefit businesses willing to invest in the future. Bolstering the workforce, and measures to increase the participation of women, is also a potential feature as Australia struggles with post pandemic worker shortages. Fiscally, the Budget is likely to be in a better position than expected in previous Budgets so there is more in the Government coffers to spend on initiatives. Look out for our update on the important issues the day after the Budget is released.

Are Your Contractors Really Employees?

Two landmark cases before the High Court highlight the problem of identifying whether a worker is an independent contractor or employee for tax and superannuation purposes.

Many business owners assume that if they hire independent contractors they will not be responsible for PAYG withholding, superannuation guarantee, payroll tax and workers compensation obligations. However, each set of rules operates a bit differently and in some cases genuine contractors can be treated as if they were employees. Also, correctly classifying the employment relationship can be difficult and there are significant penalties faced by businesses that get it wrong.  

Two cases handed down by the High Court late last month clarify the way the courts determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. The High Court confirmed that it is necessary to look at the totality of the relationship and use a ‘multifactorial approach’ in determining whether a worker is an employee. That is, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck, even if on paper, you call it a chicken.

In CFMMEU v Personnel Contracting and ZG Operations Australia v Jamse, the court placed a significant amount of weight on the terms of the written contract that the parties had entered into. The court took the approach that if the written agreement was not a sham and not in dispute, then the terms of the agreement could be relied on to determine the relationship. However, this does not mean that simply calling a worker an independent contractor in an agreement classifies them as a contractor. In this case, a labour hire contractor was determined to be an employee despite the contract stating he was an independent contractor.

In this case, Personnel Contracting offered the labourer a role with the labour hire company. The labourer, a backpacker with some but limited experience on construction sites, signed an Administrative Services Agreement (ASA) which described him as a “self-employed contractor.” The labourer was offered work the next day on a construction site run by a client of Personnel Contracting, performing labouring tasks at the direction of a supervisor employed by the client. The labourer worked on the site for several months before leaving the state. Some months later, he returned and started work at another site of the Personnel Contracting’s same client. The question before the court was whether the labourer was an employee.

Overturning a previous decision by the Full Federal Court, the High Court held that despite the contract stating the labourer was an independent contractor, under the terms of the contract, the labourer was required to work as directed by the company and its client. In return, he was entitled to be paid for the work he performed. In effect, the contract with the client was a “contract of service rather than a contract for services”, as such the labourer was an employee.

The second case, ZG Operations Australia v Jamse produced a different result.

In this case, two truck drivers were employed by ZG Operations for nearly 40 years. In the mid-1980’s, the company insisted that it would no longer employ the drivers, and would continue to use their services only if they purchased their trucks and entered into contracts to carry goods for the company. The respondents agreed to the new arrangement and Mr Jamsek and Mr Whitby each set up a partnership with their wife. Each partnership executed a written contract with the company for the provision of delivery services, purchased trucks from the company, paid the maintenance and operational costs of those trucks, invoiced the company for its delivery services, and was paid by the company for those services. The income from the work was declared as partnership income for tax purposes and split between each individual and their wife.

Overturning a previous decision in the Full Federal Court, the High Court held that the drivers were not employees of the company.

Consistent with the decision in the Personnel Contracting case, a majority of the court held that where parties have comprehensively committed the terms of their relationship to a written contract (and this is not challenged on the basis that it is a sham or is otherwise ineffective under general law or statute), the characterisation of the relationship must be determined with reference to the rights and obligations of the parties under that contract.

After 1985 or 1986, the contracting parties were the partnerships and the company. The contracts between the partnerships and the company involved the provision by the partnerships of both the use of the trucks owned by the partnerships and the services of a driver to drive those trucks. This relationship was not an employment relationship. In this case the fact that the workers owned and maintained significant assets that were used in carrying out the work carried a significant amount of weight.

For employers struggling to work out if they have correctly classified their contractors as employees, it will be important to review the agreements to ensure that the “rights and obligations of the parties under that contract” are consistent with an independent contracting arrangement. Merely labelling a worker as an independent contractor is not enough if the rights and obligations under the agreement are not consistent with the label. The High Court stated, “To say that the legal character of a relationship between persons is to be determined by the rights and obligations which are established by the parties’ written contract is distinctly not to say that the “label” which the parties may have chosen to describe their relationship is determinative of, or even relevant to, that characterisation.”

A genuine independent contractor who is providing personal services will typically be:

  • Autonomous rather than subservient in their decision-making;
  • Financially self-reliant rather than economically dependent upon the business of another; and,
  • Chasing profit (that is a return on risk) rather than simply a payment for the time, skill and effort provided.

Every business that employs contractors should have a process in place to ensure the correct classification of employment arrangements and review those arrangements over time. Even when a worker is a genuine independent contractor this doesn’t necessarily mean that the business won’t have at least some employment-like obligations to meet. For example, some contractors are deemed to be employees for superannuation guarantee and payroll tax purposes.

Note: The material and contents provided in this publication are informative in nature only.  It is not intended to be advice and you should not act specifically on the basis of this information alone.  If expert assistance is required, professional advice should be obtained.



Year of the Tiger: Roaring or Bellowing?
February 12, 2022, 5:09 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

The 2022 Luna New Year, Year of the Tiger, is courage and bravery. It is a year to drive out evil and one of momentum and change. The message; walk boldly with courage. And it seems the Reserve Bank Governor is aligned with this sentiment.

The Tiger economy

At a recent speech to the National Press Club, Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe was optimistic about Australia’s prospects in 2022. This optimism is driven by strong GDP growth that saw growth outstrip the RBA’s forecast to reach 5%, and strong jobs growth with the unemployment rate at 4.2% – the lowest rate since the resources boom. Unemployment is expected to reduce further to 3.75% by the end of 2022, and if it does, it will be the lowest unemployment level since the early 1970s. Underemployment is also at its lowest rate in 13 years.

In addition, “household and business balance sheets are generally in good shape and wages growth is picking up.”

The surprise inflation figures

While wages growth is “picking up”, the forecast remains sluggish at 2.25%. Australia’s wages growth has remained lethargic for a decade now, which will come as a surprise to many business operators competing for skilled workers as, on the ground, the opposite feels true. Combined with a surprise spike in inflation (CPI) well above expectations at 3.5% (+2% on RBA forecasts), pushed predominantly by a sharp increase in petrol prices (32% over the past year) and the cost of constructing new homes, the purchasing power of Australians has declined. There has also been a large increase in the price of consumer durables (cars, fridges etc.,) and less discounting in the face of strong demand as supply chain problems take hold.

Australia is not alone in this. The UK inflation rate jumped to 5.4%, 5.7% in the United States and 5.9% in New Zealand in the same period.

Supply woes

The sharp increase in interest rates comes on the back of, “very significant disruptions in supply chains and distribution networks,” with labour shortages in particular dominating news coverage as businesses struggle to maintain momentum with staff impacted by either COVID-19 or isolation requirements. National Cabinet harmonised the definition of a ‘close contact’ at the end of December 2021 for most Australian States and Territories and reduced the isolation period to seven days (from 14).

The recent NAB quarterly business survey reported that, “ongoing supply chain issues and border closures saw 85% of firms report availability of labour as a constraint on output, while 47% reported availability of materials as a constraint – both records in the history of the survey. As a result, both cost growth and retail price growth remained elevated.” With global staff shortages, come bottlenecks in the supply chain. For many businesses, estimating what stock they need has become a crystal ball exercise rather than a predictable science and in some cases they are ordering ahead to reduce the supply risks, which has a knock-on effect of increasing demand for raw materials. And, this is without factoring in the problem of panic buying (toilet paper anyone) as customers anxiously watch dwindling supplies on supermarket shelves. Supply chain problems, both in Australia and globally, are not anticipated to normalise for another 12 to 24 months.

The RBA Governor’s three takeaways are:

  • The economy has been remarkably resilient;
  • The link between the strength of the real economy and prices and wages remains alive; and
  • The supply side matters for both economic activity and prices.

You could almost add, no one really knows, as a fourth point as an unexpected change, like a new virulent COVID variant, or further lockdowns, could rewrite the forecasts. But, there is plenty of room for optimism. What we have seen to date is that when there is an opportunity to rebound, to return to normal, the economy bounces back quickly and often much faster than anticipated. Afterall, health, not the economy, has been the catalyst for the crisis.

When will interest rates rise?

During his National Press Club address, Mr Lowe was asked the question, “those people are now looking very carefully at your words, trying to read the tea leaves and work out what they do with their mortgages? You obviously can’t go to the RBA Governor looking for individual financial advice. But, if it was your mortgage, would you be scrambling for a fixed rate or sticking with a variable?”

His response, “… the advice that I would give to people is, make sure that you have buffers. Interest rates will go up. And the stronger the economy, the better progress on unemployment, the faster and the sooner the increase in interest rates will be. So, interest rates will go up.”

A rate increase by the RBA would be the first since November 2020. Westpac and AMP Capital are both forecasting the first increase to occur in August this year, then a second towards the end of 2022.

While the RBA might be taking a ‘steady as she goes’ approach, many lenders have already factored in increases as the international cost of funding increases. RateCity data shows that, “a total of 17 lenders have hiked fixed rates so far this year, but that number will rise and quickly” – Westpac increased its fixed rates at the end of January and the CBA and ING (for new customers only) at the start of February. 

But with households having accumulated more than $200 billion in additional savings over the past 2 years, the RBA is hopeful that any increase will dampen inflation pressures but not impinge on growth.

Professional Services Firm Profits Guidance Finalised

The Australian Taxation Office’s finalised position on the allocation of profits from professional firms starts on 1 July 2022.

The ATO’s guidance uses a series of factors to determine the level of risk associated with profits generated by a professional services firm and how they flow through to individual practitioners and their related parties. The ATO may look to apply the general anti-avoidance rules in Part IVA to practitioners who don’t fall within the low-risk category.

With the new guidelines taking effect on 1 July 2022, professional firms will need to assess their structures now to understand their risk rating, and if necessary, either make changes to reduce their risks level or ensure appropriate documentation is in place to justify their position.

The problem

The finalised guidance has had a long gestation period. The ATO has been concerned for some time about how many professional services firms are structured – specifically, professional practices such as lawyers, accountants, architects, medical practices, engineers, architects etc., operating through trusts, companies and partnerships of discretionary trusts and how the profits from these practices are being taxed.

The ATO guidance takes a strong stance on structures designed to divert income in a way that results in principal practitioners receiving relatively small amounts of income personally for their work and reducing their taxable income. Where these structures appear to be in place to divert income to create a tax benefit for the professional, Part IVA may apply. Part IVA is an integrity rule which allows the Commissioner to remove any tax benefit received by a taxpayer where they entered into an arrangement in a contrived manner in order to obtain a tax benefit. Significant penalties can also apply when Part IVA is triggered.

Determining the risk rating

The guidance sets out a series of tests which are used to calculate a risk score. This risk score is then used to classify the practitioner as falling within a Green, Amber or Red risk zone, which determines if the ATO should take a closer look at you and your firm. Those in the green zone are at low risk of the ATO directing its compliance efforts to you. Those in the red zone, however, can expect the ATO to conduct further analysis as a matter of priority which could lead to an ATO audit.

Before calculating the risk score it is necessary to consider two gateway tests:

  • Gateway 1 – considers whether there is commercial rationale for the business structure and the way in which profits are distributed, especially in the form of remuneration paid. Red flags would include arrangements that are more complex than necessary to achieve the relevant commercial objective, and where the tax result is at odds with the commercial venture, for example, where a tax loss is claimed for a profitable commercial venture.
  • Gateway 2 – requires an assessment of whether there are any high-risk features. The ATO sets out some examples of arrangements that would be considered high-risk, including the use of financing arrangements relating to transactions between related parties.

If the gateway tests are passed, then you can self-assess your risk level against the ATO’s risk assessment factors. There are three factors to be considered:

  • The professional’s share of profit from the firm (and service entities etc) compared with the share of firm profit derived by the professional and their related parties;
  • The total effective tax rate for income received from the firm by the professional and their related parties; and
  • The professional’s remuneration as a percentage of the commercial benchmark for the services provided to the firm.

The resulting ‘score’ from these factors determines your risk zone. Some arrangements that were considered low risk in prior years under the ATO’s previous guidance may now fall into a higher risk zone. In these cases, the ATO is allowing a transitional period for those practitioners to continue to apply the previous guidelines until 30 June 2024.

For professional services firms, it will be important to assess the risk level and this needs to be done for each principal practitioner separately. Those in the amber or red zone who want to be classified as low risk need to start thinking about what needs to change to move into the lower risk zone.

Where other compliance issues are present – such as failure to recognise capital gains, misuse of the superannuation systems, failure to lodge returns or late lodgement, etc., – a green zone risk assessment will not apply.

We will contact clients who might be impacted by the incoming guidance. If you are concerned about your position, please contact us.

PCR and RAT tests to be tax deductible, FBT free

The Treasurer has announced that PCR and rapid antigen tests (RAT) will be tax deductible for individuals and exempt from fringe benefits tax (FBT) for employers if purchased for work purposes.

There has been confusion over the tax treatment of RAT tests with the Prime Minister stating for some time that they are tax deductible, but in reality, the tests were probably only deductible in limited circumstances.

If you have had to purchase RAT tests to be able to work, you will be able to receive a tax deduction for the cost you have incurred from 1 July 2021 (you will need evidence of the expense). If the RAT test cost $20, someone on a marginal tax rate of 32.5% would receive a tax benefit of $6.50.

For business, it is expected that RAT, PCR and other coronavirus tests will be exempt from FBT from the 2021-22 FBT year.

Legislation enabling the change is expected before Parliament this week.

Cash injection for struggling businesses

Businesses struggling with the Omicron wave of the pandemic have been offered new grants and support in NSW, SA and WA.

New South Wales

The NSW Small Business Support package provides eligible employing businesses with a lump sum payment of 20% of weekly payroll, up to a maximum of $5,000 per week for the month of February 2022. The minimum weekly payment for employers is $750 per week.

Eligible non-employing businesses will receive $500 per week (paid as a lump sum of $2,000).

To access the package, businesses must:

The support package only covers the month of February 2022. Applications for support are expected to open mid-February.

South Australia

The South Australian Government has introduced two rounds of support for businesses impacted by health restrictions:

Applications for the grants open 14 February 2022.

Western Australia

Western Australia has been hit with compounding issues of border closures, COVID-19 and natural disasters.

The latest grant provides financial assistance of up to $12,500 ($1,130 for each impacted day) to small businesses in the hospitality, music events or arts sectors that were directly financially impacted by the Chief Health Officer’s COVID Restrictions (Directions) from 23 December 2021 to 4 January 2022. Non-employing businesses will receive up to $4,400 ($400 per day).

To be eligible, your business must:

Applications are open through SmartyGrants.

-End-

Pandemic Leave Disaster Payments rules change

The rules for the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment, the payment accessible to those who have lost work because they have had to self-isolate with COVID-19, or are caring for someone who contracted it, changed on 18 January 2022.

The new rules change the definition of a close contact in line with the harmonised national definition. The payment is now accessible if you are a close contact because you either usually live with the person who has tested positive with COVID-19, or have stayed in the same household for more than 4 hours with the person who has tested positive with COVID-19 during their infectious period.

The payment provides:

  • $450 if you lost at least 8 hours or a full day’s work, and less than 20 hours of work
  • $750 if you lost 20 hours or more of work.

To claim the payment, you will need to be an Australian citizen, permanent visa holder (or temporary visa holder with a right to work) or a New Zealand passport holder. The payment is also subject to means testing with a $10,000 illiquid assets test.

Note: The material and contents provided in this publication are informative in nature only.  It is not intended to be advice and you should not act specifically on the basis of this information alone.  If expert assistance is required, professional advice should be obtained.



Unwinding COVID-19 Relief
December 19, 2021, 11:40 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

 COVID-19 support will roll back as states and territories reach vaccination targets.

The National Plan, the road map out of COVID-19, does more than provide greater freedoms at 70% and 80% full vaccination rates, it withdraws the steady stream of Commonwealth financial support to individuals and business impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns and border closures. We look at the impact and the support that remains in place.

For individuals

The COVID-19 Disaster payment offered a lifeline to those who lost work because of lockdowns, particularly in the ACT, New South Wales, and Victoria where the Delta strain of the virus and long-term lockdowns had the greatest impact.

In late September, the Treasurer announced that the Disaster Payment will roll back as states and territories reach vaccination hurdles on the National Plan. Over $9 billion has been paid out to date on Disaster Payments and at 70% and 80% full adult vaccination, the disaster, apparently, is over.

At 70% full vaccination in your state or territory

In the first week a state or territory reaches 70% full adult vaccination, the automatic renewal that has been in place will end and individuals will need to reapply each week that a Commonwealth Hotspot remains in place to confirm their eligibility. The COVID-19 Disaster payment will not necessarily end, but anyone currently receiving the payment will need to reconfirm that they meet the eligibility criteria, including living or working in a Commonwealth declared hotspot.

Given that the time gap between 70% and 80% full vaccination might be as little as two weeks in some regions, the impact of the 70% restrictions might be a moot point.

At 80% full vaccination in your state or territory

In the first week a state or territory reaches 80% full adult vaccination, the COVID-19 Disaster Payment will phase out over a two week period before ending completely.

TriggerDisaster payment per week
<70% vaccination*$750 – lost 20 hours or more for that week $450 – lost at least 8 hours of work $200 – on income support and have lost at least 8 hours of work
70% vaccination*Automatic renewal ends
80% vaccinationPayment reduced from first week
Week 1$450 – lost at least 8 hours of work $100 – for those on income support who have lost at least 8 hours of work
Week 2$320 – lost at least 8 hours of work

*First week population +16 years of age reaches vaccination target

Those needing financial support will no longer be eligible for the disaster payment, regardless of whether a Commonwealth hotspot is in place, and instead will need to apply for another form of income support such as JobSeeker. Unlike the disaster payments, JobSeeker and most other income support payments are subject to income and assets tests.

The Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment, for those who cannot work because they need to self-isolate or care or quarantine, or care for someone with COVID-19, will remain in place until 30 June 2022.

Support for business

Each state and territory manages lockdown and financial support to businesses impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns and border closures differently. The way in which support is withdrawn will depend on how support has been provided and the extent of Commonwealth support.

Australian Capital Territory

The ACT Government has distributed grants to business jointly funded with the Commonwealth. The ACT COVID-19 Business Grant was recently extended with top-up grants of $10,000 for employing businesses and $3,750 for non-employing businesses distributed to previous grant recipients in industries impacted by continued lockdowns. Large businesses $2m to $5m received an additional top-up amount of between $10,000 and $30,000. The Tourism, Accommodation Provider, Arts, Events, Hospitality & Fitness Grants have also been topped up with grants between $5,000 and $25,000 to existing recipients and the grant has been expanded to the fitness/sports sector (more information will be available mid-October).

Lockdowns eased on 1 October and are scheduled to be lifted from 15 October, with a return to normal in early to mid December 2021 (see the pathway forward). While not specified, it is expected that grants will cease at this point and instead, directed into targeted industry specific initiatives (see the recovery plan).

New South Wales

The NSW JobSaver, which provides payments of up to 40% of weekly payroll, is jointly funded by the state and Commonwealth governments. From 13 September, businesses receiving JobSaver have been required to reconfirm their eligibility for the payment each fortnight including a 30% decline in turnover test and headcount test.

JobSaver*Weekly payrollMin

MaxNon-employing business 
Current40%$1,500$100,000$1,000
10 October30%$1,125$75,000$750
80% full vaccination15%$562.50$37,500$375
30 November0% $0

*excludes extension program

At 70% full adult vaccination (10 October 2021), JobSaver will reduce from 40% of weekly payroll to 30%. Then, at 80% full vaccination, the Commonwealth will withdraw funding. The NSW Government announced that it will continue to fund their portion of JobSaver up until 30 November 2021 (15% of payroll).

It is unclear at this stage of what the impact of the withdrawal of Commonwealth funding at 80% vaccination rates will mean to large tourism, hospitality, and recreation businesses.

The $1,500 fortnightly micro-business grant, will reduce to $750 per fortnight from 80%

full vaccination and cease on 30 November 2021.

If you are uncertain how the easing of restrictions will impact on you and your workplace, see the roadmap.

Queensland

While not significantly impacted by local lockdowns, Queensland tourism is impacted by national and international border closures. A second round of Tourism and Hospitality Sector Hardship grants have been announced although no further details are currently available.

For businesses on the border with New South Wales, a hardship grant will become available if the closure remains in place until 14 October or longer with grants of $5,000 for employing entities and $1,000 for non-employing entities (see Business Queensland for details). To receive the grant, you must operate in a ‘border business zone’ and have received the COVID-19 Business Support Grant.

Pointedly, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has stated, “Governments must also hold up their end of the bargain and stick to the plan agreed at National Cabinet that will see restrictions ease and our borders open up as we reach our vaccination targets of 70 to 80 per cent.” The Queensland Government will be under significant pressure to open borders once vaccination rates reach 80% in December and prior to the school holiday period.

Victoria

The Victorian Government has distributed grants to business jointly funded with the Commonwealth. For many of these grants, funding has been topped up in line with lockdown extensions.

The small business hardship fund providing one-off grants of $20,000 for businesses that have suffered a 70% or more decline in turnover and were not eligible for other grants or funding, will reopen (see the BusinessVictoria website for details).

The Business Costs Assistance Program will provide automatic top-ups to existing recipients across October and into the first half of November (two fortnightly payments between 1-29 October on a rising scale). Businesses that remain closed or severely restricted between 70% and 80% double dose will receive an automatic payment for the period from 29 October to 13 November.

Licensed hospitality venue fund recipients will also receive weekly top-ups in October of between $5,000 and $20,000, stepped according to venue capacity. Between 70% and 80% double dose, payments for licensed premises in metropolitan Melbourne will be reduced by 25%, and in regional Victoria by 50%.

Victoria is not expected to reach the 70% vaccination target until the end of October, and 80% in early to mid-November. You can find Victoria’s broad road map here.

National

The National Plan stipulates that state and territory borders are to reopen at 80% double vaccination in that state or territory but this will depend on health advice at the time.

Generally, international borders will reopen in states and territories at 80% double vaccination with Australian and permanent residents able to quarantine at home for 7 days. Unvaccinated travellers will need to stay in hotel quarantine for 14 days. Commercial flights will also resume for vaccinated Australians with Australia expected to implement a ‘red light, green light’ system similar to the UK to designate safe countries.

For other regions such as South Australia and the Northern Territory, borders are expected to reopen at 80% double vaccination but with some nuances flagged. The Western Australian Government however has stated that it will announce an easing of border restrictions once an 80% double vaccination has been achieved for those over 12 years of age.

SME lending options

While there is likely to be an economic rebound when restrictions ease across the country, for many, a funding gap will remain between the assistance provided by Government grants and viable trading conditions.

The expanded SME recovery loan scheme took effect on 1 October 2021. Under the scheme, the Government will guarantee 80% of loan amounts to businesses that have been adversely impacted by COVID-19.

The lending terms, repayment, and interest rates are set by the lenders but cannot be backed by residential property, that is, if the Government is underwriting the loan, lenders cannot ask business owners to use their home as security. However, Directors guarantees are likely to be required.

Under the scheme, lenders can provide:

  • A repayment holiday of up to 24 months
  • Loans of up to $5m
  • Loan terms of up to 10 years, and
  • Secured and unsecured loans

The recovery loans can be used to refinance existing loans, purchase commercial property, purchase another business, or working capital. But, cannot be used to purchase residential property, financial products, lend to associated entities, or lease, rent, hire or hire purchase existing assets that are more than half way into their effective life.

The loan scheme is generally available to solvent businesses with a turnover of up to $250m, have an ABN, and a tax resident of Australia. Loans remain subject to lending conditions and generally the lenders will look to lend to viable businesses where it is clear that they can trade their way out of the impact of COVID-19 or the assets of the business make the break-up value attractive.

If you default on your loan, you cannot simply walk away from it. The Government is guaranteeing 80% of the lender’s risk not your debt. Director guarantees are still likely to be required and for many loans, it will be secured against a business asset. On the plus side, interest rates are very attractive right now and many of the lenders are providing a repayment holiday of up to 24 months and in some cases, existing debt can be bundled into the loan arrangements.

What happens to your superannuation when you die?

Superannuation is not like other assets as it is held in trust by the trustee of the superannuation fund.  When you die, it does not automatically form part of your estate but instead, is paid to your eligible beneficiaries by the fund trustee according to the rules of fund, superannuation law, and the death nomination you made. 

Death nominations

Most people have a death nomination in place to direct their superannuation to their nominated beneficiaries on their death. There are four types of death benefit nominations:

Binding death benefit nomination – Putting in place a binding death nomination will direct your superannuation to whoever you nominate. As long as that person is an eligible beneficiary, the trustee is bound by law to pay your superannuation to that person as soon as practicable after your death. Generally, death benefit nominations lapse after 3 years unless it is a non-lapsing binding death nomination.

Non-lapsing binding death benefit nomination – Non-lapsing binding death nominations, if permitted by your trust deed, remain in place unless the member cancels or replaces them. When you die, your super is directed to the person you nominate.

Non-binding death nomination – A non-binding death nomination is a guide for trustees as to who should receive your superannuation when you die but the trustee retains control over who the benefits are paid to. This might be the person you nominate but the trustees can use their discretion to pay the superannuation to someone else or to your estate.

Reversionary beneficiary – if you are taking an income stream from your superannuation at the time of your death (pension), the payments can revert to your nominated beneficiary at the time of your death and the pension will be automatically paid to that person. Only certain dependants can receive reversionary pensions, generally a spouse or child under 18 years.

If no death benefit nomination is in place – If you have not made a death benefit nomination, the trustees will decide who to pay your superannuation to according to state or territory laws. This will often be a financial dependant to the legal representative of your estate to then be distributed according to your Will.

Is your death benefit valid?

There have been a number of court cases over the years that have successfully contested the validity of death nominations, particularly within self managed superannuation funds. For a death nomination to be valid it must be in writing, signed and dated by you, and witnessed. The wording of your nomination also needs to be clear and legally binding. If you nominate a person, ensure you use their legal name and if the superannuation is to be directed to your estate, ensure the wording uses the correct legal terminology.

Who can receive your superannuation?

Your superannuation can be paid to a SIS dependant, your legal representative (for example, the executor of your will), or someone who has an interdependency relationship with you.

A dependant is defined in superannuation law as ‘the spouse of the person, any child of the person and any person with whom the person has an interdependency relationship’. An interdependency relationship is where someone depends on you for financial support or care.

Do beneficiaries pay tax on you superannuation?

Whether or not the beneficiaries of your superannuation pay tax depends on who the superannuation was paid to and how. If your superannuation is paid as a lump sum to a tax dependant, the superannuation is tax-free. The tax laws have a different definition of who is a dependant to the superannuation laws. A tax dependant for tax purposes is your spouse or former spouse, your child under the age of 18, or someone you have an interdependency relationship with. Special rules exist if you are a police officer, member of the defence force or protective service officer who died in the line of duty.

If your superannuation is paid to your estate, the tax laws use a ‘look through’ approach when superannuation death benefits are distributed to the deceased’s legal representative. This involves determining whether the final recipient of the superannuation is a dependant or a non-dependant of the deceased.

If the person is not a dependant for tax purposes, for example an adult child, then there might be tax to pay.

Recruiting new employees? The 1 November superannuation rule changes

When your business hires a new employee, the Choice of Fund form is used to identify where they want their superannuation to be directed. If the employee does not identify a fund, generally the employer directs their superannuation into a default fund.

From 1 November 2021, where an employee does not identify a fund, the employer is required to contact the ATO and request details of the employee’s existing superannuation fund or ‘stapled’ fund (the fund stapled to them). The request is made through the ATO’s online services through the ‘Employee Commencement Form’.

If the ATO confirms no other fund exists for the employee, contributions can be directed to the employer’s default fund or a fund specified under a workplace determination or an enterprise agreement (if the determination was made before 1 January 2021).

Note: The material and contents provided in this publication are informative in nature only.  It is not intended to be advice and you should not act specifically on the basis of this information alone.  If expert assistance is required, professional advice should be obtained.



If Santa was an Australian tax resident
December 19, 2021, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

A lighter look at the complexity of Australian taxation laws and the year that has been.

Dear Mr Claus,

Thank you for the opportunity to provide strategic business, tax and compliance advice for your operation. We’re pleased you have initiated this advice as the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has instigated a number or reviews that may impact on your operations and your team, and its relationship to contractors. Some of these issues have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

We have identified a number of areas of concern as a starting point for further discussions.  These include:

Western Australia border closures and ‘elf’ contractors

We understand that the hard border closure in Western Australia has created a series of logistical challenges for your delivery schedule. The very specific timing and nature of the gift delivery mean that, while existing vaccinated team members can enter Western Australia on a G2G pass, it is not possible to fulfil the 14 day quarantine requirements. To manage the Christmas Eve requirements, you have instigated a relationship with a local contractor.

We have several concerns about this relationship. Leaving aside our capacity to verify the existence of the elf in question, the elf appears to be an individual and not operating as a logistics specialist – no ABN is on record. Based on the information you have provided to us it appears that the elf is likely to be considered an employee of yours regardless of what your performance contract specifies. As such, you will be liable for superannuation guarantee and tax will need to be withheld from any payment to them. We refer you to the ATO’s contractor checklist.

The nature of the payment to the elf is also of concern. “Goodwill to all men” is an intangible asset and as such, we may need to bring in a specialist valuer. This asset has been a globally scare commodity over the last few years and while supply has improved dramatically since January 2021 and spikes in December each year, the normalised value is likely to be significant.

Business structure viability

The fact that you run a global enterprise that generates no income or profit but ‘gifts’ millions of toys each year produced by your offshore factory, has significant brand value, is represented extensively in merchandise, your spokespeople are employed by shopping centres all around the world, but you have never lodged a tax return or paid tax in Australia, is likely to trigger an ATO investigation. There is also a risk that the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce might become involved.

As discussed, we do not believe that the “it’s magic” argument will suffice in the event of an investigation. The argument has been tested previously with the ATO to no avail.

Your enterprise’s lack of structure also means that you are missing out on significant benefits. For example, tax deductions might be available for expenses you incur. A number of significant changes were made in recent years enabling businesses to immediately deduct the cost of assets used to produce income.

Expenses incurred

Your flying reindeers are likely to be considered beasts of burden and as such can be depreciated as plant. However, a deduction is only available to the extent that the reindeer are used to produce income that is taxable in Australia.

At present, you do not make any claim for expenses incurred during your Christmas Eve deliveries. While we understand food – cookies, reindeer food, glasses of milk and the occasional tipple of scotch – is provided free by the world’s children, there are likely to be other expenses that you incur. The cost of your uniform, dry-cleaning (removing chimney soot), and postage, to name a few. 

Research & Development

We understand that the ‘flying sleigh’ was developed in your workshop and the technology has developed markedly over the years. In addition, your purpose built ‘naughty or nice’ technology system is unique (we note our concerns about potential privacy breaches and a lack of an opt in/opt out system; I know you have been watching the detrimental brand impact on several social media outlets). If incorporated, there is a potential to access the R&D tax incentive that provides entities with a turnover of less than $20m a refundable tax credit of your corporate tax rate plus 18.5%. The value of the tax offset is lower for companies with a turnover of $20m or more.

The technology developed in your workshop, if patented and commercialised, could revolutionise logistics and put a whole new meaning to same day delivery. We are certain that Australia Post in particular, would be very interested in entering into discussions with you.

Global taxation

There have been significant shifts over recent years to ensure that multinational enterprises pay tax in the country where they generate their income. The increase of digitalisation has only exacerbated the issue. While not earning an income, your enterprise operates globally with a workshop located in the North Pole and delivers to clients across the globe.

Representation in a particular country may also be enough to make your operation subject to local tax laws. You appear to have local agents – several thousand Santa representatives – with authority to operate on your behalf in shopping centres across Australia. These agents commit the operation with the promise of toys to millions of children. A local agent acting with authority may expose you to local tax laws. This is an issue that may extend well beyond Australia and requires urgent assessment.

As discussed, there are currently no provisions within Australian tax law to allow the Commissioner the discretion to ignore your tax liabilities as a goodwill gesture. Please contact us urgently regarding these issues.

Thank you.

The top Christmas tax questions

Every year, we are asked about the tax impact of various Christmas or holiday related gestures. Here are our top issues:

Staff gifts

The key to Christmas presents for your team is to keep the gift spontaneous, ad hoc, and from a tax perspective, below $300 per person. $300 is the minor benefit threshold for Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) so anything at or above this level will mean that your Christmas generosity will result in a gift to the Tax Office as well. To qualify as a minor benefit, the gifts also have to be ad hoc (no ongoing gym membership payments or giving the same person regular gift vouchers amounting to $300 or more).

A question we often get is what is the tax impact if you give your team say a hamper and a gift card? The good news is that the tax rules treat each item (the hamper and the gift card) separately. FBT won’t necessarily apply as long as the value of each item is less than $300. However, the minor benefits exemption is a bit more complex than this. For example, you need to look at the total value of similar benefits provided to the employee across the FBT year etc.

If you are planning to provide your team with a cash bonus rather than a gift voucher or other item of property, then this will be taxed in much the same way as salary and wages.  A cash bonus at Christmas is not a gift; it’s still income for the employee regardless of the intent. A PAYG withholding obligation will be triggered and the ATO’s view is that the bonus will also be treated as ordinary time earnings which means that it will be subject to the superannuation guarantee provisions unless it relates solely to overtime that was worked by the employee.

The staff Christmas Party

If you really want to avoid tax on your work Christmas party then host it in your office on a work day (COVID rules allowing!). This way, Fringe Benefits Tax is unlikely to apply regardless of how much you spend per person.  Also, taxi travel that starts or finishes at an employee’s place of work is also exempt from FBT.  So, if you have a few team members that need to be loaded into a taxi after overindulging in Christmas cheer, the ride home is exempt from FBT.

If your work Christmas party is out of the office, keep the cost of your celebrations below $300 per person. This way, you won’t generally pay FBT because anything below $300 per person is a minor benefit and exempt.

If the party is not held on your business premises, then the taxi travel is taken to be a separate benefit from the party itself and any Christmas gifts you have provided. In theory, this means that if the cost of each item per person is below $300 then the gift, party and taxi travel can all be FBT free.  However, the total cost of all benefits provided to the employees needs to be considered in determining whether the benefits are minor.

The trade-off to this is that if the costs associated with hosting the party are not subject to FBT then it would be difficult to claim a tax deduction or GST credits for the expenses.

If your business hosts slightly more extravagant parties and goes above the $300 per person minor benefit limit, you will generally pay FBT but you can also claim a tax deduction and GST credits for the cost of the event.

Client gifts

Few of us have that much time in the diary for pre-Christmas entertainment so why not give a gift instead?  In addition to a few extra hours saved and a lot less calories to work-off (most of us are still struggling post lock down), there is also a tax benefit.  As long as the gift you give to the client is given for relationship building with the expectation that the client will keep giving you work (that is, there is a link between the gift and revenue generation), then the gift is generally tax deductible as long as it doesn’t involve entertainment.

Entertaining your clients at Christmas is not tax deductible. If you take them out to a nice restaurant, to a show, or any other form of entertainment, then you can’t claim it as a deductible business expense and you can’t claim the GST credits either.  It’s goodwill to all men but not much more.

Charitable gift giving

The safest way to ensure that you or your business can claim a deduction for the full amount of the donation is to give cash to an organisation that is classified as a deductible gift recipient (DGR). And, the charities love it as they don’t have to spend any of their precious resources to receive it. 

There are a few rules that make the difference between whether you will or won’t receive a tax deduction. 

  • The charity must be a DGR. You can find the list of DGRs on the Australian Business Register.
  • If you buy any form of merchandise for the ‘donation’ – biscuits, teddies, balls or you buy something at an auction – then it’s generally not deductible (the rules become more complex in this area).  Your donation needs to be a gift, not an exchange for something material.  Buying a goat or funding a child’s education in the third world is generally ok because you are generally donating an amount equivalent to the cause rather than directly funding that thing.
  • The tax deduction for charitable giving over $2 goes to the person or entity whose name is on the receipt. 

If your business is making a donation on behalf of someone else, such as a client or that friend ‘who has everything’, it will depend on how the donation is structured. The tax rules generally ensure that the deduction is available to the individual or entity who actually makes the gift or contribution. Having receipts issued in someone else’s name can make this more complex.

Quote of the month

“You can’t change conditions. Just the way you deal with them.”

Jessica Watson, sailor

The ‘Backpacker Tax’ and the High Court

The High Court has ruled that the ‘backpacker tax’ is discriminatory. We look at the impact.

Since 2017, the ‘backpacker tax’ has taxed the first dollar of income a backpacker earns in Australia – regardless of their residency status – at the working holiday maker tax rate of 15% up to:

  • $37,000 in an income year for 2019-20 and earlier income years
  • $45,000 for 2020–21 and later income years.

When the tax was introduced in 2017, a backpacker would pay a maximum of $5,500 in tax on the first $37,000 of income. However, an Australian national performing the same work would have a maximum tax liability of $3,572.

In this case, Catherine Addy, a UK national working in Australia since 2015, contested her 2017 amended income tax assessment which imposed the backpacker tax on the grounds that it contravened the Double Tax Agreement (DTA) with the United Kingdom. Article 25(1) of the DTA seeks to ensure that nationals of the UK are not subject to “other or more burdensome” taxation than is imposed on Australian nationals “in the same circumstances, in particular with respect to residence”. Ms Addy was a tax resident of Australia.

The ATO did not accept Ms Addy’s argument and she launched action in the Federal Court. The Federal Court initially upheld the Tax Commissioner’s position. However, Ms Addy appealed the decision and the High Court overturned the Federal Court’s decision. The question for the Court was whether a more burdensome tax was imposed on Ms Addy owing to her nationality. The short answer was “yes”.

The High Court decision found that the backpacker tax is inconsistent with the non-discrimination clause in the UK DTA. That is, the flat working holiday maker tax rate is not valid in some situations. Non-discrimination clauses that are similar to the one in the UK DTA can also be found in the DTAs with Chile, Finland, Japan, Norway, Turkey, Germany and Israel.

So, what does this mean?

Some individuals who have been taxed under the backpacker tax rules may be able to obtain a tax refund from the ATO. However, there are a couple of key points to bear in mind:

  • The decision only impacts those classified as an Australian tax resident. Many individuals who are living or working in Australia on a working holiday visa will be classified as non-residents, in which case this decision will be less relevant.
  • The decision is only likely to be relevant to individuals who are a citizen/national of a country that has a DTA with Australia containing a non-discrimination clause similar to the clause found in the UK DTA.

2022: The year ahead

2021 was to be the year we returned to a post-COVID normal however the pandemic has fundamentally changed the way many of us operate in our personal and work lives. Here is some of what we can expect in 2022:

Federal Election

The Federal election will be held between March and May 2022. Annoying text messages, robo messages and advertising are on their way!

Federal Budget in March

The timing of the election will bring the Federal Budget forward to March 2022. It’s an election year; expect many of the productivity based tax concessions to be extended.

Lock-in digital gains

McKinsey & Company reports that consumer digital adoption rates accelerated dramatically during the pandemic.

  • Many sectors will lock in the digital gains they made. Some, however, will see a decline in digital sales as consumers are no longer forced to shop online – groceries for example.
  • To lock in the gains of digitalisation, consumers expect trust, end-to-end digital service (from start to after sales service), and an improved online experience.
  • Forced online adoption has changed the consumption habits of an older and wealthier portion of the market. The average age of online users in the McKinsey Global Sentiment Survey increased by around 3 years and spend around 4% more.
  • Coming off a lower base, developing nations have experienced a much higher growth in digital adoption than developed nations; evening out global access.

Going green

Business and consumers will be expected to be mindful of their carbon footprint. A wasteful process is likely to diminish consumer appeal.

Note: The material and contents provided in this publication are informative in nature only.  It is not intended to be advice and you should not act specifically on the basis of this information alone.  If expert assistance is required, professional advice should be obtained.



How to set up your Director ID
November 11, 2021, 12:14 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Directors are now required to register for a unique identification number that they will keep for life.

What is a director ID?

A director ID is a 15 digit identification number that, once issued, will remain with that director for life regardless of whether they stop being a director, change companies, change their name, or move overseas.

The introduction of the Director Identification Number (DIN) is part of the Government’s Modernisation of Business Registers (MBR) Program creating greater transparency, and preventing the potential for fraud and phoenix company activity. The MBR will unify the Australian Business Register and 31 ASIC business registers, including the register of companies. In effect, the system will create one source of truth across Government agencies for individuals and entities and will be managed by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

For those concerned about their privacy, the director ID will not be searchable by the public and will not be disclosed without the consent of the Director.

Who needs a director ID?

All directors of a company, registered Australian body, registered foreign company or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation will need a director ID. This includes directors of a corporate trustee of self-managed super funds (SMSF).

You do not need a director ID if you are running a business as a sole trader or partnership, or you are a director in your job title but have not been appointed as a director under the Corporations Act or Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act (CATSI).

The company secretary or officeholder should keep a register of the IDs of their directors in a secure place – director IDs are governed by the same privacy rules that apply to Tax File Numbers (TFNs) and should not be disclosed unless required.

Timeframes for registration

For Corporation Act directors:

Date you become a directorDate you must apply
On or before 31 October 2021By 30 November 2022
Between 1 November 2021 and 4 April 2022Within 28 days of appointment
From 5 April 2022Before appointment

For CATSI directors:

Date you become a directorDate you must apply
On or before 31 October 2022By 30 November 2023
From 1 November 2022Before appointment

If the company intends to appoint new directors, it will be important to ensure that they are aware of the requirements and timeframes to establish their director ID if they do not already have one.

How to set up a director ID

If you are an Australian resident director, you will need to complete a number of steps and have a number of identification documents available and ready (for non-resident directors see Foreign directors and the director ID system below).

1 Verify your identify

If you establish your director ID online, and you have not already set up myGovID, you will need to download the app onto your phone or device and create an account.

The myGovID does not create your director ID –  the app’s only purpose is to validate your identity, and once validated, issue a code that can be used to identify you on government online services without going through the same verification process.

myGovID uses your phone/device’s camera to scan your forms of ID such as your passport, driver’s license and/ or VISA (check the documentation requirements here), to validate who you say you are. Be careful when you are scanning your documentation as the system does not always read the scan correctly.

2 Apply for your director ID through Australian Business Registry Services

Once you have set up your myGovID, you need to apply to the Australian Business Registry Services (ABRS) for your director ID. Use the email you used to create your myGovID to start the process.

In addition to your myGovID, you will need to have on hand documentation that matches the information held by the ATO. If you have a myGov account linked to the ATO, you can find the details on your profile. You will need:

  • Your tax file number
  • The residential address held on file by the ATO; and
  • Two documents that verify your identify such as:
    • Your bank account details held by the ATO (on your myGov ATO account, see ‘my profile/financial institution details’).
    • Dividend statement investment reference number
    • Notice of assessment (NOA) – date of issue and the reference number (on your myGov ATO account, see Tax/lodgements/income tax/history).
    • The gross amount from your PAYG payment summary
    • Superannuation details including your super fund’s ABN and your member account number

The final stage requests your personal contact details (not the company’s).

Once complete, your director ID will be issued immediately on screen. This information should be provided to your company secretary or office holder.

If any of your details change, for example a change of residential address or phone number, you will need to update your details through the ABR. You will also need to notify your company within seven days (14 days for CATSI Act directors) and the company will then need to notify the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) within 28 days.

Applying by phone or using paper forms

You can choose to verify your identify and apply for your director ID by phone (13 62 50) or on paper. You will need to have your identification documents available. If you are applying using the paper form, your identify documentation will need to be certified by an authorised certifier such as a Barrister, Justice of the Peace etc.

Foreign directors and the director ID system

Foreign directors of Australian companies have the same requirements and deadlines as Australian resident directors, however, the verification process is only accessible in paper form.

One primary and two secondary forms of identification are required to accompany the application that have been certified by a notary publics or by staff at the nearest Australian embassy, high commission or consulate, including consulates headed by Austrade honorary consuls. Primary forms of identification include a birth certificate or passport, and secondary include driver’s licence, foreign government identifier, or national photo identification card.

In the presence of the applicant, the authorised certifier must certify that each copy is a true and correct copy of the original document by sighting the original document, stamping, signing and annotating the copy of the identity document to state, ‘I have sighted the original document and certify this to be a true and correct copy of the original document sighted’. initialling each page listing their name, date of certification, phone number and position.

The form and the accompanying documents will need to be sent by mail to Australian Business Registry Services using the details provided.

Directors in name only

It’s important that anyone agreeing to be a director understands the implications. Being a director is not just a title; it is a responsibility. At a financial level, directors are responsible for ensuring that the company does not trade while insolvent. The by-product of this is that the directors may be held personally liable for the debt incurred. The director penalty regime has also tightened up in recent years to ensure that directors are personally liable for PAYG withholding, net GST, and superannuation guarantee charge liabilities if the company fails to meet its obligations by the due date. For many small businesses, the directors are also often personally responsible for company loans secured against property such as the family home.

Failing to perform your duties as a director is a criminal offence with fines of up to $200,000 and five years in prison.

Ignorance is not a legal defence. Don’t sign anything unless you understand the consequences.

Note: The material and contents provided in this publication are informative in nature only.  It is not intended to be advice and you should not act specifically on the basis of this information alone.  If expert assistance is required, professional advice should be obtained.



Federal Budget 2021-22
May 12, 2021, 8:25 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

The information contained herein is provided on the understanding that it neither represents nor is intended to be advice or that the authors or distributor is engaged in rendering legal or professional advice. Whilst every care has been taken in its preparation no person should act specifically on the basis of the material contained herein. If assistance is required, professional advice should be obtained.

The material contained in the Budget 2021-22 Update should be used as a guide in conjunction with professional expertise and judgement.  All responsibility for applications of the Budget 2021-22 Update and for the direct or indirect consequences of decisions based on the Budget 2021-22 Update rests with the user. Knowledge Shop Pty Ltd, Hayes Knight, its directors and authors or any other person involved in the preparation and distribution of this guide, expressly disclaim all and any contractual, tortious or other form of liability to any person in respect of the Budget 2021-22 Update and any consequences arising from its use by any person in reliance upon the whole or any part of the contents of this guide.

Copyright © Knowledge Shop Pty Ltd. 12 May 2021

All rights reserved. No part of the Budget 2021-22 Budget should be reproduced or utilised in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by information storage or retrieval system, other than specified without written permission from Knowledge Shop Pty Ltd.

For You & Your Family

Low and middle income tax offset extended

Date of effectFrom 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022

As widely predicted, the Low and Middle Income Tax Offset (LMITO) will be extended for another year. The LMITO provides a reduction in tax of up to $1,080 for individuals with a taxable income of up to $126,000 and will be retained for the 2021-22 year.

Taxable incomeOffset
$37,000 or less$255
Between $37,001 and $48,000$255 plus 7.5 cents for every dollar above $37,000, up to a maximum of $1,080
Between $48,001 and $90,000$1,080
Between $90,001 and $126,000$1,080 minus 3 cents for every dollar of the amount above $90,000

The tax offset is triggered when a taxpayer lodges their tax return.

Medicare levy low income threshold

Date of effect1 July 2020

The Government will increase the Medicare levy low-income thresholds for singles, families, and seniors and pensioners from 1 July 2020 to take account of recent movements in the CPI so that low-income taxpayers generally continue to be exempt from paying the Medicare levy.

 2019-202020-21
Singles$22,801$23,226
Family threshold$38,474$39,167
Single seniors and pensioners$36,056$36,705
Family threshold for seniors and pensioners$50,191$51,094

For each dependent child or student, the family income thresholds increase by a further $3,597 instead of the previous amount of $3,533.

$250 self-education expense reduction removed

Date of effectFirst income year after the date of Royal Assent of the enabling legislation

Currently, individuals claiming a deduction for self-education expenses sometimes need to reduce the deductible amount by up to $250. The rules in this area are complex as they only apply to self-education expenses that fall within a specific category and certain non-deductible expenses can be offset against the $250 reduction. This reduction will be removed, which should make it easier for individuals to calculate their self-education deductions.

Child care subsidy increase for families with multiple children under 5 in child care

Previously announced

Date of effect1 July 2022

From 1 July 2022 the Government will:

  • Increase child care subsidies available to families with more than one child aged five and under in child care, and
  • Remove the $10,560 cap on the Child Care Subsidy.

For those families with more than one child in child care, the level of subsidy received will increase by 30% to a maximum subsidy of 95% of fees paid for their second and subsequent children (tapered by income and hours of care).

Under the current system, the maximum child care subsidy payable is 85% of child care fees and it applies at the same rate per child, regardless of how many children a family may have in care.

Why? In October 2020, analysis by the Grattan Institute revealed that mothers lose 80%, 90% and even 100% of their take-home pay from working a fourth or fifth day after the additional childcare costs, clawback of the childcare subsidy, and tax and benefit changes are factored in.

“Unsurprisingly, not many find the option of working for free or close to it particularly attractive. The “1.5 earner” model has become the norm in Australia. And our rates of part-time work for women are third-highest in the OECD.

Childcare costs are the biggest contributor to these “workforce disincentives“. The maximum subsidy is not high enough for low-income families, and the steep taper and annual cap limit incentives to work beyond three days, across the income spectrum,” the report said.

4   Media release – Making child care more affordable and boosting workforce participation

Underwriting home ownership

Previously announced

The Government has announced new and expanded programs to assist Australians to buy a home.

2% deposit home loans for single parents

Date of effect1 July 2021

The Government will guarantee 10,000 single parents with dependants to enable them to access a home loan with a deposit as low as 2% under the Family Home Guarantee. Similar to the first home loan deposit scheme, the program will guarantee the additional 18% normally required for a deposit without lenders mortgage insurance.

The Family Home Guarantee is aimed at single parents with dependants, regardless of whether that single parent is a first home buyer or previous owner-occupier. Applicants must be Australian citizens, at least 18 years of age and have an annual taxable income of no more than $125,000.

4   Media release – Update from the Australian Government: Family Home Guarantee

4   Media release – Improving opportunities for home ownership

5% deposit home loans for first home buyers building new homes

Date of effect1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022

The First Home Loan Deposit Scheme will be extended by another 10,000 places from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022. Eligible first home buyers can build a new home with a deposit of as little as 5% (lenders criteria apply). The Government guarantees a participating lender up to 15% of the value of the property purchased that is financed by an eligible first home buyer’s home loan. Twenty seven participating lenders offer places under the scheme.

Under the scheme, first home buyers can build or purchase a new home, including newly-constructed dwellings, off-the-plan dwellings, house and land packages, land and a separate contract to build a new home, and can be used in conjunction with other schemes and concessions for first home buyers. Conditions and timeframes apply.

4   Media release – Update from the Australian Government: Family Home Guarantee

4   Media release – Improving opportunities for home ownership

4   FHLDS eligibility

First home saver scheme cap increase

Date of effectStart of the first financial year after Royal Assent of the enabling legislation Expected to be 1 July 2022

The first home super saver (FHSS) scheme allows you to save money for your first home inside your super fund, enabling you to save faster by accessing the concessional tax treatment of superannuation. You can make voluntary concessional (before-tax) and voluntary non-concessional (after-tax) contributions into your super fund and then apply to release those funds.

Currently under the scheme, participants can release up to $15,000 of the voluntary contributions (and earnings) they have made in a financial year up to a total of $30,000 across all years.

The Government has announced that the current maximum releasable amount of $30,000 will increase to $50,000.

The voluntary contributions made to superannuation are assessed under the applicable contribution caps; there is no separate cap for these amounts.

Amounts withdrawn will be taxed at marginal rates less a 30% offset. Non-concessional contributions made to the FHSS are not taxed.

To be eligible for the scheme, you must be 18 years of age or over, never owned property in Australia, and have not previously applied to release superannuation amounts under the scheme. Eligibility is assessed on an individual basis. This means that couples, siblings or friends can each access their own eligible FHSS contributions to purchase the same property.

4   Media release – Improving opportunities for home ownership

JobTrainer extended

The Government has committed an additional $500 million to extend the JobTrainer Fund by a further 163,000 places and extend the program until 31 December 2022.  JobTrainer is matched by state and territory governments and provides job seekers, school leavers and young people access to free or low-fee training places in areas of skills shortages.

Full tax exemption for ADF personnel – operation Paladin

Date of effect1 July 2020

The Government will provide a full income tax exemption for the pay and allowances of Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel deployed to Operation Paladin. Operation Paladin is Australia’s contribution to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation, with ADF personnel deployed in Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt.

Your superannuation

Work test repealed for voluntary superannuation contributions

Date of effectThe first financial year after Royal Assent of the enabling legislation Expected to be 1 July 2022

Individuals aged 67 to 74 years will be able to make or receive non-concessional or salary sacrifice superannuation contributions without meeting the work test. The contributions are subject to existing contribution caps and include contributions under the bring-forward rule.

Currently, the ‘work test’ requires individuals aged 67 to 74 years to work at least 40 hours over a 30 day period in a financial year to be able to make voluntary contributions (both concessional and non-concessional) to their superannuation, or receive contributions from their spouse.

Personal concessional contributions will remain subject to the ‘work test’ for those aged between 67-74.

Expanded access to ‘downsizer’ contributions from sale of family home

Date of effectThe first financial year after Royal Assent of the enabling legislation Expected to be 1 July 2022

The eligibility age to access downsizer contributions will decrease from 65 years of age to 60.

Currently, downsizer contributions enable those over the age of 65 to contribute $300,000 from the proceeds of selling their home to their superannuation fund. These contributions are excluded from the existing age test, work test and the $1.7 million transfer balance threshold (but will not be exempt from your transfer balance cap).

Both members of a couple can take advantage of the concession for the same home. That is, if a couple have joint ownership of a property and meet the other criteria, both people can contribute up to $300,000 ($600,000 per couple).

Downsizer contributions apply to sales of a principal residence owned for the past ten or more years.

Sale proceeds contributed to superannuation under this measure will count towards the Age Pension assets test.

SMSF residency tests relaxed

Date of effectThe first financial year after Royal Assent of the enabling legislation Expected to be 1 July 2022

The residency rules for Self Managed Superannuation Funds (SMSFs) and small APRA regulated funds (SAFs) will be relaxed by extending the central control and management test safe harbour from two to five years for SMSFs, and removing the active member test for both fund types.

This change will enable SMSF and SAF members to contribute to their super while temporarily overseas, (as members of large APRA-regulated funds can do).

An SMSF must be considered an Australian Superannuation Fund in order to be a complying superannuation fund and receive tax concessions. If a super fund fails to meet the definition of an Australian Superannuation Fund then it is likely to become a non-complying, if this occurs the fund’s assets and income are taxed at the highest marginal tax rate.

This measure will enable SMSF and SAF members to keep and continue to contribute to their fund while predominantly undertaking overseas work and education opportunities.

SMSF legacy product conversions

Date of effectThe first financial year after Royal Assent of the enabling legislation

Individuals will be able to exit a specified range of legacy retirement products, together with any associated reserves, for a two-year period. This includes market-linked, life-expectancy and lifetime products, but not flexi-pension products or a lifetime product in a large APRA-regulated or public sector defined benefit scheme.

Currently, these products can only be converted into another like product and limits apply to the allocation of any associated reserves without counting towards an individual’s contribution caps.

The measure will permit full access to all of the product’s underlying capital, including any reserves, and allow individuals to potentially shift to more contemporary retirement products.

This will be a voluntary measure and not a mandated requirement for those individuals who hold these legacy accounts.

Social security and taxation treatment will not be grandfathered for any new products commenced with commuted funds and the commuted reserves will be taxed as an assessable contribution.

Early release of super scheme for victims of domestic violence not proceeding

The Government is not proceeding with the measure to extend early release of superannuation to victims of family and domestic violence.

Technical changes to First Home Super Saver Scheme

Technical changes will be made to the First Home Super Saver Scheme to reduce errors and streamline applications. These include:

  • Increasing the discretion of the Commissioner of Taxation to amend and revoke FHSSS applications
  • Allowing individuals to withdraw or amend their applications prior to receiving an FHSSS amount, and allow those who withdraw to re-apply for FHSSS releases in the future
  • Allowing the Commissioner of Taxation to return any released FHSSS money to superannuation funds, provided that the money has not yet been released to the individual
  • Clarifying that the money returned by the Commissioner of Taxation to superannuation funds is treated as funds’ non-assessable non-exempt income and does not count towards the individual’s contribution caps.

Business & employers

Temporary full expensing extension

Date of effectAssets acquired from 7:30pm AEDT on 6 October 2020 and first used or installed ready for use by 30 June 2023

Businesses with an aggregated turnover of less than $5 billion will be able to continue to fully expense the cost of new depreciable assets and the cost of improvements to existing eligible assets in the first year of use. Introduced in the 2020-21 Budget, this measure will enable an asset’s cost to continue to be fully deductible upfront rather than being claimed over the asset’s life, regardless of the cost of the asset. The extension means that the rules can apply to assets that are first used or installed ready for use by 30 June 2023.

Certain expenditure is excluded from this measure, such as improvements to land or buildings that are not treated as plant or as separate depreciating assets in their own right. Expenditure on these improvements would still normally be claimed at 2.5% or 4% per year.

The car limit will continue to place a cap on the deductions that can be claimed for luxury cars.

From 1 July 2023, normal depreciation arrangements will apply and the instant asset write-off threshold for small businesses with turnover of less than $10 million will revert back to $1,000.

Second-hand assets

For businesses with an aggregated turnover under $50 million, full expensing also applies to second-hand assets.

Small business pooling

Small business entities (with aggregated annual turnover of less than $10 million) using the simplified depreciation rules can deduct the full balance of their simplified depreciation pool at the end of the income year while full expensing applies. The provisions which prevent small businesses from re-entering the simplified depreciation regime for five years if they voluntarily leave the system will presumably continue to be suspended.

Opt-out rules

Taxpayers can choose not to apply the temporary full expensing rules to specific assets, although this choice is not currently available to small business entities that choose to apply the simplified depreciation rules for the relevant income year.

Temporary loss-carry back extension

Date of effectLosses from the 2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22 or 2022-23 income years

Companies with an aggregated turnover of less than $5 billion will be able to carry back losses from the 2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23 income years to offset previously taxed profits in the 2018-19, 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 income years.

Under this measure tax losses can be applied against taxed profits in a previous year, generating a refundable tax offset in the year in which the loss is made. The amount carried back can be no more than the earlier taxed profits, limiting the refund by the company’s tax liabilities in the profit years. Further, the carry back cannot generate a franking account deficit meaning that the refund is further limited by the company’s franking account balance.

The tax refund will be available on election by eligible businesses when they lodge their 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23 tax returns.

Before the measure was introduced in the 2020-21 Budget, companies were required to carry losses forward to offset profits in future years. Companies that do not elect to carry back losses can still carry losses forward as normal.

This measure will interact with the Government’s announcement to extend full expensing of investments in depreciating assets for another year. The new investment will generate significant tax losses in some cases which can then be carried back to generate cash refunds for eligible companies.

Residency tests rewrite

Date of effectThe first income year after the date of Royal Assent of the enabling legislation.

Determining whether an individual is a resident of Australia for tax purposes can be complex. The current residency tests for tax purposes can create uncertainty and are often subject to legal action.

The Government will replace the individual tax residency rules with a new, modernised framework. The primary test will be a simple ‘bright line’ test – a person who is physically present in Australia for 183 days or more in any income year will be an Australian tax resident. Individuals who do not meet the primary test will be subject to secondary tests that depend on a combination of physical presence and measurable, objective criteria.

The modernisation of the residency framework is based on the Board of Taxation’s 2019 report Reforming individual tax residency rules – a model for modernisation.

Employee share scheme simplification

Date of effectESS interests issued from the first income year after Royal Assent of the enabling legislation

Employee share schemes provide an opportunity for employers to offer employees a stake in the growth of the company by issuing interests such as shares, rights (including options) or other financial products to their employees, usually at a discount.

The Government has moved to simplify employee share schemes and make them more attractive by removing the cessation of employment taxing point for tax-deferred Employee Share Schemes (ESS). Currently, when an employee receives shares or options that are subject to deferred taxation the taxing point is triggered when they cease employment with the company, even if they could still lose the shares or options in future or have not yet exercised the options they have received.

This will mean that under a tax-deferred ESS, where certain criteria are met, employees may continue to defer the taxing point even if they are no longer employed by the company. In broad terms, following this change the deferred taxing point will be the earliest of:

  • in the case of shares, when there is no risk of forfeiture and no restrictions on disposal
  • in the case of options, when the employee exercises the option and there is no risk of forfeiting the resulting shares and no restriction on disposal
  • the maximum period of deferral of 15 years.

Regulatory changes will also be made to reduce red tape where employers do not charge or lend

to the employees to whom they offer ESS. Where employers do charge or lend, streamlining requirements will apply for unlisted companies making ESS offers that are valued at up to $30,000 per employee per year.

4   Fact sheet – Tax incentives to support the recovery

$450 per month threshold for super guarantee eligibility removed

Date of effectThe first financial year after Royal Assent of the enabling legislation Expected to be 1 July 2022

Currently, employees need to earn $450 per month to be eligible to be paid the superannuation guarantee. This threshold will be removed so all employees will be paid super guarantee regardless of their income earned.

The Retirement Income Review estimated that around 300,000 individuals would receive additional superannuation guarantee payments each month once the threshold is removed.

Medical and biotech ‘patent box’ tax regime

Date of effect1 July 2022

Income derived from Australian medical and biotechnology patents will be taxed at a concessional effective corporate tax rate of 17% from 1 July 2022 under a new $206m ‘patent box’ tax regime.

Only granted patents, which were applied for after the Budget announcement, will be eligible and development will need to be domestic. That is, the patent box rewards companies to keep their IP within Australia. The preferential tax rate applies to income due to the patent and not from manufacturing, branding or other attributes.

The patent box concept is new to Australia but exists in twenty or so other countries including the UK and France. The Government will follow the OECD’s guidelines on patent boxes to ensure the patent box meets internationally accepted standards, and will consult with the industry on the design.

If effective, this same concept may also be applied to the clean energy sector.

4   Fact sheet – Tax incentives to support the recovery

Tax & investment incentives for the digital economy

Previously announced

As part of its Digital Economy Strategy package, the Government has committed to new and expanded funding to invest in the growth of digital industries and the adoption of digital technologies by small business.

Investment and tax incentives

The Government has committed to a series of tax incentives to support digital technologies:

Digital games tax offset

A 30% refundable tax offset for eligible businesses that spend a minimum of $500,000 on qualifying Australian games expenditure. The Digital Games Tax Offset will be available from 1 July 2022 to Australian resident companies or foreign resident companies with a permanent establishment in Australia. Industry consultation will commence in mid 2021 to establish the eligibility criteria and definition of qualifying expenditure.

Self-assessment of the effective life of certain intangible assets

The income tax laws will be amended to allow taxpayers to self-assess the effective life of certain intangible assets, rather than being required to use the effective life currently prescribed by statute. The measure applies to assets acquired from 1 July 2023 (after the temporary full expensing regime has concluded) including patents, registered designs, copyrights and in-house software for tax purposes. Taxpayers will be able to bring deductions forward if they self-assess the assets as having a shorter effective life to the statutory life.

Review of venture capital tax incentives

The effectiveness of the existing range of tax incentives designed to attract foreign investment and encourage venture capitalists to invest in early-stage Australian companies will be reviewed to ensure they are producing the intended results. This is code for the Government doesn’t think the money invested is achieving a genuine result and changes are likely to be recommended.

4   Australia’s digital economy – investment incentives fact sheet

4   Media release – A modern digital economy to secure Australia’s future

Emerging aviation technologies

The Government has committed $35.7m to support emerging aviation technologies, the bulk of which is committed to the Emerging Aviation Technology Partnerships (EATP) program. Partnering with industry, the program is focussed on:

  • growing manufacturing jobs in electric aviation
  • connecting regional communities
  • digital farming
  • boosting regional supply chains
  • improving health outcomes for remote Indigenous communities.

and is expected to include electric engines, drones and electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft.

Applications for EATP partners will be sought from local and international industry through a competitive application process in late 2021.

Artificial intelligence development

A package of measures to oversee and develop Australia’s use and integration of artificial intelligence (AI) including:

National AI centre

A new national AI centre to create the foundation for Australia’s AI and digital ecosystem within the CSIRO’s Data61. The centre will support projects that lift AI capability, provide a “front door” or SMEs looking for talent, and provide a central coordination for strategically aligned AI projects. Four Digital Capability Centres will be appointed through a competitive process focussing on specific applications of AI, such as robotics or AI assisted manufacturing. These Centres will provide SMEs with connections to AI equipment, tools and research, access to advice and training to help SMEs confidently adopt AI technologies, and links with the required AI expertise to identify business needs and connect them to leading researchers.

AI grant funding

Two grant funding programs (one national and one specifically for regional initiatives) for business to pilot AI projects that address key national challenges. Grantees will retain the intellectual property of their solution.

4   Media release – A modern digital economy to secure Australia’s future

4   Artificial intelligence

Expansion of small business digital support services

The Government has committed to:

  • A further $12.7m for the Digital Solutions  – Australian Small Business Advisory Services Program that provides small businesses with access to digital solutions advisers to work with them to expand their use of digital technology. The Digital Solutions Program will pilot a program for the not-for-profit sector.
  • $15.3 m has been dedicated to drive electronic invoicing through the business community by working with payment providers, supply chain pilots, and education campaigns (E-invoicing will be mandatory for Government by July 2022). No direct incentives for adoption.

4   Media release – A modern digital economy to secure Australia’s future

4   SME Digitalisation

Investments in new technologies to reduce emissions

Previously announced

Date of effectFrom 2021-22

The Government will provide $1.6 billion over ten years from 2021-22 (including $761.9 million over four years from 2021-22) to incentivise private investment in technologies identified in the Government’s Technology Investment Roadmap and Low Emissions Technology Statements. Funding includes:

  • Creation of a technology co-investment facility that supports the development of regional hydrogen hubs, carbon capture, use and storage technologies, very low cost soil carbon measurement and new agricultural feed technologies, a high-integrity carbon offset scheme in the Indo-Pacific region, and support the implementation of the Technology Investment Roadmap and Low Emissions Technology Statements
  • Establish the below baseline crediting mechanism recommended by the King Review and help realise abatement opportunities in large industrial facilities
  • Support for Australian businesses and supply chains to reduce their energy costs and improve productivity through the uptake of more energy efficient industrial equipment and business practices
  • Early stage seed capital financing function within the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

4   Media Release – Jobs Boost From New Emissions Reduction Projects

4   Media Release – Cutting Emissions And Creating Jobs With International Partnerships

Tax residency rules for trusts and limited partnerships

In the 2020-21 Budget, the Government announced that the corporate tax residency rules would be amended to address the uncertainty that currently exists when trying to determine the residency status of a company that has been incorporated overseas.

These amendments have not yet been made, but the Government has announced that it will also consult on broadening the scope of the amendments to trusts and corporate limited partnerships as part of the consultation process dealing with the company residency rules.

Junior Minerals exploration tax incentive extended 

The Junior Minerals Exploration Incentive program provides a tax incentive for investment in junior minerals exploration companies raising capital to fund greenfields exploration activity.

Eligible companies are able to create exploration credits by giving up a portion of their tax losses relating to exploration expenditure, which can then be distributed to new investors as a refundable tax offset or a franking credit.

The program has been extended for four years from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2025.

The Government will also make minor legislative amendments to allow unused exploration credits to be redistributed a year earlier than under current settings.

Tax relief for brewers and distillers – annual cap increased to $350k

Previously announced

Date of effect1 July 2021

From 1 July 2021, eligible brewers and distillers will be able to receive a full remission of any excise they pay, up to an annual cap of $350,000. Currently, eligible brewers and distillers are entitled to a refund of 60% of the excise they pay, up to an annual cap of $100,000.


The tax relief will align the benefit available under the Excise Refund Scheme for brewers and distillers with the Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) Producer Rebate.

4   Media release – Tax relief for small brewers and distillers to support jobs

Tax exemption for storm and flood grants for SMEs and primary producers

Date of effectGrants relating to storm and flood events between 19 February and 31 March 2021

Qualifying grants made to primary producers and small businesses affected by the storms and floods will be non-assessable non-exempt income for tax purposes.

Qualifying grants are Category D grants provided under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements 2018, where those grants relate to the storms and floods in Australia that occurred due to rainfall events between 19 February 2021 and 31 March 2021. These include small business recovery grants of up to $50,000 and primary producer recovery grants of up to $75,000.

Student visa holders working in key sectors

Student visa holders will temporarily be able to work more than 40 hours per fortnight in key sectors:

  • – student visa holders will be able to work more than 40 hours per fortnight, as long as they are employed in the tourism or hospitality sectors.
  • – From 5 January 2021, work limitation conditions placed on student visa holders were temporarily lifted to allow these visa holders to work more than 40 hours per fortnight if they are employed in the agriculture sector. The Government has removed the requirement for applicants for the Temporary Activity visa (subclass 408) to demonstrate their attempts to depart Australia if they intend to undertake agricultural work. The period in which a temporary visa holder can apply for the Temporary Activity visa has also been extended from 28 days prior to visa expiry to 90 days prior to visa expiry.

Support for tertiary and international education providers

Date of effectFrom 2021-22

The Government is implementing a series of measures to assist tertiary and international education providers to help mitigate some of the impact of COVID-19. Funding includes:

  • $26.1 million over four years from 2021-22 to assist non-university higher education providers to attract more domestic students through offering 5,000 additional short course places in 2021
  • $9.4 million in 2021-22 to provide grants of up to $150,000 to eligible higher education and English language providers to support innovative online and offshore education delivery models
  • extending existing FEE-HELP loan fee exemption by six months to 31 December 2021

A range of Government fees and regulatory charges have also been either revised or postponed.

Extending supports for the arts sector

Previously announced

The Government will provide $222.9 million over two years from 2020-21 to continue to support the arts sector through the impacts of COVID-19.

Funding includes:

  • Expansion of the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand Fund to provide financial support to support events or productions
  • Extension of the Temporary Interruption Fund for 2021-22
  • A program of support for independent cinemas

Producer Tax Offset rate holds at 40% for 2020-21

The Producer Tax Offset rate will stay at 40% for feature films with a theatrical release. The 2020-21 Budget had intended to reduce the rate to 30%.

Heavy road vehicle charge increase

Date of effect1 July 2021

The Heavy Vehicle Road User Charge will increase from 25.8 cents per litre to 26.4 cents per litre from 1 July 2021.

New avenue for small business to ‘pause’ ATO debt recovery

Previously announced

Date of effectDate of Royal Assent of the enabling legislation

Small businesses with an aggregated turnover of less than $10 million per year will be able to apply to the  Small Business Taxation Division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) to pause or modify ATO debt recovery action until their underlying case is decided.

Currently, small business can only pause ATO debt recovery action in the courts. This new avenue will enable a small business to pause ATO debt recovery until their case has been heard by the AAT.

4   Media release – Making it easier for small business to pause debt recovery action

Early engagement process for foreign businesses

Date of effect1 July 2021

The ATO will introduce a new early engagement service specifically aimed at foreign businesses that are looking to invest in Australia. The service aims to provide confidence to foreign investors on how the Australian tax laws will apply and will be tailored to specific investors. It is envisaged that the ATO’s service will accommodation specific project timeframes and provide access to expedited private rulings.

Automotive R&D tariff concession extended

Date of effect1 April 2021

The automotive research and development tariff concession will be extended for a further four years until 30 June 2025. Companies registered under the Automotive Transformation Scheme Act 2009 as at 31 December 2020 will continue to be able to claim a tariff concession of up to 5% on the value of imports used for automotive research and development in Australia.

183-day test modified for NZ sportspeople and support staff

Date of effect2020-21 and 2021-22 income and FBT years

COVID-19 has meant that a number of New Zealand sportspeople and teams have been based in Australia for an extended period of time. Under the 183 day test in the double tax agreement between Australia and New Zealand, these sportspeople and support staff could be exposed to tax in Australia. The Government will ensure New Zealand maintains its primary taxing right in relation to sporting teams and support staff who are located in Australia for league competitions because of COVID-19.

Further insolvency reforms

The Government has announced that it will further streamline insolvency laws:

  • – Review how trusts (a common vehicle for SME businesses) are treated under insolvency laws.
  • – introduced in 2017, the safe harbour trading provisions provided breathing space for distressed businesses to trade out of debt. These rules will be reviewed to determine if they remain fit for purpose.
  • – introduction of a moratorium on creditor enforcement while schemes are being negotiated.
  • – the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company will increase from $2,000 to $4,000.

4   Media release – Further insolvency reforms to support business dynamism

Additional international information exchange countries

From 1 January 2022, the list of jurisdictions that have an effective information sharing agreement with Australia will be updated to include Armenia, Cabo Verde, Kenya, Mongolia, Montenegro and Oman.

Residents of listed jurisdictions are eligible to access the reduced Managed Investment Trust (MIT) withholding tax rate of 15% on certain distributions, instead of the default rate of 30%.

Education, skills & training

Apprenticeship scheme uncapped

Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements provides a 50% wage subsidy to employers and Group Training Organisations to take on new apprentices and trainees. The measure will  uncap the number of eligible places and increase the duration of the 50% wage subsidy to 12 months from the date an apprentice or trainee commences with their employer.

From 5 October 2020 to 31 March 2022, businesses of any size can claim the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy for new apprentices or trainees who commence during this period. Eligible businesses will be reimbursed up to 50% of an apprentice or trainee’s wages of up to

$7,000 per quarter for 12 months.

4   Media release – Thousands Of New Apprentice And Trainee Jobs

4   Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements

Digital skills training

Previously announced

As part of its Digital Economy Strategy package, the Government has committed to $100m in funding to support digital skills development including:

  • – working with industry, the Government will trial 4 to 6 month cadetships for digital careers comprising formal training with on-the-job learning.
  • – Additional funding for education providers that improve the quality or availability of cyber security professionals in Australia.
  • – a competitive national scholarship program cofounded with universities and industry:
  • the Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Graduates Program to attract and train up to 234 home-grown, job-ready AI specialists through competitive national scholarships
  • the Next Generation Emerging Technology Graduates Program to attract and train up to an additional 234 home-grown, job-ready specialists in other emerging technologies, such as robotics, cyber security, quantum computing, blockchain and data through competitive national scholarships.

4   Media release – A modern digital economy to secure Australia’s future

Government & regulators

New compliance requirements for NFP income tax exemptions

Date of effect1 July 2023

The Government will invest $1.9m for the ATO to build an online system to enhance the transparency of income tax exemptions claimed by not-for-profit entities (NFPs).

Currently non-charitable NFPs can self-assess their eligibility for income tax exemptions, without an obligation to report to the ATO. From 1 July 2023, the ATO will require income tax exempt NFPs with an active Australian Business Number (ABN) to submit online annual self-review forms with the information they ordinarily use to self-assess their eligibility for the exemption. This measure will ensure that only eligible NFPs are accessing income tax exemptions.

Government, the digital economy and digital security

Previously announced

As part of its Digital Economy Strategy package, the Government has committed to invest in the frameworks and infrastructure to strength the security of data, manage consumer rights, and enhance the Government’s interaction.

  • – over $50m has been committed to strengthen the rollout of 5G and 6G mobile networks, develop a National Data Security Action Plan, improve the resilience of Government infrastructure using Cyber Hubs, and $16.4m to improve mobile connectivity in bushfire peri-urban prone areas.
  • – the Government will overhaul myGov – now the primary access point for Government services, and My Health Record – adding support for COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, connecting Residential Aged Care Facilities and connecting specialists in private practice and delivering improved telehealth, emerging virtual healthcare initiatives and digitised support across all stages of healthcare.
  • – $113m to delivering Australia’s first data strategy to bring data management and regulation up to speed with technology, expansion of data rights to energy industry (launched in banking in 2021), and the development of a 3D Australian ‘digital atlas’.

4   Media release – A modern digital economy to secure Australia’s future

4   Cyber security, safety and trust

4   Enhancing Government service delivery

4   Data and the digital economy

$850m to protect and develop farming

Previously released

A package of measures is aimed at protecting and enhancing the farming sector, much of it focussed on biosecurity and stewardship. Specific initiatives relate to African Swine Fever and the Khapra Beetle, but much of the package is in the development of biosecurity diagnostic tools and analytics across multiple contact points – cargo, international mail, air travellers, container cargo.

Measures include:

  • $400.1 million to strengthen biosecurity;
  • $32.1 million to extend opportunities to reward farmers for the stewardship of their land;
  • $29.8 million to grow the agricultural workforce;
  • $15.0 million to improve trade and market access; and
  • $129.8 million to deliver a National Soils Strategy.

4   Media release – Budget securing Australia’s recovery with better deal for farmers

4   Media Release – Biosecurity for a safe Australia and thriving farming sector

Gas fired recovery

The Government has committed to $58.6 million to support key gas infrastructure projects and unlock new gas supply.

COVID-19 vaccine response

The Government will provide $1.9 billion over five years from 2020-21 to distribute and administer COVID-19 vaccines to residents of Australia.

Women’s safety

The Government has committed $998.1 million over four years for initiatives to reduce, and support the victims of Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence (FDSV) against women and children. Initiatives include a new National Partnership with the states and territories to expand the funding of frontline FDSV support

Services, $5,000 grants for women fleeing domestic violence, programs to support refugee and migrant women, programs to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children who have experienced or are experiencing family violence, along with a range of prevention campaigns.

Funding has also been provided for vulnerable women and children accessing the legal system and family support services.

Response to aged care

As previously announced, the Government has committed a $17.7 billion whole-of-government response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety to improve safety and quality and the availability of aged care services. This includes:

  • $6.5 billion will be spent over four years to release 80,000 additional home care packages over two years from 2021-22 – bringing the total number to 275,598 by June 2023.
  • Just under $700 million to improve access and infrastructure
  • $783 million to provide greater access to respite care services and payments to support carers
  • $272.5 million for dedicated face to face support services to navigate the aged care system
  • $365.7 million to support health care within aged care facilities
  • $200 million for a new rating system of aged care providers
  • $3.9 billion to increase front line care
  • $3.2 billion to support aged care providers through a new Government-funded Basic Daily Fee supplement of $10 per resident per day, while continuing the 30% increase in the homelessness and viability supplements
  • $216.7 million to upskill the workforce and enhance nurse leadership and clinical skills through additional nursing scholarships and places in the Aged Care Transition to Practice Program

Mental health and suicide prevention

The $2 billion National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan funds a range of initiatives including the enhancement and expansion of digital mental health services, universal aftercare for those who have made a suicide attempt, and a network of Head of Health adult mental health centres and satellites to provide coordinated multi-disciplinary care.

Royal Commission into defence and veteran suicide

The Government has committed to $174.2 million over two years from 2021-22 for a Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.

National Recovery and Resilience Agency established

A new national agency, the National Recovery and Resilience Agency will be created to support local communities during the relief and recovery phases following major disasters, and provide advice on policies and programs to mitigate the impact of future major disaster events. $600m will be invested in a new program of disaster preparation and mitigation, managed by the new agency.

4   Media Release – Helping Communities Rebuild And Recover From Natural Disasters

Other

Roads & building projects

‘Shovel ready’ projects are high on the Government’s agenda.

New South Wales

Key projects to be funded include:

  • Roads
  • $2.03 billion for the Great Western Highway Upgrade – Katoomba to Lithgow – Construction of East and West Sections
  • $400 million for the Princes Highway Corridor – Jervis Bay Road to Sussex Inlet Road – Stage 1
  • $240 million for the Mount Ousley Interchange
  • $100 million for the Princes Highway Corridor – Jervis Bay Road Intersection
  • $87.5 million for M5 Motorway – Moorebank Avenue-Hume Highway Intersection Upgrade
  • $52.8 million for Manns Road – Intersection Upgrades at Narara Creek Road and Stockyard Place; and
  • $48 million for Pacific Highway – Harrington Road Intersection Upgrade, Coopernook.
  • Infrastructure
  • $66 million – Newcastle airport upgrade to widen the runway to accommodate longer range domestic and international passenger services. The upgrade is expected to complete in 2023. More.

Victoria

Key projects to be funded include:

  • $2 billion for initial investment in a new Melbourne Intermodal Terminal;
  • An additional $307 million for the Pakenham Roads Upgrade;
  • An additional $203.4 million for the Monash Roads Upgrade;
  • An additional $20 million for the Green Triangle and $15 million for the Melbourne to Mildura Roads of Strategic Importance corridors;
  • An additional $56.8 million for the Hall Road Upgrade;
  • An additional $30.4 million for the Western Port Highway Upgrade;
  • $17.5 million for the Dairy Supply Chain Road Upgrades; and
  • $10 million for the Mallacoota-Genoa Road Upgrade.

Queensland

Key projects to be funded include:

  • $400 million for the Inland Freight Route (Mungindi to Charters Towers) Upgrades
  • An additional $400 million for Bruce Highway Upgrades
  • $240 million for the Cairns Western Arterial Road Duplication
  • $178.1 million for the Gold Coast Rail Line Capacity Improvement (Kuraby to Beenleigh) – Preconstruction
  • $160 million for the Mooloolah River Interchange Upgrade (Packages 1 and 2)
  • An additional $126.6 million for Gold Coast Light Rail – Stage 3
  • $35.3 million for the Maryborough-Hervey Bay Road and Pialba-Burrum Heads Road Intersection Upgrade; and
  • $10 million for the Caboolture – Bribie Island Road (Hickey Road-King John Creek) Upgrade.

Northern Territory

New projects to be funded include:

  • $300k Development Study for a Proposed Tennant Creek Multimodal Facility and Rail Terminal
  • $150m Northern Territory National Network Highway Upgrades (Phase 2)
  • $173.6m Northern Territory Gas Industry Roads Upgrades

South Australia

Key projects to be funded include:

  • $2.6 billion allocation of funding for the North-South Corridor – Darlington to Anzac Highway;
  • $161.6 million for the Truro Bypass;
  • $148 million for the Augusta Highway Duplication Stage 2;
  • An additional $64 million for the Strzelecki Track Upgrade – Sealing;
  • An additional $60 million for the Gawler Rail Line Electrification;
  • $48 million for the Heysen Tunnel Refit and Upgrade – Stage 2
  • An additional $27.6 million for the Overpass at Port Wakefield and Township Duplication;
  • $32 million for the Kangaroo Island Road Safety and Bushfire Resilience Package, and
  • $22.5 million for the Marion Road and Sir Donald Bradman Drive Intersection Upgrade

Tasmania

Key projects to be funded include:

  • $80 million for the Tasmanian Roads Package – Bass Highway Safety and Freight Efficiency Upgrades Package – Future Priorities;
  • $48 million for the Algona Road Grade Separated Interchange and Duplication of the Kingston Bypass;
  • $44 million for the Rokeby Road – South Arm Road Upgrades;
  • $37.8 million for the Midland Highway Upgrade – Campbell Town North (Campbell Town to Epping Forest);
  • $36.4 million for the Midland Highway Upgrade – Oatlands (Jericho to South of York Plains);
  • $35.7 million for the Midland Highway Upgrade – Ross (Mona Vale Road to Campbell Town);
  • An additional $24 million for the Port of Burnie Shiploader Upgrade; and
  • $13.2 million for the Huon Link Road.

Western Australia

Key projects to be funded include:

  • $347.5 million for METRONET: Hamilton Street-Wharf Street Grade Separations and Elevation of Associated Stations, including Queens Park Station and Cannington Station and an enhanced METRONET Byford Rail Extension project, with new grade separated rail crossing at Armadale Road and an elevated station at Armadale
  • $200 million for the Great Eastern Highway Upgrades – Coates Gully, Walgoolan to Southern Cross and Ghooli to Benari
  • $160 million for the WA Agricultural Supply Chain Improvements – Package 1
  • $112.5 million for the Reid Highway – Altone Road and Daviot Road-Drumpellier Drive – Grade-separated intersections
  • $85 million for the Perth Airport Precinct – Northern Access
  • $64 million for the Toodyay Road Upgrade – Dryandra to Toodyay
  • $55 million for the Mandurah Estuary Bridge Duplication, and
  • $31.5 million towards the METRONET High Capacity Signalling project

ACT

New projects to be funded include:

  • $2.5m Beltana Road Improvements
  • $132.5m Canberra Light Rail – Stage 2A
  • $26.5m William Hovell Drive Duplication

Key budget assumptions

A population-wide vaccination program is likely to be in place by the end of 2021.

  • During 2021, localised outbreaks of COVID-19 are assumed to occur but are effectively contained.
  • General social distancing restrictions and hygiene practices will continue until medical advice recommends removing them.
  • No extended or sustained state border restrictions in place over the forecast period.
  • A gradual return of temporary and permanent migrants from mid-2022. Small phased programs for international students will commence in late 2021 and gradually increase from 2022. The rate of international arrivals will continue to be constrained by state and territory quarantine caps over 2021 and the first half of 2022, with the exception of passengers from Safe Travel Zones.
  • Inbound and outbound international travel is expected to remain low through to mid-2022, after which a gradual recovery in international tourism is assumed to occur.

The information contained herein is provided on the understanding that it neither represents nor is intended to be advice or that the authors or distributor is engaged in rendering legal or professional advice. Whilst every care has been taken in its preparation no person should act specifically on the basis of the material contained herein. If assistance is required, professional advice should be obtained.

The material contained in the Budget 2021-22 Update should be used as a guide in conjunction with professional expertise and judgement.  All responsibility for applications of the Budget 2021-22 Update and for the direct or indirect consequences of decisions based on the Budget 2021-22 Update rests with the user. Knowledge Shop Pty Ltd, Hayes Knight, its directors and authors or any other person involved in the preparation and distribution of this guide, expressly disclaim all and any contractual, tortious or other form of liability to any person in respect of the Budget 2021-22 Update and any consequences arising from its use by any person in reliance upon the whole or any part of the contents of this guide.

Copyright © Knowledge Shop Pty Ltd. 12 May 2021

All rights reserved. No part of the Budget 2021-22 Budget should be reproduced or utilised in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by information storage or retrieval system, other than specified without written permission from Knowledge Shop Pty Ltd.



Budget 2019-20: The pre-election announcements that are now law
April 29, 2019, 5:31 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

The Federal Budget announced a series of measures, some of which were legislated before the election was called.

Extension and increase to the instant asset write-off

The popular instant asset write-off for small business has been extended and increased. The new laws:

  • increase the threshold below which small business entities can access an immediate deduction for depreciating assets and certain related expenditure (instant asset write-off) from $25,000 to $30,000; and
  • enables businesses with aggregated turnover of $10 million or more but less than $50 million to access instant asset write-off for depreciating assets and certain related expenditure costing less than $30,000.

Assets will need to be used or installed ready for use from Budget night until by 30 June 2020 to qualify for the higher threshold. Anything previously purchased does not qualify for the higher rate but may qualify for the $20,000 or $25,000 threshold. Similarly, anything purchased but not installed ready for use by 30 June 2020 will not qualify.

The instant asset write-off only applies to certain depreciable assets.  There are some assets, like horticultural plants, capital works (building construction costs etc.), assets leased to another party on a depreciating asset lease, etc., that don’t qualify.

For assets costing $30,000 or more

For small businesses (aggregated turnover under $10m), assets costing $30,000 or more can be allocated to a pool and depreciated at a rate of 15% in the first year and 30% for each year thereafter. If the closing balance of the pool, adjusted for current year depreciation deductions (i.e., these are added back), is less than $30,000 at the end of the income year, then the remaining pool balance can be written off as well.

The ‘lock out’ laws for the simplified depreciation rules (these prevent small businesses from re-entering the simplified depreciation regime for five years if they opt-out) will continue to be suspended until 30 June 2020.

Pooling is not available for medium sized businesses which means that the normal depreciation rules based on the effective life of the asset will apply to assets that don’t qualify for an immediate deduction.

The amendments apply from 7.30 pm legal time in the Australian Capital Territory on 2 April 2019 until 30 June 2020

One-off energy assistance payments

A one-off energy assistance payment of $75 for singles and $62.50 for each eligible member of a couple, will be made to predominantly pension and social welfare recipients who were residing in Australia on 2 April 2019.  The payments are expected to be completed by 30 June 2019.

Medicare levy and surcharge income threshold increase

The Medicare levy low income thresholds for singles, families, and seniors and pensioners will increase from the 2018-19 income year, meaning more people will be excluded from paying the levy.

North QLD flood recovery

Grants are treated as non-assessable non-exempt income if they:

  • are Category C or D measure disaster recovery grants paid to small businesses, primary producers or non-profit organisations; and
  • relate to flooding that commenced in Australia in the period between 25 January 2019 and 28 February 2019 (inclusive).

As a result, Category C and D measure grants to small businesses, primary producers and non-profit organisations affected by floods in North Queensland in late January 2019 and that continued into February 2019 are non-assessable non-exempt income.

And, grants to primary producers are non-assessable non-exempt income if the grants are for repairing or replacing farm infrastructure, restocking or replanting, and they are provided for the purposes of an agreement between the Commonwealth and a State or Territory to assist primary producers affected by the flooding.

As a result, such grants to primary producers in North Queensland affected by floods in late January 2019 that continued into February 2019 are non-assessable non-exempt income.

The material and contents provided in this publication are informative in nature only.  It is not intended to be advice and you should not act specifically on the basis of this information alone.  If expert assistance is required, professional advice should be obtained.




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