Category Archives: Tax

Six Member SMSFs allowed from 1 July 2021

It has been a few years since the proposal to increase the number of members in a self-managed super fund (SMSF) from four to six was put forward by then Treasurer Scott Morrison.

On 22 June 2021, the legislation for this proposal received Royal Assent.

SMSFs are permitted to have up to six members from 1 July 2021.

There is a lot to consider when adding members to a SMSF and may not suit everyone.

Key Considerations:

  • More members can pool their balances to purchase larger or higher value assets such as property.
  • It could increase the ability to make contributions which in turn could increase cashflow.
  • Allows families to include more family members. It would allow Mum & Dad to include up to four children under the same SMSF.
  • Increased complications when there are disputes, in particular family law disputes
  • Increased risk of control imbalance if voting is based on weighted balances.
  • All trustees/directors are responsible for decisions made, even if they are not directly involved. Succession planning and future control will need to be carefully considered to help manage the risk of loss of capacity and death
  • Most States and Territorities, include New South Wales only permit up to four individual trustees. Accordingly, the SMSF will need to have a corporate trustee where all members would be directors in order to have up to six SMSF members.
  • Some trust deeds specify the four member limit and would need to be varied before increasing the number of members.

NSW Payroll Tax Rate Reduction

The NSW Government has announced a reduction in the payroll tax rate to 4.85 per cent for the 2020/21 and 2021/22 financial years.

The threshold has also increased to $1,200,000 for the 2020/21 and subsequent financial years.

These changes apply retrospectively from 1 July 2020.

Tax yearThresholdTax rate
01/07/2020 to 30/06/2021$1,200,0004.85%
01/07/2019 to 30/06/2020$900,0005.45%
01/07/2018 to 30/06/2019$850,0005.45%

About a Payroll Tax

If you’re an employer who pays wages in NSW, you must register for payroll tax if your total Australian wages exceed the relevant monthly threshold.

Days in the monthThreshold
28$92,055
30$98,630
31$101,918

What are ”Wages”?

Wages and other payments to employees engaged on a permanent, temporary or casual basis are subject to payroll tax.

  • Wages
  • Allowances
  • Bonus / Commissions
  • Director Fees
  • Fringe Benefits
  • Superannuation
  • Salary Sacrifice
  • Termination payments
  • Third party payments
  • Salary Sacrifice

If you would like a review of your “Wages” to staff and contractors in light of Payroll Tax please contact us for a quote.

ATO scam calls may soon be a thing of the past

Last year, some 107,000 ATO impersonation scam calls were reported to the authorities. The real number is likely to be much higher, given that most of these type of calls go unreported. Scammers are increasingly using technological advances to appear more legitimate and nab unsuspecting victims.

One technique commonly used is “spoofing”, where scammers use software to mislead the caller ID technology on mobile phones and modern fixed line phones. Rather than transmitting the actual, typically overseas, phone number the call is coming from, the software “overstamps” it with another phone number. Commonly, the numbers used are widely publicised, such as the legitimate numbers used by the ATO.

Tip: The ATO has recently alerted the community to an SMS scam which claims that you’re due to receive a tax refund and asks you to click on a link. The ATO will never send an email or SMS asking people to access online services via a hyperlink.

Due to the prevalence of these scams and the large amount of money lost by individuals, Australian telcos, the ATO and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) recently collaborated on a three-month trial of technology to block scam calls appearing to originate from legitimate ATO phone numbers. Under the Scam Technology Project, participating telcos used software to identify calls which had been “overstamped” with specified ATO phone numbers and blocked them.

According to the government, the trial has been “highly successful” in blocking spoof calls from specified ATO numbers. While this blocking technology will not stop scammers randomly ringing Australians pretending to be from the ATO, it will stop specific ATO numbers appearing in the caller ID on the recipient’s phone, making the scam seem less convincing.

Tip: If you receive a call from someone who says they are from a government department, such as the ATO, but you’re not sure whether the call’s legitimate, the best course of action is to hang up and phone back on a widely publicised number from an official website or source.

Additional cash flow boost coming for businesses

If your business is one of many that received the initial cash flow boosts as a part of the government’s COVID-19 economic stimulus measures, prepare for more help coming your way. When you lodge your monthly or quarterly activity statements for June to September 2020, your business will receive additional cash flow boosts.

Generally, the additional amount will be equal to the total amount that you initially received and will be split evenly between the lodged activity statements. Quarterly payers will generally receive 50% of their total initial cash flow boost for each activity statement, while monthly payers will generally receive 25% of their total initial cash flow boost for each activity statement.

However, if you’ve made adjustments or revised your activity statements after lodgment, the amount of additional cash flow boost payments you receive may be different.

Remember, if you haven’t made payments to employees subject to withholding, you need to report zero for PAYG withholding when lodging your activity statements to ensure you receive the additional cash flow boost payments. It’s important that you don’t cancel PAYG withholding registration until you have received the additional cash flow boosts.

Expanded instant asset write-off for businesses

If you’ve purchased assets for your business, remember that you may be eligible to claim an immediate deduction under the instant asset write-off, which was recently expanded.

From 12 March to 30 June 2020 inclusive, the instant asset write-off threshold for each asset increased to $150,000 (up from $30,000) for business entities with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million).

To get it right, remember:

  • check if your business is eligible;
  • both new and secondhand assets can be claimed, as long as each asset costs less than $150,000;
  • assets must be first used or installed ready for use between 12 March and 30 June 2020;
  • a car limit applies for passenger vehicles;
  • if the asset is for business and private use, only the business portion can be claimed;
  • you can claim a deduction for the balance of a small business pool if its value is less than $150,000 at 30 June 2020 (before applying depreciation deductions); and
  • different eligibility criteria and thresholds apply to assets first used or installed ready for use before 12 March 2020.

Don’t jump the gun and lodge too early

Tax time 2020 is here, but it’s likely to be anything but routine. Many individuals on reduced income or have increased deductions may be eager to lodge their income tax returns early to get their hands on a refund. However, the ATO has issued a warning against lodging too early, before all your income information becomes available. It’s important to remember that employers have until the end of July to electronically finalise your income statement, and the same timeframe applies for other information from banks, health funds and government agencies.

For most people, income statements have replaced payment summaries. So, instead of receiving a payment summary from each employer, your income statements will be finalised electronically and the information provided directly to the ATO. Your income statements can be accessed through myGov and the information is automatically included in your tax return if you use myTax.

Tip: Tax agents can also access this information, and we’re here to help you get your return right this year.

Although you may be eager to lodge as soon as possible, the ATO has warned against lodging too early, as much of the information on your income may not be confirmed until later. It’s generally important to wait until income statements are finalised before lodging a tax return to avoid either delays in processing or a tax bill later on. Your income statement will be marked “tax ready” on myGov when it’s finalised, and other information from banks, health funds and government agencies will be automatically inserted into your tax return when it’s ready towards the end of July.

If you still choose to lodge early, the ATO advises carefully reviewing any information that’s pre-filled so you can confirm it’s correct. When lodging early you’ll
also have to formally acknowledge that your employer(s) may later finalise income statements with different amounts, meaning you may need to amend your tax return and additional tax may apply.

Tax return tips

With the great disruptors of the Australian bushfires and the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and the associated government economic stimulus measures, there are some key tax-related matters for everyone to be aware of this year.

The ATO has a range of approaches to support taxpayers through tax time 2020, especially where new circumstances mean you might be receiving a different type of income or be able to claim new deductions. The ATO’s Tax Time Essentials page (www.ato.gov.au/taxessentials) provides a one-stop-shop for the things that are a little different this year and how they impact tax returns.

People accessing super early as a part of the COVID-19 early release scheme can rest assured that this money will not form a part of their assessable income. To date, 1.98 million people have withdrawn an average of $7,475 from their super under the scheme.

Another key difference this year is the introduction of the optional simplified method for claiming work from home expense deductions. This method allows you to claim 80 cents for each hour you worked from home from 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2020, to cover all deductible expenses. However, if you were working from home before 1 March 2020 or have documented actual expenses that work out to be more than 80 cents per hour you can still use the usual method to claim expenses related to working from home.

If you were unable to work from home and had to take leave or were temporarily stood down, if your employer made any kind of payment, either regular or one-off, those amounts will need to be declared as wages and salary on your return and tax will apply at your usual marginal rates. This applies regardless of whether the payments are funded by the government JobKeeper scheme.

If you’ve been made redundant or had your employment terminated, any payment you receive may consist of a tax-free portion and a concessionally taxed portion, which means that you could potentially pay less tax.

ATO’s employees guide for work expenses updated

The ATO has updated its employees guide for work expenses for 2019–2020. The document is designed to assist employees to determine whether incurred expenses are tax deductible, and outlines the substantiation requirements.

The following are highlighted as being new for 2019–2020:

  • The additional method for calculating running expenses incurred as a result of working from home (the “shortcut method” allowing an 80 cents per hour deduction) was introduced to help employees working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. This method was initially only available to use from 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2020, but has now been extended to 30 September 2020.
  • Taxation Ruling TR 2020/1 Income tax: employees: deductions for work expenses under s 8-1 of ITAA has been released. This ruling provides guidance on when an employee can claim a deduction for a work expense.

The employees guide highlights “common myths” about expenses – for example, the myths that everyone can automatically claim $150 for clothing and laundry, 5,000 km of travel under the cents per kilometre method for car expenses, or $300 for work-related expenses, even if they didn’t spend the money, or that employees can claim gym membership if they need to be fit for work.

FBT: cars garaged at employees’ homes during COVID-19

The ATO has published a fact sheet to assist employers in determining if they have an FBT liability where cars are garaged at employees’ homes because of COVID-19.

The fact sheet states that the ATO will accept that an employer isn’t holding a car for the purposes of providing fringe benefits where the car isn’t being driven at all, or is only being driven for maintenance purposes. Provided that the employer elects to use the operating cost method and maintains odometer records, the employer will not have an FBT liability for
a car. Without electing to use the operating cost method or not having odometer records, the statutory formula method applies and an FBT liability will arise as the car garaged at the employee’s home is taken to be available for private use.

Where a home-garaged car is being driven by an employee for business purposes, the ATO says the employer may be able to reduce the taxable value of the car fringe benefit by taking into account the business use, provided the employer has logbook records and odometer records for the period in question. Logbook records will need to be for at least:

  • 12 continuous weeks; or
  • until the car stops being garaged at home, if this is less than 12 weeks.

The fact sheet also provides information on logbook requirements for car fringe benefits and options for employers to consider where COVID-19 has impacted driving patterns.

Loans put on hold and debt forgiveness: ATO’s views

Loans put on hold and debt forgiveness: ATO’s views

The ATO has “clarified” its position on loans put on hold during COVID-19. The ATO will consider a debt to be forgiven for tax purposes if:

  • the debtor is somehow relieved from the legal obligation to repay it; or
  • there is evidence that the creditor won’t insist on repayment or rely on the obligation for repayment.

A debt is not considered to be forgiven if a creditor only postpones an amount payable and the debtor acknowledges the debt – unless there is evidence that the creditor will no longer rely on the obligation for repayment.

The Div 7A implications are specifically spelt out (as a debt forgiven by a private company can be treated as a deemed dividend). For these purposes, a debt is forgiven if a reasonable person would conclude a creditor will not insist on payment or rely on the borrower’s obligation to pay. However, simply allowing more time to repay a debt due to COVID-19 will not result in the debt being treated as forgiven.

PM announces pandemic leave disaster payment for Victoria

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on 3 August 2020 a Federal Government “pandemic leave disaster payment”. The payment will be a one-off amount of $1,500, available to workers in Victoria who have no sick leave available who have to self-isolate for 14 days as a result of an instruction by a public health officer.

It will only apply to workers in Victoria, where the Government has declared a “state of disaster” and imposed Stage 4 lockdowns, which are expected at this point to run until mid-September.

The Victorian Government has already announced that it will provide a disaster payment, principally made to those on short-term visas; that is, those who are not permanent residents or citizens of Australia who otherwise wouldn’t have accessed Commonwealth payments. The Federal Government will provide its payment to those who fall outside that scope and who don’t have leave available to them because it has been used up.

Accessing the Federal Government payment

Services Australia has provided further details on its website. It states that, to get this payment, the applicant must:

  • be at least 17 years old;
  • live in Victoria; and
  • have no income from paid work, including sick leave entitlements.

In addition, the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services must also have told the applicant to self-isolate or quarantine. They must have done this because the applicant:

  • has COVID-19;
  • has been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19;
  • cares for a child, aged 16 years and under, who has COVID-19; and/or
  • cares for a child, aged 16 years and under, who has been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19.

If a person has to self-isolate more than once, they can claim this payment each time. However, a person cannot get this payment if they already receive:

  • an income support payment, ABSTUDY Living Allowance, Paid Parental Leave or Dad and Partner Pay;
  • the JobKeeper payment; or
  • the Victorian Coronavirus (COVID-19) Worker Support Payment.

Coronavirus Worker Supplement Payment (Victoria)

The Victorian Government announced its Coronavirus Worker Supplement Payment on 30 July. To be eligible for a one-off $1,500 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Worker Support payment, the claimant must have been instructed by the Department of Health and Human Services:

  • to self-isolate or quarantine at home because they are either diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) or are a close contact of a confirmed case; or
  • that a child aged aged under 16 in the claimant’s care needs to self-isolate or quarantine at home because they are either diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) or are a close contact of a confirmed case.

To receive the payment, the claimant must:

  • be 17 years and over;
  • be currently living in Victoria (including people on Temporary Protection Visas and Temporary Working Visas 457 and 482);
  • be likely to have worked during the period of self-isolation or quarantine and are unable to work as a result of the requirement to stay at home;
  • not be receiving any income, earnings or salary maintenance from work;
  • have exhausted sick leave entitlements, including any special pandemic leave; and
  • not be receiving the JobKeeper payment or other forms of Australian Government income support.

There is no requirement for a claimant to be a citizen or permanent resident to be eligible for the Victorian Government payment.