Author: Accounts

Key Dates for Summer 2019/2020

Many key dates are looming for business including those relating to Activity Statements, superannuation, and more…. 

DECEMBER 2019 

1 December – Due date for income tax payments for companies that were required to lodge by 31 Oct.  
21 December – November monthly Activity Statments – due for lodgement and payment . 

JANUARY 2020 

15 January – Due date for lodgement of income tax returns for companies and trusts that were taxable medium to large businesses in the prior year and are not required to lodge earlier. If you fail to lodge by the due date, your 2019/2020 income tax return will be due on 31 October 2020. 
21 January – Due date for lodgement and payment of December 2019 monthly Activity Statements. 
28 January – Due date for October-December 2019 Superannuation Guarantee contributions to be made to a complying fund on behalf of your employees. 
31 January – Final date for lodgement of October-December 2019 TFN report for closely held trusts for TFNs quoted to a trustee by beneficiaries. 

FEBRUARY 2020

21 February – Due date for lodgement and payment of January monthly Activity Statements. 
28 February – Due date for lodgement and payment of October-December 2019 quarterly Activity Statements, including electronic lodgements. 
28 February – Due date for lodgement and payment of Annual GST returns or Annual GST information reports – if you do not have an income tax return lodgement obligation. 
28 February – Due date for lodgement and payment of income tax returns for self-preparing entities that were not due at an earlier date. If you fail to lodge by the due date, your 2019/2020 return will be due on 31 October 2020. 
28 February – Due date for lodgement and payment of income tax returns for medium to large businesses (taxable and non-taxable that are new registrants). 
28 February – Due date for lodgement and payment of Superannuation Guarantee Charge Statement if you failed to pay Superannuation Guarantee charge on time for the October-December 2019 quarter. Superannuation Guarantee Charge is not deductible. 

Where one of these dates falls on a weekend or a public holiday, the due date is extended to the next business day except in the case of Superannuation Guarantee contributions. 

Superannuation Amnesty is back on the table!

The Government’s superannuation amnesty for employers is now back on the table! 

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Recovering Unpaid Superannuation) Bill 2019 was introduced into the House of Representatives on 18 September 2019. It seeks to legislate the super guarantee amnesty that the Government failed to pass into law before the Federal Election. The legislation provides for a one-off amnesty to encourage employers to self-correct historical SG non-compliance. 

Specifically, an employer that qualifies for the amnesty in relation to their SG shortfall for a quarter: 

  • Will have the administrative penalty waived ($20 per employee, per quarter) 
  • Will have Part 7 penalties waived (this can be an additional penalty of up to 200% of the shortfall owed) 
  • Will be able to deduct the late shortfall contribution (under current law, late payments cannot be deducted). 

The beneficial treatment provided by the amnesty is available for a quarter that ends at least 28 days before the start of the amnesty period. This means that the beneficial treatment provided by the amnesty is available in relation to the quarter starting on 1 July 1992 (which is the day that Superannuation Guarantee commenced) and all subsequent quarters until and including the quarter starting on 1 January 2018. An employer will not be able to benefit from the amnesty for SG shortfalls relating to the quarter starting on 1 April 2018 or subsequent quarters. 

To qualify for the amnesty, a disclosure must be made by an employer during the amnesty period. The amnesty period is the period that started on 24 May 2018 and ends 6 months after the day the legislation is passed (therefore, at least until March next year if the legislation passes next month). 

On releasing the legislation, the Assistant Treasurer said.   

Since the one-off amnesty was announced, over 7,000 employers have come forward to voluntarily disclose historical unpaid super. The ATO estimates an additional 7,000 employers will come forward due to the extension of the amnesty. This means around $160 million of superannuation will be paid to employees who would otherwise have missed out. 

The amnesty reinforces recent changes to the superannuation system to improve the visibility employees have over their superannuation. We have given the ATO greater powers to ensure employers meet their obligations, and to help ensure employees receive their superannuation entitlements. The Government’s legislated package of integrity measures – part of the Treasury Laws Amendment (2018 Measures No. 4) Act 2019 – includes up to 12 months jail for employers who continue to do the wrong thing by their workers, and gives the ATO near real-time visibility of how much SG employees are owed and the contributions they actually receive. 

This is a practical measure that is all about reuniting hardworking Australians with their super. My message to employers who owe super is: come forward now. Do not delay. This is a one-off opportunity to set things right, and going forward the ATO has the tools to spot unpaid super. 

Irrespective of whether the amnesty passes into law, all employers should strongly consider getting their superannuation affairs in order. There is now real time, and more granular reporting of superannuation liabilities and payments – down to the employee level. The ATO will now know in close to real time if an employer is not paying superannuation in respect of any employee. Therefore, it will be in a position to immediately follow up late payers. 

 

Members Only Tax Helpline

Do you have a tax-related question that you need guidance on? Send us an email.  
Your MTS Members Helpline is staffed by Qualified Accountants who have answered 1000’s of question over time from subscribers on everything from GST, CGT, Superannuation, FBT, Income tax and more.  

Simply email MTS Helpline team at info@mytaxsavers.com.au they are ready to assist you.

Can You Claim GST Credits?

To claim GST credits on your purchases, you must be able to demonstrate you’re in business through activities such as: 

  • aiming to make a profit 
  • keeping records and account books 
  • making commercial sales of a product or service 
  • marketing and advertising to attract clients 
  • drafting a business plan. 

It’s more likely you’re not in business and your activities are a hobby if they’re: 

  • not aimed at making a profit 
  • not carried out in a businesslike manner 
  • irregular 
  • done mostly for your own enjoyment and satisfaction. 

If your activities are a hobby rather than a business you can’t claim GST credits on purchases associated with your hobby. You should consider if you have to cancel your ABN and GST registrations. You may also need to amend past activity statements if you have claimed GST credits for purchases associated with your hobby.  

Characteristics of a Business 

There is no single factor that determines if you are in business, but some of the factors you need to consider include: 

  • You’ve made a decision to start a business and have done something about it to operate in a businesslike manner, such as  
    • registered a business name, or 
    • obtained an ABN. 
  • You intend to make a profit – or genuinely believe you will make a profit from the activity – even if you are unlikely to do so in the short term. 
  • You repeat similar types of activities. 
  • The size or scale of your activity is consistent with other businesses in your industry. 
  • Your activity is planned, organised and carried out in a businesslike manner. This may include    
    • keeping business records and account books 
    • having a separate business bank account 
    • operating from business premises 
    • having licenses or qualifications 
    • having a registered business name. 

If you aren’t in business yet, it is important to keep these factors in mind as your activities change or grow, so you’ll know when you need to register for tax and other business responsibilities. 

Hobby 

If you determine your activities are a hobby then you do not have any additional tax or reporting obligations. 

If your activities are a hobby but you supply goods or services to businesses, they may request your ABN when they pay you. 

Because you do not have an ABN and your activity is done as a hobby, you should use the ‘Statement by a supplier’ form. This will avoid the business you are supplying having to withhold an amount from their payment to you. 


Members read all about GST in our Special GST publication, available in your members area.

Single Touch Payroll (STP) Have you missed the deadline?

If you missed the 30 September Single Touch Payroll (STP) reporting date, it’s not too late! Make the move and get started by following one of three pathways: 

Start reporting now  
If you already use accounting or payroll software, you need to check whether it offers STP reporting. If it does, you need to enable the STP function and start reporting straight away. If you’re looking for software or need to upgrade, we have a list of providers that offer STP reporting products. 

Apply for a reporting concession  
Depending on your circumstances you may be eligible for a reporting concession. This means you may be able to report less often (usually quarterly) if you meet certain criteria. 

Ask for more time  
If you’re not ready to report through STP, or you can’t because of your location and access to services, you can ask us for more time by applying for a deferral or exemption. 
 
Whichever option you choose will depend on your circumstances but it’s important to engage with the ATO as soon as possible.

ATO Announces Motor Vehicles Data Matching Program

 

One of the largest claims made by business and by employees for that matter is the use of a vehicle for business or work related purposes.  Much of the claim relates to depreciation on the cost of the vehicle.  As technology continues to advance and with data sharing amongst authorities becoming more prevalent, the ATO together with each of the State motor vehicle registry departments have announced that they have developed a data matching program to assess the overall taxation compliance of individuals and businesses when buying or selling vehicles.

 

Details will be requested by the ATO from the States when a vehicle has been transferred or has been newly registered and where the purchase or transfer price exceeds $10,000.

This data is going to allow the ATO to do a range of compliance audits on taxpayers in relation to Fringe Benefits Tax, fuel scheme claims as well as legal ownership of vehicles impacting the entitlement to make a claim for a tax deduction or under declaring income if a vehicle is sold.  The ATO advised in their press release that they anticipate this will impact around 2 Million taxpayers per year that acquire or transfer vehicles.

The takeaway this week is to ensure that if you are purchasing, selling or having a vehicle transferred for business or work related purposes that you ensure the correct entity is the registered owner of the vehicle and that any cost base used for making a claim uses the true cost of the vehicle adjusted for the luxury car tax limit or that the selling price is accurately recorded with any GST correctly accounted for. 

Does Your SMSF Investment Strategy Meet Diversification Requirements?

On the 9th August, the ATO announced it will contact, at the end of August, about 17,700 self-managed super fund (SMSF) trustees and their auditors where their records indicate the SMSF may be holding 90% or more of its funds in one asset or a single asset class.  

They are concerned some trustees haven’t given due consideration to diversifying their fund’s investments; this can put the fund’s assets at risk.  

Lack of diversification or concentration risk, can expose the SMSF and its members to unnecessary risk if a significant investment fails.  

They will ask trustees to review their investment strategy and clearly document the reasons behind the investment decisions.  

They will also ask trustees to have their documentation ready for their SMSF’s approved auditor for their next audit to help the auditor form an opinion on the fund’s compliance with these requirements

Record Keeping is King

From an income tax standpoint, it’s in your interests to keep good records of your transactions and activities. Keeping good records is not only required by law, but it makes your accountant’s job easier – this can result in both decreased fees (an accountant will take less time in preparing returns etc.) and increased deductions (claims cannot be made without having the required records). Aside from this, by keeping good income tax records: 

*                     You can demonstrate your financial position – this is particularly important where a business wishes to obtain finance from banks, or the business is being sold 

*                     You can better monitor the overall health of your business, especially its true cash position, and 

*                     You can more easily complete paperwork, including Activity Statements. 

The ATO last year issued contemporary guidance – in the form of Taxation Ruling TR 2018/2<https://www.ato.gov.au/law/view/document?docid=TXR/TR20182/NAT/ATO/00001> – which deals with electronic records. This is welcome, as the ATO’s previous ruling was issued some 23 years ago and carries reference to cheque butts and receipt books! 

You should also utilize the ATO’s Record Keeping Evaluation Tool.<https://www.ato.gov.au/Calculators-and-tools/Record-keeping-evaluation/> After asking you a series of questions, the tool culminates in a report which details to you how well your business is keeping records. Suggestions for improvement are also made if appropriate. 

 

Low and Middle Income Tax Offset Now Law

The Federal Government’s Personal Income Tax Plan is now officially law. For 2018/2019 (the financial year just gone) the centrepiece of this plan was an increase to the low and middle income tax offset (LMITO) from a maximum $530 to $1,060. 

Taxpayers with a taxable income:  

  *   of $37,000 or below can now receive a LMITO of up to $255  

  *   above $37,000 and below $48,000 can now receive $255, plus an amount equal to 7.5% to the maximum offset of $1,080  

  *   above $48,000 and below $90,000 are now eligible for the maximum LMITO of $1,080  

  *   above $90,000 but is no more than $126,000 are now eligible for a LMITO of $1,080, less an amount equal to three per cent of the excess.  

With Tax Time 2019 just over a week old, 810,000 individual tax returns have now been lodged, an 88% increase from the same time last year – an increase largely attributable to anticipated refund as a result of the increased LMITO. 

Despite the increase, ATO commissioner Chris Jordan has sought to reassure taxpayers that returns will begin flowing through from the end of this week. 

“We were able to work over the weekend to make changes to our systems once the legislation was passed last week,” Mr Jordan said on Tuesday. 

“All safety nets have been lifted from our processing, so our processing is now working absolutely full bore, 100%.” 

“People do not need to do anything special; they just put their return in, and we will calculate their offsets and money will be hitting people’s bank accounts by Friday this week.” 

Now the law has been passed, you may wish to get your 2018/2019 records to your Tax Agent and instruct them to lodge early rather than in the first part of next year (which is the normal lodgement time if lodging with a Tax Agent). By doing so, all other things being equal, you will bring forward your LMITO entitlement with a potential additional refund of up to $1,080 (subject to the above income limits, and subject to not otherwise having underpaid tax during the year). 

If you lodge your own tax return, then remember you do not need to claim the LMITO separately – rather the ATO will process your claim automatically upon lodgement.