Category: Small Business

Legislation Update 26/02/2019

The first sitting of Parliament for 2019 wrapped up last week. While legislation to extend the Single Touch Payroll reporting regime to all employers passed into law (just awaiting Royal Assent), there are a couple of other measures that remain unlegislated which could impact your business. With the full Parliament only expected to sit for three more days (April 2 – 4) until an Election is called, there are now serious doubts surrounding whether these measures will pass into law. In view of this, we put forward the following suggested approach in the meantime: 

  1. Superannuation Amnesty 

The legislation to enact this measure is still before the Senate. To recap, the Superannuation Guarantee Amnesty was to be available for the 12-month period from 24 May 2018 to 23 May 2019. To get the benefits of the Amnesty (set out below) employers must during this 12-month period voluntarily disclose any Superannuation Guarantee underpayments that exist in the past (going back to when Superannuation Guarantee commenced in 1992). 

For an employer, the tax benefits of the Amnesty are: 

* The administration component of the Superannuation Guarantee Charge (SGG) is not payable (this is a $20 per employee, per quarter, for whom there is an SG Shortfall) 

*  Part 7 penalties will not be applied. This can be up to 200% of the SG Charge that is payable (note that SG Charge includes the SG Shortfall that you owe to employees) 

* All catch-up payments that you make during the 12-month Amnesty period will be tax deductible. 

By contrast, under the current law, when superannuation has been underpaid or paid late Superannuation Guarantee Charge that must paid to the ATO is not deductible, and late contributions that an employer has made to an employee’s superannuation and has elected to offset against their SG Charge liability are also not deductible. 

If an employer is contemplating disclosing past superannuation shortfalls specifically to get the benefits of the Amnesty (including claiming a deduction for your late contributions) then it may be prudent to hold off until such time that the Amnesty actually becomes law (if at all). We will keep you apprised of the passage of the legislation through Parliament. However, with only a few sitting days remaining for this Parliament, and with the Opposition opposed to this measure, there are serious doubts about it becoming law. 

Irrespective of the Amnesty however, all employers should consider coming forward to disclose and pay past shortfalls to get their Superannuation Guarantee affairs in order. The Government is committing more resources to this area – including requiring Superannuation Funds to report more regularly to the ATO (at least once each month) – therefore non-complying employers may be more easily detected going forward. 

  1. Enhancing the Instant Asset Write-Off 

Legislation to expand and extend the Small Business Instant Asset Write-Off is still before the House of Representatives. This Bill seeks to extend the write-off by 12 months until 30 June 2020 (currently set to expire on 30 June 2019) and increase the threshold by $5,000 to $25,000; with the increase backdated to 29 January 2019. If passed into law, this would mean that there would be two thresholds for 2018/2019 as follows: 

* $20,000 (for assets installed ready for use between 1 July 2018 and 28 January 2019), and 

* $25,000 (for assets installed ready for use between 29 January 2019 and 30 June 2019. 

Irrespective of the whether the legislation passes into law, it is important to have perspective. You are only getting back the tax rate on the asset, not the full value of the asset. This is the same as the old law where the write-off threshold was $1,000  You don’t get any extra cash than you would otherwise have received under the old rules – you simply get it sooner. Consequently, you should not let tax distort or blur your commercial instincts – as you don’t get any extra cash than you would otherwise have under the old rules, you should continue to only buy assets that fit within your business plan. 

#News Flash# Single Touch Payroll Legislation Passes Parliament

Smaller employers (those with 19 or less employees) must commence reporting via Single Touch Payroll (STP) from 1 July 2019 after legislation passed Parliament this morning (12/02/2019).  

The STP regime revolutionises the way employers report payroll information to the ATO. In essence, STP is a new reporting mechanism whereby employers report employee payments (such as salary and wages, allowances etc.) and PAYG withholding to the ATO directly through their STP solution (e.g. upgraded Standard Business Reporting-enabled software) at the same time they pay their employees. To be clear, no additional reporting is required – just a new method of reporting.

Standard business reporting-enabled software (SBR-enabled software) is essential to reporting under STP. Employers must adopt an STP solution by the due date. Solutions will vary depending on an employer’s current payroll processes.

  •  Accountant or Bookkeeper – Employers who use an Accountant or Bookkeeper to process their pays will simply rely on them to provide an STP solution (SBR-enabled software) by the deadline. Even where an Accountant or Bookkeeper does not process employer payroll, employers may turn to them for advice around how they can become STP-compliant.
  • Software Upgrades – If an employer uses commercial payroll software, then they should contact their software provider as the deadline nears and ensure that they offer an updated Standard Business Reporting-enabled version of the software. Major software houses have this software available.
  • In-House Method – If an employer uses an in-house method of payroll or manual method (such as paying employees by EFT and manually providing them with pay-slips and Payment Summaries)…then they will likely need to adopt STP-compliant payroll software. Such employers may lean heavily on their Bookkeeper or Accountant when installing this software, and may need upfront training. Alternatively, they may choose to outsource their payroll to a payroll service provider such as a payroll bureau, or an Accountant or Bookkeeper.

The ATO is acknowledging that there are a significant number of smaller employers who do not use any type of payroll software when processing the pays each week/fortnight etc. Consequently, micro businesses (employers with 1 to 4 employees) will not be required to adopt/buy payroll software in order to comply with Single Touch Payroll (STP) reporting. Whilst for most employers their STP solution will be adopting STP-compliant software, micro-businesses will according to the ATO be provided with different STP compliance options. Speaking on a recent ATO webcast, ATO Assistant Commissioner, John Shepherd confirmed this:

“You won’t need to buy payroll software, that’s why we’re looking for those alternate solutions- some of which might be an app, something that’s fit for purpose to get the STP information in but is easy to use, doesn’t take much time and doesn’t cost that business money to do so ,” said Mr Shepherd.

“We’ve spoken to some different banks and the possibilities around as people pay staff through internet banking being able to submit the single touch pay run information at the same time and we expect that to be part of the list of options that come forward over the next 12 months.

“There are obviously lots of other benefits from using payroll software but we’re not saying for STP that you need to go out and buy a product to do STP.”

MYOB and Xero and other major software houses have already developed these low cost STP-solutions for micro-business. You should contact your Accountant or Bookkeeper for further guidance in this area.

 

 

Key Dates for January & February 2019

Many lodgement and payment deadlines are looming for business including those relating to Activity Statements, Superannuation, and more…..

January 2019
15 January – Due date for lodgement of income tax returns for companies and trust 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 2018/2019 income tax return will be due on 31 October 2019
21 January – Due date for lodgement and payment of December 2018 monthly Activity Statements
28 January – Due date for October-December 2018 Superannuation Guarantee contributions to be made to a complying fund on behalf of your employees
31 January – Final date for lodgement of October-December 2018 TFN report for closely held trust for TFNs quoted to a trustee by beneficiaries

February 2019
21 February – Due date for lodgement and payment of January monthly Activity Statements
28 February – Due date for lodgement and payment of October-December 2018 quarterly Activity Statements, including electronic lodgments
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 lodgment obligation
28 February – Due date for lodgement and payment of income tax return for selp-preparing entities that were not due at an earlier date. If you fail to lodge by this date, your 2018/2019 return will be due by 31 October 2019
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 Superannuation Guarantee Charge Statement if you failed to pay Superannuation Guarantee charge on time for the October-December 2018 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.

STP Rollout Now Law!

The Senate has now passed legislation to extend Single Touch Payroll (STP) to employers with 19 or less employees from 1 July 2019.

These businesses can also of course opt in early to STP.

The passage of legislation follows months of uncertainty for small business after STP was officially rolled out for employers with 20 or more employees from 1 July 2018.

The ATO still intends to allow micro-businesses (less than 5 employees) to adopt low-cost, alternative STP solutions.

 

 

INSTANT ASSET WRITE-OFF EXTENDED

The extension of the $20,000 instant asset Write-Off has now been passsed into law. 

PASSED
In the May 2018 Federal Budget the Government announced an extension to the Small Business Instant Asset Write-Off that was originally introduced from 1 July 2015. Under the Budget announcement, the Write -Off was to be extended until 30 June 2019 (it was to expire 30 June 2018). On 12 September 2018, The Treasury Laws Amendment (Accelerated Depreciation for Small Business Entities) Bill 2018 was passed by the Parliament into law to give effect to this 12-month extension.


More info? In our exclusive Members Area, watch the Webinar on Instant Asset Write-off (under the useful links tab) and read the full article in your November/December 2018 Bi-Monthly Newsletter, page 15.

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Immediate Deduction for SBE Start-up Expenses

IMMEDIATE DEDUCTION FOR SBE START-UP EXPENSES

This allows taxpayers who are not in business or are a Small Business Entity (SBE) (turnover of less that $10 million) to immediately deduct certain expenses relating to the proposed structure or operation of a business. The expenses must relate to a business that is proposed to be carried on, including certain Government fees and charges and costs associated with raising capital, where these expenses would otherwise be deductible over five years. Eligible expenses generally fall into two categories:

  • Expenditure on advice or services relating to the structure or operation of the proposed business.
  • Payments to Australian Government agencies.

Allowing SBE’s to deduct their start-up expenditure in the year it is incurred provides them with a cash-flow benefit. The deductions are brought forward rather than spread out over a number of years. Cash-flow is one of the main killers of start-up businesses.

TAX TIP
Given that the threshold increase is backdated to 1 July 2016, if your business incurred these expenses but failed to claim them in full in the 2016/2017 tax return, you may wish to amend that return.

Subscribers – for the full article on all SBE Opportunities please log-in to your Members Area, July/August Newsletter, page 17.
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