Tag: Employers

The New Importance of Tax Compliance

New legislation could see businesses lose tax deductions for payments to employees and contractors. This article details this new law, and provides a checklist of how to be compliant…

BASICS

In March, legislation was passed which will deny an income tax deduction for certain payments if the associated withholding obligations are not complied with by the business making the payment. This new law commences on 1 July 2019, and provides a very strong incentive for employers to comply with their withholding obligations. Under current law, employers are entitled to a deduction for actually having made a payment to an employee or contractor – irrespective of whether they have correctly met the withholding requirements in respect of these payments. This is, the payment itself is sufficient to claim a deduction.

NEW RULES

From 1 July 2019, a deduction will no longer be allowed in relation to the following payments:

  • Of salary, wages, commissions, bonuses, or allowances to an employee
  • Of directors’ fees
  • To a religious practitioner
  • Under a labour-hire arrangement
  • For a supply of services – excluding supplies of goods and supplies of real properyt – where the recipient of the payment has not quoted their Australian Business Number (ABN)

….if withholding applied to the payment, and the payer was required to withhold an amount from the payment and did not withhold an amount OR did not notify the ATO when required. To be clear, deductions will only be denied where no amount has been withheld at all from the payment that attracts withholding or no notification is made to the ATO. Withholding an incorrect amount (such as from an allowance etc.) or reporting the withholding incorrectly will not result in a deduction being denied.

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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. 

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.

 

 

SUPER AMNESTY – TAKE ADVANTAGE!

Could you as an employer benefit from taking advantage of the Government’s new Superannuation Guarantee (SG) Amnesty? This article informs you of how you can wipe your SG slate clean, and enjoy some once-off taxation benefits in doing so.

Subject to the passage of legislation (which is currently before the Senate), the Amnesty will be available for the 12-month period from 24 May 2018 to 23 May 2019.

BACKGROUND
The latest data indicates that the “SG Gap” or SG Shortfall (the difference between the theoretical amount payable by employers to be fully compliant with their SG obligations and the amount they have actually paid) is $2.85 billion annually. This indicates that a concerning number of employers are not paying sufficient SG to their employees or are not paying it at all. In response to this and in order to recoup this key employee entitlement, the Government in late May 2018, announced a once-off, 12-month Superannuation Amnesty for employers.
BENEFITS
For an employer, the benefits of the Amnesty are:
  • The administration component of the Superannuation Guarantee Charge (SGC) is waived (this is currently a $20 per employee, per quarter charge 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 amount that you owe to employees)
  • All catch-up payments that you make during the 12-month Amnesty period will be tax deductible. The amendments also allow contributions that an employer has elected to offset against SG Charge imposed on the SG Shortfall disclosed in accordance with the Amnesty to be deducted from an employer’s assessable income. This ensures commensurate benefits are provided for employers who contribute directly to their employees’ funds when disclosing under the Amnesty as opposed to the benefits for those who instead make payments in relation to SG Charge and leave it to the ATO to distribute the amounts to the relevant funds.
By contrast, under the current law, SG Charge paid to the ATO is not deductible, and late contributions that an employer has made to an employees’ superannuation fund and has elected to offset against their SG Charge liability are also not deductible.
DETAILS
With a Bill to enact the new Amnesty now having been introduced to Parliament, we can reveal the details are as follows:
  • The Amnesty applies to any SG Shortfall from the introduction of SG back on 1 July 1992 to the quarter ending 31 March 2018.
  • You must voluntarily disclose amounts of SG Shortfall relating to the above period. Therefore, if an employer has already lodged an SG Charge Statement (and in that Statment disclosed particular SG Shortfalls), then those particular Shortfalls are not eligible for the Amnesty even if the amount of the Shortfall has yet to be paid. Likewise, Shortfalls that the ATO uncovers during current, future, or past audits of the employer are not eligible for the Amnesty. The disclosure of a new Shortfall must come from the employer, and must occur during the 12-month Amnesty period. By way of background, SG Charge Statements and SG Shortfalls operate under a self-assessment model. The ATO are in most cases unaware that an SG Shorfall exists except in the case where an employee lodges a complaint against their employer themselves, or the Shortfall is uncovered in an ATO audit. This lack of awareness by the ATO of past employer Shortfalls is why eligibility for the Amnesty rests on the disclosure by the employer of new, undisclosed Shortfalls.
  • There is no requirement to actually make a payment to get the benefit of the Amnesty. Rather, you only need to disclose an SG Shortfall. However, where you fail to make a payment during the Amnesty period, you will not receive a deduction for the catch-up payments (which are only available during the Amnesty).
  • Any payments made outside the Amnesty period are not eligible for a deduction. For example, if an employer discloses a Shortfall during the Amnesty period, and then makes a payment arrangement with the ATO to pay the required amounts back in instalments, any amounts paid after 23 May 2019 cannot be claimed as a deduction.
ACCESS
To access the Amnesty, employers or thier Advisors must first calculate the amount payable (the SG Shortfall, plus nominal interest) and lodge one of the following forms:
  • SG Amnesty Fund payment form (where you wish to access the Amnesty and can pay the amount in full (including nominal interest) direct to an employee’s superannuation fund)
  • SG Amnesty ATO payment form (where you wish to access the Amnesty but cannot pay the amount owing in full). If an employer has already lodged an SGC Statment or received an SGC assessment for a quarter, they can only use this form.
Employers need to lodge these completed forms electonically through the Business Portal or their Accountant or Bookkeeper on their behalf via the BAS Agent or Tax Agent Portal respectively. There is now a radio button on all portals. Information that must be provided includes:
  1. Details of Employer
  2. Number of quarters covered
  3. Number of employees, (no employee details are required)
  4. Amount to be paid.
CONCLUSION
Legislation to enact this Amnesty was introduced into Parliment in late May and has been passed by the House of Representatives. It is currently before the Senate. Interestingly, the Opposition have criticised the legislation which it says shows leniency to non-complying employers. Therefore, it is no absolute certainty that the Amnesty will be passed into law over the coming months. For this reason, if you are contemplating disclosing past shortfalls specifically to get the benefits of the Amnesty (including claiming a deduction for their late contributions) then it may be prudent to hold off until such time the Amnesty actually becomes law. We will keep you apprised of the passage of the legislation through Parliament.

Irrespective of the Amnesty however, all employers should strongly 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) – meaning non-complying employers may be easily detected going forward.

For more on this subject: Members – login to the members area, Useful Links tab – watch the Tackling Tax video ‘Superannuation Amnesty’ presented by our CEO Kelvin Deer. //mytaxsavers.com.au/

Payment Summaries Due 14 July 2017

With the end of financial year fast approaching, be mindful that Payment Summaries must be provided to employees by 14 July for 2016/2017. This date is not just a guideline but is actually stipulated by law (Section 16- 155 of the Tax Administration Act). Two of the most common errors made in preparing the Individual Non-Business Payment Summary for employees are:

 

  • Misstating reportable employer superannuation contributions – ensure that you exclude Superannuation Guarantee amounts from this label. Salary sacrificed superannuation amounts must however be included.

 

 

This year there are special rules for Working Holiday Makers. A reduced tax rate applies for employers who registered with the ATO from 1 January 2017 — 15% up to $37,000 and 32.5% from $37,001. For registered Working Holiday Makers who worked both before and after 1 January 2017, two Payment Summaries must be issued, with the two different tax rates applying to the gross payments, depending upon the time of payment.

 

On the other hand, employers who did not register with the ATO for the reduced tax rate and continued to withhold at the foreign resident rate of 32.5% are required to issue the standard single Payment Summary per employee.

 

The Payment Summary for 2016/2017 includes a new section for overseas workers. In the Gross Payments Type box you must now indicate a type – this will be either S (salary), or H (registered Working Holiday Makers).

 

 

 

Burning Issues for Employers

SUPERSTREAM – COMPULSORY FOR ALL! 

All employers are now required to be SuperStream compliant. The 31 October compliance extension granted by the ATO to smaller employers has now passed. Note that there are no general exemptions from SuperStream – all employers must comply except for:
  • Contributions to your own SMSF (i.e.if you’re a related-party employer) – for example, if you’re an employee of your family business and your Superannuation Guarantee contributions go to your SMSF.
  • Personal contributions – for example, if you’re a sole trader and you contribute to a superannuation fund for yourself
Fines of up to $8,500 can now be imposed by the ATO on employers who are not SuperStream compliant. For more information on the SuperStream regime including compliance solutions, see the September/October 2016 edition of your ATR Bimonthly newsletter which is available in the Members Area if you are a subscriber.

SUPERANNUATION GUARANTEE

Still on superannuation… although the ATO allows an extra month for businesses to lodge their December quarterly BAS (the due date is February 28 regardless of whether you are lodging online via the Business Portal, by paper or via a Tax Agent/BAS Agent) there is no equivalent extension for the payment of Superannuation Guarantee.

Superannuation Guarantee for the October-December quarter is still due 28 days following the end of the quarter i.e. 28 January 2017. Failure to pay on time (even if you are just one day late) will result in your business being liable for the Superannuation Guarantee Charge. For this reason, if you are closed throughout January, you may wish to consider making the October-December contribution in December.

FINANCE

Following yet another recent reduction by the Reserve Bank, interest rates in Australia are now at record lows (the cash rate is currently at just 1.50%). With talk that rates will remain relatively low into the future, it’s an opportune time to review if you are making the most of them. Have you considered the following?

Fixed rate options. While rates are at an all-time low there may be opportunities to fix your loans or 3 or 5 years at under 5% per annum. Explore your options. Some borrowers may wish to fix just a portion of their loan.

Review your position. Low interest rates offer an opportunity to refinance or revise your payment schedule to pay your loan off sooner. Talk to your broker to see if there’s a home or business loan that better suits your needs.

Debt reduction. With lower rates, your monthly/fortnightly repayments will be less. Rather than pocketing the difference, if you put the difference into extra  repayments, you can shave years off your loan and, in doing so save thousands in interest. For example, a $500,000 home loan at an interest rate of 7% requires repayments of $3,078 per month over 30 years. At 4.5%, the repayments are $2,533, a difference of $545 a month. If you put that $545 into extra repayments, you can potentially take more than 9 years off the home loan term and save almost $140,000 in interest.

Create an offset account. This is effectively a money source sitting beside your mortgage. Any savings inside this account are effectively offset against your loan which in turn reduces the amount of interest you pay.

Of course, low rates will not be around forever. As a borrower it’s important not to become complacent and to make sure that you still have the capacity to meet your repayment obligation in the event that rates increase.

To continue to read this article (other headings Equipment Purchases & Annual Leave Issues), see the November/December 2016 edition of your ATR Bimonthly newsletter which is available in the Members Area if you are a subscriber, simply log in with your username & password.

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