Tag: Superannuation

Super Guarantee Amnesty Update

The Government’s proposed Superannuation Guarantee (SG) Amnesty will not proceed. To recap, the SG 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 have during this 12-month period voluntarily disclosed any SG underpayments that existed in the past (going as far back to when SG commenced in 1992). For an employer, the tax benefits of the amnesty were:

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

  *   Part 7 penalties would 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 is owed to employees)

  *   All catch-up payments made during the 12-month amnesty period were to be tax deductible.

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

With Parliament having been prorogued for the Federal Election, the legislation to enact the Amnesty (which is opposed by the Labor Party) will not pass into law. Therefore, employers who disclosed SG shortfalls during the Amnesty period will be subject to the current law and not enjoy the Amnesty concessions, irrespective of any assurances offered by ATO employees at the time employers made disclosures. The ATO have however indicated that it will exercise its discretion and not apply Part 7 penalties to these employers. The Part 7 penalties aspect of the SG Charge regime did not require a change to legislation as the discretion to waive penalties already sits with the ATO.Going forward, with super funds now reporting to the ATO more regularly (at least once per month), we would strongly urge all employers to pay SG on time and in full by the quarterly cut-off dates

2019 Federal Budget Wrap

Following is a brief summary of some of the headline Budget measures.

BUSINESS

*         Instant Asset Write-Off Boosted and Expanded – Two key changes have been made:

o    The write-off has been extended to medium-sized businesses (those with an aggregated annual turnover of less than $50 million.

o    The threshold has been increased to $30,000.

Therefore, subject to legislation, businesses with an aggregated turnover of less than $50 million will be able to immediately deduct purchases of eligible assets costing less than $30,000 that are purchased and then first used, or installed ready for use, from Budget night (2 April 2019) to 30 June 2020.

*         Division 7A Changes Deferred – The Government’s proposed Division 7A changes will be deferred by 12 months to 1 July 2020. To recap, Division 7A is designed to prevent profits or assets being provided to shareholders or their associates tax-free. You can read more about these proposed changes – which are not yet even in draft legislative form – on the ATO website.<//www.ato.gov.au/General/New-legislation/In-detail/Other-topics/Targeted-amendments-to-Division-7A/>

*         Crackdown on Unpaid Tax and Super by Larger Businesses – The Government will provide more than $40 million to the ATO to recover unpaid tax and Superannuation Guarantee owed by larger businesses.

*         Strengthening ABN Rules – This measure imposes new compliance obligations on ABN holders to retain their ABN. From 1 July 2021, ABN holders with an income tax return obligation will be required to lodge their income tax return and from 1 July 2022 confirm the accuracy of their details on the Australian Business Register annually.

*         Tackling Sham Contracting – The Government will provide more than $9 million to establish a dedicated unit within the Fair Work Ombudsman to address sham contracting. This is where employers seek to avoid statutory obligations and employment entitlements (such as paid leave and superannuation) by misrepresenting employer/employee relationships as independent contracts.

PERSONAL TAX CHANGES

*         Income Tax Cuts by Increasing Tax Offset – Subject to the passage of legislation, tax relief will be granted to individuals via the non-refundable low and middle income tax offset (LMITO). The LIMTO will increase from a current maximum of $530 per year to $1,080. Further, the base rate will increase from $200 to $255 per year for 2018/2019 through to 2021/2022. Depending on your level of income, the changes will benefit individuals as follows:

o    The LMITO will now provide a reduction in tax of up to $255 for taxpayers with a taxable income of $37,000 or less.

o    Between taxable incomes of $37,000 and $48,000, the value of the offset will increase at a rate of 7.5 cents per dollar to the maximum offset of $1,080.

o    Taxpayers with taxable incomes between $48,000 and $90,000 will be eligible for the maximum offset of $1,080.

o    For taxable incomes of $90,000 to $126,000 the offset will phase out at a rate of 3 cents per dollar.

The LMITO will be enjoyed straight after individuals lodge their income tax returns for the above years.

*         Income Tax Cuts via Rate and Threshold Changes – The following changes are slated for future income years:

o    From 1 July 2022, an increase to the top threshold of the 19% personal income tax bracket from$41,000 to $45,000.

o    From 1 July 2022, an increase in the low income tax offset (LITO) from $645to $700.

*         New Deductible Gift Recipients (DGRs) Approved – The following organisations have been granted DGR status from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2024: Australian Academy of Law, China Matters Limited, Foundation Broken Hill Limited, Motherless Daughters Australia Limited, Superannuation Consumers Centre Limited, and The Headstone Project (Tasmania) Incorporated. The Government will also establish a deductible gift recipient (DGR) general category to enable Men’s Sheds and Women’s Sheds to access DGR status from 1 July 2020.

SUPERANNUATION CHANGES

  *   Removal of Work Test for Certain Taxpayers – The current superannuation work test will be removed for people aged 65 and 66 from 1 July 2020.

  *   Extending Eligibility for the Bring-Forward Cap – From 1 July 2020, access to the bring-forward cap will be extended from taxpayers aged less than 65 years of age to those aged 65 and 66.

  *   Increase to Age Limit for Spouse Contributions – The age limit for spouse contributions will increase from 69 to 75 from 1 July 2020.

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. 

The Tax Advantages of Superannuation

Superannuation is a concessionally taxed environment as follows  

* Superannuation earnings (such as interest, dividends, rent etc.) are taxed at 15% when your account is in accumulation mode (i.e. not in pension mode). These earnings are tax-free when your account is in pension mode. By contrast, investment earnings on assets (such as shares, property, term deposits etc.) held outside of superannuation are taxed at your marginal tax

* Capital gains made by superannuation funds are likewise taxed at 15% when your account is in accumulation mode. Where a CGT assets supports a pension, any capital gain made when those assets are sold is tax-free. Any capital gain made by your superannuation fund is reduced to 10% (a 33% discount) where that asset has been held for 12 months or more.  Although this is a lesser discount than the 50% discount available to trusts and individuals, this is negated by the base CGT superannuation taxation rate of 15%.

Therefore, as well as making provision for your retirement, by contributing to superannuation you can also enjoy the above tax concessions. From 1 July 2017 all individuals up to age 75 can claim an income tax deduction for personal superannuation contributions. Before this date, you could only claim a deduction for your personal contributions where less than 10% of your assessable income, your reportable fringe benefits and your reportable employer superannuation contributions (e.g. salary sacrifice contributions) for the year were from being an employee – this was known as the 10% Rule. This rule prevented most employees from claiming a tax deduction for this type of contribution. However, under the new rules, to claim a deduction, the following requirements must be met:

* Age – All individuals under the age of 65 are eligible. Those aged 65 to 74 meet the superannuation ‘work test’ (work for at least 40 hours in a period of not more than 30 consecutive days in the financial year in which you plan to make the contribution). For those aged 75, the contribution must be made no later than 28 days after the end of the month in which you turn 75. Older taxpayers are ineligible.

* Minors –  If the individual is under 18 at the end of the income year in which the contribution is made, they must derive income in that year from being an employee or carrying on a business.

* Complying Fund – The contribution must be made to a complying superannuation fund.

* Notice Requirements – To claim the deduction you must provide your superannuation fund with a Notice of intention to claim a deduction form before you lodge your tax return in respect of that financial year.

Superannuation is also a great asset protection strategy. If a person becomes bankrupt, they may lose most (or all) of their assets. However, the Bankruptcy Act provides that the interest of the bankrupt in a regulated superannuation fund at the time of the commencement of the bankruptcy is not ‘property’ that can vest in their trustee in bankruptcy to be divided among creditors. Furthermore, if the superannuation fund pays a lump sum to a bankrupt (though not a pension) after the date of the bankruptcy, this money is also not divisible among creditors.

 

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/

AFTER TAX SUPPERANNUATION CONTRIBUTIONS

2017/2018 is the first year that individuals can reduce their tax liability for the year by making a pre-1 July personal superannuation contribution.  

To recap, new laws were introduced effective 1 July 2017 allowing all individuals up to age 75 to claim an income tax deduction for personal, after-tax superannuation contributions (pre-tax contributions, also known as salary sacrifice contributions, are deductible to your employer not you). Before this date, you could only claim a deduction for your personal contributions where less than 10% of (a) your assessable income (b) your reportable fringe benefits and (c) your reportable emaployer superannuation contributions (e.g. salary sacrifice contibutions) for the year were from being an employee – this was known as the “10% Rule”. This rule prevented most employees from claiming a tax deduction for their personal after-tax superannuation contributions.

To claim a deduction, the standard requirements that existed under the old rules must also be satisfied as follows: 
  • Age – All individuals under the age of 65 are eligible. Those aged 65 to 74 must meet the superannuation ‘work test’ (work for at least 40 hours in a period of not more that 30 consecutive days in the financial year in which you plan to make the contribution). For those aged 75, the contribution must be made no later than 28 days after the end of the month in which you turn 75 . Older tax payers are ineligible.
  • Minors – If the individual is under 18 at the end of the income year in which the contribution is made, they must derive income in that year from being an employee or carrying on a business.
  • Compying Fund – The contribution must be made to a complying superannuation fund.
  • Notice Requirements – To claim the deduction you must provide your superannuation fund with a Notice of intention to claim a deduction form before you lodge your tax return in respect of that financial year.
Note that the maximum deduction that you can claim is $25,000. This is the amount of the concessional contributions cap. As well as your after-tax contributions, included in the $25,000 cap are:
  • Employer contributions (including the compulsory 9.5% Superannuation Guarantee (SG) and salary sacrifice), and
  • Certain amounts transferred from a foreign superannuation fund to an Australian superannuation fund (this won’t affect most taxpayers).
Fo example, if you earned $50,000 for the year from your job, and your employer contributed $4,750, then in effect the maximum amount you could contribute and claim as a deduction would be $20,250 ($25,000 cap, minus $4,750).

//www.ato.gov.au/forms/notice-of-intent-to-claim-or-vary-a-deduction-for-personal-super-contributions/

The Attraction of Superannuation

Contrbuting to superannuation is still as popular as ever. Personal (voluntary) contributions in the December 2016 quarter (the latest available statistics) were $4,616 billion, up from $4,437 billion in the same quarter a year earlier. Superannuation assets in aggregate were $2,199 billion at the end of the December 2016  quarter, up from the previous quarter which was $2,145 billion, and are now at an all time historical record level. Over the 12 months to December 2016, there was a 7.4% increase in total superannuation assets.

This section details why, even in spite of recent unfavorable changes, contribution to superannuation is still so popular.

Tax Concessions
Superannuation is a concessionally taxed environment. This was highlighted in early 2017, when the Government released its Tax Expenditiurs Statement which stated that in total superannuation tax concessions cost the Government $38.85 billion in revenue in the previous financial year. These tax concessions which make superannution so attractive as an investment include:
CONCESSIONAL TAXATION OF EARNINGS
Superannuation earnings (such as interest, dividends, rent etc.) are taxed at 15% when your account is in accumulation mode (i.e. not in pension mode). These earnings are txax-free when your account is in pension mode. This concessional taxation cost the Government $16.85 billion in foregone revenue in 2015/2016. By contrast, investment earnings on assets (such as shares,property, term deposits etc.) held outside of superannuation are taxed at your marginal tax rate.
Note that your tax liability outside of superannuation may be further reduced by tax offsets such as those for low-income earners and pensioners.

CONCESSIONAL TAXATION OF CAPITAL GAINS
Capital gains made by superannuation funds are likewise taxed at 15% when your account is in accumulation mode. Where a CGT asset supports a pension, any capital gain made when those assets are sold is tax-free. On the other hand, if the CGT asset was held by one of the following entities it would be taxed as follows:
  • Individual – marginal tax rate
  • Company – 30% (or 27.5% for a Small Business Entity)
  • Trust – marginal tax rate of individual.
The tax on a capital gain made by your superannuation is reduced to 10% (a 33% discount) where the asset has been held for 12 months or more. Although this is a lesser discount than the 50% discount available to trusts and individuals, this is negated by the base CGT superannuation taxation reate being so low at 15%.

Cut Your Income Tax
TAX DEDUCTION FOR CONCESSIONAL CONTRIBUTIONS
Subject to age limits, from 1 Jly 2017 almost all individuals can now claim a tax deduction for their personal concessional (after-tax) contributions that they make to superannuation. Before this date, most employees were unable to do this.

To continue reading this article in full and similar articles, please log into your members area – Special Editions – Superannuation //mytaxsavers.com.au/app/uploads/2017/07/2017-Specials-Superannuation.pdf
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Key Dates for Business July & August 2017

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

July 2017

1 July First day of the 2017/2018 financial year
14 July 2016/2017 Payment Summaries – due date to issue to employees
21 July Monthly Activity Sttements (July 2017) due for lodgement an payment
28 July Quarterly Activity Statements (April-June) due for lodgement and payment (if lodging by paper)
28 July Superannuation Guarantee Contributions (April-June) due for payment to superannuation funds or clearing houses

August 2017

11 August Quarterly Activity Statements (April-June) due for lodgement and payment (if lodging electronically)
14 August PAYG Withholding Payment Summary Annual Reports due for lodgement
21 August Monthly Activity Statements (July 2017) due for lodgement and payment
21 August Final day for eligible monthly GST reporters to elect to report annually
28 August Contractor Taxable Payments Annual Report due for lodgement

The following tax changes commence 1 July 2017 and may impact you or your clients:

Happy New Financial Year!

Income Tax

Deficit Levy to be abolished – thus resulting in a 2% tax cut for individuals with taxable income in excess of $180 000.

Minimum Wage

On 6 June 2017, the Fair Work Commission handed down its annual wage review. The decision varied the following:

  • Minimum wage rates in Modern Awards – increased by 3.3% from first full pay period commencing on or after 1 July 2017 (rounded to the nearest 10 cents)
  • National minimum wage – increased by 3.3% to $694.90 per week, or $18.29 per hour
  • Wages for juniors, apprentices – most rates are expressed as a percentage of nominated adult rate so they receive a proportionate increase to the adult rate
  • Wages for trainees and piece workers – most trainees are covered by the National Training Wage system that is included as a schedule in most awards. National Training Wages will also be increased by 3.3% from the first pay period on or after 1 July 2017. Piece rates will increase in accordance with the relevant provisions in the modern award, pay scale or transitional award.
  • Supported wage system – employees with a disability: these employees are paid a percentage of the relevant adult wage, based on their assessed capacity. The 3.3% increase will also flow through to these employees.

GST

Rental Property Deduction Crackdown

First Home Saver Scheme to Commence

Voluntary super contributions made from 1 July 2017, will be able to be withdrawn as a deposit for a first home. More information.

Superannuation

Single Touch Payroll

Available for some employers

New Year Issues and Strategies

The New Year is a time to reflect, but also look ahead. Following are some of the issues business owners and individuals may turn their minds to as we enter 2017.

STAFFING LEVELS
Employing – If you determine you need additional staff – perhaps you are adding additional services/product lines to your business; you have a shortfall in the number of staff required to undertake current work in your business; or are replacing staff who have left your business – there is a myriad of obligations and procedures to be followed, both at a State and Federal level. To assist employers, the Government in conjunction with small business owners, Tax Agents, and industry associations, has created a Taking on Employees Checklist www.business.gov.au/info/run/employ-people. Irrespective of which State or Territory you are located, this comprehensive checklist covers off on all the Federal and State laws that apply when taking on a new employee – from pay entitlements, superannuation, insurance, withholding tax, and more. It’s a one-stop shop.
Redundancy – On the other hand, if your year-end review of staffing levels determines that there is excess staff, an employee may be made redundant. From a taxation perspective, a redundancy occurs when the employee is dismissed because the job they are doing no longer exists in your business – it has become redundant, and nobody is required to perform that specific role. Where this is the case, the employee is afforded concessional tax treatment on payments such as: payments in lieu of notice, severance payments of a number of weeks’ pay for each year of service, and gratuities or golden handshakes. Any payments that meet the conditions of a genuine redundancy are tax-free up to a limit based on the employee’s years of service with you. The tax-free limit is a flat dollar amount ($9,936 for 2016/2017), plus an amount for each year of completed service ($4,969) with the employer. Indexation changes the tax-free limit on 1 July each year. Note that for this concessional tax treatment to apply, the employee must be less that 65 years of age a the time the redundancy payment is made.
The following payments are not included in a genuine redundancy payment – salary/wages/allowances owing for work already done or leave already taken for work completed; lump sum payments of unused annual leave or leave loading paid on termination of employment; lump sum payments of unused long service leave paid on termination of employment under a financial arrangement; or payments made in lieu of superannuation benefits.

SUPERANNUATION CHANGES
Upcoming superannuation changes will impact many thousands of Australians in 2017, and may require some forward planning on your part. The changes which have now been passed by Parliament are:
  • From 1 July 2017, only those with a superannuation account balance below $1.6 million will be able to make non concessional contributions
  • If you are eligible to make no-concessional contributions from 1 July 2017 (i.e. have an account balance below $1.6 million) you will be limited to $100,000 per annum (or $300,000 over three years using existing bring-forward rules). Up until this date, the cap remains at $180,000 or $540,000 over 3 years. Thus over the coming months taxpayers, who are contemplating making large non-concessional contributions may wish to consider bringing forward those contributions to before 1 July. If making a large contribution (e.g. you may have received an inheritance, or sold a property) this will enable you to deposit more money into the concessionally  taxed superannuation environment sooner, and enjoy those tax concessions from an earlier date.
  • Concessional contributions limit will from 1 July 2017 be reduced to $25,000 for all taxpayers. Currently, the limit is $30,000 (or $35,000 for taxpayers aged over 49)
  • Allowing all individuals eligible to contribute to superannuation a deduction for their personal contributions up to the concessional contributions limit, from 1 July 2017.
  • Taxing the earnings in respect of Transition to Retirement Income Streams (TRIS) at 15% (up from 0%) from 1 July 2017.
  • Reducing the income threshold at which taxpayers are charged an extra 15% tax on the concessional contributions from $3000,000 to $250,000 from 1  July 2017. 
INSTANT ASSET WRITE-OFF
With a sunset date of 30 June 2017, small businesses may wish to start considering bringing forward any planned asset investments to the next few months – particularity in this current low interest-rate environment. Up until 30 June 2017, Small Business Entities (SBE’s) can claim an immediate write-off for the acquisition of most depreciating assets used in their business if the asset cost less that $20,000.

PENSION AND ALLOWANCES CHANGES
On 1 January 2017, new rules for pension access will be applied. It is estimated more than 300,000 Australian will have their benefits reduced as a result Some forward planning may be required to replace any lost income. To be clear, these changes will affect all pensioners who are assets tested, or who are currently income tested but become asset tested including recipients of the Age Pension, Carer Payment, Disability Support Pension, Widow B Pension, and Wife Pension. The Asset Test Free Area is the amount of assets above which allowances are not paid and pensions are reduced. From 1 January 2017, the Full Pension Thresholds will increase. Only if your assets are below the thresholds will you be eligible for a full pension under 2017 assets test.

For the complete article, including case studies, please see your Jan/Feb 2017 ATR BiMonthly Update magazine, or log into your exclusive Members Area to read this article online. www.mytaxsavers.com.au/login