Archive for the ‘General News’ Category

Foreign equity distributions to corporate entities

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

Two recent taxation determinations from the ATO deal with how the foreign equity distribution rules in the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 apply where the distribution recipient is a corporate partner in a partnership or a corporate beneficiary of a trust.

Under the rules, a foreign equity distribution is treated as non-assessable, non-exempt income if the recipient is an Australian corporate tax entity that holds a participation interest of at least 10% in the foreign company making the distribution.

The ATO’s view is that a partnership or trust can hold a direct control interest in a foreign company for the purposes of the rules, so that an Australian corporate tax entity can have an indirect participation interest in the foreign company via the partnership or trust.

Tax treatment of long-term construction contracts

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

In new Draft Taxation Ruling TR 2017/D8, the ATO explains the methods that taxpayers can use to return income derived and recognise expenses incurred in long-term construction projects. A construction project is considered long-term if it straddles two or more income years.

Two methods of accounting are available: the basic approach (essentially the accruals method) and the estimated profits approach.

Once a particular method is chosen, the ATO expects the taxpayer to apply it consistently for the entire contract. The same method should also be applied to all of the taxpayer’s similar contracts.

The draft ruling also deals with several accounting methods that the ATO does not consider acceptable for long-term construction contracts, including the completed contracts method (bringing profits and losses to account when the contract is completed).

Total superannuation balances and pension transfer balance account reports

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

The concept of a person’s “total superannuation balance” is now being used to determine whether you are eligible for various super concessions, including the $1.6 million balance limit for non-concessional contributions, Federal Government co-contributions, the spouse contributions tax offset, carrying forward unused concessional contributions and self managed superannuation fund (SMSF) segregation.

The ATO has recently agreed to modify the reporting obligation for total superannuation balances, recognising that some funds are not in a position to correctly report their correct accumulation phase value for 30 June 2017.

The ATO has also set out when superannuation providers and life insurance companies must lodge transfer balance account reports. The ATO will use the reports to determine if individuals have exceeded their pension transfer balance cap.

An administrative concession will be provided for self managed superannuation funds (SMSFs), allowing later reporting to help the funds transition to event-based transfer balance cap reporting.

TIP: Super shouldn’t be a “set and forget” arrangement. It’s important to revisit your strategy and consider it carefully, especially in light of the wide range of super changes announced in this year’s Federal Budget.

ATO guidance: what is “carrying on a business”?

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

The ATO has issued a draft taxation ruling to explain the factors it will consider when deciding whether a company (incorporated under the Corporations Act 2001) is “carrying on a business”. This is one of the tests companies and small businesses must pass to be eligible for the lower corporate tax rate.

It’s not possible to definitively state whether a company carries on a business, but the draft ruling says that ATO will consider a range of indicating factors. Specifically, a company is likely to be carrying on a business if it:
• is established and maintained to make a profit for its shareholders; and
• invests its assets in gainful activities that have both a purpose and prospect of profit.

TIP: Wondering whether you can access the reduced corporate tax rate? Talk to us today to find out more about how the passive income and carrying on a business tests apply to your situation.

New passive income test for lower corporate tax rate

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

The Federal Government has recently introduced a Bill into Parliament to ensure that companies with more than 80% passive income will not qualify for the reduced company tax rate.
Under the Bill’s changes to the Income Tax Rates Act 1986, calculations of a business’s “passive income” would include:
• distributions by corporate tax entities (other than non-portfolio dividends);
• franking credits attached to such distributions;
• non-share dividends;
• interest;
• royalties;
• rent;
• gain on qualifying securities;
• net capital gains; and
• amounts included in the assessable income of partners in a partnership or beneficiaries of a trust estate that are referable to another base rate entity passive income amount.
At the time of writing, the Bill is still before the Parliament. When passed, it will apply from the 2017–2018 income year.
The lower company tax rate of 27.5% is available in 2017–2018 for small businesses and corporate base rate entities with turnover of less than $25 million.

TIP: You must also “carry on a business” to be eligible for the lower corporate tax rate – read on to find out more about what this means for companies.

Consultation paper: combating phoenix activities

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

The Federal Government has released a consultation paper proposing company and tax law reforms to combat phoenix activities.
Phoenix activities involve stripping assets from a company that’s in debt and transferring them to another company to avoid paying the first company’s liabilities – that is, the new company “rises from the ashes” of the old one.
The government is considering a range of ways to combat this type of activity, including setting up a hotline for phoenix reporting, adding phoenixing to the offences specifically prohibited under the Corporations Act 2001, making directors personally liable for companies’ unpaid GST, and limiting the ability for sole directors to resign unless there is a replacement director or the company is wound up.

Superannuation guarantee

Friday, October 6th, 2017

Crackdown on employer non-compliance
The Government has announced a package of reforms to give the ATO near-real-time visibility over employers’ superannuation guarantee (SG) compliance. The package includes measures to:
• require super funds to report contributions at least monthly to the ATO;
• roll out Single Touch Payroll (STP); and
• give the ATO the ability to seek court-ordered penalties in severe cases of non-payment.

Salary sacrifice integrity
Legislation has also been introduced to prevent employersfrom using an employee’s salary sacrifice contributions to reduce the employer’s own minimum SG contributions. This change would apply to working out employers’ SG shortfalls for quarters beginning on or after 1 July 2018

New financial and superannuation complaints authority

Friday, October 6th, 2017

Legislation has now been introduced to establish a new external dispute resolution framework and an enhanced internal dispute resolution framework for the Australian financial system.
Consumers will have easy access to a single external dispute resolution scheme, the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA). Certain firms that provide financial and credit services will need to be members of AFCA, including Australian financial services licensees, unlicensed product issuers, unlicensed secondary sellers, Australian credit licensees and credit representatives, regulated superannuation funds (other than SMSFs), approved deposit funds, retirement savings account providers, annuity providers, and life policy funds and insurers.
Before AFCA will consider a dispute, it will refer the complaint back to the financial firm so it can attempt to resolve the dispute within a defined timeframe. AFCA will also have an independent assessor to investigate any complaints about how disputes are handled.

No GST on digital currency: Bill

Friday, October 6th, 2017

The GST Act (A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999) is being amended to ensure that digital currency, such as Bitcoin, is disregarded for GST purposes unless the supply is made in exchange for a payment of money or digital currency.
To achieve this, a definition of “digital currency” will be inserted into the GST Act. Under the new definition, a digital currency has broadly the same features as state fiat currencies (legal tender). In particular, the value of a digital currency must derive from the market’s assessment of its value. A digital currency’s value cannot be based on the value of anything else, so it must not have, for example, a value pegged to Australian or United States dollars.
The currency units must be useable as consideration for any type of supply, and must be generally available to the public.
Units will not be considered digital currency if they give the holder benefits (such as memberships or vouchers), other than entitlements incidental to holding the unit or using it as consideration.
TIP: When the new definition passes into law, no GST will apply for supplies of digital currency made on or after 1 July 2017.

Legislation for First Home Super Saver scheme and downsizer super contributions

Friday, October 6th, 2017

A Bill has been introduced into Parliament to establish the First Home Super Saver (FHSS) scheme and allow people aged 65 or over to make “downsizer contributions” to their super.
The FHSS scheme will allow people to make voluntary contributions into super, take advantage of the associated tax concessions, and later withdraw the contributions and associated earnings to buy their first home.
The downsizer contribution changes will allow older Australians who sell their main residence from 1 July 2018 to make non-deductible contributions of up to $300,000 to their superannuation from the sale proceeds.