Archive for the ‘General News’ Category

Life insurance in super: costs on the way up?

Thursday, April 1st, 2021
Having insurance through superannuation can be a tax-effective and cost-effective way of protecting yourself and your loved ones. Most funds offer three different types of insurance through super, each covering different contingencies: life insurance, total and permanent disability (TPD) insurance and income protection insurance.
Life cover pays a lump sum or income stream to your beneficiaries when you die, or if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness. TPD insurance pays a benefit if you become permanently or seriously disabled and are unlikely to work again. Income protection insurance pays you a regular income for a specified period if you can’t work due to temporary disability or illness.
TIP: Depending on your situation, you may choose to hold insurance of one type or multiple types through your super, with the premiums automatically deducted from your super balance.
It’s estimated that around 70% of Australians who have life insurance hold it through their super fund. However, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has noted new and concerning developments that may see the costs of this insurance go up.
According to the data APRA has collected on life insurance claims and dispute statistics, premiums per insured member within super funds escalated during 2019 and 2020. APRA has likened this trend to what occurred between 2012 and 2016 when, after a period of significant premium reductions, insurers experienced significant losses. This led to large premium increases and more restrictive cover terms for insurance holders.
APRA notes that should this trend continue, super members are likely to be adversely affected by further substantial increases in insurance premiums and/or reductions in the value and quality of life insurance in superannuation. The regulator goes as far as saying that the ongoing viability and availability of life insurance through super may be at risk, which will impact a large proportion of the population.
It’s not time to panic just yet, but it’s important to regularly review what insurance you actually need, what cover you have through your super, and what you’re paying for it, as premiums can add up and erode your super – especially if you’re unnecessarily paying them to multiple funds!
TIP: Many funds allow you to adjust your insurance cover (either up or down) to suit changes in your situation, with corresponding premiums. And if you’re not happy with the prices or levels of cover from your fund, you can always look into insurance offerings available separately from your super.
For now, APRA is continuing to monitor the situation to ensure that registrable superannuation entity (RSE) licensees take appropriate steps to safeguard pricing, value and benefits for members that adequately reflect the underlying risks and expected experience.

COVID-19 stimulus and support measures winding back

Thursday, April 1st, 2021
A number of important COVID-19 related government stimulus and support measures are now coming to an end, and some others have begun phasing out, which will occur over a slightly longer period.
This means that businesses and individuals need to prepare for an environment where the government safety net is not as wide.
TIP: If you or your business need information on managing your financial arrangements as you face the winding down of these government supports, we’re here to help – contact us today.
The following are, at the time of writing, among the measures that will cease at the end of March 2021:
• JobKeeper (ends 28 March);
• Coronavirus Supplement (ends 31 March);
• the temporary COVID-19 qualification rules for JobSeeker payment and youth allowance (end 31 March);
• HomeBuilder (ends 31 March); and
• some apprenticeship wage subsidies (end 31 March).

ATO reminder: lodge your TPAR

Thursday, April 1st, 2021
The ATO is reminding owners of businesses that provide various services to lodge their taxable payments annual report (TPAR) for the 2019–2020 income year. It estimates that around 280,000 businesses were required to lodge a TPAR for the 2019–2020 financial year, but at the beginning of March around 60,000 businesses still had not complied with the lodgment requirements. The reports were originally due on 28 August 2020. To avoid possible penalties, these businesses are encouraged to lodge as soon as possible.
The ATO notes that many businesses that have engaged delivery services (including food delivery services) though a contractor/subcontractor may not know they have to lodge a report.
TIP: Your business doesn’t need to provide the relevant services exclusively to be captured under the TPAR system – if you only provide the service for a part of the year, or even if it is only a small part of your business, you may be required to lodge a TPAR.
The TPAR was introduced to combat the “black economy” which is estimated to cost the Australian community around $50 billion, or 3% of gross domestic product (GDP). It is designed to help the ATO identify contractors or subcontractors who either don’t report or under-report their income (eg through hiding amounts received as “cash in hand”).
The report is required for businesses that make payments to contractors/subcontractors and provide any of the following services:
• building and construction;
• cleaning services;
• courier services, including delivery of items or goods (letters, packages, food, etc) by vehicle or bicycle, or on foot;
• road freight services;
• IT services, either on site or remotely; and
• security, investigation or surveillance services.
For example, during the past year many eateries, grocery stores, pharmacies and other general retailers pivoted to providing home delivery for their customers. As such, they may have needed to engage contractors or subcontactors to provide courier services. If the total income received for these deliveries or courier services amount to 10% or more of their total business income, they will be required to lodge a TPAR even though they may not have needed to do so previously.
If your business is required to lodge a TPAR, the details you’ll need to report about each contractor should be easy to find and are generally contained on the invoice you receive from them. This includes details such as their ABN, name and address, and the gross amount paid for the financial year (including GST).
TIP: Think your business may needed to lodge a TPAR ASAP? If you’re not sure or just need some help with lodging the report, we have the expertise to help you.

It’s time to consider FBT

Thursday, April 1st, 2021
If your business has provided any benefits to your employees, you may be liable for fringe benefits tax (FBT). This includes benefits to current, prospective and former employees,as well as their associates. It’s important to keep in mind that this applies no matter what structure your business has – sole trader, partnership, trustee, corporation, unincorporated association, etc. If a benefit was provided in respect of employment, then it may be a taxable fringe benefit.
Although the Australian income tax year runs from 1 July to 30 June, the FBT year is different, running from 1 April to 31 March the following year – so now is the time to consider your business’s FBT obligations and organise your records for the year 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.
TIP: Business FBT returns and payments are generally due by 21 May if you lodge yourself, or by 25 June if we lodge electronically as your registered tax agent.
In total, there are 13 different types of taxable fringe benefits, each with their own specific valuation rules. The FBT tax rate of 47% may seem fearsome, but there are ways to reduce the amount of FBT your business may have to pay where a benefit has been provided.
One of the simplest ways to reduce the amount of your business’s FBT liability is for your employees to make payments towards the cost of providing the fringe benefit. This is known as employee contribution, and certain conditions still apply.
Your business can also take advantage of various exemptions and concessions to reduce FBT liability, but you’ll need to keep specific and careful records, including employee declarations and invoices and receipts. As a general rule, you should keep these documents for at least five years after the relevant FBT return is lodged.

Your Future, Your Super legislative changes

Thursday, March 4th, 2021
The Treasury Laws Amendment (Your Future, Your Super) Bill 2021 has been introduced to Parliament to implement some of the “Your Future, Your Super” measures announced in the 2020–2021 Federal Budget. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has said the measures are intended to save $17.9 billion over 10 years by holding underperforming super funds to account and strengthening protections around people’s retirement savings. The changes include:
• “stapling” your chosen super fund so it follows you when you change jobs, and you don’t end up paying fees for multiple accounts;
• requiring funds to pass an annual performance test, and report underperformance to fund regulators and members;
• strengthening trustees’ obligations to only act in the best financial interests of fund members; and
• creating an interactive online YourSuper comparison tool which will encourage funds to compete harder for members’ super.

Super transfer balance cap increase from 1 July 2021

Thursday, March 4th, 2021
If you’re nearing retirement and have a large amount in your transfer balance account, it may be wise to delay until 1 July 2021 to take advantage of the upcoming pension transfer cap increase from $1.6 million to $1.7 million due to indexation.
At the time you first commence a retirement phase superannuation income stream, your “personal transfer balance cap” is set at the general transfer balance cap for that financial year.
Essentially, the transfer balance cap is a lifetime limit on the total amount of super that you can transfer into retirement phase income streams, including most pensions and annuities, so a larger cap amount means you can have a bit more money in your pocket throughout your retirement.
This cap amount takes into account all retirement phase income streams and retirement phase death benefit income streams, but the age pension and other types of government payments and pensions from foreign super funds don’t count towards it.
The ATO has confirmed that when the general transfer balance cap is indexed to $1.7 million from 1 July 2021, there won’t be a single cap that applies to all individuals. Rather, every individual will have their own personal transfer balance cap of between $1.6 million and $1.7 million, depending on their circumstances.
TIP: Commencing a pension is a complex area and care needs to be taken to get it right for a comfortable retirement. Talk to us today to find out how we can help.

ATO data-matching: JobMaker and early access to super

Thursday, March 4th, 2021
The ATO is kicking into gear in 2021 with another two data-matching programs specifically related to the JobMaker Hiring Credit and early access to superannuation related to COVID-19. While the data collected will mostly be used to identify compliance issues in relation to JobMaker and early access to super, it will also be used to identify compliance issues surrounding other COVID-19 economic stimulus measures, including JobKeeper payments and cash flow boosts.
As a refresher, the temporary early access to super measure allowed citizens or permanent residents of Australian or New Zealand to withdraw up to two amounts of $10,000 from their super in order to deal with adverse economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The JobMaker Hiring Credit is a payment scheme for businesses that hire additional workers. Both measures have particular eligibility conditions to meet for access.
The ATO expects that data relating to more than three million individuals will be collected from Services Australia (Centrelink) for the temporary early access to super program, as well as data about around 450,000 positions related to JobMaker. Approximately 100,000 individuals’ data will also be collected from the state and territory correctional facility regulators.
While the data collected will primarily be used to verify application, registration and lodgment obligations as well as identify compliance issues and initiate compliance activities, the ATO will also use it to improve voluntary compliance, and to ensure that the COVID-19 economic response is providing timely support to affected workers, businesses and the broader community.

Closely held payees: STP options for small employers

Thursday, March 4th, 2021
Small employers with closely held payees have been exempt from reporting these payees through single touch payroll (STP) for the 2019–2020 and 2020–2021 financial years. However, they must begin STP reporting from 1 July 2021.
TIP: STP is a payday reporting arrangement where employers need to send tax and superannuation information to the ATO directly from their payroll or accounting software each time they pay their employees.
For STP purposes, small employers are those with 19 or fewer employees.
A closely held payee is an individual who is directly related to the entity from which they receive a payment. For example:
• family members of a family business;
• directors or shareholders of a company; and
• beneficiaries of a trust.
Small employers must continue to report information about all of their other employees (known as “arm’s length employees”) via STP on or before each pay day (the statutory due date). Small employers that only have closely held employees are not required to start STP reporting until 1 July 2021, and there’s no requirement to advise the ATO if you’re a small employer that only has closely held payees.
The ATO has now released details of the three options that small employers with closely held payees will have for STP reporting from 1 July 2021:
• option 1: report actual payments through STP for each pay event;
• option 2: report actual payments through STP quarterly; or
• option 3: report a reasonable estimate through STP quarterly – although there are a range of details and steps to consider if you take this option.
TIP: If your business will need to lodge through STP soon, we can help you find an easy and cost-effective STP-enabled solution, or we can lodge on your behalf. Whatever you choose, remember that STP reports can’t be lodged through ATO online services and isn’t a label on your BAS, so early preparation is needed.

Tax implications of having more than one job

Thursday, March 4th, 2021
With insecure, contract and casual work becoming increasingly common, particularly in the current COVID-19 affected economy, it’s no surprise that many young and not-so-young Australians may have income from more than one job. If you are working two or more jobs casually or have overlapping contract work, you need to be careful to avoid an unexpected end of financial year tax debt.
This type of debt usually arises where a person with more than one job claims the tax-free threshold in relation to multiple employers, resulting in too little tax being withheld overall. To avoid that, you need to look carefully at how much you’ll be making and adjust the pay as you go (PAYG) tax withheld accordingly.
Currently, the tax-free threshold is $18,200, which means that if you’re an Australian resident for tax purposes, the first $18,200 of your yearly income isn’t subject to tax. This works out to roughly $350 a week, $700 a fortnight, or $1,517 per month in pay.
When you start a job, your employer will give you a tax file number declaration form to complete. This will ask whether you want to claim the tax-free threshold on the income you get from this job, to reduce the amount of tax withheld from your pay during the year.
A problem arises, of course, when a person has two or more employers paying them a wage, and they claim the tax-free threshold for multiple employers. The total tax withheld from their wages may then not be enough to cover their tax liability at the end of the income year. This also applies to people who have a regular part-time job and also receive a taxable pension or government allowance.
The ATO recommends that people who have more than one employer/payer at the same time should only claim the tax-free threshold from the employer who usually pays the highest salary or wage. The other payers will then withhold tax from your payments at a higher rate (the “no tax-free threshold” rate).
If the total tax withheld from of your employer payments is more than needed to meet your year-end tax liability, the withheld amounts will be credited to you when your income tax return is lodged, and you’ll get a tax refund. However, if the tax withheld doesn’t cover the tax you need to pay, you’ll have a tax debt and need to make a payment to the ATO.
TIP: If you have two or more incomes, for example from casual or contract jobs or because you get a pension and have part-time employment income, we can help you figure out your tax withholding arrangements and avoid a surprising bill at tax time.

New insolvency rules commence

Monday, February 1st, 2021

Important changes to Australia’s insolvency laws commenced operation on 1 January 2021. The Federal Government has called these the most important changes to Australia’s insolvency framework in 30 years.
The measures apply to incorporated businesses with liabilities less than $1 million. The intention is that the rules change from a rigid “one size fits all” model to a
more flexible “debtor in possession” model, which will allow eligible small businesses to restructure their existing debts while remaining in control of their business. For those businesses that are “unable to survive”, a new simplified “liquidation pathway” will apply for small businesses to allow faster and lower-cost liquidation.
The measures are expected to cover around 76% of businesses currently subject to insolvency, 98% of which have fewer than 20 employees. The new rules do not apply to partnerships or sole traders.
To be eligible to access this new process a company must:
•    be incorporated under the Corporations Act 2001;
•    have total liabilities which do not exceed $1 million on the day the company enters the process – this excludes employee entitlements;
•    resolve that it is insolvent or likely to become insolvent at some future time and that a small business restructuring practitioner should be appointed; and
•    appoint a small business restructuring practitioner to oversee the restructuring process, including working with the business to develop a debt restructuring plan and restructuring proposal statement.


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