Archive for the ‘General News’ Category

Social security means testing of lifetime retirement income streams

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

The Department of Social Services (DSS) has released its proposed means testing rules for pooled lifetime retirement income streams.
The pension standards were amended from 1 July 2017 to allow for more tax-exempt lifetime superannuation income stream products that enable pooling risk to manage longevity risk. Lifetime pensions and annuities that meet these new standards qualify for tax concessions tax treatment.
The DSS proposes to consider the following amounts when assessing such pooled lifetime income streams as part of social security means testing:
• income test: 70% of all income paid from the income stream product; and
• assets test: 70% of the purchase price of the product until the person reaches the age of their life expectancy at the time they made the purchase, and 35% from then on.
TIP: Under the new rules, deferred super income stream products would receive the same asset test assessment as products where payments begin immediately.

Corporate tax avoidance: latest ATO targets

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

The ATO has provided an update on its latest focus areas and the compliance projects it is undertaking to reduce corporate tax avoidance. These include:
• investigating possible manipulation of the thin capitalisation rules, including 27 taxpayers’ asset revaluations totalling $78 billion;
• looking into arrangements that move intellectual property assets and rights offshore to multinational entities’ related parties;
• focusing on the treatment of oil and gas industry labour costs associated with high-value asset construction;
• examining the arm’s length conditions operating in pharmaceutical industry arrangements;
• identifying tax professionals and advisers who are promoting unacceptable tax planning; and
• looking at the tax affairs of various major e-commerce players.

Moving to combat the black economy

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

The Black Economy Taskforce was established in 2017 “to develop an innovative, forward-looking whole-of-government policy response to combat the black economy in Australia, recognising that these issues cannot be tackled by traditional tax enforcement measures alone”. In May 2017 the taskforce made a its initial recommendations, which it based on foreign jurisdiction experiences, consultation with stakeholders and anecdotal evidence it had received.
TIP: The black economy includes people who don’t correctly report and meet their tax obligations, and people who operate entirely outside the tax and regulatory system.
The Government accepted a number of the taskforce’s recommendations, and has now introduced a Bill into Parliament, proposing to combat the black economy by:
• prohibiting the production, distribution and possession of sales suppression tools, which are typically used to remove or alter transaction information recorded by point-of-sale (POS) systems;
• prohibiting the use of electronic sales suppression tools to incorrectly keep tax records; and
• requiring entities that have an ABN and that provide courier or cleaning services to report to the ATO (from 1 July 2018) information about transactions that involve engaging other entities to undertake those services for them.

Bill to change residential property GST arrangements

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

A Bill has been introduced into Parliament that, when passed, will require purchasers of new residential premises and new subdivisions of potential residential land to pay the goods and services tax (GST) on the purchase directly to the ATO as part of the settlement process from 1 July 2018.
TIP: Under the current law, the supplier of the property (eg the developer) is responsible for paying the GST to the ATO when lodging a business activity statement (BAS). This can happen up to three months after settlement.
The new measure was announced in the 2017–2018 Federal Budget. It is intended to speed up the GST payment process, and to deal with the problem of some developers dissolving their business and setting up a new entity to avoid paying GST (a form of “phoenix” tax avoidance).

Changes to small business CGT concessions

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

Treasury has released draft legislation to make sure that taxpayers will only be able to access the small business CGT concessions for assets that are used (or held ready for use) in the course of a small business or are an interest in a small business.

The draft also proposes additional conditions to be satisfied from 1 July 2017 when applying the small business CGT concession for capital gains related to a share in a company or an interest in a trust.
TIP: A range of tax concessions are available for small businesses. Talk to us to find out how your business could benefit.

Bill to implement housing affordability CGT changes

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

As part of the 2017–2018 Budget, the Federal Government announced a range of reforms intended to reduce pressure on housing affordability. Legislation has now been introduced into Parliament that proposes to:
• remove the entitlement to the capital gains tax (CGT) main residence exemption for foreign residents; and
• modify the foreign resident CGT regime to clarify that, for the purpose of determining whether an entity’s underlying value is principally derived from taxable Australian real property (TARP), the principal asset test is applied on an “associate inclusive” basis.
The Bill also proposes to amend the tax law to provide an additional discount on CGT for affordable housing. The discount of up to 10% will apply if a CGT event happens to an ownership interest in residential property used to provide affordable housing.
TIP: The main residence exemption means that CGT doesn’t apply for a capital gain or loss that an individual makes from selling their main residence. A CGT discount applies if the dwelling was their main residence for only part of the time they owned it, or they partly used it to produce assessable income.

Guidance for SMSFs on transfer balance reporting

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

The ATO has released further guidance on when SMSFs need to report events affecting their members’ transfer balance accounts (by making a transfer balance account report, or TBAR) for the purposes of the $1.6 million pension cap.
From 1 July 2018, SMSFs that have any members with a total superannuation balance of $1 million or more must report events impacting that member’s transfer balance account within 28 days after the end of the quarter in which the event occurs.
SMSFs where all members have total super balances of less than $1 million can choose to report events which impact their members’ transfer balances at the same time that the fund lodges its annual return.
The guidance also covers reporting requirements for retirement phase income streams and commutations (including commutation authorities).

Superannuation integrity changes

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

The Government has released a consultation paper and exposure draft legislation to give effect to the following superannuation taxation integrity measures it announced in the 2017–2018 Federal Budget:
• the non-arm’s length income (NALI) rules in s 295-550 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 for related-party superannuation fund transactions will be expanded from 1 July 2018 to also include expenses not incurred that would normally be expected to apply in a commercial arm’s length transaction (eg reduced interest expenses, brokerage, accountancy fees or legal costs); and
• a member’s share of the outstanding balance of a limited recourse borrowing arrangement (LRBA) will be included in the member’s “total superannuation balance” for new LRBAs entered into on or after 1 July 2018.
The measures are designed to ensure that related-party transactions with super funds and LRBAs can’t be used to circumvent the reduced contribution caps that apply from 1 July 2017. The changes should generally not affect LRBAs entered into with unrelated third parties for commercial rates of interest (and other expenses).

Taxing employee share scheme dividend equivalent payments

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

The ATO has made a new determination that dividend equivalent payments made under an employee share scheme (ESS) are assessable to an employee as income when they receive the payment for or in connection with services they provide as an employee.
A “dividend equivalent payment” is a cash payment to an employee participant and beneficiary an ESS funded from dividends on which the trustee has been assessed in previous income years because no beneficiary of the trust was entitled to the income at the time.
A trustee that makes a dividend equivalent payment under an ESS must withhold an amount from the payment, even though the trustee is not the employee’s employer.
TIP: The ATO offers a safe harbour from such payments being treated as income under specific circumstances. Get in touch with us to talk about whether your situation makes you eligible.
The new determination applies to dividend equivalent payments paid under the terms and conditions attached to ESS interests granted on or after 1 January 2018.

Disclosing business tax debt information to credit agencies

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

The Federal Government has released draft legislation and a draft legislative instrument that, when passed, will authorise the ATO to disclose a business’s tax debt to registered credit reporting bureaus where the business has not effectively engaged with the ATO to manage the debt.
The draft legislation intends to place tax debts on a similar footing as other debts, to encourage timely payment or engagement with the ATO for businesses that want to avoid having their debt information affect their creditworthiness. Disclosure to credit reporting bureaus will only be permitted if the ATO has given the taxpayer at least 21 days’ notice beforehand.


  Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.