Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Bill to increase Medicare levy

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

The Medicare Levy Amendment (National Disability Insurance Scheme Funding) Bill 2017 has been introduced to implement the Government’s 2017–2018 Budget announcement to increase the Medicare levy by 0.5% to 2.5% from 1 July 2019 in order to help finance the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Nine other Bills have been introduced to increase the following rates that are linked to the top personal tax rate.
TIP: Think you may be affected by personal tax rate changes? Contact us to find out more.

Higher education HELP changes: faster repayments and threshold changes

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

The Minister for Education and Training, Simon Birmingham, has announced a package of reforms to higher education – the Higher Education Reform Package – to take effect generally from 1 January 2018. The details announced will be confirmed in the 2017–2018 Federal Budget. They include:

• an increased maximum student contribution from 1 January 2018;
• no up-front fees or deregulation of fees;
• a new set of repayment thresholds from 1 July 2018, changing repayment timings and quantities for all current
and future Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) debtors;
• a new minimum repayment threshold at $42,000 of income from 1 July 2018 with a lower 1% repayment rate,
and a new maximum threshold of $119,882 of income with a repayment rate of 10%;
• phasing in increased maximum student contributions by 1.8% each year between 2018 and 2021, cumulating in a 7.5% increase; and
• from 1 July 2019, indexation of HELP repayment thresholds, currently linked to Average Weekly Earnings (AWE),
will be changed to align to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

The Minister said that taxpayer-funded student loans stand at more than $52 billion and, without changes to address this situation, around a quarter of that is expected to go unpaid.

Tax assistance for people affected by Cyclone Debbie

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

The ATO has said it will fast-track refunds for people affected by extreme weather and flooding associated with Tropical Cyclone Debbie and ex-Cyclone Debbie in Queensland and New South Wales, and will allow extra time for those taxpayers and their agents to lodge income tax returns and activity statements.

Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan said taxpayers do not need to apply for a deferral or a faster refund. “If your business or residential address is in one of the identified affected postcodes it will happen automatically”, Mr Jordan said. “We understand that for many people their tax affairs are the last thing on their minds right now. When people are ready, we will make sure they are supported in meeting their tax obligations.”

Automatic deferrals of one month apply for tax lodgment and payment dates for people in the affected postcodes. Employers still need to meet their ongoing super guarantee obligations for employees.
The ATO is offering a range of other support measures, and can help reconstruct tax records where documents have been damaged or destroyed.

TIP: If your personal or business affairs have been affected by Cyclone Debbie, contact us to find out what ATO measures and support you can access.

Taxpayer failed to prove that payments were “loans”

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

In a recent case, the Full Federal Court has found that several taxpayer companies had not discharged the onus of proving that assessments the Commissioner of Taxation issued to them were excessive. The amended assessments took into account income of some $4 million that the Australian companies received from overseas sources. The taxpayers had claimed that the payments were loans.
In allowing the Commissioner’s appeal, the Court majority held that it would not be appropriate to find that the taxpayers had provided the required proof that the payments were genuine loans; in fact, they had made inconsistent or “alternative” arguments about the nature of the payments.

Onus on taxpayers to show no fraud or evasion: Full Federal Court

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Several taxpayers have been unsuccessful in their appeals to the Full Federal Court in which they challenged tax assessments that dramatically increased
their assessable income for certain income years. In each case, the Court confirmed that where the Commissioner of Taxation has issued an amended or
default assessment out of time on the grounds of taxpayer “fraud or evasion”, the taxpayer bears the responsibility of proving that such fraud or evasion
does not exist.

Social welfare recipients data-matching program

Monday, September 19th, 2016

The Department of Human Services (DHS) has released details of a data-matching program which will enable it to match income data it collects from social welfare recipients with tax return-related data reported to the ATO. The data matching will assist DHS to identify social welfare recipients who may not have correctly disclosed their income and assets. In addition, data DHS receives from the ATO will be electronically matched with certain departmental records to identify people’s noncompliance with income or other reporting obligations.

DHS expects to match each of the approximately seven million unique records held in its Centrelink database. Based on noncompliance criteria, the DHS anticipates it will examine approximately 20,000 records in the first phase of the project. The category of people who may be affected by the data matching includes welfare recipients who have lodged a tax return with the ATO during the period 2011 to 2014.

Tax relief for small businesses that restructure on the way

Friday, February 26th, 2016

Small businesses are important to the Australian economy, as they facilitate growth and innovation. However, as a small business develops over time, its initial legal structure may no longer be suitable for the business. Where a business has to restructure to accommodate growth, the transfer of assets from one legal structure to another could give rise to unwanted tax liabilities, even though the underlying economic ownership remains the same.

With this in mind, the Government has proposed amendments to the law to provide tax relief for small businesses that restructure on a genuine basis. If the legislative amendments are enacted as proposed, the changes would apply for restructures occurring on or after 1 July 2016. In introducing the Bill, the Assistant Treasurer said that this legislation completes the Government’s $5.5 billion Growing Jobs and Small Business package. Ms O’Dwyer said the Bill will reduce risk and complexity, and will make it easier for businesses to grow.

A Bill is currently before Parliament re Work-related car expenses

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

The Bill proposes to repeal the “12% of original value method” and the “one-third of actual expenses method”. Taxpayers will continue to be able to choose to apply the “cents per kilometre method” (for up to 5,000 business kilometres travelled), or the “logbook method”, depending on which method in their view best captures the actual running costs of their vehicle.

The Bill also proposes to provide a streamlined process for calculating the “cents per kilometre method” by providing a single rate of deduction. That is, the current three rates based on vehicle engine capacity will be replaced with a single rate of deduction. In the 2015–2016 income year, the rate will be set at 66 cents/km. The changes are proposed to apply from 1 July 2015.

TIP: So the Government will set 66 cents/km as the rate for using the “cents per kilometre method”, irrespective of a car’s engine size. Based on 2012–2013 figures, this would see those who drive smaller vehicles getting a slight increase in deductible expenses, and those who drive larger cars having a decrease in their deduction.

ATO code of settlement

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

A code of settlement has been developed by the ATO. The code sets out the ATO policy on the settlement of tax and superannuation disputes, including disputes involving debt. It states that settlement negotiations or offers can be initiated by any party to the dispute and can occur at any stage including prior to assessments being raised.
The ATO notes that when deciding whether or not to settle, it will consider all the following factors:

• the relative strength of the parties’ position;
• the cost versus the benefits of continuing the dispute; and
• the impact on future compliance for the taxpayer and broader community.

According to the ATO, settlement would not generally be considered in situations where there is a contentious point of law which requires clarification, or when it is in the public interest to litigate, or when the taxpayer’s behaviour is such that the ATO needs to send a strong message to the community.

TIP: According to the code, a settlement agreement provides a reasonable basis for treating similar issues in future years unless it is specifically stated that it is not to apply to future years or transactions, or the taxpayer’s circumstances change materially, or the law remains either unclear or amended. However, the Code states the ATO can provide greater certainty to a taxpayer for future years if required.

Small business tax review finds first steps for improvement

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

The results of a review into tax impediments affecting the success and growth of small businesses has been released by the Government. The review focused on small business tax reform and, in particular, simplifying processes and cutting excessive red tape. In releasing the review findings, the Minister of Small Business, Bruce Billson, said the ATO has already begun implementing most of the administrative recommendations identified in the review.

Mr Billson said the removal of tax impediments for small businesses will make it easier for businesses to start, enable established businesses to grow, and provide greater security for small business owners in retirement. He said the review findings will feed into the Government’s broader considerations on small business taxation and was particularly timely ahead of the Government’s release of the Tax White Paper.

The Small Business Minister also highlighted the review’s recommendations concerning superannuation, and accepted that superannuation penalties on small businesses can be harsh, with disproportionate outcomes. Mr Billson said the Government will ensure that penalties for paying super late or for short-paying super by a small amount would reflect the nature of the breach. He proposed that these changes would take effect from 1 July 2016 and that the Government will consult with stakeholders on implementation details.