Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Illegal phoenix activity costs billions; new Phoenix Hotline

Thursday, August 2nd, 2018

The ATO has released a new report on the economic impacts of potential illegal phoenix activity. It estimates that the annual direct impact of illegal phoenix activity on businesses, employees and the government was between $2.85 billion and $5.13 billion for the 2015–2016 financial year.
The government has also established a new Phoenix Hotline to combat phoenixing activity and to protect compliant Australian workers and businesses. Employees, creditors, competing businesses and the general public can confidentially provide information about possible phoenix behaviour via the hotline on 1800 807 875 or the ATO website. Disclosures will be protected.

Government launches new service to simplify business registrations

Thursday, August 2nd, 2018

The government has officially launched a new stand-alone Business Registration Service, providing a simpler and clearer way to register a business. The service is available at www.business.gov.au.
The service can be used for things such as applying for an Australian Business Number (ABN) or goods and services tax (GST) registration. It is for people starting a new business as a sole trader, company, partnership, trust or superannuation fund. Existing businesses with an ABN can also use the service to apply for tax registrations such as GST.
The Business Registration Service has reduced the average time taken to obtain a business and associated licences to under 15 minutes.

Advisory Board to help clamp down on the black economy

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

The Government is establishing a new Advisory Board to support its reform agenda to disrupt the black economy.
The term “black economy” refers to people and businesses who operate outside the tax and regulatory systems, or who are known to the authorities but do not correctly report their tax obligations.
The Advisory Board will include members of the private and public sector who will provide strategic advice and contribute to a report every five years about new threats emerging in the black economy.
The Government’s related actions to date have included a $10,000 limit on cash transactions, a comprehensive strategy to combat illicit tobacco, reforms to the ABN system, restricting government procurement to businesses that have acceptable tax records, and $315 million in additional funding to the ATO to increase its enforcement activity against black economy behaviour.

Personal tax cuts now law

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

The legislation to enact the Government’s seven-year personal income tax reform plan, as announced in the 2018 Federal Budget, passed Parliament on 21 June 2018.
Under the plan, a new non-refundable Low and Middle Income Tax Offset (LMITO) will be available from 2018–2019 to 2021–2022, providing tax relief of up to $530 to low-income individuals for each of those years. The new offset will be in addition to the existing low income tax offset (LITO). The top threshold of the 32.5% tax bracket will increase from $87,000 to $90,000 from 1 July 2018.
In 2022–2023, the top threshold of the 19% bracket will increase from $37,000 to $41,000 and the LITO will also increase.
The top threshold of the 32.5% bracket will then increase from $90,000 to $120,000 from 1 July 2022.
The legislation passed without amendments, although some had been raised in the Senate that would have prevented increasing the top threshold of the 32.5% bracket from $120,000 to $200,000 from 1 July 2024, removing the 37% tax bracket completely. This third step of the seven-year plan will now go ahead under the new tax law. And finally, taxpayers will pay the top marginal tax rate of 45% for taxable income exceeding $200,000.

Issues for property owners

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

There have been recent changes to:
• the tax treatment associated with residential rental properties (eg travel deduction and depreciation changes);
• CGT and GST withholding tax obligations for purchasers of property;
• superannuation measures impacting home ownership (eg the first home super saver scheme and the superannuation downsizer incentive); and
• stamp duty and land tax, which varies from state to state.
The government has also proposed to abolish the main residence CGT exemption for taxpayers who are no longer Australian tax residents at the time they sign a contract to sell their home, regardless of how long the home has actually been used as a main residence.

Government to increase civil penalties for white-collar crime

Friday, May 11th, 2018

In response to recent Senate Economics References Committee and Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) Enforcement Review Taskforce reports, the Federal Government has agreed to increase the civil penalties for corporate and financial misconduct (white-collar crime), for both individuals and bodies corporate. ASIC infringement notices will also be expanded to cover a broader range of financial services and managed investments infringements.
The new maximum civil penalties will be set at:
• for individuals, the greater of 5,000 penalty units (currently $1.05 million) or three times the value of the benefits obtained or losses avoided; and
• for corporations, the greater of 50,000 penalty units (currently $10.5 million) or three times the value of the benefits obtained or losses avoided, or 10% of annual turnover in the 12 months before the misconduct, up to a total of one million penalty units ($210 million).

“Transition to retirement” pensions to become simpler

Tuesday, April 10th, 2018

In welcome news for superannuation members, the government has announced plans to simplify the payment of transition to retirement income streams (TRISs) so that they will always be permitted to automatically revert to a dependant upon the death of the original pensioner. This is designed to address a trap in the current legislation that is causing some administrative difficulties for funds when a TRIS recipient passes away.
TIP: With greater certainty about the payment of TRISs on death, now is a good time for superannuation members to review their estate plans.

Court finds pay-as-you-go amounts “withheld” from salary payments

Tuesday, April 10th, 2018

The Federal Court has ruled that pay-as-you-go (PAYG) amounts were “withheld” from a taxpayer’s salary payments so that she was entitled to a tax credit, despite the amounts never being remitted or notified to the ATO by her employers.
This case illustrates the importance of records and documentation in tax matters. The Court examined evidence such as the taxpayer’s offer of employment, payslips, bank statements and payment summaries, which suggested that the salary payments she received were “net pay” amounts (and not “gross”).
The Court noted that where an employer has not remitted PAYG withholding amounts to the ATO, this will raise questions about whether amounts were really withheld. However, adequate documentation can – as in this case – be used to prove that PAYG has in fact been withheld by an employer, even if the employer has subsequently failed to remit this to the ATO.

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.

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).


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