Archive for the ‘GST’ Category

Does your business import or export goods and services?

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

The ATO reminds business owners that if your business imports or exports goods or services in Australia, it is important to be aware of your GST responsibilities so you can get the information on your business activity statement (BAS) right.

Exports from Australia are generally GST-free, but special conditions apply in some situations. For example, if it takes longer than 60 days for you to receive payment for your exports, then GST could be charged.

When importing, you are generally required to pay GST (10% of the value of the taxable importation). This GST is usually paid to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection Service before the goods are released, unless you are part of the deferred GST (DGST) scheme.

TIP: Talk to us to find our more about your GST obligations. The ATO accepts voluntary disclosures about mistakes in GST reporting, and you may find your business is eligible for the DGST scheme.

GST on low-value imported goods

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

A Bill introduced into Parliament in February proposes to make Australian goods and services tax (GST) payable on supplies of items worth less than A$1,000 (known as “low value goods”) that consumers import into Australia with the assistance of the vendor who sells the items. For example, GST would apply when you buy items worth less than $1,000 online from an overseas store and the seller arranges to post them to you in Australia.

Under the proposed measures, sellers, operators of electronic distribution platforms or redeliverers (such as parcel-forwarding services) would be responsible for paying GST on these types of transactions. The GST could also be imposed on the end consumer by reverse charge if they claim to be a business (so the overseas supplier charges no GST) but in fact use the goods for private purposes. If the Bill is passed, the measures would come into force on 1 July 2017.

TIP: The ATO has also released a Draft Law Companion Guideline that discusses how to calculate the GST payable on a supply of low-value goods, the rules to prevent double taxation of goods and how the rules interact with other rules for supplies connected with Australia.

Ride-sharing drivers must register for GST

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

In a recent decision, the Federal Court has held that the UberX service supplied by Uber’s drivers constitutes the supply of “taxi travel” for the purposes of GST. The ATO has now advised that people who work as drivers providing ride-sharing (or ride-sourcing) services must:
•    keep records;
•    have an Australian Business Number (ABN);
•    register for GST;
•    pay GST on the full fare they receive from passengers;
•    lodge activity statements; and
•    include income from ride-sharing services in their tax returns.

If you work as a ride-sharing driver, you are also entitled to claim income tax deductions and GST credits on expenses apportioned to the services you have supplied.

TIP: You must register for GST if you earn any income by driving for a ride-sharing service. The usual $75,000 GST registration threshold does not apply for these activities.

GST and countertrade transactions

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

The ATO has issued a Practical Compliance Guideline which sets out the Tax Commissioner’s compliance approach, in the context of GST, to entities that enter into countertrade transactions as part of carrying on their enterprise. “Countertrade” refers to the direct exchange of things by one entity for things provided by another entity, and does not include transactions where any of the consideration is monetary.

Each entity to a countertrade makes a supply and an acquisition. The Commissioner is aware of various practical problems in the context of these transactions and notes that the compliance and administrative costs may be unnecessarily burdensome where such transactions have no net revenue effect. Accordingly, the Guideline seeks to apply a practical compliance approach for certain countertrade transactions that are GST-neutral.

TIP: The Practical Compliance Guideline is only applicable in relation to GST – not for any other purpose or in relation to any other tax obligations and entitlements. It also only applies in specified circumstances, including where the countertrade transactions account for no more than approximately 10% of the entity’s total number of supplies.

GST credits not available for payments on behalf of super funds

Friday, February 26th, 2016

The ATO has issued GST Determination GSTD 2016/1, which provides the Commissioner’s view on whether employers can claim input tax credits for expenses paid on behalf of superannuation funds.

The Determination notes that employers may pay expenses on behalf of superannuation funds for administrative convenience. It provides that an employer is not entitled to an input tax credit if a superannuation fund makes an acquisition and the employer pays the expense on the fund’s behalf (eg the super fund obtains legal advice but the employer pays the legal adviser). This is because the advice is supplied to the fund and not to the employer. However, the Determination notes that the fund may be entitled to claim a reduced input tax credit under the financial supply rules (contained in the GST Act), provided the requirements of those rules are satisfied.

No GST credits for mining accommodation

Monday, October 26th, 2015

The Full Federal Court has dismissed a taxpayer’s appeal from an earlier decision which held it was not entitled to input tax credits for acquisitions relating to providing accommodation to employees and contractors working in the Pilbara.

The taxpayer, Rio Tinto Services Ltd, was the representative member of the Rio Tinto Ltd GST group, which carried on a large-scale mining enterprise in outback Australia. The group provided and maintained residential accommodation for its workforce in various locations, comprising some 2,300 houses and apartments. This was operated at a considerable loss, for example, in 2010 the taxpayer received $6.1 million in rent but the associated costs exceeded $38.8 million.

The case was conducted as a test case for GST paid in October 2010 on expenditure including construction and purchase of new housing, repairs, cleaning and landscaping. The taxpayer claimed it was entitled to input tax credits of nearly $600,000 for acquisitions made in providing and maintaining residential accommodation for the group’s workforce in the Pilbara region. It argued the housing for its workers were a necessary part of its mining operations.

The Full Federal Court said it was clear from the facts that all of the acquisitions related wholly to making supplies of rental residential accommodation. Although the supplies of accommodation were for the broader business purpose of carrying on the taxpayer’s mining operations, it said this did not alter the fact that the acquisitions all related to supplying premises by way of lease, which were input taxed supplies.

GST credits for employee accommodation refused

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

The Federal Court has held in the recent decision of Rio Tinto Services Ltd v FCT [2015] FCA 94 (handed down on 19 February 2015) that the taxpayers are not entitled to input tax credits for providing remote region residential accommodation to employees who are required to live remotely in order to carry out their employment duties.

Broadly, the Federal Court held that the taxpayer, Rio Tinto, was not entitled to input tax credits for the acquisition made by Hamersley Iron Pty Ltd (Hamersley), a related company in Rio Tinto’s GST group, in providing and maintaining heavily subsidised residential accommodation for their employees in the remote Pilbara region of Western Australia, where they conducted mining operations.

The Federal Court was prepared to accept that Hamersley’s leasing activities may have been wholly incidental to its mining operation and merely a means to carrying on its business. However, the Court denied Hamersley input tax credits in relation to that activity on the basis of a narrower interpretation that the acquisition “relates to” the supply of residential accommodation by way of lease, being an input taxed supply (which means there is no GST credit).

TIP: At the time of writing, Rio Tinto has appealed to the Full Federal Court against the decision handed down by the Federal Court. The principles followed by the Federal Court could have wide-reaching implications for GST registered businesses, and the appeal process should be followed closely.

GST credits for property development project managers denied

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Two taxpayers have been denied GST input tax credits they had claimed in respect of purported acquisitions made in relation to property developments. The Commissioner had refused the taxpayers’ claims for input tax credits on the basis that neither taxpayer carried on an enterprise.

The AAT heard from the taxpayers that they were “principal contractors” in relation to the property developments. However, the AAT said that exactly what the “principal contractors” did in respect of the properties remained the subject of “quite profound mystery”.

It said that an entity is not a “project manager” simply because someone says it is. Further, the AAT said that to carry on an enterprise, an entity must “do” something, and that in this case, the AAT was unable to identify the activity that the taxpayers were doing in respect of the properties.

TIP: This case demonstrates the need for multiple parties, and in particular related parties, who are involved in large property development projects to clearly articulate and document the role of each party and the agreements they have with each other, particularly if one party intends to seek GST input tax credits.

Motel business refused GST tax credits

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

A motel business has been mostly unsuccessful before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) in a dispute with the ATO concerning claims for input tax credits.

Following a tax audit, the Tax Commissioner refused the taxpayer’s input tax credit claims of around $88,500 for the quarterly tax periods from 1 January 2007 to September 2010. This was on the basis that there was a lack of documentation to substantiate the claims. The Commissioner had sought documentation from the taxpayer on various occasions, including sampling documentation for the June 2010 quarter.

However, the representative of the motel business was unable to produce all of the relevant documentation. He argued that a substantial amount of the records sought were lost due to flooding of the motel office in December 2008 and that he had been unable to respond to the requests for information as he was overseas.

Based on information provided before the proceedings, the Commissioner accepted that the taxpayer was entitled to some $16,000 of the original claim. The AAT found that this was acceptable in the circumstances. However, it affirmed the Commissioner’s stance on the balance of the claim. The AAT also rejected the taxpayer’s additional input tax credit claim of around $28,000. The AAT said the taxpayer had been given “every opportunity to produce documentation or other evidence to support his claims for imputation credits”. It further noted that the taxpayer was unable to produce documents or other evidence that demonstrated that the credits that the Commissioner had allowed were insufficient

TIP: It is essential for small businesses to have adequate record-keeping practices. A key consideration is to make sure that records can be understood by more than one person. Another consideration is to document how records are kept (ie paper records or electronically), what records are maintained and where they are located, and how back-up records are managed.

GST refund request made too late

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

An individual taxpayer has been unsuccessful before the AAT in seeking a review of the Commissioner’s decision to refuse a GST refund in relation to the June 2004 quarter. The Commissioner had refused the refund on the basis that the taxpayer’s application was made after the four-year cut-off date for the June 2004 quarter (that is, 28 July 2008).

The taxpayer explained that due to his ill health and troubles with his then business, he did not get around to lodging tax returns until 2011. The Commissioner acknowledged that the man was owed a refund and had recommended that he approach the Department of Finance and Deregulation to obtain an act of grace payment, but said that because more than four years had elapsed since the time the taxpayer could have claimed the money, there was no discretion that could be exercised in the taxpayer’s favour. The AAT agreed with the Commissioner. It also refused the taxpayer’s request for an extension of time to apply to the AAT for review of the Commissioner’s objection decision (dated 31 October 2011) refusing the GST refund for the June 2004 quarter.