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Client Alerts

Client Alert November 2018

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Transfer balance cap: ATO highlights admin issues

On 30 August 2018, ATO Assistant Commissioner Superannuation Tara McLachlan gave a speech on “Administration issues under the transfer balance cap” at the Tax Institute Sixth National Superannuation Conference.

TIP: The superannuation transfer balance cap is a limit on the total amount of super that you can transfer into retirement phase. The current cap is $1.6 million.

Ms McLachlan highlighted several issues regarding common superannuation events that will need to be reported to the ATO (such as the start of new pensions that began to be in retirement phase on or after 1 July 2017), multiple transfer balance events, excess transfer balance determinations and more.

Australian Small Business White Paper: tax reform a key

After more than 18 months of extensive research and consultation, the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) and the IPA Deakin SME Research Centre have released the second edition of the Australian Small Business White Paper.

“Numerous policy recommendations have been adopted from the first edition which was launched in 2015. However, we recognise that the state of our economy is reliant on the productivity, growth and prosperity of the small business sector, so this work must be ongoing”, said IPA CEO Professor Andrew Conway.

The Paper covers a range of topics, including productivity, regulation and workplace relations, and makes several tax reform recommendations relevant to small businesses and personal income tax.

ATO expects 200,000 to miss out on refunds by failing to lodge

The ATO expects that 200,000 people could miss out on a tax refund this year because they haven’t lodged a tax return.

Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson has said that many salary and wage earners end up with a tax refund, but some are missing out because they fail to lodge on time.

Taxpayers had until 31 October to either lodge their own return, or ensure they are on an agent’s books, Ms Anderson said. Failing to lodge by the deadline can attract a penalty of $210 for every 28 days that the return is overdue, up to a maximum of $1,050.

TIP: Have you run out of time to sort out your tax return this year? We’re here to help – get in touch to talk about your options.

Black economy: electronic sales suppression tools now banned

Activities involving electronic sales suppression tools (ESSTs) and that relate to people or businesses with Australian tax obligations are now legally banned under recent changes to the law.

ESSTs come in many forms, such as:

  • an external device connected to a point of sale (POS) system;
  • additional software installed into otherwise-compliant software; or
  • a feature or modification, like a script or code, that’s part of a POS system or software.

These tools generally misrepresent or hide income by deleting or changing electronic transaction information, and falsifying sales or POS records.

TIP: The ATO recognises some businesses may have bought POS software without knowing it contains suppression functions. There is a grace period to self-report without penalty. If you think you may be affected, contact us to find out more.

People and businesses may face penalties of up to $1 million if they produce, supply, possess or use an ESST or knowingly assist others to do so.

 

Super work test exemption for recent retirees

The Government has released draft legislation and regulations to provide a one-year exemption from the work test for superannuation contributions by recent retirees aged 65–74 who have a total superannuation balance of less than $300,000. This proposal was announced in the 2018–2019 Budget.

Currently, people aged 65–74 must pass the “work test” – working at least 40 hours in any 30-day period during the financial year – in order to make voluntary super contributions.

Bringing forward small business tax cuts by five years

The Prime Minister has announced that the Government will bring forward its planned tax cuts for small business by five years. The Labor Party has also indicated it supports bringing forward the tax cuts.

This means businesses with a turnover below $50 million will pay a tax rate of 25% in 2021–2022, rather than from 2026–2027 as currently legislated.

Corporate tax rates and small business tax offset changes

The Bill to accelerate the reduced tax rates for base rate entities has passed through Parliament and will soon become law. Under the new law, the corporate tax rate will reduce from 27.5% to 26% in 2020–2021, before being cut to 25% for 2021–2022 and later income years.

The new law also increases the small business income tax offset rate to 13% for 2020–2021. The offset will then increase to 16% for 2021–2022 and later income years.

TIP: A “base rate entity” is a company that receives less than 80% of its taxable income from “passive” sources such as dividends, franking credits, interest, royalties and rent.

Residential rental property travel expenses: ATO guidance

Since 1 July 2017, people, self managed super funds (SMSFs), “private” trusts and partnerships have not been permitted to claim non-business travel costs connected to residential rental properties as tax deductible. These costs also cannot form part of the cost base or reduced cost base of a capital gains tax (CGT) asset.

The ATO has released new guidance about this, including details about the legal meanings of “residential premises” and “carrying on a business”.

TIP: Not sure if you can deduct the costs of maintaining your investment rental property?
Talk to us today to work it out.

Tax on compensation received for inappropriate advice

On the heels of the banking and financial services Royal Commission, the ATO has published information about how tax applies for people who receive compensation from a financial institution that provided inappropriate advice and/or did not provide advice it should have. This can include compensation for the loss of an investment, or a refund of fees or interest.

Capital gains tax comes into play, and the compensation amount may count as part of your assessable income if it’s a refund of adviser fees that you’ve already claimed as a tax deduction.

TIP: Contact us if you’ve received compensation from your bank or adviser and need to know more.

ATO set to issue excess super contribution determinations

The ATO has started issuing excess concessional contributions (ECC) determinations for the 2017–2018 financial year. Superannuation fund members will receive these ECC determinations if they have made super contributions above the concessional cap amount for 2017–2018.

TIP: “Concessional” contributions are taxed at the reduced rate of 15% in your super fund, but there’s a limit to how much you can contribute at this rate ($25,000 for 2017–2018).

Fund members may also receive an amended income tax return assessment together with the ECC determination, and may need to pay additional amounts to the ATO. This is because any super contributions you make over the concessional cap need to be included in your assessable income for the financial year, and an interest charge applies.

Client Alert October 2018

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Claiming work-related expenses: ATO guides and toolkits

This year, the ATO has launched its biggest ever education campaign to help taxpayers get their tax returns right. The ATO says the campaign, which is running throughout tax time, includes direct contact with over three million selected taxpayers, as well as specialised guides and toolkits for taxpayers, agents, employers and industry bodies. A key component of the campaign is simple, plain English guidance for people with the most common occupations, like teachers, nurses, police officers and hospitality workers.

ATO Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson says that last year work-related expenses totalled a record $21.3 billion, “and we have already flagged that over-claiming of deductions is a big issue”. The most popular topics this year include car, clothing, travel, working from home, and self-education expenses, and the guides for tradies, doctors, teachers, office workers and IT professionals have been popular.

Illegal phoenix activity: public examinations in Federal Court matter

The ATO has announced that public examinations started in a Federal Court matter on 27 August 2018 in relation to a group of entities connected to a pre-insolvency advisor. The examinations will focus on the suspected promotion and facilitation of phoenix activities and tax schemes.

More than 45 service providers, clients and employees of pre-insolvency advisors, as well as alleged “dummy directors” of phoenix companies, will be examined.

Banking Royal Commission: possible super contraventions

On 24 August 2018, the Royal Commission into banking, superannuation and financial services misconduct released the closing submissions, totalling over 200 pages, that set out possible contraventions by certain superannuation entities.

The evidence surrounding these alleged breaches was revealed during the fifth round of public hearings, when high-level executives of some of the largest superannuation funds were grilled about practices that may involve misconduct or fall below community expectations.

The Commission heard evidence about fees-for-no-service conduct and conflicts of interests which affect the ability of some super fund trustees to ensure that they always act in the best interests of members. Questioning during the hearings focused particularly on how trustees supervise the activities of a fund and respond to queries from the regulators. Executives were also quizzed about expenditure on advertisements and sporting sponsorships, and finally, the Commission turned its attention to the effectiveness of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) as regulators.

What’s next?

The Royal Commission’s interim report is now due, and the sixth round of public hearings (10–21 September 2018) is investigating conduct in the insurance industry. The Royal Commission has released four background papers covering life insurance, group life insurance, reforms to general and life insurance (Treasury) and features of the general and life insurance industries.

SMSF issues update: ATO speech

ATO Assistant Commissioners, Superannuation, Tara McLachlan and Dana Fleming recently spoke at the SMSF Association Technical Days in various capital cities. The speech was mainly about practical considerations to be taken into account when setting up a new self managed superannuation fund (SMSF) and during the first year of its operation. Other issues raised included SMSF registrations, annual return lodgements, SuperStream SMSFs and exempt current pension income and actuarial certificates.

ATO data analytics and prefilling help tax return processing

The ATO reports that a record number of tax returns have been finalised in the first two months of this year’s “tax time” period, thanks to prefilling of tax return data and the ATO’s correction of mistakes using analytics and data-matching. Over $11.9 billion has been refunded to taxpayers, and errors worth more than $53 million were detected and corrected before refunds were issued.

The ATO has prefilled over 80 million pieces of data from banks, employers, health funds and government agencies to make tax returns easier for taxpayers and agents. The ATO’s advanced analytics allow it to scrutinise more returns than ever before, and make immediate adjustments where taxpayers have made a mistake.

TIP: Having a tax agent prepare and lodge your return is a tax-deductible cost. Why not let us handle your tax this year?

Parliamentary committee recommends standard tax deduction, “push return” system

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Tax and Revenue has tabled its 242-page report on taxpayer engagement with the tax system. This significant report covers issues that have also been canvassed in previous tax reform reviews such as the Australia’s Future Tax System Review and the Henry Review.

In its inquiry, the Committee examined the ATO’s points of engagement with taxpayers and other stakeholders, and reviewed the ATO’s performance against advances made by revenue agencies in comparable nations. The inquiry asked what taxpayers should now expect from a modern tax service that is largely or partly automated.

Australia’s complex system for claiming work-related tax deductions, for example, was highlighted during the inquiry as being out of step with approaches in most other advanced nations, which have almost universally standardised their approach. The Committee concluded that under Australia’s self-assessment model, more should be done to make tax obligations easier for taxpayers to understand and simpler to comply with. The report includes 13 recommendations to help achieve this goal.

12-month extension of $20,000 instant asset write-off

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Accelerated Depreciation for Small Business Entities) Bill 2018 has now passed through Parliament without amendment.

The Bill makes changes to the tax law to extend by 12 months the period during which small businesses can access expanded accelerated depreciation rules for assets that cost less than $20,000. The threshold amount was due to revert to $1,000 on 1 July 2018, but will now remain at $20,000 until 30 June 2019.

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell has welcomed the extension, but reminded small businesses and family enterprises that the instant asset write-off is a tax deduction, not a rebate – your small business needs to make a profit to be eligible to claim the benefit.

Cyptocurrency and tax: updated guidelines

The ATO says that for taxpayers carrying on businesses that involve transacting with cryptocurrency, the trading stock rules apply, rather than the capital gains tax (CGT) rules.

The ATO’s guidelines on the tax treatment of cryptocurrencies have recently been updated, following feedback from community consultation earlier this year. The ATO received about 800 pieces of individual feedback and submissions, and has now provided additional guidance on the practical issues of exchanging one cryptocurrency for another, and the related recordkeeping requirements.

The ATO as SMSF regulator: observations

In the opening address to the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand National SMSF Conference in Melbourne on 18 September 2018, James O’Halloran, ATO Deputy Commissioner, Superannuation, shared some observations and advice from the ATO’s perspective as regulator for the SMSF sector. He spoke about matters including the crucial role of fund trustees, the ATO’s activities to address behaviour that seeks to take advantage of SMSFs, what sort of SMSF events attract close ATO scrutiny, and issues relating to the use of multiple SMSFs to manipulate tax outcomes.

Client Alert September 2018

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Super sector must address trust deficit

In a speech to the Financial Services Council Summit on 26 July 2018, Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) Chair James Shipton said the superannuation sector must restore the “trust deficit” and be more mindful of the responsibilities that come with being the custodians of other people’s money. Mr Shipton said the super industry has been exploiting opportunities to make money from members, citing examples of conduct that could lead to poor member outcomes, including poor advice, treatment of customers and defensiveness when it came to transparency about fund operations.

Mr Shipton said there is an urgent need for super funds to invest in systems, procedures and policies that can quickly identify emerging conduct and systemic issues. A recent ASIC review of 12 banking groups found that it took an average of four years between an issue occurring and being identified internally for investigation, before a significant breach report was finally lodged with ASIC.

Call to boost instant asset write-off to $100,000

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, has called for the $20,000 instant asset write-off for small businesses to be embedded in legislation and extended up to $100,000 every three years. Ms Carnell said increasing the instant asset write-off to $100,000 every three years would enable small businesses with higher costs for key equipment to participate.

These recommendations stem from the Ombudsman’s November 2017 paper, Barriers to investment: a study into factors impacting small to medium enterprise investment.

Tax return required for excess super non-concessional contributions

The ATO has reminded taxpayers that they need to lodge a tax return for any financial year in which they exceed their non-concessional contributions cap,and that making excess contributions may lead to having to pay extra tax.

The annual non-concessional cap for individuals is $100,000 (or $300,000 over three years for people aged under 65), provided you have a total superannuation balance of less than $1.6 million at 30 June of the prior year. The ATO determines if you have exceeded the non-concessional cap by looking at your date of birth and the information reported by your super funds and in your tax return.

Taxpayers who go over the non-concessional cap can withdraw the excess non-concessional contributions (plus 85% of the associated earnings). The full amount of the earnings (100%) are then included in the taxpayer’s assessable income (and subject to a 15% tax offset). If an individual does not withdraw the excess contributions they are taxed at the top marginal tax rate (plus the Medicare levy).

APRA’s response to Productivity Commission draft report

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has released its submission in response to the Productivity Commission’s draft report on superannuation efficiency and competitiveness. APRA agreed with a number of the Commission’s findings and the direction of many, but not all, of the recommendations in the draft report.

However, APRA has rejected the Commission’s claim that APRA’s powers and role, and their significant overlap with the powers and role of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), have resulted in “confusing and opaque” regulatory arrangements, poor accountability and a lack of strategic regulation. APRA Deputy Chair Helen Rowell said APRA’s role is to administer the prudential and retirement income provisions of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993.

In that context, APRA is primarily responsible for ensuring that registrable superannuation entity (RSE) licensees manage their business operations to deliver quality member outcomes. By comparison, ASIC’s role is to oversee specific conduct obligations that apply to RSE licensees dealing with individuals in relation to disclosure, financial product advice and complaints.

Protecting Super Bill: Senate Committee report

The Senate Economics Legislation Committee has released its report on the Treasury Laws Amendment (Protecting Your Superannuation Package) Bill 2018, and has recommended that the Bill be passed.

The Bill, which is still before the Senate, contains the following measures to prevent the erosion of super balances:

  • super fees capped at 3% per year for balances less than $6,000;
  • exit fees banned for all super accounts, regardless of the balance;
  • an insurance opt-in rule for:
  • account balances less than $6,000;
  • new members under age 25;
  • accounts that have not received a contribution for 13 months; and
  • inactive low-balance accounts (ie balance less than $6,000) will be transferred to the ATO.

First Home Super Saver scheme: ATO guidance

Law Companion Ruling LCR 2018/5, issued by the ATO on 15 August 2018, provides guidance on the First Home Super Saver (FHSS) scheme.

TIP: The FHSS scheme is designed to help eligible first-home buyers by allowing them to make voluntary superannuation contributions and then withdraw those amounts and associated earnings to use when purchasing a first home.

People who meet the eligibility criteria can access the scheme by applying to the ATO for a determination and a release authority. They must make superannuation contributions that are eligible for release under the scheme, namely voluntary concessional or non-concessional contributions that come within the relevant contributions cap.

There are limits on the amounts withdrawn ($15,000 per financial year and $30,000 in total, subject to the contribution caps).

ATO targeting car sharing platforms

The ATO has announced it will turn its attention to anyone earning income through car sharing platforms. ATO Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson said there is evidence that some people who are undertaking sharing activities using third-party services such as Car Next Door, Carhood and DriveMyCar Rentals might not understand the taxation implications involved.

TIP: You must declare in your tax return any income you receive, and you cannot avoid tax by calling the car sharing a hobby.

While any car sharing expenses you claim as tax deductions must relate directly to the renting, hiring or sharing of your car, the Assistant Commissioner has said that most car sharers can legitimately claim deductions for costs like platform membership fees, availability fees, cleaning fees and car running expenses.

Delay in extending reportable payments to courier and cleaning services

The legislative logjam in Federal Parliament is affecting the implementation of a wide range of tax measures, and the ATO is having to implement some practical work-arounds.

In the 2017–18 Federal Budget the Government announced that from 1 July 2018, businesses that supply courier or cleaning services will need to report payments they make to contractors for courier or cleaning services. The payments must be reported to the ATO each year using the taxable payments annual report (TPAR). However, legislation to implement this is still before the Senate.

The ATO will not require TPARs to be lodged up until the law change is passed by Parliament. Taxpayers will be expected to keep sufficient business records to enable a TPAR to be prepared and lodged “as soon as is reasonably practicable after the law is enacted”.

GST: supplies of real property connected with Australia

GST Ruling GSTR 2018/1, issued on 22 August 2018, sets out the ATO’s view on when supplies of real property are connected with the indirect tax zone (Australia).

It states that a supply of real property is connected with Australia if the real property, or the land to which it relates, is in Australia. The ATO stresses that the test is the physical land’s location, not the location of the interest or right over the land. The supply of a right to accommodation in Australia also constitutes the supply of real property connected with Australia.

Client Alert July

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Business lending practices in spotlight at Royal Commission

Bank lending practices for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) were in the spotlight when the Financial Services Royal Commission (FSRC) held its third round of public hearings in late May. These hearings focused on the conduct of financial services entities providing credit to SMEs.

SMEs are an important sector of the economy – over two million SMEs account for more than 65% of private sector employment. The Royal Commission considered issues with SME lending practices by reference to case studies involving ANZ, Bank of Queensland, CBA, Westpac and Suncorp.

The next round of the Royal Commission’s public hearings focuses on issues affecting people in remote and regional communities, including farming finance, natural disaster insurance, and interactions between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and financial services entities.

Personal tax cuts now law

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.

GST property settlement online forms available

From 1 July 2018, purchasers of newly constructed residential properties or new subdivisions must pay the related GST directly to the ATO as part of the settlement.

The ATO says property transactions of new residential premises or potential residential land that involve GST to be paid directly to the ATO on or before settlement will require purchasers or their representatives to use the following online forms:

  • Form one, GST property settlement withholding notification, is used to advise the ATO that a contract has been entered into for new residential premises or potential residential land that requires a withholding amount. This form can be submitted any time after a contract has been entered into and prior to the settlement date.
  • Form two, GST property settlement date confirmation, is used to confirm the settlement date and can be submitted at the time of settlement and when the payment has been made to the ATO.

Depending on which state or territory the property is acquired in, the purchaser’s representative can include a conveyancer or a solicitor.

Major ATO focus on work-related clothing and laundry this tax time

This tax time, the ATO will be closely examining claims for work-related clothing and laundry expenses. Clothing claims are up nearly 20% over the last five years and the ATO believes many taxpayers are making mistakes or deliberately over-claiming. Around a quarter of all clothing and laundry claims in recent years were exactly $150 – the amount claimable without a specific requirement to keep detailed records about the work-related clothing expenses.

TIP: The ATO has issued a stern reminder that the $150 threshold is not a “safe amount” that everyone can claim. We can help make sure your tax return claims are done right – contact us to find out more.

Advisory Board to help clamp down on the black economy

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.

Superannuation system: Productivity Commission draft report

The Productivity Commission has released a draft report that recommends a range of changes to improve Australia’s superannuation system.

With default funds being tied to the employer and nsot the employee, many people end up with another super account every time they change jobs. Currently, a third of accounts (about 10 million) are unintended multiples, meaning that Australians pay excess fees and insurance premiums totalling $2.6 billion every year. According to the Commission, fixing these problems would lift retirement balances for members across the board – for example, a new workforce entrant today could earn around $407,000 more by the time they retire in 2064.

Tip: The end of the financial year is a good time to take a closer look at your super arrangements. Do you need to roll together accounts or change funds? Could you make salary sacrifices to reduce your tax payments and boost your retirement balance? Let us know if you’re considering these super questions.

SMSF compliance: don’t slip up

With the self managed superannuation fund (SMSF) annual return lodgment deadline upon us, minds should have already turned to meeting compliance requirements. The 2016–2017 financial year includes a few twists and turns which trustees should factor in to avoid late lodgment.

The major super changes from 1 July 2017 mean that SMSFs members with a pension balance of more than $1.6 million may need to consider reducing any excess, resetting CGT cost bases and getting actuarial certificates. This is in addition to the usual issues such as calculating taxable income and what expenses are deductible for the SMSF.

With all of these changes to be considered, the ATO has allowed an extension to lodge returns by 2 July.

Record keeping reminders

Good SMSF compliance hinges substantially on good recordkeeping. Some SMSFs have resolutions and minutes for every investment transaction while others don’t go into much detail at all. But what level of detail is really necessary? The answer lies in the fund’s trust deed, investment strategy and what is required by the tax and superannuation legislation.

For example, a fund with a single balanced option is unlikely to have to meet each time a contribution is made to decide where the money should go. In contrast, if the fund’s investment strategy is couched in broad terms and a member wishes to select specific investments as permitted by the fund’s trust deed, then documents indicating whether the selection is consistent with the overall investment strategy of the fund are likely to be worthwhile.

The superannuation law requires that some records must be retained for various periods. For example, the fund’s accounting records, annual returns and other statements must be kept for at least five years. Minutes of meetings for purposes such as reviewing the fund’s investment strategy, changes of trustees, member reports and storage of collectables and personal use assets need to be kept for at least
10 years. The fund’s trust deed and other essential documents should be retained if the trustees consider the fund may be subject to challenge.

Keeping records for an SMSF serves many purposes to provide a “corporate memory” for the fund, which may be required for compliance purposes as well as to protect trustees from any unfounded challenges.

Does your business own a ute?

One of the most common tax planning strategies of owning a ute has had an overhaul by the ATO.  Unsurprisingly, this guideline is now more complicated than it used to be.

Previously a business could provide a ute to employees and the general rule of thumb was that it was tax deductible and there was no need to calculate Fringe Benefits Tax, provided the private use by the employee was minor, infrequent and irregular …… with no firm definition as to what “minor, infrequent and irregular” was.

The ATO have now issued some firm guidelines as to when utes (and other eligible vehicles) will be exempt from Fringe Benefits Tax.  This will only apply if:

  • When using the vehicle between home and work, any diversion adds no more than 2km to the ordinary length of that trip
  • The private use is less than 1,000km for the entire year
  • No single return journey for private purposes can be more than 200km
  • The cost of the car was less than the Luxury Car Tax Threshold when it was acquired (currently $66,331).

Be mindful that the term “ute” does not automatically include dual cabs. As there is no longer a list of eligible vehicles, dual cabs and four-wheel drives need to be considered under the Miscellaneous Taxation Ruling MT2024.

This applies from 1st April 2018.

What should you do?

If you satisfy the requirements for the amount of private travel, then the employee will need to sign a declaration each year to confirm that the requirements for private use have not been exceeded.

If you don’t, then Fringe Benefits Tax will need to be considered.  The impact may be able to be reduced through completing a logbook to document the business use percentage of the vehicle.

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact us!

CLIENT ALERT June 2018 – Fair Work Commission announces 3.5% increase to the national minimum wage

CLIENT ALERT June 2018 – Fair Work Commission announces 3.5% increase to the national minimum wage

The Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission has today determined to increase the National Minimum Wage by 3.5%, and for the same increase to be applied to the minimum rates in each Modern Award. The Full Bench was very positive in its statement about its view on the economic outlook for Australia, stating:

“Compared to the position at the time of the 2016–17 Review, the economic indicators now point more unequivocally to a healthy national economy and labour market. The recent data has shown strong growth in full-time employment together with a high participation rate.”

Despite the very positive view on Australia’s economic outlook, the Full Bench was not prepared to consider an increase at the high levels suggested by the ACTU and ACCER, as it considered an increase at that level would run the risk of ‘adverse employment effects’. Instead, the Full Bench commented in support of a modest and regular increase:

[37] The Panel remained of the view that modest and regular minimum wage increases do not result in disemployment effects or inhibit workforce participation. Recent Australian research published by the RBA (the Bishop paper), discussed in Chapter 2 of the Decision provides support for that view. Recent research in the UK continues to support that conclusion. The position is more contested in the US.

[38] The real value of the NMW has increased by 5.8 per cent over the last decade, and by 4.3 per cent in the past five years. However, the Panel noted that this has not resulted in improvements to the actual or relative living standards for many categories of NMW and award-reliant households, due to changes in the tax-transfer system. It has, however, provided an increase in the living standards of single adults.

The effect of the increase will mean that the National Minimum Wage will increase by $24.30 per week, from the current $694.90 per week ($18.29 per hour) to $719.20 per week ($18.93 per hour).

The 3.5% increase will take effect from 1 July 2018.

Employers should ensure that where the Modern Award rate is being paid, the increase is passed on to their Award-covered employees from 1 July 2018. It is also essential that Employers review pay rates for employees currently receiving over-Award payments, or engaged under Enterprise Agreements, to ensure that they do not underpay their employees when compared against the revised award rates, and/or continue to comply with the remuneration provisions of the Enterprise Agreement.

Aitken Legal can be contacted for any enquiry about the wage increase as it affects remuneration arrangements, including through Modern Awards and Enterprise Agreements.

Written by Aitken Legal

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