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New measures to crack down on super non-compliance

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will receive additional funding for a Superannuation Guarantee Taskforce to crack down on non-compliance by employers.

The Government has announced a package of reforms to close a legal loophole used by dishonest employers that short-change employees who make salary-sacrifice contributions to super.

Funding for the Taskforce coincides with new data released by the ATO reporting a significant estimated Super Guarantee gap. This gap is the difference between the theoretical amount payable by employers to be fully compliant and actual contributions received by funds.

The ATO estimates the net SG gap as 5.2 per cent or $2.85 billion of the total estimated $54.78 billion in SG payments that employers were required to pay in 2014-15.

The gap exists because some employers are not meeting their super guarantee obligations either by not paying enough or not paying at all.

Employers who deliberately are not paying their workers’ super entitlements are robbing their workers of their wages. The new package aims to take action on this so employers cannot hide from their legal obligation.

Some of the measures included in the package involve:

The crackdown serves as a strong reminder for businesses to do the right thing. The ATO deals with roughly 20,000 complaints annually regarding unpaid super from both former and current employees.

Superannuation is a legal entitlement for employees; failure to pay employee super guarantee is illegal and can result in harsh penalties.

Posted on 14 September '17, under Super. No Comments.


Sharing economy and tax

The ATO is reminding those who work in the sharing economy to be aware of their tax obligations.

The sharing economy connects buyers (users) and sellers (providers) through a facilitator who usually operates an app or a website. Some popular examples include Airbnb, Stayz, Uber, Deliveroo, Airtasker and so on.

Different rules apply, depending on what type of sharing economy activities are undertaken by an individual.

Those who rent out part or all of their home are reminded to:
– declare what they earn in their tax return;
– apportion related expenses as appropriate before claiming deductions and
– understand it may affect their capital gains tax if they sell their home in the future.

Individuals who participate in ride-sourcing activities need an ABN, to register for GST from the day they start, to pay GST on the full amount of every fare and to keep records of income and expenses for both GST and income tax purposes. GST credits associated with your ride-sourcing enterprise are deductible.

Those providing other goods and services through the sharing economy need to remember to declare what they earn and apportion related expenses.

Posted on 14 September '17, under Tax. No Comments.


Strategies to bulk up your super before retirement

To retire comfortably, you should be doing everything you can while still in the workforce to make sure your superannuation is as fruitful as possible.

Consider the following:

Consolidate super into one account
Super account fees can eat away at your super balance, especially if you have numerous accounts. If you find yourself in this position, take the time to organise your super contributions into the one account to reduce unnecessary and excessive fees.

Outstanding super payments
Check you have been paid all the super you are entitled to, as well as interest, as this can uncover large amounts of unpaid super. Employers have a legal obligation to pay all employees who have earned more than $450 in the space of a month, and these payments are required to be paid at least quarterly. If you have not been paid what you are owed, you are also missing out on accumulated interest. It is now compulsory for employers to report the super contributions they make, but this was not always the case, meaning you may need to contact previous employers or the ATO to access unpaid super you are entitled to.

Salary sacrifice
This is an efficient way to grow your superannuation while also incurring worthwhile tax benefits. To practice salary sacrificing, you will have to come to an agreement with your employer. You can contribute money from your pre-tax salary into your superannuation account, on top of the 9.5 per cent SG contribution that your employer must make. You will only be taxed 15 per cent on this additional contribution amount, but it does mean taking home a smaller figure each paycheck.

Spousal contributions
If your spouse is a low-income earner who is receiving less than $13,800 annually, you can contribute up to $3,000 into their super each year while getting an 18 per cent tax offset. This can save you up to $540 in tax.

Posted on 7 September '17, under Super. No Comments.


Single Touch Payroll for streamlined reporting

From 1 July 2018, employers with 20 or more employees will report payments to the Australian Taxation Office at the same time as they pay their employees, using the Single Touch Payroll reporting system.

This reporting system will keep track of payments such as:

The introduction of this new reporting measure does not incite changes to an employer’s payroll cycle; you can still make payments as you were, i.e., weekly, fortnightly, monthly, etc. When you do make these payments, the super and tax details of employees will be passed on, creating a more streamlined approach to make reporting and compliance more manageable.

For businesses with less than 20 employees, the single touch payroll reporting system will be in place by 1 July 2019.

Posted on 7 September '17, under Tax. No Comments.


Carrying on a business in an SMSF

Self-managed super funds can carry on a business providing the business is allowed under the trust deed and operated for the sole purpose of providing retirement benefits for fund members.

Carrying on a business through an SMSF does have restrictions that other businesses do not have, such as entering into credit arrangements or having overdrafts.

SMSF trustees that carry on a business through their fund must adhere to the sole purpose test. The ATO looks for cases where:

The same regulatory provisions still apply to funds that carry on a business, i.e, SMSF investments must be made on a commercial ‘arm’s length’ basis, business activities must be conducted in accordance with the SMSF’s investment strategy, collectables and personal use assets cannot be displayed at the business premises and so on.

The SMSF cannot be involved in the following business activities:

Posted on 30 August '17, under Super. No Comments.


Claiming the small business income tax offset

The small business income tax offset can help reduce the tax small businesses pay on business income by up to $1,000.

This offset is available from the 2015-16 income year onwards. Small businesses with an aggregated turnover less than $5 million can access the concession from the 2016-17 income year.

Business income derived by another partnership or trust, in which the small business owner is not a partner or beneficiary, is not eligible for the offset.

Small business owners can claim the offset if they receive a share of net small business income from a small business:

The offset is 8 per cent for the 2016-17 income year onwards, 5 per cent for the 2015-16 income year. The offset will increase to 10 per cent in 2024-25, 13 per cent in 2025-26 and 16 per cent in 2026-27.

Posted on 30 August '17, under Tax. No Comments.


Identifying undervalued assets

Recent research has found that an alarming 31 per cent of SMSF trustees consider choosing investments as one of the hardest aspects of running an SMSF. Value investing is one such strategy that SMSF investors can utilise to boost their portfolios.

Value investing involves identifying undervalued assets that have the potential to increase in value over time. These assets are generally priced well below their intrinsic value due to missed expectations, market crashes, cyclical fluctuations and so forth.

To identify undervalued assets or asset classes you need thorough analysis and good judgment. Look for asset classes that are inexpensive and backed by news. It is much better to invest in industries where you understand the business dynamics, i.e., how they make their money, underlying conditions and so on.

Furthermore, looking for businesses in industries with a sustainable competitive advantage where external factors do not affect them too much is ideal.

When evaluating stocks look at companies with a low debt load, are paying steady dividends and have a quality rating that is average or better. Other metrics to consider include:

Price-to-earnings ratio: This is a stock’s current share price divided by its annual earnings. A lower ratio indicates it is cheaper. Stocks with a ratio of 9 or less are typically undervalued.

Price-to-earnings growth: A stock’s price-to-earnings ratio divided by its projected earnings growth rate over a certain time frame. Ideally, companies with no deficits and where earnings increase over that time period are better.

Price-to-book value: This is calculated by dividing the current price by the book value per share. Investing in stocks which are selling below their book value is key.

As with any other investment strategy, it is best to seek professional advice if you are unsure whether value investing is appropriate for you.

Posted on 23 August '17, under Super. No Comments.


Have you received personal services income?

Personal services income (PSI) is income mainly produced from your personal skills or efforts. There are special tax rules that apply if your income is classified as PSI.

Almost any trade, industry or profession can receive PSI. The most common are financial professionals, IT consultants, engineers, construction workers and medical practitioners. PSI does not affect employees receiving only salaries and wages.

When more than 50 per cent of the amount you received for a contract was for your labour, skills or expertise, then the income is classified as PSI.

If you have received PSI (including if you have received it as a company, partnership or trust), you will need to work out if the PSI rules apply to that income. You can use the ATO’s Personal services income decision tool to do this.

Where the rules do apply, they affect how you report your PSI to the ATO and the deductions you can claim.

In the circumstances where the PSI rules do not apply, you are still required to declare any PSI amounts at the relevant labels on your tax return. Where you receive PSI but the rules do not apply, there are no changes to the deductions you can claim.

It is important to note that PSI is not only applicable to sole traders. Those who produce PSI through a company, trust or partnership and the PSI rules apply, the income will be treated as your individual income for tax purposes.

Posted on 23 August '17, under Tax. No Comments.


Increased access to Superannuation Clearing House

The ATO has changed the conditions of registration for businesses to access the Small Business Superannuation Clearing House.

The Small Business Superannuation Clearing House is a free online service available for small businesses to make super contributions for their employees. The Tax Office is now allowing businesses with 19 or less employees or businesses with an annual aggregated turnover of $10 million or less to use the service.

These employers can now make super guarantee contributions as a single electronic payment to the Clearing House and it will then distribute the payments to employees’ funds.

The super guarantee contributions count as paid on the date the Clearing House accepts them. Employers have 21 days to pass an employee’s choice of fund to the Clearing House.

The Clearing House reduces red tape and compliance costs for small business.

In early 2018, the Clearing House will be integrated with other ATO online services in the Business Portal to better serve the growing number of users.

Posted on 16 August '17, under Super. No Comments.


Tax penalty remissions

The Australian Taxation Office distributes penalties to ensure individuals are not making misleading or false statements regarding income, business and wealth matters.

Studies indicate there is over $5.5 billion lost every year through tax avoidance in Australia, a massive amount of money. One of the reasons these penalties exist is to ensure taxpayers take more care and responsibility in adhering to their tax responsibilities.

While the ATO has the power to distribute penalties, they also have the discretion to reduce or modify the penalties individuals owe. If you find yourself in a position where you are owing money due to penalties such as failing to lodge in due time, PAYG withholding, etc., there are a number of actions you can take. You can make a request to remit or cancel your penalty either online, by phone or by mail.

In your request to remit or cancel a taxation penalty, you will need to provide the following:

The ATO will review your request and notify you of its final decision. Factors that will be considered include:

Posted on 16 August '17, under Tax. No Comments.


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