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What you need to know about fringe benefits tax

A fringe benefits tax (FBT) is a tax paid on benefits provided to employees (usually non-cash). FBT is calculated based on the gross taxable value of benefits employers provide to their employees. Employees must lodge their return and pay the total FBT amount they owe for the previous FBT year. Due to COVID-19, the FBT lodgement deadline has been extended from 31 March 2020 to 25 June 2020.

The following are the types of fringe benefits you must lodge before the extended due date:

Businesses who have paid less than $3000 in FBT in the previous year only need to make one payment when lodging their FBT this financial year. For businesses with more than $3000 in FBT, they must lodge their FBT quarterly. Clarify with your tax agent or accountant for your FBT details before lodging.

Posted on 28 May '20, under Tax. No Comments.

Tax implications for workers with COVID-19 mobility restrictions

Employees who are not living or working in their regular location due to COVID-19 mobility restrictions need to be aware of the tax implications that apply to their situation.

Individuals who ordinarily work and live in Australia but are temporarily overseas due to COVID-19 restrictions will not experience any changes to their Australian tax obligations. If the employee is paying foreign income tax overseas, they will receive a foreign income tax offset to reduce their Australian tax payable.

Foreign residents working from Australia who are not able to leave as a result of COVID-19 restrictions will not experience Australian tax impacts if their stay in the country is under three months. However, non-residents working in Australia for longer than three months may need to lodge an Australian tax return if they earn any assessable income from an Australian source. Other than this, their Australian tax obligations will remain unchanged.

Employment income will not be taxable in Australia if the employee:

Employees who typically reside in a country that Australia has a double tax agreement with may already qualify for an exemption in Australia.

Posted on 19 May '20, under Tax. No Comments.

JobKeeper GST turnover test released

The ATO has published a ruling on the decline in turnover test for businesses applying for the JobKeeper scheme as part of the Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Payments and Benefits) Rules 2020.

This turnover test requires businesses to calculate their ‘current GST turnover’ and ‘projected GST turnover’, subject to modifications to the definitions outlined in the Payments and Benefits Rules. The new ruling outlines the aspects of the decline in turnover in the following steps:

The turnover test period must be either a calendar month that ends after 30 March 2020 and before 1 October 2020, or a quarter that starts on 1 April 2020 or 1 July 2020.

During the turnover test period, businesses will satisfy the decline in turnover test if:

Keep in mind that the decline in turnover test applies to both entities that are registered and not registered for GST in determining if they are eligible for the JobKeeper payment.

The ruling also covers another approach to calculating business’ turnover – the cash or accruals approach – and outlines alternative methods that will allow for the allocation of supplies to a relevant period and determination of the value of those supplies.

Posted on 14 May '20, under Tax. No Comments.

What you need to know about lodgement deferral dates

Due to COVID-19 and unforeseen financial circumstances, the ATO has announced a series of lodgement deferral dates available for tax returns, fringe benefits tax returns, monthly and quarterly BAS, annual GST returns, PAYG summary annual reports and taxable payment annual reports.

Lodgement deferrals extend the due date for lodgement of a document without incurring a failure to lodge on time (FTL) penalty. To request for a lodgement deferral, simply complete an online application and lodge through online services provided by the ATO. The ATO will then assess and approve your requests within a 28-day period.

The extended lodgement dates for particular lodgements are listed below:

To request for a lodgement deferral for business activity statements, annual GST returns, PAYG summary annual reports and taxable payment reports, the ATO encourages businesses and employers to contact their tax or BAS agent to confirm their lodgement due dates and to submit requests as due dates are determined on a case-by-case basis.

While deferring a lodgement may be beneficial in the long term, it is still important to keep in mind your tax liability and how deferring lodgements may affect your cash flow options in the long term. Always discuss your options with a financial advisor or accountant before deferring your taxes as you may accrue more debt than expected otherwise.

Posted on 4 May '20, under Tax. No Comments.

FBT exemptions to keep in mind during the COVID-19 pandemic

In emergency situations like the COVID-19 pandemic, there are certain benefits you can provide your employees or their associates which may be exempt from fringe benefits tax (FBT).

The fringe benefits tax is a tax which employers must pay on certain benefits they provide for their employees, their employees’ families and associates. However, with emergency circumstances such as the pandemic-level coronavirus, the ATO is providing FBT emergency assistance exemptions which apply to many common scenarios that your business may be experiencing.

In the case of COVID-19, the FBT emergency assistance exemption applies to:

With all these exemptions to keep in mind, remember that your FBT return is due 21 May 2020 unless the ATO accepts your request for an extension on lodgement time, you have been granted a deferral or you lodged electronically through a registered tax agent.

Your FBT returns can only be lodged through the practitioner lodgement service (PLS) which requires a Standard Business Reporting (SBR) enabled software from a digital provider. Your digital service provider should be partnered with the ATO in integrating tax and superannuation services into your practice management software.

Posted on 30 April '20, under Tax. No Comments.

ATO introduces new working from home deduction scheme

COVID-19 is forcing many businesses to work from home, meaning that you now have to pay for expenses such as heating and lighting that were previously covered by employers.

The ATO has introduced a new ‘shortcut method,’ where you can claim additional running expenses at a rate of 80 cents for each hour you work from home as a result of COVID-19.

Deductible running expenses include:

The shortcut will apply from 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2020. A record of hours worked such as timesheets or rosters must be kept as proof. If you only undertake minimal work tasks from home such as occasionally checking emails or taking calls, then you are not eligible for the deduction. To claim the deduction, you must specify your claim with the note “COVID-hourly rate” when lodging your upcoming 2019-20 tax return.

There are two pre-existing alternative methods to claim working from home deductions that individuals may choose to use, however, they are generally more tedious:

These deductions are only eligible for the proportions of the expenses that are actually used for work purposes. For example, if you’re using your own phone to make work calls, then only the portion of the bill that was incurred due to work calls can be claimed. If the room you are working in is shared with others, you can only claim electricity expenses for the hours you were exclusively using that room for work purposes.

Expenses such as rent, mortgage and insurance cannot be claimed unless you have a permanent home office.

Posted on 16 April '20, under Tax. No Comments.

Setting up your myGovID

If you haven’t set up your myGovID yet, you need to do it before you can lodge your next business activity statement (BAS).

AUSkey, including Manage ABN Connections, will be replaced by the ATO’s myGovID and Relationship Authorisation Manager (RAM) from 27 March 2020. After this change, you will no longer be able to access government online services through an AUSkey. Device AUSkeys will be replaced by new machine credentials.

Business owners will need to set up a myGovID soon if they haven’t already done so and link it to RAM. Your myGovID is separate from your myGov account and will allow you to prove your identity online. RAM is an authorisation service that uses your myGovID to provide you with access. When linked with your myGovID, RAM will allow you to act on behalf of your business online.

Desktop and browser-based versions of myGovID will not be supported as these devices are easily accessible. To set up your myGovID, you will need an email address (that you do not share with anyone else) and a smart device that uses iOS 10 or later on Apple devices, or Android 7.0 or later (not including devices that use Android Go operating systems). You can download the myGovID app for free through the AppStore or Google Play.

Depending on what government online services you wish to access through myGovID, you will have to provide certain identity documents to authenticate your account. You can generally have a Basic or Standard identity strength. A Basic identity strength is where you provide only one or no identity documents, aside from your personal details (such as your date of birth and email address). Only some government online services will accept a Basic identity strength, such as Bankruptcy Register Search, ACMA Lodgement Portal and Debt Agreements Online.

A Standard identity strength requires two Australian identity documents, such as:
– A passport, no more than three years past its expiry date
– A driver’s license, including a learner permit
– A birth certificate
– A Medicare card.
This will allow you to access all participating government online services, including the Business Portal where you can lodge your BAS.

Posted on 2 April '20, under Tax. No Comments.

CGT exemptions have been scrapped. What does that mean for you?

Are you an Australian living or working overseas with a family home in Australia? Or you know someone who is? If so, be sure to consider the impacts of the capital gains tax (CGT) on you from 30 June 2020.

Since 1985, the exemption of Australian expatriates from the CGT tax has been available for homes which have never been rented out for more than six years at a time. However, following the scrapping of the CGT exemption under the A$581m federal government plan, Australians working overseas will have to sell their property before the 30th of June 2020 to avoid CGT and still be eligible for CGT main residence exemption.

With the removal of CGT exemption past June 2020, Australian ex-pats who own property in Australia will be required to pay CGT dating all the way back to when they first bought the property. That is, if an ex-pat was to have bought their property in 1985, they would have to pay an accumulation of their tax owing in CGT from 1985 to 2020. The only way to avoid such hefty tax payments would be to sell your property on or before the 30th of June or to re-establish Australian residency before selling the property.

Understandably, the new change will impose a sizable cost on Australian ex-pats and has come as a result of the influx of speculative foreign investors as well.

As every situation is unique, taxation planning customised to every taxpayer’s specific circumstances are advised. In order to avoid the accumulated CGT payments, Australian expats need to be aware of their financial standings and be ready to make a quick decision regarding the selling or keeping of their Australian property.

Seeking out tax advice from knowledgeable tax specialists, employing organised bookkeeping services and detailed financial statements written up by accountants in preparation for making such an important decision regarding your Australian property is heavily recommended to ensure the new CGT laws don’t cause you financial problems.

Posted on 19 March '20, under Tax. No Comments.

What’s tax-deductible for home businesses?

Running your business from home can have great benefits, such as being able to spend more time with your family, not having to travel, and deciding your work hours. To make the most out of your home business experience, it is important to be aware of what tax deductions you can claim.

If your home is also your principal place of business and you have a designated room space for business activities, then you are considered to be running your business from home. However, if you only do some business activities from home, then you may be considered to be working from home and the following tax implications don’t apply to you.

You can claim deductions for your home business on expenses that you need to undertake work that produces income. Tax-deductible costs include:

Posted on 28 February '20, under Tax. No Comments.

Do you have to pay tax on super death benefits?

When someone dies, their superannuation usually gets transferred to their beneficiary as superannuation death benefits. Depending on who the beneficiary is, the benefits may be taxed in some circumstances.

If you are a beneficiary, the amount of tax you pay depends on factors such as:

Someone who is tax-dependant will:

Lump sum payments

Lump sum super benefits paid to tax-dependant beneficiaries are not taxed, whereas those who are not tax-dependent will need to pay more tax and will only be able to receive the benefit as a lump sum. Not all super death benefits paid to a non-tax dependant are subject to tax. There are tax-free components that are made up of contributions after-tax that the member made to their super.

The taxed element (where the member paid tax in their super) of the taxable component of the benefit is subject to a maximum tax rate of 15% plus the Medicare levy. The untaxed element (where the death benefit is being paid from an untaxed super fund or includes proceeds from a life insurance policy held by the fund) of the taxable component of the benefit is subject to a maximum tax rate of 15% plus the Medicare levy.

Income stream payments

If the death benefit is paid in the form of an income stream, the tax treatment of the payment is dependent on the age of the deceased and beneficiary at the time.

If the deceased or the beneficiary is aged 60 or over at the time of the benefactor’s death and the super is paid from a taxed super fund, then the payment will not be taxed. If the age of the deceased and the age of the beneficiary are both under 60, the taxable portion of income stream payments will be treated as assessable income but will be entitled to a tax offset equal to 15% of the amount.

Posted on 13 February '20, under Tax. No Comments.

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Spouse contributions – when are you eligible for a tax offset?

Contributions made on behalf of your spouse to a complying superannuation fund or a retirement savings account (RSA) may be eligible for a tax offset.

The 2019/2020 tax rules allow you to claim an 18% tax offset on super contributions up to $3,000 on behalf of your spouse. While you are able to contribute more than $3,000, there will be no spouse contribution tax offset over this amount. The amount you can claim depends on your spouse's annual income:

  • $540 for spouse income of $37,000.
  • $360 for spouse income of $38,000.
  • $180 for spouse income of $39,000.

The tax offset may be available for individuals who meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Your spouse's assessable income, fringe benefits amounts and employer superannuation contributions equate to under $40,000.
  • Contributions made on behalf of your spouse were not deductible to you.
  • You and your spouse were Australian residents at the time of contributions.
  • Your spouse did not have non-concessional contributions that equated to a higher amount than their non-concessional contributions cap, or they did not have a total superannuation balance of $1.6 million or more at 30 June 2018.
  • Your spouse is younger than their preservation age, or are not retired while being between 65 and their preservation age.

Under Australian superannuation law, your spouse can be either:

  • Your partner who you are married to and live with, or;
  • Your de facto partner, who you live with on a genuine domestic basis.

The spouse contributions tax offset can be claimed on your tax return.

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