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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:

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

Under Australian superannuation law, your spouse can be either:

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

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

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.

Your current employer superannuation obligations

Paying your employees superannuation is an integral part of being an employer. Superannuation provides income for your workers in retirement and it is your legal obligation to make sure you are paying your eligible employees the right amount, on time, to the right place and also in the right way. The ATO has also introduced a few schemes to help employers meet their super obligations due to financial strain caused by COVID-19.

Your super obligations are summarized in the following:

While the usual obligations apply, the ATO has also introduced assistance schemes in response to COVID-19 for employers. The superannuation guarantee amnesty, in particular, will provide you with arrangements which can adjust your payment terms and amounts relative to your financial circumstances as well as extend your payment plan to beyond 7 September 2020, provided you apply to participate in the amnesty by that date.

Applying for superannuation guarantee amnesty also means having any refunds returned to you as quickly as possible and being notified of any eligible income tax deductions you can claim on your contributions to employee super funds. However, if you are unable to maintain super payments despite being granted SG amnesty, you will be disqualified from the program. This disqualification will only apply to any unpaid quarters and you will need to pay a $20 per employee component for re-application of any unpaid quarters.

For updates in the event of more changes to super obligations and requirements, visit the ATO Super website or APRA-regulated funds page for more information.

Posted on 19 May '20, under Super. 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.

What happens if your SMSF is non compliant?

While there are benefits to running an SMSF, they do not come without their compliance responsibilities. This includes lodging your fund’s annual return on time, attending to reporting obligations, and having an investment strategy. SMSFs who do not meet their obligations are subject to penalties by the ATO through the following measures.

Education direction

An SMSF trustee who does not meet compliance requirements can be given a written direction to undertake a course of education that is designed to improve their ability to meet their obligations, reducing the risk of future non-compliance. The course may be completed online within a nominated timeframe. Failure to comply with an education direction can result in an administrative penalty of 10 units.

Administrative penalties

SMSF trustees are liable to pay administrative penalties if they contravene provisions of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (SISA). This includes contraventions of borrowings, in-house assets, education direction, duty to notify of significant adverse events, and accounts and statements. The minimum penalty is $1,050 and the maximum penalty is $12,600.

Enforceable undertaking

SMSF trustees may be able to rectify non-compliance by providing a written commitment to an enforceable undertaking. The ATO may or may not accept the undertaking, which should include:

Rectification direction

The ATO may decide to provide a trustee with written direction to rectify their contravention. The trustee will then be required to undertake specified action to rectify the non-compliance within a given timeframe. Rectification commonly involves employing managerial or administrative arrangements that will prevent similar contraventions in the future. Proof of compliance with the direction to rectify will be required. Failure to comply with the direction is an offence of strict liability, which can lead to disqualification or the removal of the fund’s complying status which may result in a significant tax penalty on the fund.

Disqualification

The ATO has the ability to disqualify individuals from acting as a trustee due to their non-compliance. This will take into account the severity of the contraventions and the likelihood of them reoccurring. Continuing to act as a trustee after disqualification is an offence that may result in further penalties.

Civil and criminal penalties

Civil and criminal penalties through court can apply when SMSF trustees contravene with provisions such as:

Non-compliance notice

SMSFs may be issued a notice of non-compliance when serious contravention of super laws have occurred. This causes the fund to remain non-compliant until a notice of compliance is received. For every year the fund remains non-complying, its assessable income is taxed at the highest marginal tax rate.

Winding up the fund

After a contravention has occurred, the trustee may wind up the SMSF and roll over the remaining benefits to an Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) regulated fund. However, in some cases, the ATO may continue to issue the SMSF with a notice of non-compliance and/or apply other compliance measures.

Freezing the SMSF’s assets

A trustee may be given a notice to freeze an SMSF’s assets when it appears that conduct by the trustees or investment manager may adversely affect the interests of the beneficiaries. The notice may restrict the trustee or investment manager from acquiring assets and disposing of assets.

Posted on 14 May '20, under Super. 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.

Things to know about the First Home Super Saver Scheme

Individuals looking to buy their first home may claim up to $30,000 of their super contributions through the First Home Super Saver (FHSS) Scheme, which aims to reduce pressure on housing affordability.

The scheme allows first home buyers to save money within their superannuation fund and accumulate faster savings with the concessional tax treatment of super. Eligible individuals who are able to use up to $15,000 of voluntary contributions per year, and a total of $30,000 contributions across all years. The FHHS amounts received will affect your tax for the year it is released to you; both the assessable and tax-withheld amounts from your FHSS payment will need to be included in your tax return.

The types of contributions eligible to go towards the FHHS scheme are voluntary concessional contributions and voluntary non-concessional contributions. Contributions can be made up to your existing contributions cap.

To be eligible for the scheme, individuals must:

Individuals experiencing financial hardship may also apply for the scheme even if they have already purchased property in the past if their financial hardship has resulted in a loss of property interest. This may be applicable to individuals who have experienced events such as:

Posted on 4 May '20, under Super. 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.

Assistance available for SMSFs and their members

The Government’s economic response to coronavirus will provide SMSFs and their members with additional support, including reducing minimum drawdown rates and early release of superannuation.

The minimum annual payment required for account-based pensions and annuities has been reduced in an initiative to assist retirees. For the 2019-20 and 2020-21 financial years, the minimum annual payment required for members has been reduced by 50%.

If the minimum drawdown amount has been paid, no further payments will be required for the rest of the year. Those who have already paid more than the minimum drawdown amount are able to have their member recontribute this amount if the member is eligible to make contributions. Re-contributions will continue to be subjected to rules or limits, such as contributions caps.

Members of SMSFs who have been adversely affected by COVID-19 may be able to access up to $10,000 of their super before 1 July 2020, as well as a further $10,000 between 1 July 2020 and 24 September 2020, on compassionate grounds. To be eligible, members must satisfy at least one of the following criteria:

Applications for early access can be made through myGov.

In addition to these initiatives, the Government will also be automatically deferring the lodgement of 2019 SMSF annual returns until 30 Junes 2020.

Posted on 30 April '20, under Super. 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.

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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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