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Tax-effective investment options

Determining where to invest requires multiple factors to be taken into consideration. One such factor may be tax efficiency. The tax charged on income from a tax-effective investment is less than the individual’s marginal tax rate.

Superannuation

The government provides incentives to save through Super, which make it one of the most tax-effective investments. Contributing to your super and salary sacrifice is only taxed at 15% if yearly income is under $250,000 (30% if over $250,000 which is still tax-effective). The maximum tax that can be charged on investment income in super is 15%, and 10% on capital gains. This is lower than marginal rates at which taxation occurs for most individuals.

Employees should ensure that contributions are not above $25,000, as this is the cap on concessional contributions. Additional tax needs to be paid on any amount claimed higher than the cap.

Insurance Bonds

Insurance companies offer insurance bonds as long term investment options. Earnings in an investment bond are taxed at 30% (Corporate tax rate), which makes them tax-effective for those whose marginal tax rate is above 30%. They are further tax-effective if one is looking to invest for over 10 years. This is because although withdrawals can be made during the 10 years, if no withdrawals are made, no further tax is payable.

The ATO warns against tax-driven schemes, which offer tax concessions for investing in certain assets that provide income in the future as these may be high risk or part of a scam. Investing in superannuation or insurance bonds are safe and reliable methods which don’t pose these concerns.

Posted on 1 October '20, under Tax. No Comments.

Amnesty means that 24,000 businesses own up to underpaying Aussies superannuation

An amnesty scheme which ended earlier this month has caused around 24,000 businesses to admit to underpayment of their worker’s super. A total of 588 million dollars will be distributed to almost 400,00 individuals.

The scheme, which covered payments from the introduction of super in 1992, gave employers the opportunity to come clean without any consequences as long as they paid the unpaid super as well as 10% interest for every year the money was overdue.

The ATO will be directing its attention at any businesses that did not admit fault and these businesses will face severe penalties.

Many individuals are looking to access their superannuation early in order to have support during these times. Although there is criticism of early access to super, this facility has been helpful to many families to keep afloat.

Posted on 24 September '20, under Super. No Comments.

Income Tax cuts in Federal Budget Benefiting high-income earners

In its efforts to boost the economy, the Federal Government is considering bringing the planned income tax cuts forward. The intention behind these cuts is to boost the economy by boosting consumption.

Initially, income tax cuts were to take place in three stages, the first of which has already been rolled out. The following stages aim to facilitate a reduction in tax for individuals earning from $90,000 to $200,000 over the next 4 years at the cost of billions of dollars to the Parliamentary Budget.

There has been criticism of the government’s suggestion that these stages be moved forward because they are unlikely to have the desired effect. Rather than boosting consumption, beneficiaries of this plan are likely to keep the additional money in the bank. This is because these plans are directed at high-income earners who will not need to spend the money on necessities, that low-income earners would.

Additionally, the uncertainty of the current climate which the government is relying on to justify this change may be the very reason that people save their money rather than spend it.

Critics of this change are suggesting that focus should be placed on ‘Social Spending’. An example of this could be an increase in pension – which pensioners are a lot more likely to reinvest into the economy.

Posted on 24 September '20, under Tax. No Comments.

What to consider when consolidating your super

The ATO reported that 45% of working Australians were not aware that they had multiple super accounts in 2016. Having multiple super accounts is particularly common for individuals who have had more than one job. If this is you, it is important to identify and manage your super accounts because having more than one can be costly as a result of account fees from multiple funds.To combat this, you may want to consolidate your super, which moves all your super into one account. Not only does this save on fees, but it also makes your super easier to manage and keep track of.

Before consolidating your super, it is important to do the following:

Research your funds’ policy
Compare your active super accounts so you can make the right choice about which one you should close. Things to assess include:

Check employer contributions
Changing funds may affect how much your employer contributes, as some employers contribute more to certain funds. Check your current accounts to see if changing funds will affect this. Once you have selected a super fund, regardless of whether you choose a new super fund or one of your existing ones, provide your employer with the details they need to pay super into your selected account.

Gather the relevant information
When consolidating your super, you will need to have the following details ready:

Posted on 27 August '20, under Super. No Comments.

Extending relief with JobKeeper 2.1 changes

The Government has introduced additional changes to JobKeeper to help more businesses qualify for the relief payments.

One of the key changes was moving the relevant date of employment for an eligible employee from 1 March to 1 July 2020, to extend employee eligibility. This allows those who were full time employees on or before 1 July 2020 and employees who became long-term casual workers between 1 March to 1 July 2020 to be eligible for JobKeeper. This will increase the amount of employees that are eligible under the current JobKeeper Scheme, and will also expand the eligibility criteria under JobKeeper 2.1.

Businesses originally needed to show that they have met the decline in turnover test in the June, September and December 2020 quarters to receive JobKeeper payments. To qualify for the first phase of the JobKeeper Extension (28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021) businesses need to show that they have had a decline in turnover only for the September 2020 quarter, in comparison to the previous year.

To qualify for the second phase of JobKeeper Extension (4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021) businesses need to show that they had a decline in turnover for the December 2020 quarter only to be eligible for payments.

This change can be particularly useful to businesses that may not have met the decline in turnover test in the June or September quarter, but suffer significantly in the December quarter.

The improved accessibility to JobKeeper payments comes from the impacts of economic downfalls in Victoria. It is predicted that more than 80 percent of these payments will flow towards assisting Victorian businesses and employees.

Posted on 27 August '20, under Tax. No Comments.

What is an SMSF auditor and what do they do?

Self-managed super fund (SMSF) trustees are required to appoint an ATO-approved SMSF auditor no later than 45 days before lodging their SMSF annual return. An SMSF auditor is a professional who assesses your fund’s compliance with superannuation law and examines your fund’s financial statements.

SMSF auditor eligible requirements
Your SMSF auditor must be:

What will your SMSF auditor do?
An SMSF auditor provides you with an independent opinion on the existing assets in your SMSF and whether or not your fund complies with the rules outlined in the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993.

When preparing for an audit, an SMSF auditor will issue a Terms of Engagement Letter to the trustee(s) of the fund, which includes the roles and responsibilities for parties involved in the audit as well as the range of the audit. In the case that your SMSF auditor’s primary contact is your accountant, your accountant will be issued a separate Terms of Engagement Letter.

By clearly outlining each parties’ capabilities, a Terms of Engagement Letter helps you, your accountant and your auditor to avoid any misunderstandings and also protects audit evidence provided by your auditor from unintended alterations. In turn, SMSF auditors who fail to follow standards or take shortcuts can be sued or imposed penalties by the Court.

The Terms of Engagement Letter also acts as a contract to keep parties accountable during compliance breaches and prevents cases of ‘opinion shopping’ where trustees look to other auditors for unqualified opinions. Trustees may end up being audited by the ATO in the event that they breach the Terms of Engagement Letter and ‘opinion shop’, as it comprises auditor independence.

Posted on 20 August '20, under Super. No Comments.

CGT rollover when transferring assets in a divorce

Transferring the ownership of assets from one party to another may attract CGT. However, in the event that a change in ownership occurs due to the breakdown of a relationship, you may be eligible for a rollover of the asset.

A rollover allows taxpayers to defer or disregard a capital gain or loss that would normally arise on a CGT event. Specifically, a same asset rollover can occur when an individual transfers assets to their ex-spouse, as the transferee already has an involvement with the asset. The spouse who receives the asset will make the capital gain or loss when they dispose of the asset in future. They will also receive the cost base of the asset (the cost of the asset at the time of its initial purchase), as well as expenses incurred when acquiring, holding and disposing of the asset.

The rollover applies to CGT events that occur as a result of:

Separating couples transferring assets in accordance with a binding financial agreement will not require court intervention, however, for rollover to apply, the following must be true at the time of transfer:

Couples with informal or private agreements related to the transfer of assets will not be eligible for a rollover, and CGT will apply to these ownership transfers. The parties cannot choose whether or not the rollover applies to their situation.

Posted on 20 August '20, under Tax. No Comments.

Buying property through your SMSF

Using SMSFs to buy property has become increasingly popular among Australians in recent years, particularly since it became possible for SMSFs to borrow money to fund a direct property purchase.

Residential property

A residential property owned by an SMSF has some limitations as to who it can be leased to.

To buy property through your SMSF, the property must meet the following requirements:

Commercial property

A commercial property owned by an SMSF can be leased to a wider range of tenants than residential properties. Commercial property purchased for business purposes can be purchased from a member of the SMSF or a related entity. This allows small business owners to use their SMSF to purchase the premises from which their own business is run, enabling them to pay rent directly to their fund. This can be preferable to paying rent to an alternate landlord. However, keep in mind that rent must be at market rate and be paid promptly and in full at each due date.

SMSF borrowing

SMSFs can borrow money to purchase a property, however, the borrowing criteria for an SMSF is generally much stricter than regular property loans taken out by individuals. All loans must be undertaken through a limited recourse borrowing arrangement (LRBA). An LRBA involves an SMSF trustee taking out a loan to purchase a single asset, such as a residential or commercial property. Under the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993, super fund trustees can use borrowed money to pay for regular repairs and maintenance. However, borrowed money under the LRBA cannot be used for property improvements or renovations that result in the acquirable asset becoming a different asset. This may include adding additional rooms to the property or completely renovating a room.

Tax consequences

Buying and renting property through an SMSF also comes with tax consequences. SMSF funds are required to pay 15% tax on rental income from properties purchased through the fund. However, properties held for over 12 months receive a one third discount on any capital gains made upon the sale, bringing any CGT liability down to 10%.

Expenses such as interest from loans, council rates, maintenance and insurance can be claimed as tax deductions by the SMSF.

As well as this, once SMSF members reach pension phase, any rental income or capital gains arising in the fund will be tax-free.

SMSF property costs

SMSF property sales often attract higher fees that can end up reducing your super balance. Fees and charges can include:

Posted on 13 August '20, under Super. No Comments.

What is a TPAR and do you need to lodge one?

The Taxable Payments Annual Report (TPAR) is an industry-specific report through which businesses inform the ATO of the total payments made to contractors for services in that financial year. This information is then used by the ATO to match the contractors’ income declarations to improve their compliance efforts.

A TPAR is generally required by businesses that have an Australian Business Number (ABN), have supplied a relevant service and have made payments to contractors for services completed on your behalf. Contractors can be operating as sole traders, partnerships, companies or trusts. The following services are considered relevant:

If your business provides these services, regardless of whether it is only a part of the services you offer, or if it is a federal, state, territory or local government entity, you are obligated to report the payments made to third parties through a TPAR.

It is important to remember that not all payments need to be reported. Your taxable payments annual report does not require details of:

Only payments made to contractors for work that is relevant to carrying on your business needs to be reported. Your TPAR is due by 28 August each year, and fines may apply for not lodging the report by the specified deadline.

If your business does not need to lodge a TPAR for a particular financial year, consider submitting an optional non-lodgement advice through the ATO business portal to avoid unnecessary follow-up about TPAR lodgements.

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

How to select a default fund for your business

Business owners might be required to select a default fund for employees when they do not want to nominate their own superannuation funds. Funds should meet specific requirements that are stated as per super law, so it is important to select a complying fund. However, there are other factors that you may have to think about before selecting a default fund to make sure that you and your employees get the most out of it.

Pricing
Naturally, one of the main considerations while selecting a super fund should be pricing. Funds that have a lower fee may not cover extras, and this requires careful analysis to see what extras have been left out. Coverage for extras like being able to track down missing super is a key feature that employees will prefer your default fund has.

Employee preferences
Employees are likely to prefer funds that allow flexibility with their investment options and have essential features like insurance policies covering death, total and permanent disability (TPD), and income protection. You may want to consider options that give your employees a comprehensive cover while keeping an eye out for any exclusions that might affect you.

Industry fund
Checking industry funds may help reveal awards that are particularly applicable to employees from your industry. It is a requirement that your default fund is a MySuper product. All listings under Industry SuperFunds are MySuper products, so this can simplify the process of finding an affordable super fund for your employees.

Fund management
Finally, consider taking a closer look at the fund’s insurance offerings. Past performance of the fund doesn’t guarantee high returns in the future. But it is important to be aware of the returns on the fund’s investments to compare how their options have performed against their return objectives. This can increase the chances that the selected super fund will be beneficial to you and your employees.

Posted on 7 August '20, under Super. No Comments.

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What property investors need to look out for

All investments have an aspect of risk and property investment is no different. How comfortable you are with the risk is generally an indication of your financial situation, age and expertise. There are a few common areas that pose risks to properties that investors should be aware of before entering into the market.

Market risk

Like other forms of investing, there is the danger of the market crashing or seeing a significant turn. By investing solely in property, you run the risk of lack of diversification, meaning if the market were to shift, so would your investments. You can slightly combat this by purchasing properties in different states all over Australia, but if the wider property market crashes this is unlikely to relieve risk.

Lack of liquidity

Liquidity is how accessible your money within the investment is. Real estate investment lacks liquidity, meaning an investor needs to be thinking for the long term. From this is the possibility that an investor may be unable to buy or sell an investment quickly when they wish due to limited opportunities. Liquidity risk in Australian property can be lessened through investing in capital city suburbs with high demand and limited supply.

Tenants and damage

Tenants are apart of the deal when investing property. Particularly bad tenants can affect your cash flow if they don't pay their rent on time and may leave your property damaged. A tangible asset, such as property, can face risks like natural disasters, fire, damage by tenants, robbery or vandalism. Finding a good insurance policy is a means of managing the physical risks associated with real estate investment.

Maintenance

Property investment isn't one that you can set and forget, it requires attention and upkeep. Landlords and property owners have a responsibility to keep their buildings safe and livable for tenants. Good time management and a solid knowledge of the property will better equip you to handle these hidden problems.

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