Who gets a tax cut from 1 July?

1 July 2018 is the start date for the seven year income tax plan announced in the recent 2018-19 Federal Budget. The seven year plan benefits low and middle income earners in the first few years before expanding out to a broader restructure of the tax rates and brackets for everyone.

From 2018-19, the top threshold of the 32.5% personal income tax bracket will increase from $87,000 to $90,000. Dovetailing into the tax bracket change is the introduction of the Low and Middle Income Tax Offset for those with taxable incomes up to $125,333. The offset is a non-refundable tax offset that you receive when you lodge your income tax return.

If your annual taxable income is $80,000 in 2018-19, then the personal income tax changes provide an annual tax reduction of $530 per year. If your annual taxable income is $120,000, then the changes give you an annual reduction of $215.

The legislation enabling the personal income tax cuts and the new tax offset is not yet law and currently before the Senate.

Assuming the legislation comes into effect, further changes are planned from 1 July 2022 culminating in the removal of the 37% tax bracket from 1 July 2024. The changes will allow you to earn more before facing a higher tax bracket.

Your essential EOFY checklist

No one wants to pay more tax than they need to or face unnecessary risks. We’ve provided a list of  tips for you.

Donate – If you are going to donate to charity, now is the time. Any donations you make to deductible gift recipients can be deducted this year. Remember, if you received something in return for the money, like goods purchased at a charity auction, you may not be able to claim a deduction for the full payment. There are special rules dealing with this situation that need to be taken into account.

Work related deductions – you can claim a deduction for business expenses you have incurred that have not been paid by your employer. But be careful, you need to be certain that what you are claiming is a legitimate business expense and able to be claimed. For example, you cannot claim the cost of dry cleaning the clothes you wear to work unless it is protective clothing, a uniform required by the business, or occupation specific clothing (like the checked pants some chefs wear).

To be legitimate, the expense must be for something you need to do your job. Items like laptop bags have been in the news lately because some handbags can be used to carry laptops. This does not mean that your Gucci bag is suddenly deductible. It is really up to you to justify the deduction that you are claiming, keeping records of the actual usage of the item can help with this.

Home office expenses – if you work from home as part of your employment, you may be able to claim items such as phone expenses, running costs for your home, and equipment. Just bear in mind that expenses need to be in proportion to your use of the home for work purposes. If your home is a place of business and you are entitled to claim a deduction for interest expenses or rent, then this will generally impact on your ability to claim the full main residence exemption from CGT when you sell the home.

Earning extra cash from AirBNB style services – The tax treatment of what you earn by renting all or part of your house through AirBNB and similar services is the same as any other residential rental property arrangement. You must include the rental income in your income tax return, but you can also claim tax deductions for expenses associated to the rental, such as the interest on your home loan, professional cleaning, fees charged by the facilitator, council rates, and insurance. Expense claims need to be in proportion to the rental, that is, how much of the house is used and for how long. Also, beware that this type of activity can restrict your ability to claim the CGT main residence exemption when you sell the property if it is or has been your home.

Uber – If you drive for Uber or a similar service, the income you earn needs to be declared on your income tax return. Plus, you need to be registered for GST. You can claim expenses for your car that relate to transporting passengers (relative to the kilometres travelled with passengers).

Danger zones – Expense claims that are high on the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) hit list include:

  • Travel expenses – Problems arise when people make claims for expenses that they did not actually incur. Typically, this happens when someone receives an allowance for travel but does not spend it (they might stay with family or friends instead). While the ATO publishes some reasonable rates each year for food and accommodation expenses, these only provide limited relief from the full record keeping rules. You cannot claim a deduction for the ATO reasonable rate amount if you spent less than this on food and accommodation.
  • Self-education expenses. Any study you claim as self-education must be connected to the income you are currently earning (either to maintain or improve your specific skills or knowledge) or is likely to result in increased income from existing income earning activities. Merely doing a course while working full time does not make the course deductible. Be careful of excessive claims for travel overseas and luxury courses. You need to prove that these expenses are essential to your current work.

You can no longer claim – If you are a property investor, you can generally no longer claim the cost of travelling to and from your investment property.

What’s changing on 1st July?

Individuals

Personal tax bracket changes – The top threshold of the 32.5% personal income tax bracket will increase from $87,000 to $90,000*.

Introduction of the Low and Middle Income Tax Offset* providing a tax offset for those with taxable income of up to $125,333.

GST on property developments and residential subdivisions – The way GST is collected on sales of newly constructed residential properties or new subdivisions will change from 1 July. Purchasers will be required to remit the GST directly to the ATO as part of the settlement process. If you are buying a property, it is essential that you check the details to ensure that these new requirements have been managed (see this issue in Business also).

 

Business

Single touch payroll – Employers with 20 or more employees at 1 April 2018 must use standard business reporting-enabled software from 1 July 2018 to report payments such as salaries and wages, PAYG withholding and superannuation. Single touch payroll is expected to be compulsory for businesses with 19 or less employees from 1 July 2019.

The $20k instant asset write-off for small business has been extended until 30 June 2019.

GST on low value goods – GST will apply to overseas sales of goods supplied to Australian consumers with a value under $1,000.

GST on property developments and residential subdivisions – The way GST is collected on sales of newly constructed residential properties or new subdivisions will change from 1 July. The vendor will no longer collect and remit GST on the purchase price of the residential premises. Instead, the vendor must notify the purchaser in writing that the GST needs to be paid to the Commissioner and advise the amount that must be paid. In most situations, the amount will be 1/11th of the contract price.

 Where the margin scheme is used, it is 7% of the contract price. Where the transaction is between associates, it is 10% of the GST-exclusive market value. Notification rules will also apply to the vendor, even if the transaction does not trigger a GST liability.

R&D changes* – the way the R&D tax incentive is managed will change with caps introduced on cash rebates and for large companies, a refocussing of R&D to high intensity R&D activities.

Changes to the Wine Equalisation Tax – the rebate cap will reduce from $500,000 to $350,000 and the eligibility criteria tightened.

Significant global entity definition change* – Special reporting requirements are in place for significant global entities (SGE) – large global entities with revenues in excess of $1bn or a member of their group. Many smaller companies that are related to or subsidiaries of these large entities are also affected. This definition will be broadened further to include members of large multinational groups headed by private companies, trusts and partnerships; and members of groups headed by investment entities.

 

Superannuation

Event based reporting for SMSFs – A new reporting regime commences for SMSFs. All SMSFs must report events that affect their members’ transfer balance accounts (for example, when an SMSF member first starts to receive a pension from their fund). Timeframes for reporting are determined by the total superannuation balances of the SMSF’s members. Where all members of the SMSF have a total superannuation balance of less than $1 million, the SMSF can report this information at the same time as the annual return. SMSFs that have any members with a total superannuation balance of $1 million or more must report events affecting members’ transfer balances within 28 days after the end of the quarter in which the event occurs.  

Carry forward concessional contributions – people with super balances below $500,000 will be able to rollover their unused concessional caps for up to 5 years. Unused cap amounts can be carried forward from the 2018-19 financial year; which means the first opportunity to use these new rules will be 2019-20.

Downsizer contributions – if you are over 65, have held your home for 10 years or more and are looking to sell, you might be able to contribute some of the proceeds of the sale of your home to superannuation.

First home saver scheme – First home savers are able to withdraw voluntary, after-tax superannuation contributions they have made to put towards their first home.

Changes to protect employees against inadvertent breaches of concessional caps* – Individuals whose income exceeds $263,157 and have multiple employers will be able to nominate that their wages from certain employers are not subject to the superannuation guarantee (SG).

*Change has been announced but has not become law at the time of writing.

One-off Super Guarantee Amnesty

Employers that have fallen behind with their superannuation guarantee (SG) obligations will have 12 months to “self-correct” under a new amnesty announced late last month.

The ATO estimates that $2.85 billion is currently owed in late or missing SG payments. Running for 12 months from 24 May 2018 , the amnesty encourages employers to reduce this SG gap by providing relief from the punitive penalties that normally apply to late payments.

Even if you do not believe that your business has an SG underpayment issue, it is worth undertaking a payroll audit to ensure that your payroll calculations are correct, and employees are being paid at a rate that is consistent with their entitlements under workplace laws and awards.

Qualifying for the amnesty

The amnesty applies to employers that have underpaid or not paid SG for any period from 1 July 1992 up to 31 March 2018.

To qualify for the amnesty, employers must disclose the outstanding SG to the Tax Commissioner using the SG Amnesty ATO payment form or the SG Amnesty Fund payment form where the payment has been made directly to the employee’s fund. You either pay the full amount owing, or if the business cannot pay the full amount, enter into a payment plan with the ATO. If you agree to a payment plan and do not meet the payments, the amnesty will no longer apply.

Bear in mind that the amnesty only applies to “voluntary” disclosures. The ATO will continue its compliance activities during the amnesty period so if they discover the underpayment first, full penalties apply. The amnesty also does not apply to amounts that have already been identified as owing or where the employer is subject to an ATO audit.

What do employers pay under the amnesty?

Normally, if an employer fails to meet their quarterly SG payment on time they need to pay the SG charge (SGC) and lodge a Superannuation Guarantee Statement. The SGC applies even if you pay the outstanding SG soon after the deadline.

Employers pay:

  • The SGC comprised of:
    • The outstanding SG entitlements (although this component might be higher than what it would have been had the entitlements been paid on time)
    • Interest of 10% per annum, and
    • An administration fee of $20 for each employee with a shortfall per quarter
  • Penalties of up to 200% of the amount of the underlying SG charge
  • A general interest charge if the SGC or penalties are not paid by the due date

On top of this, the SGC amount is not deductible – even if you pay the outstanding amount. That is, if you pay SG late, you can no longer deduct the SG amount even if you bring the payment up to date.

Under the quarterly superannuation guarantee, the interest component is calculated on an employer’s quarterly shortfall amount from the first day of the relevant quarter to the date when the SG charge would be payable (not from the date the SG was overdue).

Under the amnesty, employers pay:

  • The SGC:
    • The outstanding SG entitlements
    • Interest of 10% per annum
    • No administration fees
  • No penalties
  • A general interest charge.

An extra benefit of using the amnesty period to catch up is that the SGC amount is deductible. The ability to deduct SGC and the reduction in penalties could be significant for employers that have fallen behind with their SG obligations.

Special provisions exist within the legislation to automatically protect employees from inadvertently breaching concessional contribution cap limits if the unpaid SG is paid to the Commissioner and then transferred to the employee’s superannuation fund. Where the employer makes the payment directly into the employee’s fund, the individual would need to apply to the Commissioner requesting the exercise of discretion to either disregard the concessional contributions or allocate them to another financial year.

Where to from here?

Legislation enabling the amnesty is currently before Parliament and will not become law until at least June 2018. Despite this, the clock is ticking.

If your business has fallen behind on its SG obligations and is eligible for the amnesty, you need to start working through the issues now or contact us to work through the issues for you. There are several calculations that need to be completed and these may take some time to complete.

If a problem is revealed, you can correct it without excessive penalties applying. If you are uncertain about what Award and pay rates apply to employees, the FairWork Ombudsman’s website has a pay calculator or you can contact them online or call them on 13 13 94

What you need to tell the ATO about your SMSF

The 1 July 2017 superannuation reforms introduced a new reporting regime for funds. Funds now need to advise the ATO of key events within the fund that impact on retirement income streams (pensions):

• When you start a pension
• When you stop a pension or take a lump sum
• When the fund accepts a structured settlement contribution such as personal injury compensation.

Superannuation funds are also required to report the value of existing superannuation income streams at 30 June 2017.

While reporting of these events to the ATO does not formally start until 1 July 2018 for SMSFs, event based reporting still needs to be completed if these events occur from 1 July 2017 – that is, you have a reprieve from the compliance but not the actual reporting.

In addition to the new events based reporting regime, SMSFs are also obliged to report any of the following changes to the ATO within 28 days.

• Fund name
• Fund address
• contact person for the fund
• fund membership
• fund trustees, and
• the directors of the fund’s corporate trustee

Cleaners and couriers latest black economy target

The detail of the Government’s crackdown on cleaning and courier companies was revealed late last month.

From 1 July 2018, the taxable payments reporting system will extend beyond the building industry to cleaning and courier businesses. This means that these businesses will need to report payments they make to contractors (individual and total for the year) to the ATO. By ‘payment’ the ATO means any form of consideration including non-cash benefits and constructive payments.

The building industry has had this form of “enhanced reporting” since 2012-13. The result was an additional $2.3 billion in income tax and GST liabilities collected through voluntary reporting in the first year alone.

What is a cleaning and courier service?

The terms ‘cleaning service’ and ‘courier service’ take their ordinary meaning.

Courier services include activities where items or goods are collected from, and/or delivered to, any place in Australia using a variety of methods including by truck, car, station wagon, van, ute, motorcycle, motorised scooter, bicycle or other non-powered means of transport, or on foot.  Freight services, blood and blood product couriers, and passenger transport are not affected.

A cleaning service is any service where a structure, vehicle, place, surface, machinery or equipment has been subject to a process in which dirt or similar material has been removed from it. This includes office cleaning, road sweeping or street cleaning, swimming pool cleaning, park and facilities cleaning, or cleaning for certain types of cultural or sporting events.

Mixed business that supply services including courier or cleaning services will also be affected.

What you need to do

The first annual report for affected cleaning and courier companies is due by 29 August 2019 for the 2018-19 year. The types of information reported to the ATO about contractors include:

  • ABN (where known)
  • Name
  • Address
  • Total paid to the contractor (including GST) for the financial year, and
  • Total GST included in the gross amount that was paid.

If an invoice you receive from a contractor includes both labour and materials, whether itemised or combined, you will need to report the total amount of the payment.

If your business is likely to be affected by the new requirements and you currently do not have systems in place that allow you to readily access the information required by the ATO, it’s important to start your planning now.  

GST on property developments

The big changes for developers and purchasers

If a Bill currently before Parliament passes, from 1 July 2018, purchasers of new residential premises or new residential subdivisions will need to remit the GST on the purchase price directly to the ATO as part of the settlement process.

This is a significant change from how GST is currently managed with the developer collecting the full proceeds and remitting GST to the ATO in their next BAS (which can be up to three months after settlement). The reforms are aimed at preventing developers from dissolving the business before the next BAS lodgement to avoid remitting the GST.

For some developers there will be a significant cash flow impact because the purchaser will be required to pay 1/11th of the full sale price to the ATO, even if the developer’s GST liability on the sale would be less than this (e.g., where they can apply the GST margin scheme). In these cases, developers will need to seek a refund from the ATO.

The reforms apply to the sale or long-term lease of:

  • new residential premises (other than those created through a substantial renovation and commercial residential premises); or
  • subdivisions of potential residential land.

For the purchaser

If you are purchasing a new property affected by the changes after 1 July 2018, you will need to pay 1/11th of the full sale price directly to the ATO at settlement.

The vendor must supply you with a notification advising that the payment is required and the amount that is to be paid.

For the developer (vendor)

From 1 July 2018, the vendor will no longer collect and remit GST on the purchase price of the residential premises. Instead, the vendor must notify the purchaser in writing that the GST needs to be paid to the Commissioner and advise the amount that must be paid. The amount to be paid is simply 1/11th of the full sale price, regardless of whether the vendor is eligible to apply the margin scheme to reduce the GST liability associated with the transaction. In general, this notification will need to include:

  • the name and ABN of the entity that made the supply;
  • when the purchaser is required to pay that amount to the Commissioner (generally settlement date); and
  • where some or all of the consideration is not expressed as an amount of money (e.g., sale of property for cash plus another property) – the GST-inclusive market value of the consideration that is not expressed as an amount of money.                                                                                                                                  

Vendors that fail to provide this notification face fines of up to $21,000 per event.

The vendor will receive a credit for the amount that has been paid by the purchaser to the ATO (if the amount was simply withheld but not paid these amounts cannot be claimed). If the vendor’s net amount for the tax period is in a credit, a refund will be made. 

It’s expected that the new rules will generally be incorporated into the settlement process but it is something that developers and purchasers will need to be across for any affected property with a settlement date of 1 July 2018 onwards.

Directors on ‘hit list’ for not paying employee super

Proposed legislation would see the ATO pursue criminal charges against Directors who fail to meet their superannuation guarantee (SG) obligations.

An analysis by Industry Super Australia submitted to the Economics References Committee into Wage Theft and Superannuation Guarantee Non-compliance, indicates that employers failed to pay an aggregate amount of $5.6 billion in SG contributions in 2013-14. On average, that represents 2.76 million affected employees, with an average amount of over $2,000 lost per person in a single year. The ATO’s own risk assessments suggest that between 11% and 20% of employers could be non-compliant with their SG obligations and that non-compliance is “endemic, especially in small businesses and industries where a large number of cash transactions and contracting arrangements occur.”

At present, under reporting or non-payment of SG is usually discovered when the employer misses the quarterly payment schedule or from the ATO’s hotline.

New legislation seeks to introduce a series of changes to how employers interact with the SG system and give some teeth to the ATO to pursue recalcitrant employers. The new rules, if passed by Parliament, generally come into effect from 1 July 2018.

The key changes include:

The ATO can force you to be educated about your SG obligations

At present, if an employer fails to meet their quarterly SG payment on time they need to pay the SG charge (SGC) and lodge a Superannuation Guarantee Statement.  The SGC applies even if you pay the outstanding SG soon after the deadline. The SGC is particularly painful for employers because it is comprised of:

  • The employee’s superannuation guarantee shortfall amount – so, all of the SG owing
  • Interest of 10% per annum, and
  • An administration fee of $20 for each employee with a shortfall per quarter.

Unlike normal SG contributions, SGC amounts are not deductible, even if you pay the outstanding amount. That is, if you pay SG late, you can no longer deduct the SG amount even if you bring the payment up to date.

And, the calculation for SGC is different to how you calculate SG. The SGC is calculated using the employee’s salary or wages rather than their ordinary time earnings. An employee’s salary and wages may be higher than their ordinary time earnings particularly if you have workers who are paid for overtime.

Under the quarterly superannuation guarantee, the interest component will be calculated on an employer’s quarterly shortfall amount from the first day of the relevant quarter to the date when the SG charge would be payable.

Where attempts have failed to recover SG from the employer, the directors of a company automatically become personally liable for a penalty equal to the unpaid amount.

Under the proposed rules, the ATO will also have the ability to issue directions to an employer who fails to comply with their obligations. The Commissioner can direct an employer to undertake an approved course relating to their SG obligations where the Commissioner reasonably believes there has been a failure by the employer to comply with their SG obligations, and, of course, a direction to pay unpaid and overdue liabilities within a certain timeframe.

Criminal penalties for failure to comply with a direction to pay

Employers who fail to comply with a directive from the Commissioner to pay an outstanding SG liability face fines and up to 12 months in prison. Before hauling anyone off to prison the ATO has to consider the severity of the contravention including:

  • The employer’s history of compliance (superannuation and general tax obligations)
  • The amount of unpaid super relative to the employer’s size
  • And steps taken by the employer to pay the liability, and
  • Any matters the “Commissioner considers relevant”.

The ATO will tell employees if an employer is under paying or not paying SG

The proposed new rules will allow the ATO to tell current and former employees about the failure (or suspected failure) of an employer to comply with their SG obligations. The ATO can also advise the employees what action has been taken by the ATO to recover their SG.  

This disclosure cannot relate to the general financial affairs of the employer.

Extension of Single Touch Payroll to all employers

Single Touch Payroll – the direct reporting of salary and wages, PAYG withholding and superannuation contribution information to the ATO – will be compulsory from 1 July 2018 for employers with 20 or more employees. Under the proposed rules, this system would be extended to all employers by 1 July 2019.

In addition, Single Touch Reporting will extend to the reporting of salary scarified amounts.

Single touch payroll …. Are you ready?

The ATO is changing the way employers have to report wages, pay as you go (PAYG) withholding and superannuation.

The initiative is called Single Touch Payroll (STP), and it will mean that an employer will need to report payroll details to the ATO each time a pay run is finalised. This should not change the way you process your pay. Your payroll software should do the necessary reporting for you automatically once your pay run is finalised.

STP is being rolled out progressively. From 1st July 2018, employers with 20 employees or more must start utilising STP to report to the ATO. Employers with under 20 employees are to start reporting from 1st July 2019 (this start date is still to be passed in legislation.)

The ATO is contacting over 150,000 businesses during March to inform them about STP and what they need to do to comply. 

To find out if you need to comply with STP as at 1st July, you need to do a head count of your employees on 1st April, 2018. 

You head count needs to include:

  • full-time employees
  • part-time employees
  • casual employees who are on your payroll on 1 April and worked any time during March
  • employees based overseas
  • any employee absent or on leave (paid or unpaid)
  • seasonal employees (staff who are engaged short term to meet a regular peak workload, for example, harvest workers).

Once you meet the threshold to begin reporting under STP, you need to keep reporting even if your head count falls under 20 employees, unless you obtain exemption from the ATO.

The next step would be to contact your payroll software provider to ensure they are going to be STP compliant by 1st July. They can advise you what extra steps you might need to take to prepare your payroll data in readiness for their STP update. 

Also, be sure and check the ATO via their website or social media channels to ensure you stay up to date with the latest STP news. 

If you have any questions about STP, feel free to contact Wayne in our office, or visit the following links for more information.

ATO – Single Touch Payroll

MYOB

Xero

 

Super Guarantee – What Happens When You Get It Wrong

The ATO receives around 20,000 reports each year from people who believe their employer has either not paid or underpaid compulsory superannuation guarantee (SG). In 2015-16 the ATO investigated 21,000 cases raising $670 million in SG and penalties.

The ATO’s own risk assessments suggest that between 11% and 20% of employers could be non-compliant with their SG obligations and that non-compliance is “endemic, especially in small businesses and industries where a large number of cash transactions and contracting arrangements occur.”

Under the superannuation guarantee legislation, every Australian employer has an obligation to pay 9.5% Superannuation Guarantee Levy for their employees unless the employee falls within a specific exemption. SG is calculated on Ordinary Times Earnings – which is salary and wages including things like commissions, shift loadings and allowances, but not overtime payments.

Employers that fail to make their superannuation guarantee payments on time need to pay the SG charge (SGC) and lodge a Superannuation Guarantee Statement. The SGC applies even if you pay the outstanding SG soon after the deadline.

The SGC is particularly painful for employers because it is comprised of:
• The employee’s superannuation guarantee shortfall amount – so, all of the superannuation guarantee owing
• Interest of 10% per annum, and
• An administration fee of $20 for each employee with a shortfall per quarter.

Unlike normal superannuation guarantee contributions, SGC amounts are not deductible, even if you pay the outstanding amount. That is, if you pay SG late, you can no longer deduct the SG amount even if you bring the payment up to date.

And, the calculation for SGC is different to how you calculate SG. The SGC is calculated using the employee’s salary or wages rather than their ordinary time earnings. An employee’s salary and wages may be higher than their ordinary time earnings particularly if you have workers who are paid for overtime.

Under the quarterly superannuation guarantee, the interest component will be calculated on an employer’s quarterly shortfall amount from the first day of the relevant quarter to the date when the superannuation guarantee charge would be payable.

Directors are personally liable for unpaid SG. Where attempts have failed to recover superannuation guarantee from the employer, the directors of a company automatically become personally liable for a penalty equal to the unpaid amount. Directors who receive penalty notices need to take action to deal with this – speaking with a legal adviser or accountant is a good starting point.