Under this program, the Department of Home Affairs will provide the ATO with arrival and departure records of travelers to and from Australia for the 2016-17 to 2022-23 financial years.
This will allow the ATO to verify the identity and residency status of individuals to ensure that they are complying with their registration, lodgment, reporting, and payment obligations for tax and superannuation purposes.
The personal information of around 670,000 individuals to be analysed in the relevant financial year. This will include their full name, date of birth, arrival and departure date, passport information, and residency or visa status.
As part of their economic plan and deregulation agenda, the Federal Government has committed to modernising laws within the Treasury portfolio, so they are technology-neutral. This will enable easier communication between businesses, individuals, and regulators.
The first phase of legislative reform will focus on the key areas raised by implementation-ready stakeholders. These include:
- Expanding the range of documents that can be validly signed electronically.
- Increasing the range of documents that can be sent electronically to shareholders and amending requirements to contact lost shareholders.
- Improving flexibility for customers when changing address and consenting to electronic communication with credit providers.
- Removing prescriptive requirements for notices to be published in newspapers, where suitable alternatives have been identified; and
- Addressing provisions in treasury legislation where only non-electronic payment options are in place.
Subsequent phases will consider reforms in additional areas that could benefit from greater technology neutrality, including:
- Communication with regulators (for example, the conduct of hearings).
- Reducing or removing treasury portfolio legislation exemptions to the electronic transactions act 1999; and
- Product disclosure and recordkeeping requirements.
The Government intends to finalise legislation dealing with phase one by the end of 2021.
On 23.4.2021, the Morrison Government released for consultation exposure draft regulations underpinning Treasury Laws Amendment (Your Future, Your Super) Bill 2021.
The Your Future, Your Super reforms will ensure the superannuation system works harder for all Australians by reducing waste, holding underperforming funds to account, and strengthening protections around the retirement savings of millions of Australians.
These reforms are estimated to save Australian workers $17.9 billion over 10 years.
The Your Future, Your Super package is scheduled to commence on 1 July 2021. The regulations released for consultation:
- Outline a strengthened methodology for the annual performance test, as well as requirements for notifications to members.
- Prescribe the definition of a ‘stapled fund’, including tie-breaker rules for determining which fund is to be an employee’s stapled fund where they have multiple existing funds.
- Specify how products will be ranked on the online YourSuper comparison tool.
- Set out how superannuation fund portfolio holdings are to be disclosed to members, bringing Australia into line with global best practices.
- Prescribe the information that must be included with the notice of an Annual Members’ Meeting.
- Further, strengthen the prohibition on funds offering inducements to employers.
The Government has made several amendments to strengthen the performance test.
Administration fees will be included in the performance test, ensuring that the test focuses on the final member outcome and is consistent with information presented to consumers on the online YourSuper comparison tool.
The Government has also added Australian unlisted infrastructure and unlisted property as specific asset classes covered by the performance test. This will improve the accuracy of the performance test; strengthen the focus of the test on investment outcomes delivered to members; and ensure that Australian superannuation funds can invest with confidence in these domestic assets.
This package builds on the Government’s legislated superannuation reforms which have included consolidating 3.3 million unintended multiple accounts worth $4.3 billion, capping fees on low balance accounts, banning exit fees, and ensuring younger Australians do not pay unnecessary insurance premiums.
Under the Your Future, Your Super reforms, the Morrison Government is taking the next step in modernising and improving the superannuation system to ensure it is working harder for you.
The Federal Government has extended the construction commencement requirement for the successful HomeBuilder program from six months to 18 months for all existing applicants, bringing the total level of expected Government support for the construction sector under the program to $2.5 billion.
More than 121,000 Australians have applied for the grant which is expected to support around $30 billion of residential construction projects.
The HomeBuilder program was specifically designed to protect tradies’ jobs and catalyse economic activity in the construction industry, particularly residential construction, in response to the downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Government’s decision to provide existing applicants with an additional 12 months to commence construction responds to unanticipated delays in the construction industry caused by COVID-19 related supply constraints including delays in global supply chains and recent natural disasters.
The extension will only apply to existing applicants and provide an additional 12 months to commence construction from the date that the building contract was signed. All applicants who signed contracts during the HomeBuilder eligibility period between 4 June 2020 and 31 March 2021 will have this extension applied to them.
While discussing recent penalties handed out to Promoters of Tax Exploitation schemes the ATO pointed out a number of ‘red flags’ to look out for to protect yourself:
- Arrangements or opportunities that seem ‘too good to be true’.
- Schemes that focus on tax advantages rather than commerciality, or other non-tax reasons.
- Schemes that spruik opinions from legal or financial advisers with advice that is not tailored to your circumstances.
- Advice that has not been written down.
- Schemes that appear designed to inappropriately exploit new government initiatives.
- Schemes where the promoter offering the investment is the same person who sets it up and runs it.
To avoid getting involved in a tax avoidance scheme, you can:
- Seek independent, written tax advice on deductions in your circumstances. Your trusted registered tax agent is a good first point of contact.
- Remember that just because someone is qualified, does not guarantee that they are doing the right thing.
- Consider running a background check on anyone giving you advice, for example by doing an Australian Financial Security Authority (bankruptcy) search.
- Check with the ATO if you are unsure about the advice you are given or the tax consequences of an investment opportunity. You can get general advice or request a private binding ruling.
The bottom line: if it is too good to be true then look out!
Last year, the government announced it will introduce an FBT exemption for employer-provided retraining and reskilling benefits provided to redundant (or soon to be redundant) employees where the benefits may not be related to their current employment.
It is proposed that this exemption will not apply for retraining acquired by way of a salary packaging arrangement. It will also not be available for Commonwealth-supported places at universities, which already receive a benefit. It will not extend to repayments towards Commonwealth student loans.
If enacted, this measure is intended to apply from the announcement (from Friday, 2 October 2020). The government released exposure draft legislation and explanatory materials on 16 April 2021, with responses accepted until 29 April 2021. You lodge your FBT return applying the current legislation and amend, if necessary when the announced changes become law.
If you receive Child Care Subsidy and Family Tax Benefit payments from Services Australia, you and your partner must lodge their 2019–20 Individual tax returns by 30 June 2021. Lodgment deferrals with the ATO do not alter this requirement.
If you were entitled to Family Tax Benefit but did not receive any payments in the 2019–20 financial year, you will also need to lodge a lump sum claim with Services Australia by 30 June 2021.
Services Australia needs your income details to balance payments for Child Care Subsidy and Family Tax Benefit.
If tax return lodgement is not made by 30 June 2021:
- Those receiving Child Care Subsidy may:
- – lose their ongoing entitlement
- – receive a debt from Services Australia and must repay the amount received in the 2019–20 financial year.
- Those receiving Family Tax Benefit may:
- – miss out on additional payments
- – receive a debt from Services Australia and have to repay the amount received for the 2019–20 financial year
- – have their fortnightly payments stopped.
If applicable, you can notify the ATO if lodgement is not required. They can then confirm with Services Australia that you are not required to lodge. You can also do this using their Centrelink online service or Express Plus mobile app.
Services Australia can assist those who have special circumstances preventing them or their partner from lodging before the deadline.
The takeout is that it is necessary to move quickly to ensure your entitlement to these benefits.
For many of us, this will be the second tax year that will involve larger tax deductions for home office expenses due to COVID-19. The ATO has advised that the temporary shortcut method is again available to those claiming working from home deductions this year.
The temporary shortcut method was created at the height of the pandemic last year to respond to the sudden influx of makeshift home workspaces.
While many have shifted back to the office, many of us have opted to continue working from home at least one day a week.
The working from home shortcut method allows claims at the all-inclusive rate of 80 cents per hour, rather than needing to do complex calculations for specific items.
According to the ATO:
- The shortcut method is straightforward; just multiply the hours worked at home by 80 cents.
- The only proof you need is a record of the number of hours you have worked from home, such as a timesheet.
- The temporary shortcut method can be claimed by multiple people living under the same roof and, unlike existing methods, does not require a dedicated work area.
- The shortcut is all-inclusive. You cannot claim the shortcut and then claim for individual expenses such as telephone and internet costs and the decline in value of new office furniture or a laptop.
- Taxpayers can still claim under the existing arrangements if they choose.
For those who chose an existing method, the ATO encourages taxpayers to do their research and keep good records. Keeping track of each individual expense and calculating the work-related use of each one can be fiddly so be organised. If in doubt, seek guidance and talk to us.
If you chose to claim your working from home expenses through the fixed-rate or actual cost methods, remember you still cannot claim:
- Personal expenses like coffee, tea, and toilet paper. While they might normally be supplied by your employer, they still are not directly related to earning your income.
- Expenses related to your child’s education, such as online learning courses or laptops.
- large expenses up-front. Any asset that costs over $300 (either in total or per item), such as a computer, cannot be claimed immediately. Instead, these claims should be spread out over a number of years.
- Employees generally cannot claim occupancy expenses such as rent, mortgage interest, property insurance, land taxes, and rates. Working from home does not mean your home is a place of business for tax purposes. If you claim occupancy expenses, you may have to pay capital gains tax when you sell your home, even if it is your main residence.
You can choose one of three ways to calculate your additional running expenses for this tax time:
- Claim a rate of 80 cents per work hour at home for all your working from home expenses.
- Claim a rate of 52 cents per work hour at home for the heating, cooling, lighting, and cleaning of your dedicated work area and the decline in value of office furniture and furnishings. Then calculate the work-related portion of your telephone and internet expenses, computer consumables, stationery, and the decline in value of a computer, laptop, or similar device.
- Claim the actual work-related portion of all your running expenses, which needs to be calculated on a reasonable basis.
Remember, to claim any work-related expense, you must have spent the money yourself and not been reimbursed. The expense must be directly related to earning income (not a private expense). You must have kept any necessary records (a receipt is best).
Please note: Our Newsletters are not the place for the giving or receiving of financial advice concerning investment decisions or tax or legal advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. Any ideas and strategies should never be used without first assessing your own personal needs and financial situation, or without consulting or engaging with us as your professional advisors.