Firm Journal

Expanded super for older Australians

The 2019-20 Federal Budget has placed a strong focus on the growth of the economy whilst also having the intention to look after older Australians.

Older Australians will benefit from the work test exemption age being extended from age 64 to 66. The work test requires an individual to work at least 40 hours in any 30 day period in the financial year in order to make voluntary personal contributions.

This change in age will now allow individuals aged 65 and 66 who previously didn’t meet the work test to contribute three years of after-tax contributions in a single year, meaning up to $300,000 can be injected into an account with less than $1.6 million in super (tax-free pension threshold). This adjustment aligns with the increase for the Age Pension from 65 to 67.

Spousal contributions can now be made until age 74, up from age 65, without having to meet the work test. Under spousal contribution regulations, an individual can claim an 18% tax offset of contributions up to $3,000 made on behalf of a non-working partner. A further $3,000 can be contributed but with no tax offset.

Posted on 12 April '19 by , under super. No Comments.

How collaboration can help grow your business

In a market that is full of entrepreneurs and small businesses, collaborating with a business that complements yours can be a powerful tool to share your marketing budget and be introduced to new audiences. Regardless of what industry you are in, combining resources and efforts with another business can enable you to easily reach goals and builds mutually beneficial connections.

Grow your network:
Making lasting connections with a target audience is key to being successful. Partnering with other businesses can help expand your networks, introducing you to people that you may otherwise not have the opportunity to meet. Collaborating with others can enable expansion of your client portfolio and customer base, with each party benefiting from the other’s audience.

Educational:
One of the biggest benefits of business collaboration is the opportunity for learning. Every interaction with a business different from your own can give you insight into something you may not have considered before. With two parties bringing different skill sets, perspectives and strengths to the table, there are many opportunities for mutual learning and growth.

It is also worth considering that while there are many potential benefits, a number of risks may come with business partnerships. For example, cultural differences or clashes in business philosophies could occur and create conflict. You should be considering processes carefully before going ahead, and consult a financial or business advisor if you need further assistance.

Posted on 12 April '19 by , under business. No Comments.

Made a mistake on your BAS? Here’s what you need to know

Lodging a business activity statement (BAS) is something all business owners will be familiar with, however, mistakes can still be made. You must ensure that you have reported carefully and correctly to avoid incurring a penalty. In the event an error has been made in the reporting of your activity statements, here is what you will need to know to rectify the misreporting.

If you have made a mistake or left something out on a previous activity statement, in most cases you are able to correct the errors on your next statement or lodge a revised statement.

An error or mistake relates to an amount that was incorrect at the time of lodgement and can be fixed by revising the original BAS or making the relevant changes on your next BAS. Examples of a mistake include:

  • Clerical or transposition errors.
  • Reporting a taxable sale/purchase as GST free, or reporting a GST free sale/purchase as taxable.

An adjustment relates to a report that was correct at the time of lodgement but a situation has since occurred that changes the amount of reported GST. Examples of when to make an adjustment are:

  • If the price of a purchase changes.
  • If the goods are returned and the sale has been cancelled.

To avoid penalties, all mistakes must be corrected within four years. You can do this through myGov, on the Business Portal of the ATO, from your business software if it is enabled for Standard Business Reporting (SBR), or by contacting the ATO.

Posted on 12 April '19 by , under tax. No Comments.

The pro’s and con’s of using someone else’s money

Borrowing money to invest, also known as ‘gearing’, can be a risky business. While it can increase your returns when markets rise, losses can be extreme when markets fall. It is important to understand the risks involved when deciding whether borrowing to invest is right for you.

Benefits:
The main benefits of borrowing to invest are:

  • It gives you more money to invest.
  • If you are on a high marginal tax rate then there may be tax benefits as you are usually allowed a tax deduction for interest payments on the loan.

Risks:
Some major risks of borrowing to invest are:

  • The income that you receive from the investment may be lower than expected.
  • Interest rates on the loan could rise.
  • Income risk in circumstances where your income may stop, such as illness or redundancy.

It is vital to understand and have a plan in place to manage these risks. As borrowing to invest is a high-risk investment strategy best suited to experienced investors, you should seek further professional financial advice to make sure that this is a viable option for you.

Posted on 1 April '19 by , under money. No Comments.

Getting your GST at settlement right

The ATO has seen a number of common errors made on forms submitted by property purchasers since changes were made to the way GST is collected at settlement in July 2018.

Property settlement forms:
In the case of a withholding obligation, those purchasing new residential premises or potential residential land are required to submit both of the two online notification forms:

1. GST property settlement withholding notification.
This form covers various areas including contact details, property details, purchaser details, supplier details and an overall summary. The form can be submitted any time after you have entered into the contract and before the date of the withholding obligation is due.

2. GST property settlement date confirmation.
This form requires you to confirm that the settlement has occurred. It can be submitted at the due date of the withholding obligation. In most instances, this will be at settlement or the next business day.

It is necessary to understand your obligations as a property purchaser. Filling out these forms incorrectly can cause processing and payment delays and failing to submit on time may also result in penalties being imposed by the ATO.

Posted on 1 April '19 by , under tax. No Comments.

What employee benefits apply for FBT

When an employer provides certain benefits for their staff, they are required to pay Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT). Employers pay FBT on the benefits they present to employees and their families or other associates. The benefit may be in addition to, or part of, an employee’s salary or wages package.

FBT is separate from income tax and is calculated on the taxable value of the benefits that have been provided to employees. The type of fringe benefits employers must pay FBT on include:

  • Vehicles for private use: if an employer makes a car they own or lease available for the private use of an employee, they may have to provide a car fringe benefit.
  • Loans: employers may have to provide a loan fringe benefit if they give their employees a loan, possibly at a discount, and charge no interest or a low rate of interest.
  • Entertainment: this refers to situations such as providing entertainment in the form of free tickets to concerts. This provision can include providing food and drink, accommodation or travel in connection with the entertainment.
  • Membership: paying an employee’s membership to a gym.

Businesses will need to assess their own tax liability within each FBT year, from 1 April to 31 March. Returns must be lodged before the due date on 21 May.

Posted on 1 April '19 by , under business. No Comments.

What is your preservation age?

Superannuation laws can be confusing for everyone. These procedures often make it difficult to work out when you can retire or if there are any special conditions you need to meet before you can claim your funds. Every individual needs to be aware of their preservation age and regulations when accessing their superannuation benefits.

A person’s preservation age differs from the Age Pension. Age Pension is separate to your super and is a scheme which pays out a consistent income to help cope with the costs of living once you have retired. This age in Australia is 65 and not everyone is eligible for this system. Preservation age, however, is the age at which you can retire and access superannuation benefits. This age depends on your birth year.

  • 55 – Before 1 July 1960
  • 56 – 1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961
  • 57 – 1 July 1961 – 30 June 1962
  • 58 – 1 July 1962 – 30 June 1963
  • 59 – 1 July 1963 – 30 June 1964
  • 60 – From 1 July 1964

Normally, accessing super benefits requires an individual to meet two conditions; reaching their preservation age and retiring from the workforce. Those who reach their preservation age but don’t intend to retire must meet other criteria to have access to their benefits

Posted on 1 April '19 by , under super. No Comments.

ATO to monitor high-risk LRBAs and TBARs within SMSFs

The ATO is focusing on risky Limited Recourse Borrowing Arrangements (LRBAs) and failures in Transfer Balance Account Reporting (TBAR) in SMSFs this year. They have announced plans to contact trustees with high concentration risks in their funds and to crack down on misreporting.

Limited Recourse Borrowing Arrangements:
LRBAs allow a superannuation fund to borrow under strict conditions. The existing population of SMSFs that have entered into LRBAs, potentially on the basis of poor or conflicting advice, is a key area of concern for the ATO and has been rated a medium to high-risk. In 2017, approximately 95% of the LRBAs were for the purpose of purchasing property. Due to this prevalence, the ATO has concerns about the risk of members’ retirement savings in the event of a property decline.

Transfer Balance Account Reporting:
TBAR is used to advise the ATO when a transfer balance account event occurs within an SMSF, enabling an individual’s transfer balance cap and total superannuation balance to be recorded and tracked. One area of TBAR arrangements the ATO will be monitoring is the reporting of capped defined benefit income streams. In 2018, approximately 86% of SMSFs reporting a capped defined benefit stream had failed in their reporting obligations.

Where the ATO identifies these areas of risky LRBAs and inadequate TBARs for SMSF members, they will contact trustees to ensure that they have understood and mitigated these risks. It would benefit trustees to have in place an adequate strategy that deals with the potential risks involved in LRBAs and be aware of their reporting obligations for transfer balance accounts.

Posted on 25 March '19 by , under super. No Comments.

Cashless business

Advancements in technology continue to digitise our world, including financially. In recent years, more businesses and events are turning to cashless systems. Whilst cash still remains popular in businesses dealing in small purchases, such as cafes, if you run a business that handles larger transactions, changing to a cashless system could benefit you in many ways.

Managing your money through electronic payments helps you keep track of income and expenditure. If you use a digital system, you have extensive logs of where money came from or is going to, how much you have currently and what you are expected to receive or pay. To receive the best security and effectiveness with electronic payments, you could consider investing in technology that transfers money instantly whilst also tracking payments.

Running a cashless business also protects you from theft. Holding large amounts of cash can make you a target, with the time and expenses dedicated to ensuring your cash is secure being better used on more effective financial management systems. Whilst online methods come with their own risks, there are systems you can implement to protect you such as two-factor authentication, third-party data protection and cyber liability insurance packages.

Cashless business models are also time-saving. By cutting out cash handling, you can save time with your client interactions as well as cutting out end of day counts and lengthy trips to the bank to make deposits and changes. Whilst cashless systems are not right for everyone, if this is a viable option for your business you should consider consulting your accountant. If you decide to make the switch, give clients a grace period to be introduced to the new system and explain how it could benefit them.

Posted on 25 March '19 by , under business. No Comments.

Changes to personal income tax

The Personal Income Tax Plan has gone through recent changes regarding rates, thresholds and offset entitlements. These changes were announced in the 2018-2019 Federal Budget and were implemented at the start of the 2019 financial year. For the upcoming tax season, individuals should review these changes in case they are affected.

The 32.5% tax bracket was increased from $87,000 to $90,000 for the years 2018 to 2022. The following two years will see a further increase to $120,000 and in 2024 it will increase again to $200,000. These changes will apply to residents, foreign-residents and working holiday makers. Pay As You Go (PAYG) withholding rates and schedules will also be updated to include these changes.

Australian residents whose income does not exceed $125,333 could now be entitled to an addition to the low and middle income tax offset. This can be available after an assessment of a person’s individual income tax return. This addition applies to the 2018 to 2022 financial years. The amount you receive will be based on the following income levels:

  • If below $37,000 you are entitled to $200
  • Between $37,000 and $48,000 you are entitled to $200 plus 3% of the amount of the income that exceeds $37,000
  • Between $48,000 and $90,000 you are entitled to $530
  • Between $90,000 and $125,333 you are entitled to $530 plus 1.5% of the amount of the income that exceeds $90,000.

In 2022 and future financial years, the low income tax offset will be amended to include individuals who receive less than $66,667, pending assessment of individual tax return. This offset will be $645, reduced by 6.5% of the amount by which your income exceeds $37,000 but does not exceed $41,000 and a further 1.5% of the amount by which your relevant income exceeds $41,000.

Posted on 25 March '19 by , under tax. No Comments.