24th Aug, 2021
The ATO has a range of year-end tax time options to support taxpayers who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and recent natural disasters.
Income statements can be accessed in ATO online services through myGov accounts from 14 July.
The ATO also reminds those who may have lost, damaged or destroyed tax records due to natural disasters that some records can be accessed through their myGov account or their registered tax agent. For lost receipts, the ATO can accept “reasonable claims without evidence, so long as it’s not reasonably possible to access the original documents”. A justification may be required on how a claim is calculated.
Payments received as an employee will be automatically included in the employee’s income statement as either salary and wages or as an allowance. However, sole traders who received JobKeeper payment on behalf of their business will need to include the payment as assessable income for the business.
Payments received will be automatically included in the tax return at the Government Payments and Allowances question from 14 July.
Employees receiving one-off or regular payments from their employer after being temporarily stood down due to COVID-19 should expect to see those payments automatically included in their income statement as part of their tax return.
The Australian Government (through Services Australia) COVID-19 Disaster Payment for people affected by restrictions is taxable. Taxpayers are advised to ensure they include this income when lodging their returns.
The tax treatment of assistance payments can vary; the ATO website outlines how a range of disaster payments impact tax returns and includes guidance on COVID-19 payments, including the taxable pandemic leave disaster payment.
Early access to superannuation under the special arrangements due to COVID-19 is tax free and does not need to be declared in tax returns.
24th Aug, 2021
If your business is experiencing financial difficulties due to the latest lockdowns, the ATO may be able to help by processing your tax return faster and expediting the release of any refund to you. To be eligible for priority processing, you’ll need to apply to the ATO and provide supporting documents (within four weeks of your submission) outlining your circumstances. “Financial difficulty” may include many situations such as disconnection of an essential service, pending legal action or repossession of a business vehicle.
You can apply for ATO priority processing over the phone or through your tax professional after the lodgment of the tax return in question. Once the initial request for priority processing is received, you’ll be notified and contacted if more information is required. Processing will take more time for businesses that have lodged several years’ worth of income tax returns of amendments at the same time, and those that have unresolved tax debts.
Before lodging any priority processing request, check the progress of your return through online services, over the phone or by contacting us as your tax professional. If the return is in the final stages of processing, you may not need to lodge a priority processing request – the return will be finalised before the ATO has an opportunity to consider the request.
24th Aug, 2021
If your business or employment income has been affected by recent COVID-19 related lockdowns in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, financial help is available from both the state and Federal governments. Depending on the length of the lockdown, businesses may be eligible to receive a co-funded small and medium business support payment, as well as various cash grants.
For small and medium businesses, depending on the length of the lockdown, the Federal government will fund up to 50% small and medium business support payments to be administered by the states.
Non-employing businesses (eg sole traders) will also be eligible.
The Federal government will also seek to make various state business grants tax exempt and provide support for taxpayers through the ATO with reduced payment plans, waiving interest charges on late payments and varying instalments on request.
For individuals, the COVID-19 Disaster Payment will be available in any state or territory where a lockdown has been imposed under a state public health order.
Eligible businesses will be able to claim state government grants under the business grants program. Smaller and micro businesses that experience a specified decline will be eligible for a payment per fortnight of restrictions.
Payroll tax waivers will be available for certain businesses, as well as payroll tax deferrals and interest free payment plans.
Commercial, retail and residential landlords who provide rental relief to financially distressed tenants will be able to claim land tax relief. Residential landlords that are not liable for land tax may be able to claim a capped grant where they reduce rent for tenants.
The NSW government will also be protecting tenants with a short-term eviction moratorium for rental arrears
where a residential tenant suffers a loss of income due to COVID-19 and meets a range of other criteria. There will also be no recovery of security bonds, lockouts or evictions of impacted retail/commercial tenants prior to mediation.
Businesses in Victoria will be provided with cash grants from the state government. These payments will be automatically made to eligible businesses and sole traders to minimise delays. The state government estimates that up to 90,000 business that previously received assistance payments in relation to previous lockdowns will receive the new cash grants.
Small and medium-sized businesses that suffer a significant loss of income or were forced to close as a result of South Australia’s seven-day lockdown are being offered an emergency cash grant as part of a $100 million business support package. The package also includes a new cash grant for eligible small businesses that don’t employ staff.
In addition, the SA government will provide fully-funded income support payments for eligible workers in regional SA who live or work outside of the Commonwealth-declared “hotspot” local government areas, and are therefore not entitled to the Federal COVID-19 Disaster Payment.
01st Jul, 2021
Over 600,000 Australian taxpayers have invested in crypto-assets in recent years. The ATO has recently issued a reminder that although many people may believe that gains made through cryptocurrency trading are tax-free, or only taxable when the holdings are cashed back into “real” Australian dollars, this is not the case – capital gains tax (CGT) does apply to crypto-asset gains or losses.
While it may appear that cryptocurrencies operate in an anonymous digital world, the ATO does closely track where these assets interact with the “real” financial world through data from banks, financial institutions and cryptocurrency online exchanges, following the money back to the taxpayer.
This year the ATO will write to around 100,000 people with cryptocurrency assets explaining their tax obligations and urging them to review their previously lodged returns. It also expects to prompt 300,000 taxpayers to report their cryptocurrency capital gains or losses as they lodge their 2021 tax returns.
Alongside these communications, the ATO is beginning a new data-matching program focused on crypto-asset transactions. It will acquire account identification and transaction data from cryptocurrency designated service providers for the 2021 financial year through to the 2023 financial year inclusively. The ATO estimates that the records relating to approximately 400,000 to 600,000 individuals will be obtained each financial year.
01st Jul, 2021
Businesses that have accessed government economic stimulus measures need to take extra care this tax time. The ATO has announced that it will increase its scrutiny, conducting compliance activity on various economic stimulus measures introduced to help businesses recover from the effects of COVID-19.
These stimulus measures include loss carry-back, temporary full expensing and accelerated depreciation.
While the ATO will continue to support businesses, most of whom are doing the right thing, it is looking at behaviour or development of schemes designed to deliberately exploit various stimulus measures. All taxpayers who’ve used the schemes should review their claims to ensure they are eligible, and that the amounts claimed are correct.
The loss carry-back measure allows eligible corporate entities to claim a refundable tax offset in their 2020– 2021 and 2021–2022 company tax returns. In essence, companies get to “carry back” losses to earlier years in which there were income tax liabilities, which may result in a cash refund or a reduced tax liability.
The temporary full expensing measure allows immediately deducting the business portion of the cost of eligible new depreciating assets or improvements. Eligible businesses also have access to the accelerated depreciation measure for the 2019–2020 and 2020–2021 income years, in which the cost of new depreciating assets can be deducted at an accelerated rate.
The ATO will review claims as part of its tax time compliance activities as well as actively identifying tax schemes and arrangements seeking to exploit those schemes. The ATO will actively pursue concerning or fraudulent behaviours, including imposing financial penalties, prosecution and imprisonment for the most serious of cases.
01st Jul, 2021
Would you like to hold a wine collection, artworks, or a classic car in your self managed superannuation fund (SMSF)? Well, you can if you follow some strict rules.
Firstly, the investment in collectibles or personal use assets must be for genuine retirement purposes and not to provide any present day benefit to either the members of the SMSF or related parties. Secondly, the assets cannot be used by members or related parties in any capacity. Thirdly, the asset must be insured in the fund’s name within seven days of acquisition. All of these requirements, plus other rules, need to be met to avoid falling afoul of super rules.
This means that whatever collectable or personal use asset your SMSF purchases, it can’t be used by members or related parties in any capacity. Consider a classic car: if it is owned by the SMSF as an investment, it cannot be driven by a member or any related party for any reason. This holds true even if the only reason for driving the car is to maintain it or to perform restoration work.
The rules also mean that any collectable or personal use asset owned by your SMSF can’t be stored at the private residence of any member or related party.
However, the asset can be stored – not displayed – in non-private-residence premises owned by a related party. For example, an artwork can’t be displayed in the business premises of a related party where it would be visible to clients and employees, but it could be stored in a cupboard. It could also be leased to unrelated parties on arm’s length terms.
The ability to insure must also be considered where your SMSF is investing in collectables or personal use assets. The items must be insured within seven days, under either separate policies or one collective policy. The owner and beneficiary of the policy must be the SMSF itself. If the SMSF has already made the investment but cannot to obtain insurance, the ATO must be notified.