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 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
The Federal Government has announced a temporary COVID Disaster Payment to assist workers who live or work in a Commonwealth declared hotspot, who are unable to attend work and earn an income as a result of state-imposed health restrictions that last for longer than one week.
The payment, available for Australian citizens, permanent residents and eligible working visa holders, is up to $500 per week for recipients who lose 20 hours or more of work, and $325 per week those who lose under 20 hours of work.
Access to the payment is available through Services Australia from 8 June 2021.
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.
20th May, 2021
The Government will extend the temporary full expensing measure until 30 June 2023. It was otherwise due to finish on 30 June 2022.
Other than the extended date, all other elements of temporary full expensing will remain unchanged.
Currently, temporary full expensing allows eligible businesses to deduct the full cost of eligible depreciating assets, as well as the full amount of the second element of cost. A business qualifies for temporary full expensing if it is a small business (annual aggregated turnover under $10 million) or has an annual aggregated turnover under $5 billion. Annual aggregated turnover is generally worked out on the same basis as for small businesses, except that the threshold is $5 billion instead of $10 million.
There is an alternative test, so a corporate tax entity qualifies for temporary full expensing if:
If temporary full expensing applies to work out the decline in value of a depreciating asset, no other method of working out that decline in value applies.
Assets must be acquired from 7:30pm AEDT on 6 October 2020 and first used or installed ready for use by 30 June 2023.
Under the temporary, COVID-driven restoration of the loss carry-back provisions announced in the previous Budget, an eligible company (aggregated annual turnover of up to $5 billion) could carry back a tax loss for the 2019–2020, 2020–2021 or 2021–2022 income years to offset tax paid in the 2018–2019 or later income years.
The Government has announced it will extend this to include the 2022–2023 income year. Tax refunds resulting from loss carry-back will be available to companies when they lodge their 2020–2021, 2021–2022 and now 2022–2023 tax returns.
This is intended to help increase cash flow for businesses in future years and support companies that were profitable and paying tax but find themselves in a loss position as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Temporary loss carry-back also complements the temporary full expensing measure by allowing more companies to take advantage of expensing, while it is available.
The Government will remove the cessation of employment as a taxing point for tax-deferred employee share schemes (ESSs). There are also other changes designed to cut “red tape” for certain employers.
Cessation of employment change
Currently, under a tax-deferred ESS and where certain criteria are met, employees may defer tax until a later tax year (the deferred taxing point). In such cases, the deferred taxing point is the earliest of:
The change announced in the latest Budget will result in tax being deferred until the earliest of the remaining taxing points.
Other regulatory changes
The Government will also:
30th Apr, 2021
A number of important COVID-19 related government stimulus and support measures are now coming to an end, and some others have begun phasing out, which will occur over a slightly longer period.
This means that businesses and individuals need to prepare for an environment where the government safety net is not as wide.
The following are, at the time of writing, among the measures that will cease at the end of March 2021: