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New sharing economy reporting regime proposed

07th Sep, 2021

The government is seeking to legislate compulsory reporting of information for sharing economy platforms in order to more easily monitor the compliance of participants, while at the same time reducing the need for ATO resources.

As the sharing economy becomes more prevalent and fundamentally reshapes many sectors of the economy, the government is scrambling to contain the fall-out. While there no standard definition of the term “sharing economy”, it’s usually taken to involve two parties entering into an agreement for one to provide services, or to loan personal assets, to the other in exchange for payment. Examples of platforms include Uber, Airbnb, Car Next Door, Menulog, Airtasker and Freelancer, to name a few.

With the rapid expansion of various sharing economy platforms, the government’s Black Economy Taskforce has noted that without compulsory reporting, it is difficult for the ATO to gain information on compliance without undertaking targeted audits. Putting formal reporting requirements in place will align Australia with international best practice.

The government has now released draft legislation for consultation to define the scope of compulsory reporting requirements in order to ensure integrity of the tax system and reduce the compliance burden on the ATO.

This new compulsory reporting regime would apply to all operators of an electronic service, including websites, internet portals, apps, gateways, stores and marketplaces. Any platforms that allow sellers and buyers to transact will be required to report information on certain transactions. However, the reporting requirement will generally not apply if the transaction only relates to supply of goods where ownership of the goods is permanently changed, where title of real property is transferred, or the supply is a financial supply.

Based on the draft legislation, platform operators will be required to report transactions that occur on or after 1 July 2022 if they relate to a ride-sourcing or a short-term accommodation service, unless an exemption applies. From 1 July 2023 all other categories of sharing economy platforms will be required to report, unless an exemption applies.

TIP: It’s expected that only the aggregate or total transactions relating to a seller over the reporting period will need to be provided; that is, information will not need to be provided on a transactional basis.

The initial reporting is expected to be biannual (1 July to 31 December, and 1 January to 30 June) with electronic service operators required to report the relevant information by 31 January and 31 July respectively.

Reminder: super changes for the 2021 financial year

The government’s long-slated “flexibility in superannuation” legislation is finally law. This means from 1 July 2021, individuals aged 65 and 66 can now access the bring-forward arrangement in relation to non-concessional super contributions. The excess contributions charge will be removed for anyone who exceeds their concessional contributions cap, and individuals who received a COVID-19 super early release amount can now recontribute it without hitting their non-concessional cap.

Previously, if you made super contributions above the annual non-concessional contributions cap, you could automatically access future year caps if you were under 65 at any time in the financial year.

The bring-forward arrangement allows you to make non-concessional contributions of up to three times the annual non-concessional contributions cap in that financial year.

TIP: For the 2021 income year, the non-concessional contributions cap is $110,000, which means that individuals aged 65 and 66 can now access a cap of up to $330,000.

Previously, individuals who exceeded their concessional contributions cap would have to pay the excess contributions charge (around 3%) as well as the additional tax due when excess contributions were re-included in their assessable income. However, people who exceed their cap on or after 1 July 2021 will no longer pay the charge, but will still receive a determination and be taxed at their marginal tax rate on any excess concessional contributions amount, less a 15% tax offset to account for the contributions tax already paid by their super fund.

Recontributions of COVID-19 early released super

Under the COVID-19 early release measures, individuals could apply to have up to $10,000 of their super released during the 2019–2020 financial year and another $10,000 released between 1 July and 31 December 2020. Between 20 April 2020 and 31 December 2020, the ATO received 4.78 million applications for early release, totalling $39.2 billion worth of super.

Not everyone who applied to have super released ended up needing to use it once the government ramped up its financial support programs. From 1 July 2021, people who received a COVID-19 super early release amount can recontribute to their super up to the amount they released, and those recontributions will not count towards their non-concessional contributions cap. The recontribution amounts must be made between 1 July 2021 and 30 June 2030 and super funds must be notified about the recontribution either before or at the time of making the recontribution.

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Employers beware: increase in super guarantee

24th Aug, 2021

From 1 July 2021, the rate of super guarantee increased from 9.5% to 10%. Businesses using manual payroll processes should be careful that this change doesn’t lead to unintended underpayment of super, which may attract penalties.
The new rate of 10% is the minimum percentage now required by law, but employers may pay super at a higher rate under an award or agreement.

Most payroll and accounting systems will have incorporated the increase in their super rate, but it’s always good to check. If your business is still using a manual process to pay your employees, you’ll need to work out how much super to pay under the new rate.

TIP: The rate you should use to calculate your employee’s super contributions depends on the date that you are paying your employees – it doesn’t matter if the work was performed in a different quarter. The new rate applies to all super payments made after 1 July 2021.

This latest increase to 10% is by no means the last time the super guarantee rate will change over the next few years. From 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023 (ie next financial year) the rate will increase to 10.5%, followed by another 0.5% point increase to 11% in the 2023–2024 financial year. So, employers will need to be on their toes to make sure the right amount of super guarantee is paid for the next few years.

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Temporary COVID Disaster Payment now available

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.

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Super transfer balance cap increase from 1 July 2021

19th Mar, 2021

If you’re nearing retirement and have a large amount in your transfer balance account, it may be wise to delay until 1 July 2021 to take advantage of the upcoming pension transfer cap increase from $1.6 million to $1.7 million due to indexation.

At the time you first commence a retirement phase superannuation income stream, your “personal transfer balance cap” is set at the general transfer balance cap for that financial year.

Essentially, the transfer balance cap is a lifetime limit on the total amount of super that you can transfer into retirement phase income streams, including most pensions and annuities, so a larger cap amount means you can have a bit more money in your pocket throughout your retirement.

This cap amount takes into account all retirement phase income streams and retirement phase death benefit income streams, but the age pension and other types of government payments and pensions from foreign super funds don’t count towards it.

The ATO has confirmed that when the general transfer balance cap is indexed to $1.7 million from 1 July 2021, there won’t be a single cap that applies to all individuals. Rather, every individual will have their own personal transfer balance cap of between $1.6 million and $1.7 million, depending on their circumstances.

TIP: Commencing a pension is a complex area and care needs to be taken to get it right for a comfortable retirement. Talk to us today to find out how we can help.

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COVID-19 Supplement extension to 31 March 2021

09th Feb, 2021

The Federal Minister for Families and Social Services has now registered the legal instrument that ensures the COVID-19 Supplement will continue to be paid until 31 March 2021 for recipients of:

  • JobSeeker Payment;
  • Parenting Payment;
  • Youth Allowance;
  • Austudy Payment;
  • Special Benefit;
  • Partner Allowance; and
  • Widow Allowance.

It will be paid at the rate of $150 a fortnight (down from the previous $250 a fortnight) from 1 January 2021 to 31 March 2021.

The period for which people are considered as receiving a social security pension or benefit at nil rate, meaning they keep their access to benefits such as concession cards, has also been extended until 16 April 2021.

A number of other temporary social security measures will also remain until 31 March 2021, including waivers of waiting periods for certain payments, some requirement changes and exemptions, and more permissive income-free areas and payment taper rates.

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Coronavirus Supplement extended (but reduced)

01st Dec, 2020

The Federal Government’s Coronavirus Supplement has been extended for a further three months. The Supplement payments were due to end on 31 December 2020, but the latest extension will allow them to run until 31 March 2021, which will be welcome news for many individuals still struggling with unemployment and other economic difficulties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Supplement rate will be further cut from 1 January 2021 to $150 per fortnight.

The supplement was originally introduced in April 2020 at a rate of $550 per fortnight, which effectively doubled the rate of certain social security payments, including JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and Austudy. Individuals eligible for these payments received the full amount of the $550 Coronavirus Supplement on top of their payment each fortnight, lifting the total payment to $1,100 for most people.

The initial supplement was extended until 31 December 2020 at $250 per fortnight, and while the latest extension may be welcome news for unemployed or underemployed Australians, the supplement will now be further reduced to $150 per fortnight from 1 January 2021 (until 31 March 2021).

Previous arrangements that increased the income-free area of the JobSeeker payment to $300 per fortnight will continue from 1 January 2021 to 31 March 2021, meaning that recipients of various payments can earn income of up to $300 per fortnight and still receive the maximum payment rate. The partner income test cut-out will be retained at an increased rate of $3,086.11 per fortnight ($80,238.89 per year), allowing recipients to continue accessing various payments.

Those on various support payments need to also be aware of the return of mutual obligation requirements which apply to recipients in all states and territories except Victoria (at the time of writing). This includes performing tasks and activities in the individual’s Job Plan, attending to tasks in online employment services, and/or attending all appointments with their employment provider either over the phone, online or in person. Failure to fulfil these mutual obligations could lead to suspensions of payments, and penalties.

Former employees, sole traders and self-employed individuals thinking of applying for the JobSeeker payment should also be aware that the assets test now applies, as well as the liquid assets waiting period, which could see those with savings having to wait up to 13 weeks to receive payments.

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