23rd Sep, 2023
Movement may be afoot on the complex issue of individual tax residency in Australia. In 2019, the Board of Taxation released a report which contained a proposed model for modernising individual residency. The new framework was designed to simplify the tax system and reduce compliance costs for individuals and employers.
The model proposed uses a two-step approach of primary tests and secondary tests. Apart from the government official test, which would replace the Commonwealth superannuation test, the main primary “bright line” test will be the 183-day test, in which a person who is physically present in Australia for 183 days or more in any income year would be considered an Australian tax resident.
One of the secondary tests proposed would require an individual to be physically present in Australia for a minimum of 45 days in an income year before commencing residency, or a maximum of 45 days in an income year before ceasing residency. However, due to various global factors (eg the COVID-19 pandemic), the government is seeking views on whether this 45-day threshold is still appropriate and whether there are any circumstances where days spent in Australia should be disregarded for this threshold.
In addition to the 45-day threshold, the proposed secondary test includes the factor test, which focuses on four specific types of connection an individual may have to Australia. Any individual whose circumstances meet any of the four factors will be deemed to have a stronger connection to Australian than someone who does not.
The Federal Government is now soliciting public feedback on the proposed model before making a decision about whether to proceed with the changes.
11th Apr, 2023
Late in 2022, amendments to the tax law passed Parliament that, among other things, included a measure to allow the ATO to issue a “tax-records education direction” where the Commissioner of Taxation reasonably believes that an entity has failed to comply with one or more specified record-keeping obligations. As an alternative to imposing a financial penalty, such an education direction will require the entity to complete an approved record-keeping course. Successful completion of the course will mean the relevant entity will no longer be liable for a penalty.
According to the ATO, the purpose of the tax-records education direction is to help educate businesses about their tax-related record-keeping obligations. This type of direction will only be issued to entities that are carrying on a business, and will be best suited to small business entities. A direction will most likely be issued where the ATO believes an entity has made a reasonable and genuine attempt to comply with, or had mistakenly believed they were complying with, their tax record-keeping obligations.
Entities that have been or are disengaged from the tax system or deliberately avoiding obligations to keep records will not be eligible for this alternative to penalties. Factors that point to disengagement or deliberate avoidance include poor compliance history, poor engagement with the ATO regarding information requests, deliberate loss or destruction of documents, or fabrication of documents.
To comply with the education direction, a relevant individual to the entity (a director, public officer, partner, etc), must be able to show evidence that they have completed the ATO-approved online record-keeping course by the end of the specified period. Successful completion of the course by the due date means the entity will no longer be liable to a penalty. If the course is not completed by the due date, the entity will be liable to a penalty of up to 20 penalty units (currently $5,500).
11th Mar, 2023
A new revised fixed-rate method for calculating working from home expenses will soon apply.
From 1 July 2022, employees who work from home can no longer use the 80 cents per hour “shortcut” method for claiming their related expenses. The revised fixed-rate method allows claiming 67 cents per hour, to cover energy expenses; internet, mobile and home phone usage, and stationery and computer consumables costs.
If you don’t wish to use the revised fixed-rate method for calculating your working from home claims, you can still use the actual costs method instead – this involves calculating and documenting in detail the actual expenses you incur.
To use the new revised fixed-rate method and claim a tax deduction of 67 cents for each hour of working from home, you must work from home while carrying out your employment duties or carrying on a business. Minimal tasks such as occasionally checking emails or taking phone calls while at home will not qualify as working from home.
Doing this work must involve incurring additional running expenses that your employer does not reimburse you for. And you must keep relevant records in respect of the whole time spent working from home and for the additional running expenses incurred – an estimate for the entire income year or an estimate based on the number of hours worked from home during a particular period and applied to the rest of the income year will not be accepted.
While the new revised fixed rate of 67c per hour is lower than the previously available shortcut method, the new rate does not include the work-related decline in value of any depreciating assets used during the income year or any other running expenses not specifically covered.
17th Feb, 2023
Self- education expenses are generally tax-deductible for individuals if there’s a sufficient connection with your income-producing activities.However, until new legislation was recently passed, the amount you could deduct was limited by s 82A of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 so that only the amount spent over a $250 threshold was deductible.
This threshold was an artefact from when the self education deduction measure was first introduced more than 40 years ago, alongside a long-repealed concessional tax rebate of $250. The original intention of the deduction limit was to ensure that taxpayers didn’t receive both the tax rebate and a tax deduction for the same set of expenses.
With the non-deductible threshold removed, you will only need to ensure the following applies when you claim a self education deduction:
The change applies for tax assessments for the 2022– 2023 income year and onwards.
19th Dec, 2022
Treasury has released draft legislation which proposes two new grounds under which the Registrar of the Australian Business Register may cancel an Australian Business Number (ABN).
The government had earlier announced its intention to “strengthen” the ABN system by imposing new compliance obligations for ABN holders to retain their ABN. Currently, ABN holders are able to retain their ABN regardless of whether they are meeting their income tax return lodgment obligations or the obligation to regularly update their ABN details.
It’s worth noting that there are over nine million active ABN holders on the Australian Business Register.
The proposed changes would allow the Registrar of the Australian Business Register to cancel a person’s ABN if they haven’t lodged their required income tax returns for two or more income years where the period for lodgement has ended. These wouldn’t need to be consecutive income years.
This ground for cancellation would apply for failures to lodge tax returns beginning with income years commencing on 1 July 2022, so the earliest the Registrar could cancel an ABN would be in the second half of 2024, if the ABN-holder failed to lodge tax returns for the income years beginning on 1 July 2022 and 1 July 2023.
The proposed changes would also allow the Registrar to cancel an ABN if the holder hadn’t given a notification within the past 12 months that they still require the ABN and that the information on the Register is current and correct.
This power would be available to the Registrar after 1 July 2024. In effect, this would require ABN holders to check their ABN details and notify the Registrar at least once in the period between the commencement of these provisions and 1 July 2024, and then at least once annually.
31st Mar, 2022
The Government announced two support measures for small businesses (aggregated annual turnover less than $50 million) in the form of a 20% uplift of the amount deductible for expenditure incurred on external training courses and digital technology.
External training courses
An eligible business will be able to deduct an additional 20% of expenditure incurred on external training courses provided to its employees. The training course must be provided to employees in Australia or online, and delivered by entities registered in Australia.
Some exclusions will apply, such as for in-house or on- the-job training.
The boost will apply to eligible expenditure incurred from 7:30 pm (AEDT) on 29 March 2022 until 30 June 2024.
The boost for eligible expenditure incurred by 30 June 2022 will be claimed in tax returns for the following income year. The boost for eligible expenditure incurred between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2024, will be included in the income year in which the expenditure is incurred.
An eligible business will be able to deduct an additional 20% of the cost incurred on business expenses and depreciating assets that support its digital adoption, such as portable payment devices, cyber security systems or subscriptions to cloud-based services.
An annual cap will apply in each qualifying income year so that expenditure up to $100,000 will be eligible for the boost.
The boost will apply to eligible expenditure incurred from 7:30 pm (AEDT) on 29 March 2022 until 30 June 2023.
The boost for eligible expenditure incurred by 30 June 2022 will be claimed in tax returns for the following income year. The boost for eligible expenditure incurred between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023 will be included in the income year in which the expenditure is incurred.
The Budget papers confirm the Treasurer’s earlier announcement that companies will be allowed to choose to have their PAYG instalments calculated based on current financial performance, extracted from business accounting software (with some tax adjustments).
The commencement date is “subject to advice from software providers about their capacity to deliver”. It is anticipated that systems will be in place by 31 December 2023, with the measure to commence on 1 January 2024, for application to periods starting on or after that date. There are no details yet as to what tax adjustments will be required (although presumably this will involve a reverse, modified form of tax effect accounting).
The Budget papers confirm the Treasurer’s earlier announcement that the GDP uplift factor for PAYG and GST instalments will be set at 2% for the 2022–2023 income year. The papers state that this uplift factor is lower than the 10% that would have applied under the statutory formula.
The 2% GDP uplift rate will apply to small to medium enterprises eligible to use the relevant instalment methods (up to $10 million annual aggregated turnover for GST instalments and $50 million annual aggregated turnover for PAYG instalments) in respect of instalments that relate to the 2022–2023 income year and fall due after the enabling legislation receives assent.
The Government has extended the measure which enables payments from certain state and territory COVID-19 business support programs to be made non-assessable, non-exempt (NANE) income for income tax purposes until 30 June 2022. This measure was originally announced on 13 September 2020.
Consistent with this, the Government has made the following state and territory grant programs eligible for this treatment since the 2021–2022 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook:
The changes are part of an ongoing series of announcements which will continue to have effect until 30 June 2022.