We are approaching the end of the 2020 tax year. That means, it's also time to get your tax records together and start the new financial year off on the right foot!
If any or your individual or business circumstances are changing from 1 July, let us know so we can assist you to meet all your necessary obligations and ensure you start the year organised and prepared.
We are ready to hit the ground running and from 1 July we will be ready to start processing your 2020 tax returns. The ATO have advised they will start processing any lodged returns by the 5th July and expect to start issuing tax refunds by the 12th July.
It's been a tumultuous few months with the emergence of COVID-19. It's been a time of change for everyone in almost every way. While normalcy is slowly returning, life as we knew it is still some time away.
The government have released many stimulus packages in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are feeling confused or overwhelmed in relation to any of the relief packages announced, please contact our office for assistance.
Read on for the latest news in the tax and accounting world. Our June Tax Time newsletter will cover;
- What's new and changing from 1 July 2020.
- Financial Housekeeping for year end.
- What we need from you when preparing your tax.
Tax Time 2020/2021
2020-21 Federal Budget Delayed
The release of the 2020-21 Federal Budget has been postponed from its traditional date in May until 6 October 2020. We expect there will be a number of reforms and measures to tighten spending, recover revenue, and a range of productivity measures. We will keep you advised of significant changes that might impact you or your business.
Company Tax Rate Reductions
From 1 July 2020, the company tax rate for base rate entities will reduce to 26%.
2018-19 and 2019-20
Base rate entities*
Other corporate tax entities
*aggregated turnover less than $50m and no more than 80% of the company's assessable income is base rate entity passive income.
Living with JobKeeper
The JobKeeper $1,500 per fortnight per employee subsidy is paid in arrears to businesses that have experienced a downturn of 30% or more (50% for businesses with turnover of $1bn or more). A 15% threshold is used for ACNC-registered charities. The purpose of the scheme is to keep workers employed and ensure there is a viable workforce on the other side of the pandemic.
At present, JobKeeper is set to continue until 27 September 2020. And for businesses, JobKeeper's decline in turnover is a once only test. If the eligibility criteria were met at the time of applying for JobKeeper, a business can continue claiming the subsidy assuming the other eligibility criteria for them and the individual employees, are met.
If your business did not initially qualify for JobKeeper, you can apply to start JobKeeper payments when you meet the eligibility criteria. Not every industry will experience the economic impact of the pandemic in the same way. Some will experience a greater decline in later months.
One of our most asked questions about the decline in turnover test is 'what if I got it wrong?' Eligibility is generally based on an estimate of the negative impact of the pandemic on an individual business's turnover. Some will experience a greater decline than estimated while others will fall short of the required 30%, 50% or 15%. There is no clawback if you got it wrong as long as you can prove the basis for your eligibility going into the scheme. For those that, in hindsight, did not meet the decline in turnover test, you need to ensure you have your paperwork ready to prove your position if the ATO requests it. You will need to show how you calculated the decline in turnover test and how you came to your assessment of your expected decline, for example, a trend of cancelled orders or trade conditions at that time.
Making JobKeeper payments on time
To be eligible for JobKeeper payments, staff must be paid at least $1,500 during each JobKeeper fortnight. If you pay employees less frequently than fortnightly, the payment can be allocated between fortnights in a reasonable manner. For example, if you pay your employees on a monthly pay cycle, your employees must have received the monthly equivalent of $1,500 per fortnight.
For the first two JobKeeper fortnights (30 March-12 April, 13 April-26 April), employers had an extension until 8 May to make the JobKeeper payments to eligible employees. For the remaining JobKeeper fortnights, employees will need to receive at least $1,500 by the end of each JobKeeper fortnight or the monthly equivalent of $1,500 per fortnight. Depending on your pay cycle, this may require some adjustments each month.
Utilising the $150,000 instant asset write-off
The instant asset write-off enables your business to claim an upfront deduction for the full cost of depreciating assets in the year the asset was first used or installed ready for use for a taxable purpose.
The COVID-19 stimulus measures temporarily increased the threshold for the instant asset write-off between 12 March 2020 and 31 December 2020 from $30,000 to $150,000, and expanded the range of businesses that can access the threshold to those with an aggregated turnover of less than $500 million.
For example, if your company's turnover is under $500 million and you purchase an eligible asset for $140,000 (GST-exclusive) on 1 June 2020 (and install it ready for use by 31 December 2020), then a deduction of $140,000 can be claimed. If the company is subject to a tax rate of 27.5% then this should reduce the tax payable by the company for the 2020 income year by $38,500.
If the asset is a luxury car then the deduction will be limited to the luxury car limit ($57,581 in 2019-20).
The business use percentage of the asset also needs to be taken into account in calculating the deduction. For example, if a sole trader acquires a car for $40,000 but only expects to use it 80% in the business then the immediate deduction would be $32,000.
Accelerated depreciation deductions
Businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million can access accelerated depreciation deductions for assets that don't qualify for an immediate deduction for a limited period of time.
This incentive is only available in relation to:
- New depreciable assets
- Acquired on or after 12 March 2020 that are first used or installed ready for use for a taxable purpose by 30 June 2021.
It does not apply to second-hand assets or buildings and other capital works expenditure. The rules also won't apply if the business entered into a contract to acquire the asset before 12 March 2020.
Businesses are able to deduct 50% of the cost of a new asset in the first year. They can then also claim a further deduction in that year by applying the normal depreciation rules to the balance of the cost of the asset.
Accelerated depreciation deductions apply from 12 March 2020 until 30 June 2021. This will bring forward deductions that would otherwise be claimed in later years.
For example, let's assume that a business purchases a new truck for $250,000 (exclusive of GST) in July 2020. In the 2020-21 tax return the business would claim an upfront deduction of $125,000. The business would also claim a further deduction for the depreciation on the balance of the cost. If the business is a small business entity and using the simplified depreciation rules, this would mean an additional deduction of $18,750 (i.e., 15% x $125,000). The total deduction in the 2020-21 tax return would be $143,750. Without the introduction of accelerated depreciation the business would have claimed a deduction of $37,500 (i.e., 15% x $250,000).
Directors at risk of personal liability for company's GST liabilities
The director penalty regime enables the ATO to recover amounts owed by a company for unpaid PAYG withholding amounts and superannuation guarantee liabilities from the directors or former directors.
From 1 April 2020, the existing director penalty regime was expanded to include GST, luxury car tax and wine equalisation tax liabilities. The expansion of this regime means that company directors, regardless of whether they are passively or actively involved, are at risk of being held personally liable for a large portion of a company's estimated liabilities.
Directors are under a general obligation to ensure the company either satisfies its tax liabilities, or recognising the company may be insolvent, goes into administration or is wound up. Resigning as a director after the event has no impact as the obligation attaches to the individual directors equally. If the Commissioner issues a penalty notice, the director becomes personally liable at that point. There is a grace period for new directors, but they can become liable for obligations that arose before they became a director.
Strict time frames are in place for the issuing of notices by the Commissioner and the required responses from the individual. If you receive a director penalty notice, or if you are concerned that you are at risk of receiving a notice, please contact us immediately.
Reporting payments to contractors
The taxable payments reporting system requires businesses in certain industries to report payments they make to contractors (individual and total for the year) to the ATO. 'Payment' means any form of consideration including non-cash benefits and constructive payments. Almost every year a new industry or sector is drawn into the taxable payments reporting net.
Taxable payments reporting is required for:
- Building and construction services
- Cleaning services
- Courier services
- Road freight services
- Information technology (IT) services
- Security, investigation or surveillance services
- Mixed services (providing one or more of the services listed above)
The annual report is due by 28 August 2020. This will be the first report for those businesses providing road freight, information technology, and security, investigation or surveillance services.
1 January 2020 changes to Super Guarantee calculation
From 1 January 2020, new rules came into effect to ensure that an employee's salary sacrifice contributions cannot be used to reduce the amount of superannuation guarantee (SG) paid by the employer.
Previously, some employers were paying SG on the salary less any salary sacrificed contributions of the employee. Now, employers must contribute 9.5% of an employee's Ordinary Time Earnings (OTE) and they choose whether or not to include the salary sacrificed amounts in OTE.
Under the new rules, the SG contribution is 9.5% of the employee's 'ordinary time earnings (OTE) base'. The OTE base will be an employee's OTE plus any amounts sacrificed into superannuation that would have been OTE, but for the salary sacrifice arrangement.
The amendments also ensure that where an employer has not fulfilled their SG obligations and the superannuation guarantee charge is imposed, the shortfall is calculated using the new OTE base.
Cents per kms change for work-related car expenses
The rate at which work-related car expenses can be claimed using the cents per kilometre method will increase from 1 July 2020 from 68 cents to 72 cents per kilometre.
Using this method a maximum of 5,000 business kilometres can be claimed per year per car.
Working from home? What you can claim
From 1 March 2020 until at least 30 June 2020, special arrangements are in place to make it easier for individuals to claim expenses they have incurred while working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you have incurred work-related expenses and you have not been reimbursed by your employer, you can claim these expenses at a rate of 80 cents for each hour you work. To use this method, you will need a record of the hours you have worked, such as a diary or timesheet.
The claim covers all of your additional running expenses such as:
- Electricity and gas
- Decline in value and repair of capital items such as office furniture
- Cleaning expenses
- Phone and internet expenses
- Decline in value of computers and devices
The COVID-hourly rate can be claimed per individual (it is not limited by household). That is, if you have multiple people working from home in your household, each person can claim the 80 cents per hour rate for the hours they have worked from home.
Using the COVID-hourly rate is optional and aimed at people who do not normally work from home. For some, their expenses will be higher, such as those with a dedicated home office, or for those that normally operate their business from home. In these circumstances the normal rules will apply.
The ATO appears to be taking the view that occupancy costs such as mortgage interest payments and rent cannot generally be claimed by those who are temporarily working from home as a result of COVID-19.
Home based businesses
In general, if your business is a home-based business, you should be able to claim both occupancy and running expenses. However, if you operate through a company or trust, the ATO's preference is that there should be a rental agreement in place between the entity and the property owner.
If there is a genuine rental contract, then the property owner should recognise the rental income and should then seek to claim a reasonable portion of their expenses against the rental income. The business entity should generally be able to claim a deduction for the rent that is being paid to the owner of the property.
Without a genuine rental contract, it is difficult for the business to claim a deduction for any of the expenses relating to the portion of the property that it uses in the business.
Study loan repayment threshold
If you have study and training loans (HELP, VSL, SFSS, SSL, ABSTUDY SSL and TSL), the 2020-21 compulsory repayment threshold is $46,620.
The repayment threshold is made up of your taxable income plus any total net investment loss (including rental income losses), fringe benefits, super contributions and exempt foreign employment income.
Rental properties, COVID-19 and beyond
Rental properties are always high on the ATO's agenda and this year will be no different.
If COVID-19 has impacted commercial or residential premises you own and rent out, from a tax perspective there is very little that has changed.
- If tenants remain in the property or the property remains genuinely available for rent, you can continue to claim expenses as usual, even if the rental rate has been reduced on a temporary basis or tenants have been unable to pay rent for a period of time.
- If you negotiated with your bank to defer mortgage repayments, you can continue to claim interest as the deferred interest is capitalised.
- If you received an insurance payment for rent defaults, or your tenant made a back payment of rent they owe, this income is taxable and will need to be declared in your tax return.
Early access to superannuation
Individuals in financial distress as a result of the coronavirus pandemic are able to self-certify and apply for early release of up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20, and again in 2020-21 (up until 24 September 2020).
To be eligible for early release, you should ensure you meet the eligibility criteria:
- You are unemployed, or
- You are eligible for jobseeker, parenting payment or special benefit or farm household allowance, or
- On or after 1 January 2020, you were made redundant, or
- Your working hours were reduced by 20% or more, or
- For sole traders, your income reduced by 20% or more.
The early release of superannuation measure is available to Australian citizens, permanent residents and New Zealand citizens with Australian held super. Eligible temporary visa holders can also apply for a single release of up to $10,000 before 1 July 2020.
Carry forward unused concessional contributions
If you have unused concessional contributions, that is, you did not contribute the full $25,000 in 2018-19 or 2019-20, then you can carry forward these amounts for five years on a rolling basis if your total superannuation balance is below $500,000 on 30 June (of the year you intend to access the unused amount).
The ability to carry forward concessional contributions applies from 1 July 2018, with the 2019-20 financial year the first year an individual can access their unused carry forward concessional amounts.
Concessional contributions include employer contributions (super guarantee and salary sacrifice) and personal contributions that you have claimed a tax deduction for.
For example, if your total concessional contributions in the 2019-20 financial year were $10,000 and you meet the eligibility criteria, then you can carry forward the unused $15,000. You may then be able to make a higher deductible personal contribution in a later financial year. If you are selling an asset and likely to make a taxable capital gain, a higher deductible personal contribution might assist in reducing your tax liability in the year of sale.
- Your total superannuation balance must be below $500,000 on 30 June of the prior year before you utilise any carried forward amount (within the 5 year term); and
- In some cases, an additional 15% tax can apply (30% total) to concessional contributions made to super where income and concessional contributions exceeds the threshold ($250,000 in 2019-20). Your income could be higher than usual in the year when you sell an asset for a capital gain.
This is an excellent concession to help you top up your superannuation, especially where you are out of the workforce at some stage.
Before you roll-over your software
Before rolling over your accounting software for the new financial year, make sure you:
- Do not perform a Payroll Year End function until you are sure that your STP finalisation declaration is correct and printed. Always perform a payroll back-up before you roll over the year.
Single touch payroll
Where payments to employees have been reported to the ATO through single touch payroll, a finalisation declaration generally needs to be made by 14 July 2020 for employers with 20 or more employees and 31 July 2020 for those with 19 or fewer employees.
Payment summaries do not have to be provided to employees. Instead, employees will be able to access their Income Statement through myGov.
Reportable Fringe Benefits
Where you have provided fringe benefits to your employees in excess of $2,000, you need to report the FBT grossed-up amount. This is referred to as a `Reportable Fringe Benefit Amount' (RFBA).
Do you need to do a stocktake?
Businesses that buy and sell stock generally need to do a stocktake at the end of each financial year as the increase or decrease in the value of stock is included when calculating the taxable income of your business.
If your business has an aggregated turnover below $10 million you can use the simplified trading stock rules. Under these rules, you can choose not to conduct a stocktake for tax purposes if the difference in value between the opening value of your trading stock and a reasonable estimate of the closing value of trading stock at the end of the income year is less than $5,000. You will need to record how you determined the value of trading stock on hand.
What we need from you to prepare your tax
- Tax statements of managed investment funds
- Interest income from banks and building societies
- Dividend statements for dividends received
- For share sales or purchases, the purchase and sale contract notes
- For real estate sales or purchases, the solicitor's correspondence for the purchase and sale
- Rental property statements from real estate agent and details of other expenditure incurred
- Health insurance and rebate entitlement
- Family Tax Benefits received
- Commonwealth assistance notices
- IAS statements or details of PAYG Instalments paid
- Details of any transactions involving cryptocurrency (e.g., Bitcoin)
- Details of any income derived from participating in the sharing economy (e.g., Uber driving, rent from AirBNB, jobs completed through Airtasker etc.,)
- Accounts data file (MYOB, Quickbooks, access to Xero)
- Debtors & creditors reconciliation
- Stocktake if applicable (or, if your business is a Small Business Entity, use the simplified trading stock rules mentioned)
- 30 June bank statements on all relevant loan documents
- Documents on new assets bought or sold, including the date you entered the contract and the date the asset was first used or installed ready for use
- Superannuation reconciliation
- Bank statements on operating accounts
- Cash book (if applicable)
- 30 June statements on any investment or operating accounts
Knowledge Shop. (2020). Year End 2020. Available: https://www.knowledgeshop.com.au/. Last accessed 06/06/2020.
Harvard Reference Generator Study Tool: Referencing a Web Page for a Student's Essay, Dissertation or Thesis | Neil's Toolbox
Please contact us for any clarification on any tax matters or issues pertaining to your individual circumstances.
Be sure to check out the links below and keep up to date with the due dates for your tax obligations.
See you in September 2020
McDonnell Hume Partners