Lease vs buy business assets in Australia. Which is best?

Lease vs buy business assets in Australia. Which is best?

If you're a business owner, you may be thinking about acquiring new equipment as conditions continue to improve in Australia. There are two main options for doing this: lease or buy. When weighing up which is best for you, you have a few factors to consider, including the need for future flexibility, your risk tolerance and the type of industry that you work in.

The question is, which way will provide your company with more value? In some cases, leasing may make more sense but in other scenarios purchasing may be a better option. Let's take a look at some of these different points so you can decide which route is best for you!

Whether it’s a new delivery van or a high-end digital printer, problem free equipment and tools are essential to keep your business running smoothly.

In the May 2021 Federal Budget, the government announced full write-off of eligible business assets will be available for another year, so the opportunity to tool up is even more attractive.

Issues to consider

Unfortunately, deciding the best way to acquire business assets is not always straightforward as you weigh up whether to buy outright or lease.

With leasing, you are able to use the plant or equipment under the terms of a contract and return it when your lease expires. Whereas buying means you purchase and own the equipment outright. If you have insufficient cash to buy an asset, you can also finance your purchase and repay the lender over time.

For both buying and leasing it’s not just the immediate costs and tax benefits you should bear in mind. You need to calculate the total costs, including ongoing maintenance, usage conditions, termination fees and equipment return.

You also need to review whether your business’s cash flow is steady and reliable, and allows you to commit to regular lease payments, or is subject to seasonal fluctuations.

Impact on your tax bill

A key factor to consider when it comes to the lease or buy decision is tax, as there can be valuable tax benefits if you buy an asset outright.

At the moment, the government’s COVID-19 temporary full expensing provisions provide a significant tax incentive to buy new equipment. These instant write-off incentives allow you to claim the cost of your asset against your business’s tax bill in the year of purchase.

For many eligible businesses, these tax incentives could tip the scales towards buying rather than leasing between now and 30 June 2023.

GST and leasing

The rules around claiming GST credits also favour purchasing.

When you lease equipment for your business it’s similar to renting, so you can only claim GST credits for your lease payments, not the total cost of the asset. For example, if you purchase equipment valued at $66,000 (including GST) you can claim back $6,000 in GST credits in your next BAS, but only a couple of hundred dollars for each monthly lease payment.

If you purchase a vehicle for business purposes valued at over the annual car limit ($60,733 in 2021-22), the maximum amount of GST credit you can claim is one-eleventh of the limit ($5,521 in 2021-22). If you pay luxury car tax on a vehicle you purchase for your business, you are unable to claim GST on the tax paid.

Leasing is still attractive

Although buying can be sensible for some businesses, if you have insufficient cash to cover the cost of new equipment leasing still offers benefits, especially while interest rates are low.

Leasing also allows you to keep working capital within the business and available for other uses. For example, if you want to acquire an asset worth $120,000 and finance it at 4 per cent interest, your business retains the $120,000 on its balance sheet and still has access to it if required.

What’s more, you may be able to invest the $120,000 and achieve a return higher than 4 per cent.

In addition, leasing is often more appropriate for assets that rapidly become obsolete and need regular updating, such as IT equipment.

Leasing new equipment can also make it easier to match regular monthly loan repayments to your business cash flow, rather than having to make a large one-off outlay for the asset.

Making your decision

Whichever way you are leaning – buy or lease – it’s important to review your business cash flow, your future growth plans and the current business and economic outlook.

Your personal approach to your business is also a factor to consider. Some owners prefer the certainty of ownership and not having to worry about a lot of fixed costs. For others, it’s more important to have access to the latest equipment and to focus on rapidly expanding their operation.

If you would like to discuss whether buying or leasing would be best for your business in the current economic environment, call us today.

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Tax Alert June 2021

Tax Alert June 2021

The Government is continuing to support COVID-affected businesses by extending most of its pandemic inspired tax offsets and benefits. But at the same time the ATO has micro businesses like contractors who fail to declare all their income in its sights.

Here’s a roundup of some of the key developments when it comes to tax.

LMITO extended again

For individual taxpayers, an important tax change is the Budget announcement of another one-year extension to the current low- and middle-income tax offset (LMITO) for 2021-22.

This welcome decision will provide a valuable tax offset of up to $1,080 for individuals and $2,160 for dual income families as taxpayers repair their post pandemic finances.

Continuation of full expensing and loss carry-back

Business taxpayers should also be happy with the Budget announcement of an extension to the full expensing and loss carry-back measures. Under the full expensing rules, eligible businesses with an aggregate annual turnover of up to $5 billion are able to deduct the full cost of eligible depreciable assets until 30 June 2023.

Eligible companies can also carry-back tax losses from the 2022-23 income year to offset previously taxed profits as far back as 2018-19. This tax refund is available when you lodge your business tax return for the 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23 financial years.

ATO tracks contractor payments

While the Budget provided tax incentives, contractors working in courier, cleaning, building and construction, road freight, IT, security and surveillance industries are increasingly under the tax man’s spotlight.

The ATO has announced it’s now combining data from its Taxable Payments Reporting System (TPRS) with its other data and analytical tools to ensure more than $172 billion in payments to contracting businesses have been properly declared. The ATO is now proactively contacting contractors identified as not declaring income reported by their customers through the TPRS.

New food and drink limits

The new reasonable weekly food and drink amounts businesses can pay an employee as a living-away-from-home allowance (LAFHA) have been released.

For this FBT year (starting 1 April 2021), the ATO considers it reasonable to pay an adult working in Australia a total food and drink expense of $283 per week. As an employer, if you pay more than this you will be liable for FBT on the LAFHA over this amount.

New tax umpire

Small businesses will now have more rights to pause or modify the collection of tax debts under dispute with the ATO.

The Budget included an announcement that small businesses will be able to apply to the Small Business Taxation Division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to have an ATO debt recovery action paused until their case is decided.

End to STP exemption

From 1 July 2021, the exemption for small employers on reporting closely held payees through the Single Touch Payroll (STP) system will end.

This exemption allowed small employers to not report payee information for any individuals directly related to the business. Closely held payees include family members of a family business, directors or shareholders of a company, or beneficiaries of a trust.

More support for brewing

The Budget also recognised the importance of small business entrepreneurs and technology-driven innovators, with incentives to spur economic growth.

Brewery and distillation businesses will also benefit from a new measure giving them full remission (up from 60 per cent) of any excise paid on alcohol produced up to a new $350,000 cap on the Excise Refund Scheme from 1 July 2021.

The Budget also recognised the growth in local digital gaming businesses, with a new Digital Games Tax Offset. From 1 July 2022, eligible game developers will be able to access a 30 per cent refundable tax offset for qualifying Australian games expenditure of up to $20 million a year.

The Government also plans to provide tax incentives for medical and biotechnology companies by introducing a new ‘patent box’ from 1 July 2022. Income from patents will be taxed at 17 per cent, rather than the normal 30 per cent corporate rate.

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Counting down to June 30 - Ways to Reduce Tax and Boost Savings

Counting down to June 30 - Ways to Reduce Tax and Boost Savings

It’s been a year of change like no other and that extends to tax and superannuation. As the end of the financial year approaches, now is a good time to check some new and not so new ways to reduce tax and boost your savings.

With so many of us confined to our homes over the past year, the big deductible item this year is likely to be working from home expenses.

Home office expenses

If you have been working from home, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has introduced a temporary shortcut method which can be used for the 2020-21 financial year. This allows you to claim 80c for each hour you worked from home during the year.i

The shortcut method covers the additional running costs for home expenses such as electricity, phone, internet, cleaning and the decline in value of home office furniture and equipment.

Some people may get a better result claiming the work-related portion of their actual working from home expenses using the actual cost method.

Alternatively, if you do have a dedicated home office, you can claim using the fixed rate method. The fixed rate is 52c an hour for every hour you work at home and covers things like gas and electricity, and the decline in value or repair of office furniture and furnishings. On top of this, you may be able to claim the work-related portion of phone and internet expenses, computer and stationery supplies, and the decline in value of your digital devices.ii

Pre-pay expenses

While COVID has changed many things, some things stay the same. Such as the potential benefits of pre-paying next year’s expenses to claim a tax deduction against this year’s income.

Some examples are pre-paying 12 months’ premiums for your income protection insurance and work-related expenses such as professional subscriptions and union fees. If you are unsure what you can claim, the ATO has a guide for a range of occupations.

If you own an investment property, you might also consider pre-paying 12 months’ interest on your loan and other property-related expenses.

Top up your super

If your super could do with a boost and you have cash to spare, now is the time to check whether you are making the most of the contribution strategies available to you.

You can make tax-deductible contributions up to $25,000 a year, including Super Guarantee payments by your employer. You can also contribute up to $100,000 a year after tax. From July 1 these caps will increase to $27,500 and $110,000 respectively, so it’s important to factor this into decisions you make before June 30.

For instance, if you recently received a windfall and are considering using the ‘bring forward’ rule, you might consider holding off until after July 1. This rule allows you to bring forward two years’ after-tax contributions. By holding off until July 1 you could contribute up to $330,000 under the new limits.

Also increasing on July 1 is the amount you can transfer from your super account into a pension account. The transfer balance cap is increasing from $1.6 million to $1.7 million.

So if you are about to retire and your super balance is close to the cap, it may be worth delaying until after June 30. Finally, from 1 July 2020, if you are under age 67 you can now make voluntary contributions without meeting a work test. And if 2020-21 is the first year that you no longer satisfy the work test, you may still be able to add to your super if you had a total super balance below $300,000 on 1 July 2020.

Manage investment gains and losses

Now is a good time to look at your portfolio for any loss-making investments with a view to selling before June 30. Any capital loss may potentially be used to offset some or all of your gains.

Of course, any decisions to buy or sell should fit with your overall investment strategy and not for tax reasons alone.

For all the challenges of the past year, there are still many ways to improve your overall financial situation. So get in touch to make the most of strategies available to you to before June 30.

i https://www.ato.gov.au/general/covid-19/support-for-individuals-and-employees/employees-working-from-home

ii https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals/income-and-deductions/deductions-you-can-claim/home-office-expenses/

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Budget 2021-2022 Focus on Tax

Federal Budget 2021-22: Focus on tax

Budget 2021-2022 Focus on Tax

Federal Budget 2021-22: Focus on tax

Support for Australia’s businesses and our personal finances was at the heart of this year’s Federal Budget as the Morrison Government continues its attempts to strengthen the post-lockdown economy.

Once again Treasurer Josh Frydenberg made tax measures a key part of his Budget speech, announcing extensions to several of the Government’s signature tax support measures, together with new tax incentives and funding for job training and skills. These measures are designed to boost the continuing recovery of small and family businesses, which the Treasurer called the “engine room of the economy”.

LMITO extended again

With a federal election due next year, a key Budget announcement was another one year extension to the low and middle income tax offset (LMITO) for 2021-22. This measure will provide a tax offset of up to $1,080 for individuals and $2,160 for dual income families.

Continuation of full expensing and loss carry-back

The temporary full expensing and loss carry-back measures announced last year are also being extended to help businesses bring forward investment and access tax benefits. Eligible businesses with an aggregate annual turnover of up to $5 billion will be able to deduct the full cost of eligible depreciable assets until 30 June 2023.

Eligible companies can also carry-back tax losses from the 2022-23 income year to offset previously taxed profits as far back as 2018-19. This tax refund will be available when companies lodge their tax returns for the 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23 financial years.

Patent box

To provide incentive for Australia’s medical and biotechnology companies to commercialise their research, the Government is introducing a new ‘patent box’ from 1 July 2022. Income from patents will be taxed at a concessional rate of 17 per cent, which is significantly lower than the normal 30 per cent corporate rate. The new tax incentive is designed to encourage locally-based R&D and may be extended to the clean energy sector.

Adopting digital technology

As the digital economy continues to change the way we do business, small businesses will be supported to adopt digital technologies through a $12.7 million expansion of the Digital Solutions – Australian Small Business Advisory Service. They will also benefit from further $15.3 million in funding to help with the introduction of e-invoicing.

Employee share schemes reintroduced

To help businesses attract and retain talent, the Budget removes the cessation of employment taxing point for tax-deferred employee share schemes. This means tax on shares received as part of these schemes can now be deferred for up to 15 years.

New apprenticeship funding

The Government announced an additional $2.7 billion in funding for apprenticeships and traineeships. Businesses will be paid a 50 per cent wage subsidy over 12 months for new apprentices or trainees signed up by 31 March 2022.

There will also be an additional $500 million for low-fee or no cost training through the existing JobTrainer program to support training in digital skills and upskilling in industries like aged care.

New tax umpire

The Government is also making it easier for small businesses to pause or modify the collection of debts under dispute with the ATO. They will be able to apply to the Small Business Taxation Division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to have an ATO debt recovery action paused until their case is decided.

Removal of SG threshold

Small businesses with low-income or part-time employees will need to revisit their Superannuation Guarantee (SG) contributions. This follows the Government’s commitment to remove the current $450 per month threshold before an employer needs to start making SG contributions for an employee.

Tax cut for brewers and distillers

And finally, it’s cheers all round for our artisan brewers and distillers. From 1 July 2021, those eligible will receive full remission (up from 60 per cent) of any excise paid on alcohol produced up to the new $350,000 cap on the Excise Refund Scheme.

Information in this article has been sourced from:

- The Budget Speech 2021-22 - https://ministers.treasury.gov.au/ministers/josh-frydenberg-2018/ speeches/budget-speech-2021-22

- and Federal Budget support documents - https://budget.gov.au/

It is important to note that the policies outlined in this publication are yet to be passed as legislation and therefore may be subject to change.

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Is Salary Packaging Actually Worth It in 2021?

Is Salary Packaging Actually Worth It in 2021?

The principle of ‘salary sacrificing’ may not sound very appealing. After all, who in their right mind would voluntarily give up their hard-earned cash. But it can have real financial benefits for some in terms of reducing your taxable income, which could see you pay less at tax time.

As we nudge ever closer to the end of financial year, it’s worth taking a look at salary sacrificing to see if it’s a worthwhile strategy to put into place for you.

A salary sacrifice arrangement is also commonly referred to as salary packaging or total remuneration packaging. In essence, a salary sacrifice arrangement is when you agree to receive less income before tax, in return for your employer providing you with benefits of similar value. You’re basically using your pre-tax salary to buy something you would normally purchase with your after-tax pay.

How does salary sacrifice work?

The main benefit of salary sacrificing is that it reduces your pre-tax income, and therefore the amount of tax you must pay. For example, if you’re on a $100,000 income, you may agree to only receive $75,000 as income in return for a $25,000 car as a benefit.

Doing this would reduce your taxable income to $75,000 which could lower your tax bill because you’re essentially earning less as far as the tax office is concerned.*

This arrangement must be set up in advance with your employer before you commence the work that you’ll be paid for and it’s advisable that the details of the agreement are outlined in writing.

What can you salary sacrifice?

According to the Australian Tax Office (ATO), there’s no restriction on the types of benefits you can sacrifice, as long as the benefits form part of your remuneration. What you can salary sacrifice may also depend on what your employer offers.

The types of benefits provided in a salary sacrifice arrangement include fringe benefits, exempt benefits and superannuation.

Fringe benefits can include:

• cars

• property (including goods, real property like land and buildings, shares or bonds)

• expense payments (loan repayments, school fees, childcare costs, home phone costs)
Your employer pays fringe benefit tax (FBT) on these benefits.

Exempt benefits include work related items such as:

• portable electronic devices and computer software

• protective clothing

• tools of the trade
Your employer typically does not have to pay fringe benefits tax on these.

Superannuation

You can also ask your employer to pay part of your pre-tax salary into your superannuation account. This is on top of the contributions your employer is already paying you under the Superannuation Guarantee, which should be no less than 9.5% of your gross (before tax) annual salary, though this may rise in the near future.

Salary sacrificed super contributions are classified as employer super contributions rather than employee contributions. These contributions are called concessional contributions and are taxed at 15 per cent. For most people, this will be lower than their marginal tax rate.

There is a limit as to how much extra you can contribute to your super per year at the 15 per cent tax rate. The combined total of your employer and any salary sacrificed concessional contributions cannot exceed $25,000 in a single financial year. If you exceed the cap, you could be charged additional tax on any excess salary sacrifice contributions.

Most employers allow employees to salary sacrifice into super, but not all employers will allow salary sacrificing for other benefits.

Is salary sacrifice worth it?

Salary sacrifice is generally most effective for middle to high-income earners, while there is little to no tax saving for people who are already in a low tax bracket.

If you are a middle to high-income earner, then it may be worth considering salary sacrifice to reduce your taxable income and to take advantage of some of those benefits.

Before you do, make sure you talk to us so we can help ensure it is an appropriate strategy for your circumstances.

*Note: This example illustrates how salary sacrifice arrangements can work and does not constitute advice. You should not act solely on the information in this example.

Source for all information in this article: https://www.ato.gov.au/General/Fringe-benefits-tax-(FBT)/Salary-sacrifice-arrangements/

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Watch out for these scams involving tax, the ATO and COVID payouts

Watch out for these scams involving tax, the ATO and COVID payouts

Nowadays, tax season means it's scam season too. It's a time when scammers ramp up their activities with an arsenal of increasingly sophisticated scams. Here are some of the most common scams you're likely to encounter. Most of them are tax and ATO related.

Scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, so it pays to be aware of what is real and what is fake. Because unfortunately they’re not going away any time soon, with over 216,000 scams reported to Scamwatch during 2020, resulting in total financial losses of around $1.75 million dollars.i

Here are some recent scams to be aware of:

COVID-19 phishing

With increased communications being sent out due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this has also created ample opportunity for scammers. By pretending to be from official organisations, scammers aim to find out your personal information (such as your usernames, passwords, bank details, etc.) – this is known as phishing.

There have been emails and SMS messages impersonating the Department of Health and the ATO, providing links to what are purported to be information pages. One example is an SMS which says that you are due to receive a support payment and asks for your bank details.

To know what is real and what’s fake, don’t click on links in messages – instead visit the organisation’s website directly, or call them if in doubt.

Verifying your myGov details

Another common example of a phishing scam is receiving an email or SMS asking you to verify your myGov details. Often the message will have time pressure, saying that your account will be locked if you don’t do so within 24 hours.

You will get email or SMS notifications from myGov whenever there are new messages in your myGov inbox, however these messages will never include a link to log into your myGov account.

Automated calls regarding a suspended TFN

Your tax file number (TFN) is important for both you and/or your business’ tax and superannuation purposes, which is why hearing it has been suspended can be alarming. Linked to your name and date of birth, this piece of personal information should generally only be shared with the ATO, banks, your superannuation fund, the Department of Human Services and your employer.

Under law, any individual, organisation or agency that is allowed to ask for your TFN information must not record, collect, use or pass on your TFN (unless allowed under taxation, personal assistance or superannuation law).ii

A common scam involves an automated phone message advising you that your TFN has been suspended. The purpose of this is to convince you to pay a fine or transfer money to reactivate it.

The ATO do not suspend TFNs or need you to pay for reactivation, nor will they send unsolicited pre-recorded messages to your phone. So if you hear this scam message, hang up.

Tax debt

Another worrying message to receive is that you have tax debt that needs to be paid off. This scam is often done through SMS, voicemail and direct calls, whereby the scammer pretends to be from the ATO. They then will ask you for payment, which is often through methods such as cryptocurrency or gift cards.

Suffice to say this isn’t regular procedure from the ATO, so if you receive a call or message like this, ignore or hang up.

Scams are ever-evolving but are often based on similar concepts, as shown above. A helpful resource to keep up-to-date with current scams is the Scam Alerts page on the ATO website.

While scammers can be conniving and convincing, it’s important to err on the side of caution whenever you receive an unexpected message or call, or whenever your personal details are requested. Never give out any personal information unless you can independently verify the identity of the person or organisation you are providing it to.

Should you ever be unsure whether someone requesting your financial details is a trusted source, don’t hesitate to get in touch for our advice.

i https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/scam-statistics?scamid=all&date=2020

ii https://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy/your-privacy-rights/your-personal-information/your-tax-file-number/

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Worried about an ATO Audit? Read this before submitting your tax return

Worried about an ATO Audit? Read this before submitting your tax return

As the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) turns its attention to businesses and individuals who've used COVID-related support programs, many taxpayers are likely to find themselves on the tax man’s radar. Here are a few important points to consider before submitting your return.

There are a number of red flags that can spark the ATO’s interest in your business or personal tax affairs. At present though, having applied for early release of your super, or receiving government support through JobKeeper, definitely puts you at a higher chance of an audit.

The ATO has identified a number of concerning and fraudulent behaviours with both these programs and is auditing taxpayer applications, so it’s worth understanding the regulator’s powers and the importance of good records when it comes to your tax.

ATO’s authority to audit

When it comes to the tax audit process, the ATO has significant powers. It has the authority to gather information about you and your personal circumstances from a range of sources, including other government agencies such as Services Australia. The ATO can also seek information about your business from financial institutions including your bank and insurers.

Generally, the ATO’s preferred strategy is to request information from you using a cooperative approach. If you fail to respond appropriately, however, the tax office may decide to use its statutory or ‘coercive powers’. This involves issuing legal notices seeking information from you and your advisers.

It’s sensible to act cooperatively with the ATO from the outset, rather than force the regulator into coercing you into compliance.

If you do receive an ATO request for information, we can help prepare the necessary documents and your initial responses. We can also be a useful guide through the process if you receive notification of an upcoming audit.

Why good records matter

As a taxpayer, if you want to object to a tax assessment or question an audit decision made by the ATO, you need to prove the decision was incorrect or excessive.

In the event of an Administrative Appeals Tribunal review or Federal Court appeal about your tax assessment or audit, the statutory burden of proof rests with you. This means you must prove the assessment is excessive or otherwise incorrect.

There is a legal presumption the ATO’s assessment is correct, unless you can produce evidence to prove what the assessment should have been. That’s why it’s essential to keep good records to substantiate your overall tax affairs and any deductions you claim in your annual return.

Tips for good recordkeeping

The golden rule of good recordkeeping is that you must keep records that are relevant to your tax and super affairs for five years.

For businesses, your records must be safely stored in a way that protects them from being changed or damaged, and you must be able to show them to the ATO if requested. The records must be kept in English or be easily converted into English.

Your business records need to include the quarterly Super Guarantee (SG) contributions paid to your employees and how they were calculated, wages records (including directors’ fees), a list of creditors and debtors, stocktake records, tax invoices for purchases over $82.50, and your BPAY or PayPal records.

Common record-keeping errors

According to the ATO, common business recordkeeping errors are failing to keep accurate records of all your cash and electronic transactions, and not regularly reconciling sales into your business accounting software.

Many businesses and individuals also fail to accurately split the private and business portions of an expense and don’t ensure they have sufficient records to substantiate their claims for tax deductions.

The ATO can seek information or documents at any time – either before starting a compliance activity or during a review or audit – so it’s best to be prepared. An easy first step to assessing if your business records are up to scratch could be checking out the ATO’s online Recordkeeping Evaluation Tool.

If you would like help with an information request or audit notification from the ATO, call our office today.

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Tax Year End 2021 - Get Your Business Ready for June 30th and Avoid the Rush

Tax Year End 2021 - Get Your Business Ready for June 30th and Avoid the Rush

30th June may seem a long way off. But the current financial year has seen many changes and government initiatives. As such, there's a very good chance you'll need extra information and paperwork to lodge your business tax return.

Here’s a list of things to consider and/or seek advice on.

Reporting JobKeeper support

JobKeeper payments are assessable income, so they need to be included in your business’ tax return if you operate through a company structure. Entities operating as a partnership or trust also need to report JobKeeper payments as business income in their partnership or trust return.

If you are a sole trader who received JobKeeper payments, you need to include your payments as business income in your individual tax return.

Cash Flow Boost credits

On the other hand, the government’s Cash Flow Boost payments to employers with a turnover of less than $50 million are classed as non-assessable income. This means your business won't pay tax or GST on them.

How these credits are reported in your tax return or financial statements depends on your business structure, so contact us for more advice.

Budget tax changes and incentives

It’s also sensible to consider whether or not you plan to take advantage of the government’s temporary full expensing measure in this financial year. This measure applies from 6 October 2020 to 30 June 2022 for businesses with turnover of up to $5 billion. The initiative allows you to deduct the full cost of eligible depreciable assets of any value in the year they are first used or installed ready for use.

Another tax decision to start mulling over is whether to use the new temporary loss carry-back measures. These allow you to offset tax losses against previous business profits on which tax has been paid to generate a tax refund. Losses incurred in 2019-20 and 2020-21 can be carried back against profits made in or after 2018-19. If you are eligible, you can elect to receive a refund when you lodge your 2020-21 return.

Extended tax concessions

Businesses with turnover of up to $50 million (up from $10 million) can now take advantage of tax concessions allowing an immediate deduction for eligible start-up expenses (such as professional fees and accounting advice) and prepaid expenditure incurred after 1 July 2020.

From 1 April 2021, you can also claim an exemption from the 47 per cent FBT on any car parking or multiple work-related portable electronic devices (such as phones and laptops) provided to your employees.

Defer assessable income

Despite the difficult trading conditions, some businesses may need to consider deferring assessable income. Businesses wishing to delay paying tax on their income could review the potential benefits of deferring invoicing until after 30 June to ensure income from any payments is not assessable until the following financial year.

Do a stocktake

Over the next few months, identify and dispose of any obsolete, slow-moving or damaged stock so you can claim a tax deduction for the write-off.

Employee super contributions

Since the SG Amnesty finished in September last year, the ATO has indicated it will actively check compliance in this area, making it important to ensure your reporting and payments are up to date.

Consider your personal tax

Now is also a great time to review your personal tax preparations for 30 June. Look at personal tax decisions such as implementing a salary sacrifice arrangement for the remainder of the tax year, making personal super contributions and collecting the necessary paperwork to substantiate work related deductions.

Contact the ATO

If you are struggling to stay on top of your tax obligations due to the pandemic, consider contacting the ATO to discuss deferring your tax payments or varying your quarterly PAYG instalments. You can also apply to move your GST reporting cycle from quarterly to monthly to gain faster access to GST refunds.

If you would like help getting your business ready for tax time, call our office today.

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Tax Alert March 2021

Tax Alert March 2021

Individuals and small business owners who have taken advantage of the government’s COVID-19 support programs will find themselves increasingly under the tax man’s microscope in coming months. This is just one of the key developments occurring in the world of tax at the moment.

Data matching program expanded

The Tax Commissioner has applied for additional data from Services Australia to allow the ATO to verify the eligibility of applicants for the government’s key COVID-19 support schemes.

The ATO will begin matching the data against eligibility criteria for the JobKeeper, temporary early access to superannuation, Temporary Cash Flow Boost and JobMaker Hiring Credit schemes.

Objectives of the program include “verification of applications and identify compliance issues”, identifying individuals and businesses “failing to meet their registration and/or lodgment obligations”, and ensuring all tax and super reporting obligations have been met.

Expenses shortcut extended again

Employees using the shortcut method to calculate their working from home expenses can continue using this method after the ATO extended the deadline for the scheme to 30 June 2021.

The ATO has updated its guidance to enable employees and business owners working from home between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2021 to claim a flat 80 cents per work hour for running expenses during this period.

Clock runs down on STP exemption

The ATO has reminded small employers (with 19 or less staff) exemptions from the single touch payroll (STP) system end on 30 June 2021.

From 1 July 2021, employers who are currently exempt from reporting closely held payees will need to report them through STP. (Closely held payees include family members, directors or shareholders of the business and beneficiaries of a trust). They will, however, have the option to report the information on a quarterly basis.

Super choice expanded for employees

On 1 January 2021, the rules relating to choice of super fund changed and the ATO is warning employers they must comply.

Any new workplace determination or enterprise agreement made on or after 1 January 2021 must now offer employees the right to choose the super fund into which their employer pays their compulsory Super Guarantee (SG) contributions. This applies to both existing and new hires.

Once an employee has nominated a fund using the ATO’s Standard Choice Form, the employer must pay their SG contributions into that fund. Employers who fail to comply risk being audited and penalised by the ATO.

JobMaker Hiring Credit

Businesses considering hiring new employees aged 35 and under may be eligible for a government payment through the new JobMaker Hiring Credit scheme.

Employers will receive payments of up to $200 a week for each eligible employee aged 16 to 29, or $100 a week for an employee aged 30 to 35. Eligibility criteria include holding an ABN, being registered for PAYG withholding tax, reporting through STP, and being current with your income tax and GST lodgment obligations.

Businesses can register for JobMaker on the ATO website at any time until the program closes.

Business concessions start

Small to medium-sized businesses with an annual turnover of $10 to $50 million are eligible for several new tax concessions from 1 April 2021.

The concessions were announced and legislated late in 2020. Under the new rules, eligible businesses are exempt from 47% FBT when they provide employees with car parking or work-related portable devices (such as phones and laptops).

Eligible businesses are also able to access simplified trading stock rules and remit their PAYG instalments based on GDP adjusted notional tax. From 1 July, they will have up to two years to seek an amendment to a tax assessment.

Claiming GST credits

The ATO is reminding businesses about the rules relating to claiming GST credits for business purchases.

Although a credit is available for most business purchases, valid claims cannot be made if the supplier is not registered for GST, even if their tax invoice lists an ABN and GST amount. The ATO recommends businesses use the ABN Lookup tool to check their suppliers prior to making a claim.

If a purchase is used for both personal and business use, you need to work out the business use portion of the GST and only claim that portion.

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


Are you really a contractor or employee?

Are you really a contractor or employee?

"Having an ABN, agreeing to work on a contract basis and issuing invoices do not guarantee the ATO will see you as a contractor.

Employment and contract relationships have very different tax implications. This short guide will help clarify where you really stand."

For employers, you also need to recognise the potential for the ATO to impose significant penalties for failing to meet your obligations for tax and super payments if you incorrectly categorise an employee as a contractor.

Contractor or employee?

Deciding if you are a contractor or an employee can be complex, but a key distinction is that an employee works in the business while an independent contractor runs his or her own business.

Contractors are self-employed and engaged to undertake a specific task at an agreed price, usually over a set period. They can choose their own hours and must pay for their own insurance, sick leave, holidays and super contributions.

Although COVID-19 has seen many employees working from home and claiming tax deductions for their home office running expenses, they remain an employee.

On the other hand, if you’ve been made redundant and have begun offering services to a range of businesses from your home office, you are likely to be a contractor.

How to tell an employee from a contractor

The table below outlines six factors that, taken together, determine whether a worker is an employee or contractor for tax and super purposes.

 

Employee

Contractor

The worker can’t delegate the work or pay someone else to do it.The worker can delegate the work or pay someone else to do the work.
The worker is paid for the time worked, at a price per item or activity, or via commission.The worker is paid for a result based on a quote, calculated using hourly rates or price per item to work out the total cost of the work.
The business provides all or most of the equipment, tools and other assets required to complete the work; or the worker provides them but the business provides an allowance or reimburses the cost.The worker provides all or most of the equipment, tools and other assets required to complete the work and doesn’t receive an allowance or reimbursement for this.
The worker takes no commercial risks; the business is legally responsible for the work and liable for the cost of rectifying any defects.The worker takes commercial risks, is legally responsible for their work and liable for the cost of rectifying any defects.
The business has the right to direct the way in which the worker does the work.The worker has freedom in the way the work is done, subject to the specific terms in any contract or agreement.
The worker is not operating independently of the business and is considered part of the business.The worker operates their business independently, performs services as specified in the agreement and is free to accept or refuse additional work.

Source: ATO website

Recognising a contracting arrangement

Even if you hold an Australian Business Number (ABN) or a registered business name, you are not automatically a contractor. Being paid after submitting an invoice makes no difference either.

The length of a project or how regular the work is are also immaterial to your employment status. Both employees and contractors can be used for casual, temporary, on-call or infrequent work.

Both employers and contractors can check whether a proposed work arrangement is legally deemed to be employment or a contract using the ATO’s Employee or contractor decision tool.

Avoiding tax and super responsibilities

Under current legislation it’s illegal to make misleading statements to an employee to try to persuade them to take on a contract arrangement. You are also not permitted to dismiss or threaten to dismiss an employee so you can re-hire them as a contractor.

Arranging for an employee to sign a formal document stating they are a contractor will not override the true employment relationship – or your tax and super obligations for them.

If you would like help understanding and complying with your tax and super obligations as either a contractor or employer, contact us today.

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.