Warning on ATO and Medicare scams

Warning on ATO and Medicare scams

Recently we’ve been contacted by a number of clients who have received suspicious calls and messages from people claiming to be from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and Medicare.  It’s important that you are aware of some recent scams.

Tax scams

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has warned about the emergence of a scam where “…scammers are using an ATO number to send fraudulent SMS messages to taxpayers asking them to click on a link and hand over their personal details in order to obtain a refund.”

The refund scam follows a more sinister four phase scam stating there is a warrant out for your arrest for unpaid taxes in prior years. The scam starts with a text message purportedly from the Australian Federal Police (AFP). Within minutes, your mobile rings and the caller identifies themselves as being from the AFP and working with the ATO. They then ask for your accountant’s details. You then receive a call purportedly from your ‘accounting firm’ asking you to verify the AFP/ATO claims. Finally, you are provided with a way, if you act quickly, to make the AFP go away by paying a fee before your ‘imminent arrest’.

The ATO states that it will not:

  • Send you an email or SMS asking you to click on a link to provide login, personal or financial information, or to download a file or open an attachment.
  • Use aggressive or rude behaviour, or threaten you with arrest, jail or deportation.
  • Request payment of a debt via iTunes or Google Play cards, pre-paid Visa cards, cryptocurrency or direct credit to a personal bank account, or
  • Request a fee in order to release a refund owed to you.

Medicare Scam

A new phishing scam sent text messages purportedly from Medicare advising the recipient that they are owed a $200 rebate from Medicare. Once the person clicks on the reclaim link, they are asked to provide their personal details including bank account details for the ‘rebate.’

If you are uncertain about any suspicious messages please contact the registered office of the “sender” or alternatively speak with your accountant or advisor.

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Tax on overseas income – It could be higher than you think..

Tax on overseas income – It could be higher than you think..

 

Do you earn income overseas? A recent case highlights why you might pay more tax than you thought on foreign income.

If you are an Australian resident and earn income from overseas, such as income from investments, sale of assets such as property, distributions from foreign trusts, etc., you will generally need to declare that income in your Australian tax return. If you have paid tax in a foreign country on that income, you might be able to claim a foreign tax offset to reduce your Australian tax liability.

Sounds simple enough but a recent case highlights where problems can occur and you might end up paying a lot more tax than you thought.

The taxpayer in this case was a resident of Australia but was taxed in the US on gains they made on interests in US real estate. Most of the gains they made were taxed at a concessional rate of 15% (rather than the normal rate of 35%) because the interests had been held for more than one year. Some of the gains were ultimately taxed at 35% in the US.

The capital gains were also taxed in Australia and qualified for the general CGT discount of 50%.

As the taxpayer was a resident of Australia and had paid tax on the US gains, the taxpayer claimed a foreign income tax offset for all of the US tax they paid. However, the ATO amended the tax assessment and only allowed a tax offset for slightly less than 50% of the tax they paid in the US.

The problem for the taxpayer was that while the US and Australia both have tax concessions for longer term capital gains, they operate quite differently. The US applies a lower rate to the whole gain while Australia applies a normal tax rate to half of the gain. Unfortunately for the taxpayer, the Federal Court held that the Commissioner’s approach was correct. If foreign tax has been paid on an amount that is not included in your assessable income then you cannot claim a foreign tax offset on it. In this case, the portion of the capital gain that was exempt from Australian tax because of the CGT discount, was not included in assessable income.

It is not uncommon for people who have made capital gains on foreign assets to assume that they get all of the tax back that they paid overseas. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily the case and often only a partial credit is available, if at all.

Contact PrimeAdvisory for professional advice on transactions overseas that may affect your taxable income.

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Key Considerations For Grandparents Funding Private School Fees

Key Considerations For Grandparents Funding Private School Fees

As we roll into a new school year, it’s not uncommon for grandparents to contribute to their grandchildren’s private school education.

If you are supporting your family by helping fund a grandchild’s private education, before the first term’s school fees are due it’s important to receive professional advice on the best way to contribute towards private school fees. At PrimeWealth your advisor can offer specific guidance based on your unique circumstances, however here’s a quick checklist of the key considerations:

Do the maths

Make sure that you have accounted for all your living expenses allowing you to live comfortably without the need to draw on any retirement savings in a way that is unsustainable.

Plan ahead

This will avoid selling investments at a time that may not be optimal, it’s important to ensure that ample funds are accessible when you need them, including a buffer.

Understand the impact on Asset testing

If you are maintaining control of the funds set aside for fees, these will be considered as an asset by Centrelink and could impact any Age pension entitlements.

Understand the gifting rule

If you are transferring funds to one of your children or grandchildren, be aware that the Department of Human Services gifting rule currently allows for a gift up to $10,000 in one financial year and a maximum of $30,000 over five financial years without your pension entitlements being affected.

Taxation

Get advice on the best structure for investing any funds set aside for school fees. “Education Savings” products can be internally taxed at a corporate tax rate which could be more than holding an investment directly.

Estate Planning

If you are no longer around to manage any funds for education purposes, ensure that you have considered this in your estate planning.

Control

Ensuring you maintain control of funds until they are required means you keep the funds in any circumstance that you may not have prepared for such as a child not attending private school or university.

 

Please contact PrimeWealth for further support and advice, taking into account your unique circumstances and financial goals.

 

 

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20 Financial Questions You Should Answer This New Year

20 Financial Questions You Should Answer This New Year

As we kick off another New Year, many of us are thinking about how this year might look different from the last and how we might ensure we are healthier and happier overall.

It’s also a time where we often reflect on what matters to us and whether we can prioritise those things in life.  Being able to do so is inevitably linked to our financial situation and how well our finances and financial management is structured to enable us to live life according to what we value purposely.

What we do know in our work dealing with hundreds of clients supporting them to achieve what they want out of life is what questions need to be answered to get you on track.

The Important Income Questions

–    Is your income and employment secure and does it meet your living costs?  Is it well-structured and tax efficient?

–    Are your education costs covered?

–    Is any surplus income invested efficiently for wealth creation?

 

The Important Investment Questions

–    Do you have clear goals for where you want to be wealth-wise in the next five years?

–    Do you have a tax-efficient investment structure?

–    Do you know if your current investments are achieving your goals?

 

The Important Debt Questions

–    Are your overall debt levels appropriate for where you are at in life?

–    Do you have the right mix of personal and investment debt?

–    Do you have a plan to eliminate personal debt in the shortest possible time?

 

The Important Risk Questions

–    Does insurance cover you for any possible circumstances?

–    Are you getting the best possible rate for insurances?

–    Are you covered appropriately?

–    Would your family be able to live comfortably if you were no longer able to provide for them?

 

The Important Retirement Questions

–    Are you clear on what you want your retirement to look like?

–    Do you know how much you need to live on to have the retirement you want?

–    Do you know if you are on track to have the income you need when you retire?

–    Do you know if your tax is structured effectively for retirement?

 

The Important Estate Questions

–    Is your Will up to date and does it reflect your current wishes

–    Have you arranged for someone to make financial decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so?

–    Is any relevant documentation regarding your estate easy to find and is your family aware of any medical and lifestyle wishes?

 

Take the first step in getting an accurate understanding of your financial position and how well it supports what you want in life with our complimentary online financial health check

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How to improve your life NOW for a brighter future: 15 tips

How to improve your life NOW for a brighter future: 15 tips

by Julie Tassone

Are you in your twenties and wondering how to improve your life now so that the future is brighter?

One of the characteristics of the Y-generation and people born this millennium is that they like to ponder the future. The trouble is, good, honest guidance about this future can be in short supply.

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