New financial year = new super rules.

New financial year = new super rules.

This new 2020/21 financial year sees two main changes to superannuation with pending legislation that may include additional changes that will apply this financial year.  This financial year will see the termination of the work test for individuals 66 and 67 who wish to make personal non-concessional contributions and see an extension of spouse contributions to those aged between 70 to 75 years. Note, we are currently awaiting legislation that will allow for access to the ‘bring forward’ rules.

Termination of the work test for individuals 66 and 67 years old
From 1 July 2020, those under the age of 67 years can make personal contributions without needing to satisfy a work test. In the financial year a person reaches the age of 67, personal contributions can be made prior to reaching 67 years old.

Extension of spouse contributions to those 70 to 75 years old
Until 30 June 2020, it was only possible to make spouse contributions up until the age of 70 years. Between the ages of 65 and 70 years, the spouse was required to meet the work test of 40 hours in 30 consecutive days for the year in which the contribution was made. However, from 1 July 2020 this has now been extended to apply to spouse contributions made between the age of 67 years, and 28 days in the month after the spouse reaches 75 years old, which puts it in line with other personal superannuation contributions. The work test must be met prior to the spouse contributions being made to the fund.

If you would like to know how these new changes apply to you, please get in touch with our team by phone 02 9415 1511 or email reception@primeadvisory.com.au.

 

This strategy is not for everyone and has been provided as general information only and prepared without taking into account your financial position, objectives, and needs. You should consider its appropriateness and seek financial advice before making any financial decisions.

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JobKeeper 2.0

JobKeeper 2.0

The second tranche of the JobKeeper scheme changes the eligibility test for employers and the method and amount paid to employees.

If your business currently receives JobKeeper, your arrangements will generally remain unchanged until 27 September 2020. From 28 September 2020, employers seeking to claim JobKeeper payments will need to reassess their eligibility and prove an actual decline in turnover.

Eligibility
To continue receiving JobKeeper payments, employers will need to reassess their eligibility with reference to actual GST turnover for the June and September 2020 quarters (for payments between 28 September to 3 January 2021), and again for the June, September and December 2020 quarters (for payments between 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021).

Eligible employers
The broad eligibility tests to access JobKeeper remain the same with an extended decline in turnover test.

  • On 1 March 2020, carried on a business in Australia OR was a non‑profit body pursuing its objectives principally in Australia; and
    • before the end of the JobKeeper fortnight, it met the decline in turnover test*:
      • >15% for an ACNC-registered charity (excluding universities, or schools within the meaning of the GST Act – these entities need to meet the basic turnover test)
      • > 50% for large businesses:
        • aggregated turnover for the test period is likely to be $1 billion or more, or aggregated turnover for the previous year to the test period was $1 billion or more (a small business that forms part of a group that is a large business must have a >50% decline in turnover to satisfy the test).
      • ­>30% for all other qualifying entities.
    • And, was not:
      • on 1 March 2020, subject to Major Bank Levy for any quarter ending before this date, a member of a consolidated group and another member of the group had been subject to the levy; or
      • a government body of a particular kind, or a wholly-owned entity of such a body; or
      • at any time in the fortnight, a provisional liquidator or liquidator has been appointed to the business or a trustee in bankruptcy had been appointed to the individual’s property.

1 March 2020 is an absolute date. An employer that had ceased trading, commenced after 1 March 2020, or was not pursuing its objectives in Australia at that date, is not eligible.

*Additional tests apply from 28 September 2020.

Additional decline in turnover tests
To receive JobKeeper payments from 28 September 2020, businesses will need to meet the basic eligibility tests and an extended decline in turnover test based on actual GST turnover.

  30 March to 27 September 2020 28 September to 3 January 2021 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021
Decline in turnover Projected GST turnover for a relevant month or quarter is expected to fall by at least 30% (15% for ACNC-registered charities, 50% for large businesses) compared to the same period in 2019.* Actual GST turnover in the June and September 2020 quarters fell by at least 30% (15% for ACNC-registered charities, 50% for large businesses) compared to the same periods in 2019.

The decline for both of the quarters needs to be met to continue receiving JobKeeper payments.

Actual GST turnover in the June, September and December 2020 quarters fell by at least 30% (15% for ACNC-registered charities, 50% for large businesses) compared to the same periods in 2019. The decline for all three of the quarters needs to be met to continue receiving JobKeeper payments.

* Alternative tests potentially apply where a business fails the basic test and does not have a relevant comparison period.

Most businesses will generally use their Business Activity Statement (BAS) reporting to assess eligibility. However, as the BAS deadlines are generally not due until the month after the end of the quarter, eligibility for JobKeeper will need to be assessed in advance of the BAS reporting deadlines to meet the wage condition for eligible employees. However, the ATO will have discretion to extend the time an entity has to pay employees in order to meet the wage condition.

Alternative arrangements are expected to be put in place for businesses and not-for-profits that are not required to lodge a BAS (for example, if the entity is a member of a GST group).

Alternative tests
The Commissioner of Taxation will have discretion to set out alternative tests that would establish eligibility in specific circumstances where it is not appropriate to compare actual turnover in a quarter in 2020 with actual turnover in a quarter in 2019, in line with the Commissioner’s existing discretion.

Eligible employees
Employee eligibility will remain broadly the same but the value of the payment will change from 28 September based on average weekly hours in February 2020.

  • On 1 March 2020:
    • Was aged 16 years and over; and
    • If the individual was aged 16 or 17, was either financially independent or was not undertaking full-time study;
    • Was an employee other than a casual, or was a long-term casual*; and
    • Was an Australian resident (under the meaning of the Social Security Act 1991), or a resident for tax purposes and held a Subclass 444 (Special category) visa**.
  • And, at any point during the JobKeeper fortnight:
    • Was an employee of the employer; and
    • Was not an excluded employee:
      • An employee receiving parental leave pay or dad and partner pay; or
      • An employee receiving workers compensation payments in relation to total incapacity.
    • And, has provided the JobKeeper Payment Employee Nomination to the employer:
      • Agreeing to be nominated by the employer as an eligible employee under the JobKeeper scheme; and
      • Confirming that they have not agreed to be nominated by another employer; and
      • If they are a long-term casual, they do not have permanent employment with another employer.

*A ‘long term casual employee’ is a person who has been employed by the business on a regular and systematic basis during the period of 12 months that ended on 1 March 2020 (1 March 2019 to 1 March 2020). These are likely to be employees with a recurring work schedule or a reasonable expectation of ongoing work.

JobKeeper payments

JobKeeper 30 March to 27 September 2020 28 September to 3 January 2021 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021
Payment $1,500 per fortnight per employee ·     $1,200 per fortnight per employee or business participant who worked > 20 hours per week

·     $750 per fortnight per employee or business participant working < 20 hours per week

·     $1,000 per fortnight per employee or business participant who worked > 20 hours per week

·     $650 per fortnight per employee or business participant working < 20 hours per week

Assessing if an employee has worked 20 hours or more
JobKeeper payments from 28 September 2020 are paid at a lower rate for employees who worked less than 20 hours per week on average in the four weeks of pay periods before 1 March 2020.

The Commissioner of Taxation will have discretion to set out alternative tests for those situations where an employee’s or business participant’s hours were not usual during February 2020. Also, the ATO will provide guidance on how this will be dealt with when pay periods are not weekly.

Can I keep getting JobKeeper until September?
If your business and your employees passed the original eligibility tests to access JobKeeper, and you have fulfilled your wage requirements, you can continue to claim JobKeeper up until the last JobKeeper fortnight that ends on 27 September 2020.

ATO assistant commissioner Andrew Watson said in a recent interview, “Once you’re in, you’re in to the end of September. If you meet the eligibility test once, you’re in it for the whole time.” The original eligibility test was a once only test although there are ongoing conditions that need to be satisfied for each JobKeeper fortnight.

 

Finally, if you need assistance regarding any of the Governments stimulus packages please get in touch with our team by phone 02 9415 1511 or email reception@primeadvisory.com.au.

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JobSeeker and other support.

JobSeeker and other support.

Coronavirus supplement
The Coronavirus supplement will continue, albeit on a reduced rate of $250 per fortnight (from $550), from 25 September until 31 December 2020 for eligible individuals.

  • From 27 April to 24 September 2020 you will receive $550 per fortnight
  • From 25 September to 31 December 2020 you will receive $250 per fortnight

Eligibility remains the same. That is, those receiving:

  • JobSeeker Payment (and all payments transitioning as a result of JobSeeker Payment)
  • Youth Allowance
  • Parenting Payment (Partnered and Single)
  • Austudy
  • ABSTUDY Living Allowance
  • Farm Household Allowance
  • Special Benefit
  • Eligible New Enterprise Incentive Scheme participants
  • Department of Veterans’ Affairs Education Schemes

Note: eligibility criteria and some of the tests for access to income support is changing.

Eligibility and access
The expanded eligibility criteria for the Jobseeker Payment and the Youth Allowance Jobseeker will continue to apply until 31 December 2020:

  • Permanent employees who have been stood down or lost their jobs (and are not receiving payments from an employer or through insurance),
  • Sole traders, the self-employed, casuals or contractors who meet the income and assets tests.

In addition, if you receive JobSeeker or Youth Allowance payments, the amount you can earn before impacting income support has been increased to $300 per fortnight from 25 September 2020 until 31 December 2020. However, a number of restrictions have been reintroduced.

Reintroduction of assets and partner income tests
From 25 September 2020, the assets test and the Liquid Assets Waiting Period (applies to those with assets such as cash savings worth over $5,500 for singles or $11,000 for singles with children and partnered people) will be reintroduced for access to income support payments.

In addition, partner income testing will resume from 25 September, albeit with higher thresholds than those pre coronavirus. That is, you will not be eligible for income support if you are not earning an income but your partner earns $3,086.11 per fortnight or $80,238.89 per annum. The partner income test taper rate will increase from 25 cents for every dollar of partner income earned over $996 per fortnight to 27 cents for every dollar of partner income earned over $1,165 per fortnight.

Reintroduction of job seeking requirements
Job seeking requirements that were suspended from 24 March 2020 have been introduced from 9 June 2020. The mutual obligation requirements include:

  • Voluntary job searches
  • At least one phone or online appointment with a jobseeker’s employment services provider
  • Voluntary participation in activities, either online or in person, and
  • No payment suspensions or penalties for failure to comply.

Waiting periods continue to be waived
Some waiting periods for access to income support will continue to be waived until 31 December 2020:

  • The one-week ordinary waiting period is waived.
  • The newly arrived resident’s waiting period for new migrants (previously four years). Claimants will still need to meet residency requirements, that is they will need to hold a permanent visa. Affected claimants will need to serve the remainder of this waiting period at the end of the period the Coronavirus Supplement is paid for.
  • The Seasonal Work Preclusion Period for those who are eligible for the Coronavirus supplement -this applies to those who finished seasonal, contract or intermittent work in the six months prior to claiming income support.

Further, if you need assistance regarding any of the Governments stimulus packages please get in touch with our team by phone 02 9415 1511 or email reception@primeadvisory.com.au.

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Working from Home Shortcut Method Extended by the ATO.

Working from Home Shortcut Method Extended by the ATO.

The ATO introduced the shortcut method in April to help taxpayers track their working from home expenses as COVID-19 forced many to adopt remote working practices. The new temporary 80 cents per hour method will now be extended.

This scheme was originally intended to run from 1 March to 30 June 2020, but due to current work patterns not yet returning to normal and as Melbourne reimpose lockdown restrictions, the ATO has decided to extend this shortcut method to 30 September 2020.

The ATO has noted that it may extend the new method beyond 30 September 2020, depending on when work patterns begin to return to normal. Note records of the hours worked at home in the form of a timesheet or diary are needed to claim the shortcut method.

The temporary shortcut method will continue to be supplementary to the 52 cents fixed-rate method and the actual cost method of calculating running expenses.

For more download our working from home guide.

Further, if you need assistance deciding how best to claim your working from home tax expenses this year please get in touch with our team by phone 02 9415 1511 or email reception@primeadvisory.com.au.

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Why do men feel so alone?

Why do men feel so alone?

I was reading an article yesterday written by Professor Sarah Niblock, CEO of the United Kingdom (UK) Council for Psychotherapy. According to Niblock, a survey was conducted during the month of ‘Movember’ in 2019, in which men were asked whether they had people outside their homes they could confide in about their worries. Half said they had two or fewer friends and one in eight had none. In the context of the UK, this meant that 2.5 million men had no close friends. Even worse is that men’s friendlessness trebles between their 20s and late middle age, said Niblock.

This got me wondering about the stats in Australia, not to mention how they have been impacted by Covid-19 landing on our shores a few months ago. Given isolation has been shown to have both physical and mental health implications, this is vital information to be aware of. In fact, research shows that loneliness is as detrimental to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and there is a correlation between loneliness and coronary heart disease, strokes and depression.

In 2014, Beyond Blue published that almost 25% of Australian men aged 30-65 (~1 million) were at risk of isolation. Around 25% had no one outside of their immediate family to rely on; 61% had lost contact with more friends than they would have liked to and 50% of men rarely talked about deeply personal issues even if they did have friends. Relationships Australia (2018), showed that men tend to report higher levels of loneliness than women and the stats are on the incline.

According to a June 2020 article published by Human Resources Director, ‘on average, one in eight men experiences depression and one in five faces anxieties at some stage in their life. This can lead to devastating results, with men accounting for six out of eight suicides on average each day in Australia.

Moreover, the economic impact of COVID-19 has heightened many men’s anxiety around securing income and the weight of responsibility for protecting family members with 62.1% of men expressing anxiety during the pandemic.  Some men may be unable to work from home, and therefore may feel at risk of contracting the virus at work, while others may be feeling isolated and miss the social connection offices provide’.

But why do so many men find it difficult to put up their hand if they are struggling or feeling lonely?  A common theme I see in the work I do is that many men feel they have to be self-reliant. Statements like ‘Suck it up’ and’ Don’t cry like a girl’ frequently litter their childhood memories. Admitting they have a problem, expressing their deepest feelings or discussing a serious personal topic can be viewed as a sign of weakness for men, and so many men don’t venture there. Instead, they bottle it up and put on a brave face for as long as they can. When it comes to stress levels, bottled up emotions are a sure way to switch on their fight, flight or freeze response resulting in detrimental short and long term effects on their health, physically, mentally and emotionally.

The way we were raised can have a significant impact on how we view loneliness. For some men, it is often challenging to recognise feelings of loneliness in the first place. The differences in how boys and girls behave are not hardwired at birth, rather embedded through how we are socialised. Boys ‘don’t cry’ is a social construct, not a behavioural one. Typically, girls were allowed to express their feelings and cry if they were upset or frustrated. This was seen as acceptable by parents and teachers and part of being a girl. This meant girls learnt to talk about their feelings, express themselves, and these verbal skills were valued by adults in their lives. Boys, in contrast, were more likely to be shut down, which for many, resulted in an inability to express and talk about their emotions. Particularly if they are struggling, feeling vulnerable or lonely.

Having a partner and a family can help ward off the negative effects of loneliness, but what if a man’s personal circumstances change? After a relationship break up, a bereavement or the need to isolate due to Covid-19, some men find their friends may drift away, and they have no one to talk to. Social media can play some part in reconnecting; however, it does not replace face to face connection. Social activities such as playing a team sport are also not for everyone, and if a man is already feeling lonely and isolated, their confidence may be too low to enter these environments and connect over a shared interest. And then there is the danger of self-medicating to overcome their loneliness. In some male-dominated social environments drinking alcohol is encouraged, which in the short term may provide some solace; however, in the long run, may exacerbate the mental health effects of isolation.  So, what are some of the things men can do to help avoid loneliness in the first place?

Start with small talk.
Yes, I know. I sometimes feel like I would rather donate a kidney than have to engage in small talk; however, it can play a big part in breaking the ice. Try making small talk with someone who is in the same takeaway coffee queue or when zapping your lunch in the work lunchroom if you are back in the office. Yes, it will probably feel awkward at first, but these small conversations can help you feel less alone and isolated. A short chat with a fellow co-worker may become a beer after work on a Friday.

Mix with like-minded people
Think about what you are into – music, sport, books, video games. Maybe there is a club near you where you can meet up with like-minded people. Another option is Meetup, which is free and designed to bring people together who enjoy similar things or activities. Fitness, sport, photography, dancing…pretty much anything.

Get moving
Not only does exercise help us stay fit and is an excellent short-term stress management strategy, but it is also a way to meet new people. The good thing about sport and exercise is that it occurs regularly, so there is less pressure to make a good impression at a one-time meeting. Perhaps you have a friend that enjoys walking or a game of golf. Give them a call and meet up with them for a quick 9 or 18 holes.

Online connection
Although research shows that face to face relationships are better, connecting online may be the first step. Whether you are chatting with someone, playing your favourite game or directly contributing to a group chat with like-minded people, connecting online is a great way to battle loneliness. It may also build your confidence to take the step into joining face to face. You have already built up a rapport online and learnt something about them as a person.

Make plans
When we are feeling very lonely and feel there is no light at the end of the tunnel, we might become antisocial without even realising it. Before we know it, we are turning down opportunities to hang out. Challenge yourself to get out and be sociable at least once a week. Plan it in your schedule, so you don’t forget, and you can work your time around it. Maybe SMS that friend that you haven’t spoken to in a long time or have lost touch with. They will probably be happy to hear from you.

Fly solo
If asking someone to have a beer with you is just not your thing, why not head to a local spot and hang out with a good book or magazine. Find a place where you feel comfortable to relax, such as at your local café, a shopping centre or your local library. The first couple of times may feel a tad awkward, and you may think that people are eyeballing you, but they probably aren’t. A regular chill spot also creates an excellent opportunity to meet new people. Turning up on a regular basis will allow you to meet other regulars, and you might spark up a conversation.

Start journaling
Not all of us are into journaling; however, research shows that processing your emotions by writing them down is a great way to battle loneliness. It will also help you to become clearer on where your head is at. You can scribble your thoughts in a notebook, jot down some lyrics, or collect your thoughts in a word document on your laptop. Try the journaling app called Day One if this is something you think may be useful to you.

Care for a pet
Talk about unconditional love! Animals are a great way to make us feel connected and cared for. Pets, especially cats and dogs, can reduce stress, anxiety, depression and ease loneliness. You don’t have to own a pet, try pet minding if you don’t want the long term responsibility. Walking your neighbour’s dog occasionally could be an option, and you may even meet a fellow animal lover.

Give back
Volunteering is an excellent way to give back to your local community and do something meaningful. Countless charities need volunteers, and Govolunteer.com.au is a great place to start looking for opportunities near you.

Seek Support
For those of you who despite trying different strategies to connect still feel lonely, get some professional support. A doctor, a psychologist, a counsellor or a psychotherapist. If you need it, your doctor can help you complete a mental health plan that will enable you to access counselling services or visit a psychologist. It’s okay to get the support you need.

There are also several support programs specifically designed to support men’s loneliness.

  1. Australian Men’s Shed Association– mensshed.org. It’s all in the name – the Men’s Shed Association is all about building, whether it’s furniture or friendships. With over 985 locations around Australia, chances are there’s a shed near you.
  2. Men’s Line – https://www.mensline.org.au/. Men’s Line is a phone and online support service that offers ‘male-friendly’ counselling that can ensure your privacy and anonymity. It also features an active forum where men come together to give each other advice, guidance and support.
  3. Man Therapy – https://www.mantherapy.org.au. Man Therapy is an initiative by Beyond Blue to help men understand and respond to their depression. Described as a toolkit, it gives men strategies and guidance on how to approach and cope with depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.

Don’t forget that everyone has times when they feel lonely. Taking even just a few of the steps above can help reduce your isolation and should help you start to feel better.

Author: Dr Leanne Wall (BSc. MBBCh. Grad. Dip Counselling)
email: leanne@drleannewall.com
website: www.drleannewall.com

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