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Do home office expense claims affect the main residence exemption?

Do home office expense claims affect the main residence exemption?

Due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, many taxpayers commenced working from home for the first time during 2020. Deductions for ‘home office expenses’ may be available under s. 8-1 and Div 40 of the ITAA 1997 (general deductions and depreciation respectively).

Types of home office expense deductions

Deductions incurred in working from home are available where:

  • an area of the home is used as a ‘place of business’;
  • a room is used as a ‘study’, ‘home office’ or other ‘work area’ as a matter of convenience; or
  • no particular area of the home is used, but work is performed at home.

Whether an area of a home is a place of business is a question of fact. A place of business is most likely to exist where an area of the home is set aside for carrying on a business by a self-employed person or for use as a taxpayer’s sole base of operations for income producing activities e.g. where no other location is provided to an employee by their employer.

An area that has been set aside in a home will, or is more likely to, have the character of a ‘place of business’ if the area is:

  • clearly identifiable as a place of business;
  • not readily suitable or adaptable for use for private or domestic purposes in association with the home generally;
  • used exclusively or almost exclusively for carrying on a business; or
  • used regularly for visits of clients or customers.

TR 93/30 sets out the Commissioner’s view on when an area of a home is considered to be a place of business.

Home office expenses fall into two broad categories:

  • occupancy expenses — relating to the ownership or use of a home which are not affected by the taxpayer’s income earning activities (e.g. rent, mortgage interest, municipal and water rates, land taxes, house insurance premiums);
  • running expenses — relating to the use of facilities within the home (electricity charges for heating/cooling and lighting, cleaning costs, depreciation, leasing charges, cost of repairs).

The Commissioner is of the view that in most cases the apportionment of expenses attributable to a place of business should be made on a floor area basis and, where the place of business only existed for part of a year, also on a time basis (TR 93/30).

The following table sets out when occupancy costs and running expenses may be deductible:

The CGT impact of working from home summary

  • where the taxpayer has a place of business in their dwelling and claims occupancy expenses — the taxpayer’s entitlement to the main residence exemption (MRE) will be reduced proportionately; and
  • where the taxpayer does not have a place of business in their dwelling and only claims running costs — working from home has no impact on the taxpayer’s entitlement to the MRE.

 

For any further questions related to this matter please get in touch with your accountant from PrimAccounting on 02 9415 1511 or email reception@primeadvisory.com.au.

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Download our JobKeeper 2.0 Guide Today!

Download our JobKeeper 2.0 Guide Today!

From 28 September 2020, the eligibility tests to access JobKeeper for employers changed, along with the amount of the JobKeeper payment for employees and business participants. To receive JobKeeper from 4 January 2021, employers will need to assess their eligibility again.

Download the Guide here

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Have you reviewed your personal insurance?

Have you reviewed your personal insurance?

The insurance industry is ever-changing. The historical approach of ‘set and forget’ with respect to policies, is not appropriate. Our insurance partners MBS are committed, confident and capable of delivering better outcomes for you. Book in your FREE review as today!

Why you NEED to review existing policies;

  1. Premium Volatility – Insurer profitability according to APRA and flow on to the premiums payable.
  2. Policy Wording Changes – Recent changes to policy wording by Super. Funds & APRA impress upon the need to review.
  3. Cover Quality – With access to the market and research analysis, we examine the quality of the existing policies and advise accordingly.
  4. Price & Structure – We analyse the potential for premium saving and effective policy structure, not just for year 1, but the impact year on year.

Who benefits most from a policy review?

  1. Young Families – Marriage, acquisition of a new home or investment property and birth of a child are all common trigger points for the need for advice and appropriate cover.
  2. Executives & Business Owners – Executives & business owners accumulating wealth, paying private school fees, upgrading homes, or acquiring holiday homes will recognise the need and value the process.
  3. IP Tax Deductions – Income Protection tax deductions are one of the most common identifiers when examining which of your clients have, or should have, a policy. Those under 55 years and earning > $80,000 should certainly be provided with options to protect what is, in many cases, their largest financial asset.
  4. SMSF – Trustees have an obligation to review the need for Insurance, however they should also be provided advice on the structure, quality and appropriateness of the portfolio. Like ITR’s, Super Fund returns are an easy place to identify those with and those without cover.

For more get in touch with the team on 02 9415 1511 or email reception@primeadvisory.com.au.

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Practising gratitude makes us happier & less stressed.

Practising gratitude makes us happier & less stressed.

Gratitude combats stress? Had you said this to me back in my medical school days, I would have put my nose up at this claim. Being the concrete thinker that I was back in my twenties, I needed scientific proof for everything health related.  None of this ethnic-bongo-hairy-armpit brigade stuff, as my father used to call it. Fast track 30 years and there is now a ton of research to show precisely this. Expressing gratitude daily for the things you have, reduces our stress hormone levels. Who would have thought? By merely pausing for a few minutes a day and focusing on being thankful, showing appreciation for and returning kindness to others, can not only reduce our stress levels but is beneficial for our overall health and happiness.

Happy chemicals in the brain
Without getting too technical, research shows that focusing our attention on things we are grateful for actually forces a shift to the positive when it comes to some of our endogenous (self-made) happy chemicals. The simple act of being grateful has been shown to stimulate more neurotransmitters in the brain, specifically dopamine and serotonin, which in turn promote feelings of contentment. It goes without saying that this cascade of feel-good chemicals has a positive impact on our mental health too.

Gratitude benefits our mental health
Recent evidence suggests that complementing psychological counselling with additional activities that are not too cumbersome for clients but yield high results, may be helpful when dealing with mental health challenges. In research conducted by Joel Wong and Joshua Brown back in 2017, they zeroed in on the practice of gratitude to determine why study after study was showing that people who consciously express gratitude, are happier and felt less depressed.  Whereas most research studies on gratitude were conducted with well-functioning people, their research honed-in on people who were struggling with mental health challenges.  They found a number of reasons why gratitude may impact our bodies and minds, thereby positively affecting our mental health.

  1. Gratitude unshackles us from negative emotions.
    The act of writing down what we are grateful for produces better mental health by shifting our attention from toxic, negative emotions, such as resentment and envy, towards more positive emotions such as love and appreciation. When we write about what we are grateful for, and how other people have blessed our lives, it is considerably more difficult to get bogged down by negative experiences.
  2. Gratitude helps even if we don’t share it.
    The mere act of expressing gratitude has a positive impact on our mental health and is not dependent on actually communicating that gratitude to another person. Thinking of writing a gratitude letter to someone, however, don’t really want them to read it? You should write it anyway. The simple act of writing the letter helps us appreciate the people in our lives and shifts our focus away from negative feelings and thoughts.
  3. Gratitude benefits take time.
    Just like building a muscle, you can’t lift a dumbbell once or twice and expect to have biceps like Arnold Schwarzenegger. The same goes for gratitude. When we first start taking time out to be grateful, we may not immediately feel the positive effects. However, countless studies show that the more we complete this activity, the more we fire those neurotransmitters in our brains, and the more chemicals like serotonin and dopamine will be produced. The long-term benefits of expressing gratitude have been demonstrated and clearly positively impact our mental health.
  4. Gratitude has long-lasting effects on the brain.
    An interesting finding by Wong and Brown was that individuals who wrote gratitude letters showed increased neurological activity in the medial prefrontal cortex when they experienced gratitude as seen in the functional MRI scanner. “This finding suggests that practising gratitude may help train the brain to be more sensitive to the experience of gratitude down the line, and this could contribute to improved mental health over time,” said Wong.Strategies to bring more gratitude to our lives
    Here are some proven strategies; some of them are straightforward practices that we can try on our own; some are activities that can be done regularly to elevate our sense of well-being.  Whatever you are looking for, consider the following and see how you may flood your life with gratitude.Smile!
    Research has shown that the simple act of smiling can change the way we feel, regardless of why we are smiling. Instinctively people often smile back when they see a genuine smile on someone’s face.  This can double the benefits because not only do you feel better, but you’ve created an environment where others are smiling back at you. And let’s not forget that a smile can ease a complicated social interaction in seconds, reducing the amount of stress you might feel in an otherwise awkward or difficult situation.

    Keep a gratitude journal
    Journaling has many proven benefits, including better health and greater resilience. Keeping a gratitude journal, however, brings an extra element of benefit. Writing down three things that you are grateful for on a daily basis, will allow you to enjoy the emotional lift that gratitude brings. Keeping a gratitude journal can lift depressed feelings and also help to relieve stress.

    Practice the Loving-Kindness meditation
    This form of meditation starts with focusing on positive, loving feelings towards yourself, and then branches out from there to others. The loving-kindness meditation is widely practised and brings not only the benefit of meditation, which is a huge stress reliever but also increases compassion and connection to others. This type of meditation can help you immerse yourself in the feelings of gratitude you have for all the people in your life that are important to you, and to develop greater feelings of gratitude for those with whom you may struggle.

    Stop comparing yourself
    Envy is one of those emotions that virtually every one of us falls prey to. A friend who has got the perfect relationship or crazily well-behaved children, or someone we know gets a promotion when we feel perhaps it should’ve been ours. Those of us who are prone to envy tend to compare the worst thing in our lives to the best thing in someone else’s.  Rarely do we trade entire lives with someone else and get the whole picture. Instead, we tend to pick those pieces of our life we don’t like and compare them to those parts of other people’s lives that we don’t have and wish we had.  If you find you are wrestling with the green-eyed monster, you can alter your comparisons and add in some gratitude.  If you find yourself wishing for something that someone else has, remind yourself to notice what you have and they don’t, not in a comparative way but in a way that makes you realise how lucky you are as well.

    Give a hug and say thank you
    Merely saying thank you with a quick word or embrace can go a long way to making you feel connected to others. They also will likely feel more connected to you. These fleeting experiences can translate into positive feelings on both sides of the relationship, and build stronger relationships and all the benefits that come with these.

    Plan a gratitude visit
    Think of how many people in your life have shown you kindness at some point or other – kindness that perhaps has changed your circumstances, given you something that you really needed and was important to you, or helped you in some way during a time of need. When last did you tell one of these people how much you appreciated them and what they did for you, and how it helped you in your life?  Perhaps writing a letter of gratitude and delivering it or going on a gratitude visit can bring positive feelings to those people in your life that you appreciate, and even more feelings for you! It is a significant gesture that gets even bigger benefits. So have a think about who in your life deserves a gesture of gratitude from you. It may just be a word of thanks, a warm hug or an acknowledgement of the critical role they play or have played in your life.

    On a final note
    Cultivating gratitude is really a very simple way of creating greater emotional well-being, a higher level of overall life satisfaction and a greater sense of happiness in life. Why wouldn’t you want to feel more positive and content, have oodles of serotonin and endorphins circulating in your veins, have stronger relationships with your loved ones and a greater sense of connection with your family, friends and community? It sounds like a no brainer, so what are you going to do today to start building your gratitude muscle?

Author: Leanne Wall
E: Leanne@drleannewall.com
W: drleannewall.com

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A ‘set and forget’ attitude can no longer persist

A ‘set and forget’ attitude can no longer persist

Like mortgages, once upon a time life insurance policies and portfolios would incur little change year-on-year and, as a consequence, it was common to see the ‘set and forget’ practice of many clients and advisors.  This attitude was aided also by the fact that many Australian’s held a vast majority of their personal insurances within the superannuation environment which often meant they were out of sight and mind.

Over the past few years, however, we have seen increasing volatility and some significant premium increases most notably around income protection as well as Life & TPD cover within industry superfunds.  It was evident that insurers had concerns about keeping the income protection product profitable but we’re not sure anyone saw the enormity of losses that were about to ensue.

In the 12 months to March 2020, the industry as a whole reported an after-tax loss of $1.8bn dollars, an incredible transition from a $760m profit in previous 12 months.  Some of this was due to poor investment results in the Dec and Mar quarters due to COVID-19 but much of it was also due to income protection products which were contributing losses in excess of $100m per month.

This can be seen below in our governing body, APRA’s, recent quarterly statistics report to March 2020.

The reasons behind these results are varied but most notably they are due to;

  • Claims experience being far greater than ever anticipated driven largely by an increase in musculoskeletal and mental health claims
  • Extremely low returns on investment. Insurers place their deposits into bonds and other fixed interest products and with interest rates at globally low levels, they are simply not making the returns that were forecasted years before when policies were being priced
  • Regulatory change in the superannuation industry for those with inactive accounts or under the age of 25

It is the trend seen in the graphs above that is worrying however and the reason that APRA has now seen fit to step in to enforce product change with the first having been the abolishment of new ‘agreed value’ income protection policies from the 1st of April, 2020.  This is one of a number of changes that will be seen over the coming 12-18 months (and perhaps beyond) aimed at achieving APRA’s clear mandate for income protection products to become profitable in their own right and not subsidised by lump sum products.

Along with product amendments, the impact most keenly felt for our clients has been the significant premium increases that almost every insurer has already implemented and the likelihood is that more are to come.  Just this week, OnePath announced a 25% increase to IP (Income Protection) premiums for both stepped and level premiums and we’ve seen similar (and some even greater) increases from many other insurers over the past few months.

The importance of reviewing your portfolio

Once, this industry would see little change to policies year on year. This narrative certainly does not ring true for the next 36 months (at least) and our focus at MBS Insurance is strictly to deliver better outcomes and proactively manage our clients’ insurance needs and portfolios.

We have believed for the past few years that the economics of the industry were heading in this direction and whilst we did not necessarily expect the severity of these results, we have been proactively driving discounted product arrangements with our Insurer partners.  This is not only for new clients, but also existing policy holders.

While reduced premiums appear contrary to what the industry requires, we are in the fortunate position of having a scaled distribution business model, with a client base in a desirable demographic.  Moreover, the philosophy of treating Insurers like partners ensures our clients attain better outcomes and we will continue to proactively mitigate the impact of these changes on our clients via negotiated terms and client engagement, to ensure portfolios remain appropriate and necessary.

Whilst we have always sought to disrupt the ‘set and forget’ culture within our industry, this product change and premium volatility has meant that the engagement of our clients at review time has never been greater, which is pleasing.  However, I would implore anyone with personal insurances in place, whether through their superfund or in a retail policy, to ensure that your existing portfolio is reviewed to ensure it remains the most appropriate and competitive portfolio available.

A ‘set and forget’ attitude can no longer persist… Please get in touch 02 9415 1511 or email reception@primeadvisory.com.au.

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