ATO Doubles Rental Deduction Audits

ATO Doubles Rental Deduction Audits

In the 2017-18 financial year, more than 2.2 million Australians claimed over $47 billon in deductions and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) thinks that is too much – one in ten is estimated to contain errors.

4,500 audits of rental property deductions will be undertaken this year with the focus on over-claimed interest, capital works claimed as repairs, incorrect apportionment of expenses for holiday homes let out to others, and omitted income from accommodation sharing. Deliberate cases of over-claiming are treated harshly with penalties of up to 75% of the claim.  In one case exposed by the ATO, a taxpayer had to pay back $12,000 in claims for deductions against a holiday home that was not genuinely available for rent and was blocked out during the holiday season. In another, a taxpayer paid back $5,500 because they had not apportioned their rental interest deduction to account for redraws on their investment loan to pay for living expenses.

Please contact us you have any concerns about an ATO audit or wish to discuss your deductions.

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The Major Parties’ Superannuation and Tax Policies

The Major Parties’ Superannuation and Tax Policies

The federal election has been called for May 18 and both major parties have outlined their superannuation and tax policies. With the federal election only weeks away many of our clients have been asking what the major political parties’ policies are that may impact their SMSF, individual taxation circumstances or personal investments.

If you would like more information on a particular policy announcement, please do not hesitate to contact our office to set up a time to discuss any requirements you may have.

Liberal-National Coalition

Superannuation
  • Australians aged 65 and 66 will be able to make voluntary superannuation contributions without needing to work a minimum amount. Previously, this was only available to individuals below 65.
  • Extending access to the bring-forward arrangements (the ability to make three years of post-tax contributions in a single year) to individuals aged 65 and 66.
  • Increasing the age limit for individuals to receive spouse contributions from 69 to 74.
  • Reducing red-tape for how SMSFs claim tax deductions for earnings on assets supporting superannuation pensions.
  • Delaying the implementation of SuperStream (electronic rollovers for SMSFs and superannuation funds) until March 2021 to allow for greater usability.
Taxation
  • From 2018-19 taxpayers earning between $48,000 and $90,000 will receive $1,080 as a low and middle income tax offset. Individuals earning below $37,000 will receive a base amount of $255 with the offset increasing at a rate of 7.5 cents per dollar for those earning $37,000-$48,000 to a maximum offset of $1,080.
  • Stage 1 tax cuts: From July 1 2018, increasing the top threshold of the 32.5 per cent tax bracket from $87,000 to $90,000.
  • Stage 2 tax cuts: From 1 July 2022, increasing the top threshold of the 19 per cent personal income tax bracket from $41,000, to $45,000.
  • Stage 3 tax cuts: From 1 July 2024, reducing the 32.5 per cent marginal tax rate to 30 per cent which applies from $120,000 to $200,000. The 37 per cent tax bracket will be abolished.

Australian Labor Party

Superannuation
  • Disallowing refunds of excess franking credits from 1 July 2019 – this would mean SMSF members in pension phase no longer receive refunds for the franking credits they receive for their Australian share investments.
  • Banning new limited recourse borrowing arrangements.
  • Reducing the post-tax contributions cap to $75,000 per year down from $100,000.
  • Ending the ability to make catch-up concessional contributions for unused cap amounts in the previous five years.
  • Ending the ability for individuals to make personal superannuation tax deductible contributions unless less than 10 per cent of their income is from salaries.
  • Lowering the higher income 30per cent super contribution tax threshold from $250,000 to $200,000.
Taxation
  • Labor supports the stage 1 tax cuts and will match the $1,080 low and middle income tax offset. From 1 July 2018, individuals earning below $37,000, will get a $350 a year tax offset, with this amount increasing for those earning between $37,000- $48,000 to the maximum $1,080 offset.
  • Introduce a 30 per cent tax rate for discretionary trust distributions to people over the age of 18.
  • Will limit negative gearing to newly built housing from January 1 2020. (Existing investments are grandfathered under the current law)
  • Reduce the capital gains tax discount for assets that are held longer than 12 months from the current 50 per cent to 25 per cent. (Existing investments are grandfathered under the current law)
  • Limit the deductions for the cost of managing tax affairs to $3,000.

How can we help?

If you have any questions or would like further clarification in regards to how the above policies may affect you and your fund, please contact us.

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ATO gets tough on business reporting PAYG withholding tax for employees and contractors

ATO gets tough on business reporting PAYG withholding tax for employees and contractors

Effective from the 1st July 2019 the ATO has announced a proposed change of rules for businesses claiming a tax deduction for PAYG Withholding payments for employees and/or contractors.

In short, you could be denied your ability to claim a tax deduction if you do not meet your obligations when it comes to Pay-As-You-Go withholding.

As a business owner you need to ensure you are;

  • Withholding tax from employee wages and salaries, contractors’ payments, this also applies to commissions, bonuses, allowances and director’s fees.
  • Deducting PAYG Withholding tax at the top marginal tax rate for suppliers who do not quote an ABN
  • Reporting and lodging your PAYG withholding tax in the appropriate Business Activity Statement or Instalment Activity Statement by the due date

What happens if you don’t meet the PAYG withholding tax obligations?

  • You may permanently lose your tax deduction for wages paid

What happens if you make a mistake?

  • If you make a mistake, and proactively notify the ATO before they ask you an exemption is available. And note that the ATO’s data collection systems are very good at picking up non-compliance and then making an enquiry.

What you can do to prepare:

To make sure you comply with the withholding requirements PrimeAdvisory strongly recommends that you take this opportunity to;

  • Review your systems for PAYG withholding tax and reporting
  • Ensure you have a valid ABN from all suppliers

With any questions or concerns about your PAYG withholding tax obligations please Contact us.

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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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