Author: Karen Lau

The ATO announced on 5 July 2019 that it is implementing the necessary system changes so taxpayers that have already lodged their 2018-19 tax returns will receive any increase to the low and middle income tax offset (LMITO) they are entitled to. Any tax refund will be deposited in the taxpayers nominated bank account.

The amount of the offset taxpayers may be entitled to, and the amount of any refund, will differ for everyone depending on individual circumstances such as income level and how much tax was paid throughout the year.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Tax Relief So Working Australians Keep More Of Their Money) Bill 2019 fully implements the personal tax cuts measures announced in this year’s 2019-20 Federal Budget. Starting immediately, low and middle income earners with an income up to $126,000 will receive up to $1,080 in low and middle income tax offset (LMITO), or $2,160 for dual income couples, with the increased tax relief to apply from the 2018-19 income year.

As a result of the amendments, the Treasurer said around 94% of Australian taxpayers are projected to face a marginal tax rate of 30% or less in 2024-25.

The Government has announced that it will lower the social security deeming rate from 1.75% to 1.0% for financial investments up to $51,800 for single pensioners and $86,200 for pensioner couples. The upper deeming rate of 3.25% will be cut to 3.0% for balances over these amounts.

The Minister for Families and Social Services, Senator Anne Ruston, said the changes would benefit about 630,000 age pensioners and almost 350,000 people receiving other payments. Under the new rates, age pensioners whose income is assessed using deeming will receive up to $40.50 a fortnight for couples, $1053 extra a year, and $31 a fortnight for singles, $804 a year.

The reduced deeming rates have been backdated to 1 July 2019. Any additional pension payment will flow through into pensioners’ bank accounts from the end of September 2019 in line with the regular indexation of the pension.

The ATO has revealed some of the most common mistakes people make at tax time. Top mistakes include lodging before all prefill data is available or failing to report all income and claiming the wrong thing – work-related expenses is one area where people commonly make mistakes. To help taxpayers work out what they can claim, the ATO has developed 30 occupation guides for specific occupations; forgetting to keep receipts; and claiming for something never paid for.

The ATO has reminded businesses that employ backpackers that they may need to pay superannuation guarantee (SG) for them.

Backpackers on working holidays are considered temporary residents, and are entitled to superannuation guarantee if they are paid $450 or more before tax in a calendar month. Once they leave Australia, they can claim the super paid to them as a Departing Australia superannuation payment (DASP) providing all requirements are met.

TIP

Determine if backpackers on working holidays are eligible for super by using the ATO’s Super guarantee eligibility decision tool.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Protecting Your Superannuation Package) Act 2019 introduces a number of reforms to protect individual’s super savings from undue erosion by fees and unnecessary insurance.

The ATO says it will now be able to proactively consolidate eligible unclaimed super money into eligible active super accounts, including SMSFs and small APRA funds, if an individual hasn’t requested a direct payment of this money or for it to be rolled over to a fund of their choice. Under the Protecting Your Super package, the ATO says SMSFs may receive a rollover of consolidated unclaimed super money for members.

The Federal Court has dismissed an appeal against a decision to pay a superannuation death benefit pension to a fire fighter’s de facto partner instead of a lump sum to his estate in Howard v Batistich [2019] FCA 525.

The trustee of the Crown Employees Superannuation Fund determined that the respondent, Ms Batistich, was a “de facto partner” of the deceased at the date of his death under the Superannuation Act 1916 (NSW) and the Interpretation Act 1987 (NSW). Accordingly, the trustee determined that Ms Batistich was entitled to a fortnightly pension. If there was no spouse (including a de facto), a lump sum death benefit of $350,000 would have been payable to the deceased estate.

The deceased’s parents, as the administrators of his estate, complained to the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal that Ms Batistich did not meet the definition of de facto partner.

In dismissing the appeal, the Court said it was not satisfied that the SCT had misunderstood its task or failed to take into account all the circumstances of the relationship.

The Commissioner has published a gazette notice setting out the record keeping requirements for cryptocurrency owners and traders. The ATO advises that it is undertaking a data matching program for 2014-15 to 2019-20 for such entities.

The data obtained from cryptocurrency designated service providers (DSPs) is being (and will continue to be) used to identify the buyers and sellers of crypto-assets and quantify the related transactions. Data will be matched against ATO records to identify individuals who may not be meeting their registration, reporting, lodgment and/or payment obligations.

The ATO will be working with other regulators, in particular, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to ensure that tax law requirements align with a whole of system approach.