Tax

As the end of another tax year approaches, the ATO is reminding businesses that it’s time to:

  • see if there are tax-deductible items your business needs before 30 June;
  • check if there are any concessions your business can access before 30 June;
  • think about your recordkeeping habits this past year – should anything be done differently in future?

If your business has employees, the Single Touch Payroll (STP) information for 2021–2022 must be finalised by 14 July. Remember to let your employees know when the information’s finalised, so they can lodge their income tax returns.

Deductions

Increasing your business’s tax deductions will lead to a lower tax bill. For example, you may be able to bring forward expenditure from the next tax year to the current tax year, or to deduct the full cost of a depreciating asset under the temporary full expensing rules. An immediate deduction is also available for start-up costs and certain prepaid expenses.

If your business is in an industry that requires physical contact with customers, you can claim deductions for expenses related to COVID-19 safety. This includes hand sanitiser, sneeze or cough guards, other personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies.

Charitable donations are another good way to increase your deductions. Don’t forget to keep donation receipts!

The ATO has three golden rules for a valid business deduction:

  • The expense must have been for business, not private, use.
  • If the expense is for a mix of business and private use, only the business portion can be claimed as a deduction.
  • You must have records to prove your business incurred the expense.

For example, if you buy a laptop and only use it for your business, you can claim a deduction for the full purchase price. However, if the laptop is used 50% of the time for your business and 50% of the time for private use, only 50% of the purchase price can be claimed as a business deduction.

Recordkeeping

Records explain the tax and super-related transactions conducted by a business. Businesses are legally required to keep records of all transactions relating to their tax and superannuation affairs as they start, run, sell, change or close the business, specifically:

  • any documents related to the business’s income and expenses;
  • any documents containing details of any election, choice, estimate, determination or calculation made for the business’s tax and super affairs, including how any estimate, determination or calculation was made.

Tip: Make sure you understand what records are needed for your business, and aim to make accurate and complete recordkeeping practices a part of your daily business activities. Talk to us about what records your business needs to keep, for how long, and what we can do to help!

Employers should take note that the ATO is now back to its pre-COVID-19 setting in relation to late or unpaid superannuation guarantee (SG) amounts. Firmer SG-related related recovery actions that were suspended during the pandemic have now recommenced, and the ATO will prioritise engaging with taxpayers that have SG debts, irrespective of the debt value.

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) recently issued a report on the results of an audit on the effectiveness of ATO activities in addressing SG non-compliance. While the ANAO notes that the SG system operates largely without regulatory intervention, because employers make contributions directly to super funds or through clearing houses, the ATO does have a role as the regulator to encourage voluntary compliance and enforce penalties for non-compliance.

Overall, the ANAO report found that the ATO activities have been only partly effective. The report notes that while there is some evidence that the ATO’s compliance activities have improved employer compliance, the extent of improvement couldn’t be reliably assessed.

Among other things, the ANAO recommends that the ATO maximise the benefit to employees’ super funds by making more use of its enforcement and debt recovery powers, and consider the merits of incorporating debtors that hold the majority of debt into its prioritisation of debt recovery actions.

The ATO has responded to say that while it paused many of its firmer SG related recovery actions through the COVID-19 pandemic, those have now recommenced, and its focus will generally be on taxpayers with higher debts, although it will be prioritising taxpayers with SG debts overall, irrespective of the debt value.

The ATO says it’s already begun implementing a preventative compliance strategy using data sources such as Single Touch Payroll (STP) and regular reporting from super funds. It will continue to investigate every complaint in relation to unpaid SG amounts, and take action where non-payment is identified. The actions available include imposing tax and super penalties, as well as recovering and back-paying unpaid super to employees. The ATO will also be increasing transparency of compliance activities and employer payment plans, so that affected employees can be aware when to expect super back-payments.

TIP: If you have issues with making super guarantee payments to your employees or would like to make a voluntary disclosure before a potential ATO audit, we can help. Contact us today.

The ATO has lifted the lid on its most recent operation to stamp out GST fraud, Operation Protego, to warn the business community not to engage with fraudulent behaviour and to encourage those who may have fallen into a criminal’s trap to make a voluntary disclosure.

Recently, the ATO has seen a rise in the number of schemes where people invent fake businesses in order to submit fictitious business activity statements (BASs) and obtain illegal GST refunds. The amounts involved in these schemes are significant, with $20,000 being the average amount in fraudulently obtained GST refund payments. The ATO is currently investigating around $850 million in payments made to around 40,000 individuals, and is working with financial institutions that have frozen suspected fraudulent amounts in bank accounts.

It’s possible that not all of the individuals involved in these refund schemes know they’re doing something illegal. Ads for schemes falsely offering to help people obtain loans or government disaster payments from the ATO have been on the rise on social media platforms. But ever-changing content about all sorts of pandemic and disaster related support has become commonplace online, and many people don’t have detailed knowledge about all the requirements of Australian business and tax law. It’s really not surprising that it can be difficult to distinguish scam promotions from genuine support measures.

Tip: The ATO wants to make it clear that it does not offer loans or administer government disaster payments. Any advertisement indicating that the ATO does these things is a rort.

Government disaster payments are administered through Services Australia if they are Federal government payments, or through various state and territory government bodies if they are state or territory government payments.

Scheme promoters will also sometimes require individuals or businesses to hand over their myGov details. People who may have shared myGov login details for themselves or their businesses with scheme operators are encouraged to contact the ATO for assistance.

While Single Touch Payroll (STP) entered Phase 2 on 1 January 2022, many employers might not yet be reporting the additional information required under this phase because their digital service providers (DSPs) have deferrals for time to get their software ready and help their customers transition. However, once these deferrals expire, employers will need to start reporting additional information in their payroll software.

TIP: Essentially, STP works by sending tax and super information from an STP-enabled payroll or accounting software solution directly to the ATO when the payroll is run.

Entering STP Phase 2 means that additional information which may not be currently stored in some employers’ payroll systems needs to be reported through the payroll software. For example, while many newer businesses may have employee start date information handy, older businesses may have trouble finding exact records, particularly for long-serving employees. In those instances, a default commencement date of 01/01/1800 can be reported.

Employers need to report either a TFN or an ABN for each payee included in STP Phase 2 reports. Where a TFN isn’t available, a TFN exemption code must be used. If a payee is a contractor and an employee within the same financial year, both their ABN and their TFN must be reported.

Employers also need to report the basis of employment according to work type. That is, whether an individual is full-time, part-time, casual, labour hired, has a voluntary agreement, is a death beneficiary, or is a non-employee. The report generated for STP Phase 2 includes a six-character tax treatment code for each employee, which is a shortened way of indicating to the ATO how much should be withheld from their payments. Most STP solutions will automatically report these codes, but it’s a good idea to understand what the codes are to ensure that they’re correct.

Income and allowances are also further drilled down – instead of reporting a single gross amount of an employee’s income, employers need to separately report on their gross income, paid leave, allowances, overtime, bonuses, directors’ fees, return to work payments and salary sacrifice amounts.

If your DSP has a deferral in place, you don’t need to apply for your own deferral and will only need to start reporting STP Phase 2 information from your next pay run after your DSP’s deferral expires. However, if your business needs more time in addition to your DSP’s deferral, you can apply for your own deferral using ATO Online Services.

Tax time 2022 is fast approaching, and this financial year, the ATO will again be focusing on a few key areas to ensure Australians are doing the right thing and paying the right amount of tax.

Like last year, the ATO recommends that people wait until the end of July to lodge their tax returns, rather than rushing to lodge at the beginning of July. This is because much of the pre-fill information will become available later in the month, making it easier to ensure all income and deductions are reported correctly the first time. People who lodge early often forget to include information about interest from banks, dividend income and payments from government agencies and private health insurers.

While the ATO receives and matches information on rental income, foreign sourced income and capital gains, not all of that information will be pre-filled for individuals, so it’s important to ensure you include it all as well.

Some of the traditional areas the ATO is focusing on this year include record-keeping, work-related expenses and rental property income and deductions, as well as capital gains from property and shares.

Any deductions you claim must be backed by evidence – people who deliberately attempt to increase their refunds by falsifying records or don’t have evidence to substantiate their claims will be subject to “firm action”.

For people who are working from home or in hybrid working arrangements and claim related expenses, the ATO will be expecting to see a corresponding reduction in other expenses you claim, such as car, clothing, parking and tolls expenses.

With the intense flooding earlier this year, some rental property owners may have received insurance payouts. These, along with other income received such as retained bonds or short-term rental arrangement income, need to be reported.

Lastly, the ATO’s keeping a close eye on people selling property, shares and cryptocurrency, including non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Any capital gains need to be included in your tax return so you pay the right tax on them. But if you’ve recently sold out of cryptocurrency assets you may have a capital loss, which can’t be offset against other income such as salary and wages, only against other capital gains.

FBT is generally seen as a relatively slow-moving and quiet area of tax law. But Budget day this year saw some movement at the FBT station, specifically regarding COVID-19 tests provided to staff, and also car parking benefits.

RATs for employees

The 2022–2023 Federal Budget included a measure, now passed into law, to make costs for taking a COVID-19 test to attend their workplace tax-deductible for individuals from 1 July 2021.

COVID-19 tests, including rapid antigen tests (RATs), provided by employers to employees are considered benefits under the FBT regime.

However, by allowing for an individual tax deduction, the new measure also allows for the operation of the “otherwise deductible” rule to reduce the taxable value of the benefit to zero. By introducing a specific individual income tax deduction, employers would also not have to pay FBT.

Neat solution. Well, apart from the catch: employee-level declarations could be required when the provision of a RAT is a property fringe benefit (that is, legal ownership of the item passes from the employer to the employee).

Where a RAT is provided as an expense reimbursement or residual benefit, an employer-level declaration is available (that is, one declaration signed by the public officer on behalf of each employing entity lodging an FBT return to declare that there is no private use).

In case collecting hundreds or thousands of employee-level paper declarations is not how you’d like to spend your time, we see three options at this stage:

  • assess the potential application of the minor benefit rule to your situation;
  • explore your policy and processes to determine whether the benefit provided could meet an exemption or documentation exception; and
  • use an automated, electronic declaration tool to take some pain out of the process.

 “Commercial parking station” definition

As a reminder:

  • a car parking fringe benefit can only arise where the employee parks their car for at least four hours during a daylight period in an employer-provided space in the vicinity of the principal workplace;
  • there must be a commercial parking station that charges more than a threshold amount (currently $9.25) for all-day parking within one kilometre of the entrance to the employer’s car park; and
  • “all-day parking” means parking continuously for at least six hours between 7 am and 7 pm.

The scope of the term “commercial parking station” is therefore fundamental to determining if an employer has taxable car parking benefits.

Broadly, a commercial parking station is one where car parking spaces are, for payment of a fee, available in the ordinary course of business to members of the public for all-day parking.

The ATO issued a ruling in 2021 that no longer applied the interpretation that car parking facilities with a primary purpose other than providing all-day parking (usually charging significantly higher rates) are not commercial parking stations. This was to apply from 1 April 2022.

In effect, this would bring facilities like shopping centre car parks and hospital car parks into the definition of a “commercial parking station”. For employers with only that type of parking within a one-kilometre radius, the consequences were significant, potentially bringing previously non-taxable employer-provided car parking within the scope of FBT.

The Federal Government has announced it will be undertaking consultation with the intent of restoring the previously understood application of FBT to car parking fringe benefits, which is closer to the original policy intent of the car parking FBT provisions. The readjusted definition would then apply from 1 April 2022 instead.

For many businesses, the line between employees and contractors is becoming increasingly blurred, partly due to the rise of the gig economy. However, businesses should be careful, as incorrectly classifying employees as contractors may be illegal and expose the business to various penalties and charges.

Recently, the High Court handed down a significant decision in a case involving the distinction between employees and contractors. In the case, a labourer had signed an Administrative Services Agreement (ASA) with a labour hire company to work as a “self-employed contractor” on various construction sites. The Full Federal Court had initially held that the labourer was an independent contractor after applying a “multifactorial” approach by reference to the terms of the ASA, among other things. The High Court, however, overturned that decision and held that the labourer was an employee of the labour hire company.

The High Court held that the critical question was whether the supposed employee performed work while working in the business of the engaging entity. That is, whether the worker performed their work in the labour hire firm’s business or in an enterprise or business of their own.

As a result of the decision, the ATO has said it will review relevant rulings, including super guarantee rulings on work arranged by intermediaries and who is an employee, as well as income tax rulings in the areas of PAYG withholding and the identification of employer for tax treaties.

The maximum amount that individuals can take out of their superannuation under the First Home Super Saver Scheme (FHSS) will be increased to $50,000 for any release requests made on or after 1 July 2022. The scheme was originally envisaged as a tax-effective way for first home buyers to save for a deposit, and the increase in the maximum releasable amount presumably reflects the rapidly escalating housing price increases. The scheme is available to both first home buyers and those intending to build their first home, subject to certain conditions of occupation.

The first step in releasing eligible funds is to obtain a FHSS Determination from the ATO which sets out the maximum amount that an individual can have released under the scheme. It’s imperative to make sure you’ve finished making all your voluntary contributions under the scheme before applying for a Determination, and of course, to check the accuracy of the Determination issued by the ATO.

There is a limit of $15,000 of eligible contributions that can be released each financial year (up to a total limit of $30,000 currently, or $50,000 from 1 July 2022).

TIP: To access part your super under the scheme, you must have a FHSS Determination from the ATO before any contract to purchase or build is signed.

When you have a FHSS Determination and subsequently sign a contract to purchase, a valid release request must be given to the ATO within 14 days. After the release of money, if you haven’t signed a contract to purchase or construct a home within 12 months, the ATO will generally grant an extension for a further 12 months automatically. You also have the choice to recontribute the amount back into your super fund, or to keep the money and pay a flat 20% tax on assessable FHSS released amounts.

The availability of temporary full expensing of depreciating assets for business has been extended for another year until 30 June 2023. This measure was originally introduced in 2020 as a part of the Federal Government’s COVID-19 business rescue package, aimed at encouraging business investment by providing a cash flow benefit. As originally introduced, the measure was due to end on 30 June 2022.

Businesses with an aggregated turnover below $5 billion or those that meet an alternative eligibility test can deduct the full cost of eligible depreciating assets of any value that are first held and first used or installed ready for use for a taxable purpose from 6 October 2020 until 30 June 2023.

For small business entities with an aggregated turnover of less than $10 million, the temporary full expensing of depreciating asset rules has been effectively replaced with simplified depreciation rules for any assets first held and used or installed ready for use for a taxable purpose between 6 October 2020 and 30 June 2023. This means that the full cost of eligible depreciating assets, as well as costs of improvements to existing eligible depreciating assets, can be fully deducted.

Not all costs relating to assets qualify for temporary full expensing. For example, building and other capital works, as well as software development pools do not generally qualify. Second-hand assets that would otherwise meet the eligibility conditions also do not qualify for temporary full expensing if the entity that holds them has an aggregated turnover of $50 million or more.

Special rules also apply to cars, where the temporary full expensing is limited to the business portion of the car limit.

Tip: If you want to take advantage of temporary full expensing, contact us first to make sure the assets your business is planning to purchase will meet the eligibility requirements.

Please note, these are the announcements of the measures that the current Government intends to introduce and they are not yet law and may change upon debate in Parliament and also due to the outcome of Federal election.

 

PERSONAL TAXATION

Personal tax rates unchanged for 2022–2023

In the Budget, the Government did not announce any personal tax rates changes. The Stage 3 tax changes commence from 1 July 2024, as previously legislated.

The 2022–2023 tax rates and income thresholds for residents are unchanged from 2021–2022:

  • taxable income up to $18,200 – nil;
  • taxable income of $18,201 to $45,000 – 19% of excess over $18,200;
  • taxable income of $45,001 to $120,000 – $5,092 plus 32.5% of excess over $45,000;
  • taxable income of $120,001 to $180,000 – $29,467 plus 37% of excess over $120,000; and
  • taxable income of more than $180,001 – $51,667 plus 45% of excess over $180,000.

Stage 3: from 2024–2025

The Stage 3 tax changes will commence from 1 July 2024, as previously legislated. From 1 July 2024, the 32.5% marginal tax rate will be cut to 30% for one big tax bracket between $45,000 and $200,000. This will more closely align the middle tax bracket of the personal income tax system with corporate tax rates. The 37% tax bracket will be entirely abolished at this time.

Therefore, from 1 July 2024, there will only be three personal income tax rates: 19%, 30% and 45%. From 1 July 2024, taxpayers earning between $45,000 and $200,000 will face a marginal tax rate of 30%. With these changes, around 94% of Australian taxpayers are projected to face a marginal tax rate of 30% or less.

Low income offsets: LMITO temporarily increased, LITO retained

The low and middle income tax offset (LMITO) will be increased by $420 for the 2021–2022 income year so that eligible individuals will receive a maximum LMITO benefit up to $1,500 for 2021–2022 (up from the current maximum of $1,080).

This one-off $420 cost of living tax offset will only apply to the 2021–2022 income year. Importantly, the Government did not announce an extension of the LMITO to 2022–2023. So it remains legislated to only apply until the end of the 2021–2022 income year (albeit up to $1,500 instead of $1,080).

The Government said the LMITO for 2021–2022 will be paid from 1 July 2022 to more than 10 million individuals when they submit their tax returns for the 2021–2022 income year. Other than those who do not require the full offset to reduce their tax liability to zero, all LMITO recipients will benefit from the full $420 increase. That is, the proposed one-off $420 cost of living tax offset will increase the maximum LMITO benefit in 2021–2022 to $1,500 for individuals earning between $48,001 and $90,000 (but phasing out up to $126,000). Those earning up to $48,000 will also receive the $420 one-off tax offset on top of their existing $255 LMITO benefit (phasing up for incomes between $37,001 and $48,000).

All other features of the current LMITO remain unchanged (including that it will only apply until the end of the 2021–2022 income year). Consistent with the current LMITO, taxpayers with incomes of $126,000 or more will not receive the additional $420.

As already noted, the Government has proposed that eligible taxpayers with income up to $126,000 will receive the additional one-off $420 cost of living tax offset for 2021–2022 on top of their existing LMITO benefit.

Currently, the amount of the LMITO for 2021–2022 is $255 for taxpayers with a taxable income of $37,000 or less. Between $37,000 and $48,000, the value of LMITO increases at a rate of 7.5 cents per dollar to the maximum amount of $1,080. Taxpayers with taxable incomes from $48,000 to $90,000 are eligible for the maximum LMITO of $1,080. From $90,001 to $126,000, LMITO phases out at a rate of 3 cents per dollar.

Low income tax offset (unchanged)

The low income tax offset (LITO) will also continue to apply for the 2021–2022 and 2022–2023 income years. The LITO was intended to replace the former low income and low and middle income tax offsets from 2022–2023, but the new LITO was brought forward in the 2020 Budget to apply from the 2020–2021 income year.

The maximum amount of the LITO is $700. The LITO will be withdrawn at a rate of 5 cents per dollar between taxable incomes of $37,500 and $45,000 and then at a rate of 1.5 cents per dollar between taxable incomes of $45,000 and $66,667.

Medicare levy low-income thresholds increased

For the 2021–2022 income year, the Medicare levy low-income threshold for singles will be increased to $23,365 (up from $23,226 for 2020–2021). For couples with no children, the family income threshold will be increased to $39,402 (up from $39,167 for 2020–2021). The additional amount of threshold for each dependent child or student will be increased to $3,619 (up from $3,597).

For single seniors and pensioners eligible for the SAPTO, the Medicare levy low-income threshold will be increased to $36,925 (up from $36,705 for 2020–2021). The family threshold for seniors and pensioners will be increased to $51,401 (up from $51,094), plus $3,619 for each dependent child or student.

Legislation is required to amend these thresholds, and a Bill will be introduced shortly.

COVID-19 test expenses to be deductible

The Budget papers confirm that the costs of taking COVID-19 tests – including polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and rapid antigen tests (RATs) – to attend a place of work are tax deductible for individuals from 1 July 2021. In making these costs tax deductible, the Government will also ensure FBT will not be incurred by businesses where COVID-19 tests are provided to employees for this purpose.

This measure was previously announced on 8 February 2022.

COST OF LIVING MEASURES

One-off $250 cost of living payment

The Government will make a $250 one-off cost of living payment in April 2022 to six million eligible pensioners, welfare recipients, veterans and eligible concession card holders.

The $250 payment will be tax-exempt and not count as income support for the purposes of any Government income support. A person can only receive one economic support payment, even if they are eligible under two or more of the eligible categories.

The payment will only be available to Australian residents who are eligible recipients of the following payments, and to concession card holders:

  • Age Pension;
  • Disability Support Pension;
  • Parenting Payment;
  • Carer Payment;
  • Carer Allowance (if not receiving a primary income support payment);
  • Jobseeker Payment;
  • Youth Allowance;
  • Austudy and Abstudy Living Allowance;
  • Double Orphan Pension;
  • Special Benefit;
  • Farm Household Allowance;
  • Pensioner Concession Card (PCC) holders;
  • Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders; and
  • eligible Veterans’ Affairs payment recipients and Veteran Gold card holders.

Temporary reduction in fuel excise

The Government will reduce the excise and excise-equivalent customs duty rate that applies to petrol and diesel by 50% for six months. The excise and excise-equivalent customs duty rates for all other fuel and petroleum-based products, except aviation fuels, will also be reduced by 50% for six months.

The Treasurer said this measure will see excise on petrol and diesel cut from 44.2 cents per litre to 22.1 cents. Mr Frydenberg said a family with two cars who fill up once a week could save around $30 a week, or around $700 over the next six months. The Treasurer made a point of emphasising that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will monitor the price behaviour of retailers to ensure that the lower excise rate is fully passed on.

The measure will commence from 12.01 am on 30 March 2022 and will remain in place for six months, ending at 11.59 pm on 28 September 2022.

BUSINESS TAXATION

Deduction boosts for small business: skills and training, digital adoption

The Government announced two support measures for small businesses (aggregated annual turnover less than $50 million) in the form of a 20% uplift of the amount deductible for expenditure incurred on external training courses and digital technology.

External training courses

An eligible business will be able to deduct an additional 20% of expenditure incurred on external training courses provided to its employees. The training course must be provided to employees in Australia or online, and delivered by entities registered in Australia.

Some exclusions will apply, such as for in-house or on-the-job training.

The boost will apply to eligible expenditure incurred from 7:30 pm (AEDT) on 29 March 2022 until 30 June 2024.

The boost for eligible expenditure incurred by 30 June 2022 will be claimed in tax returns for the 2023 income year. The boost for eligible expenditure incurred between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2024, will be included in the income year in which the expenditure is incurred.

Digital adoption

An eligible business will be able to deduct an additional 20% of the cost incurred on business expenses and depreciating assets that support its digital adoption, such as portable payment devices, cyber security systems or subscriptions to cloud-based services.

An annual cap will apply in each qualifying income year so that expenditure up to $100,000 will be eligible for the boost.

The boost will apply to eligible expenditure incurred from 7:30 pm (AEDT) on 29 March 2022 until 30 June 2023.

The boost for eligible expenditure incurred by 30 June 2022 will be claimed in tax returns for the 2023 income year. The boost for eligible expenditure incurred between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023 will be included in the income year in which the expenditure is incurred.

PAYG instalments: option to base on financial performance

The Budget papers confirm the Treasurer’s earlier announcement that companies will be allowed to choose to have their PAYG instalments calculated based on current financial performance, extracted from business accounting software (with some tax adjustments).

The commencement date is “subject to advice from software providers about their capacity to deliver”. It is anticipated that systems will be in place by 31 December 2023, with the measure to commence on 1 January 2024, for application to periods starting on or after that date. There are no details yet as to what tax adjustments will be required (although presumably this will involve a reverse, modified form of tax effect accounting).

PAYG and GST instalment uplift factor

The Budget papers confirm the Treasurer’s earlier announcement that the GDP uplift factor for PAYG and GST instalments will be set at 2% for the 2022–2023 income year. The papers state that this uplift factor is lower than the 10% that would have applied under the statutory formula.

The 2% GDP uplift rate will apply to small to medium enterprises eligible to use the relevant instalment methods (up to $10 million annual aggregated turnover for GST instalments and $50 million annual aggregated turnover for PAYG instalments) in respect of instalments that relate to the 2022–2023 income year and fall due after the enabling legislation receives assent.

More COVID-19 business grants designated NANE income

The Government has extended the measure which enables payments from certain state and territory COVID-19 business support programs to be made non-assessable, non-exempt (NANE) income for income tax purposes until 30 June 2022. This measure was originally announced on 13 September 2020.

Consistent with this, the Government has made the following state and territory grant programs eligible for this treatment since the 2021–2022 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook:

  • New South Wales Accommodation Support Grant
  • New South Wales Commercial Landlord Hardship Grant
  • New South Wales Performing Arts Relaunch Package
  • New South Wales Festival Relaunch Package
  • New South Wales 2022 Small Business Support Program
  • Queensland 2021 COVID-19 Business Support Grant
  • South Australia COVID-19 Tourism and Hospitality Support Grant
  • South Australia COVID-19 Business Hardship Grant.

The changes are part of an ongoing series of announcements which will continue to have effect until 30 June 2022.

TAX COMPLIANCE AND INTEGRITY

Digitalising trust income reporting

The Budget confirms the Government’s previously announced intention to digitalise trust and beneficiary income reporting and processing.

It will allow all trust tax return filers the option to lodge income tax returns electronically, increasing pre-filling and automating ATO assurance processes. There are no other additional details in the Budget papers than in the earlier announcement.

The measure will commence from 1 July 2024 – “subject to advice from software providers about their capacity to deliver”.

The Government advises that it will consult with affected stakeholders, tax practitioners and digital service providers to finalise the policy scope, design and specifications.

Taxable payments data reporting: option to link to BAS cycle

The Budget confirms the Treasurer’s earlier announcement that businesses will be provided with the option to report taxable payments reporting system data on the same lodgment cycle as their activity statements, via accounting software. The rules for the taxable payments reporting system are contained in Subdiv 396-B of Sch 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953.

The Government will consult with affected stakeholders, tax practitioners and digital service providers to finalise the policy scope, design and specifications of the measure.

Subject to advice from software providers about their capacity to deliver, it is anticipated that systems will be in place by 31 December 2023, with the measure to commence on 1 January 2024.

SUPERANNUATION

Super guarantee: rate rise unchanged

The Budget did not announce any change to the timing of the next super guarantee (SG) rate increase. The SG rate is currently legislated to increase from 10% to 10.5% from 1 July 2022, and by 0.5% per year from 1 July 2023 until it reaches 12% from 1 July 2025.

With the SG rate set to increase to 10.5% for 2022–2023 (up from 10%), employers need to be mindful that they cannot use an employee’s salary-sacrificed contributions to reduce the employer’s extra 0.5% of super guarantee. The ordinary time earnings (OTE) base for super guarantee purposes now specifically includes any sacrificed OTE amounts. This means that contributions made on behalf of an employee under a salary sacrifice arrangement (defined in s 15A of the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992) are not treated as employer contributions which reduce an employer’s charge percentage.

Super Guarantee opt-out for high-income earners

The increase in the SG rate to 10.5% from 1 July 2022 also means that the SG opt-out income threshold will decrease to $261,904 from 1 July 2022 (down from $275,000). High-income earners with multiple employers can opt-out of the SG regime in respect of an employer to avoid unintentionally breaching the concessional contributions cap ($27,500 for 2021–2022 and 2022–2023). Therefore, the SG opt-out threshold from 1 July 2022 will be $261,904 ($27,500 divided by 0.105).

Superannuation pension drawdowns

The temporary 50% reduction in minimum annual payment amounts for superannuation pensions and annuities will be extended by a further year to 30 June 2023.

The 50% reduction in the minimum pension drawdowns, which has applied for the 2019–2020, 2020–2021 and 2021–2022 income years, was due to end on 30 June 2022. However, the Government announced that the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994 (SIS Regulations) will be amended to extend this temporary 50% reduction for minimum annual pension payments to the 2022–2023 income year. Given ongoing volatility, the Government said the extension of this measure to
2022–2023 will allow retirees to avoid selling assets in order to satisfy the minimum drawdown requirements.

Minimum drawdowns reduced 50% for 2022–2023

The reduction in the minimum payment amounts for 2022–2023 is expected to apply to account-based, allocated and market linked pensions. Minimum payments are determined by age of the beneficiary and the value of the account balance as at 1 July each year under Sch 7 of the SIS Regulations.

No maximum annual payments apply, except for transition to retirement pensions which have a maximum annual payment limit of 10% of the account balance at the start of each financial year.

For the purposes of determining the minimum payment amount for an account-based pension or annuity for the financial years commencing 1 July 2019, 1 July 2020, 1 July 2021 (and 1 July 2022 proposed), the minimum payment amount is half the amount worked under the formula in clause 1 of Sch 7 of the SIS Regs. The relevant percentage factor is based on the age of the beneficiary on 1 July in the financial year in which the payment is made (or on the commencement day if the pension commenced in that year).

For market linked income streams (MLIS), the minimum payment amount for the financial years commencing 1 July 2019, 1 July 2020, 1 July 2021 (and 1 July 2022 proposed) must be not less than 45% (and not greater than 110%) of the amount determined under the standard formula in clause 1 of Sch 6 of the SIS Regs.

Note that the 50% reduction in the minimum annual pension payments are not compulsory. That is, a pensioner can continue to draw a pension at the full minimum drawdown rate or above for 2019–2020, 2020–2021, 2021–2022 (and 2022–2023 proposed), subject to the 10% limit for transition to retirement pensions. However, it will generally be inappropriate to take more than the minimum annual drawdowns in the form of a pension payment given the pension transfer balance cap. Rather, it generally makes more sense to access any additional pension amount above the minimum drawdown in the form of a partial commutation of the pension instead of taking more than the minimum annual drawdowns. This is because a commutation will generate a debit for their pension transfer balance account, while an additional pension payment above the minimum will not result in a debit.