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February 2020

Debate heats up around $10k cash ban bill

Concerns around a bill that will criminalise business cash payments above $10,000 continue to be raised as the industry waits on a parliamentary committee’s final report.

         

 

A total of 2,659 submissions were received by the Senate Economics Legislation Committee in the course of its inquiry into the Currency (Restrictions on the Use of Cash) Bill 2019, with the committee recently concluding its latest round of public hearings.

With the committee’s report due this Friday, the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance has raised the temperature on the proposed measure, labelling it an “attack on economic freedom”.

“A $10,000 restriction on the use of cash would harm small businesses, give more power to corporate banks, and would fail to restrict any criminal activities,” said Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance policy director Emilie Dye.

“Many Australians still use cash and wish to continue using this legal tender for their privacy and security. Banks and electronic payment methods are not always reliable. Look at the bushfire crisis and the thousands of Australians forced to use cash during a natural disaster.”

The bill, which proposes to make it a criminal offence for businesses to make or accept a cash payment of $10,000 or more by introducing penalties of up to two years of imprisonment and a $25,200 fine for individuals, is currently before the Senate and was slated to come into effect from 1 January.

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman has also expressed its concerns with the bill, arguing that small businesses should not be disadvantaged in the marketplace where a customer chooses to pay with cash and the record keeping is compliant.

It also argues that regional and remote small businesses and pastoral family enterprises in rural Australia will be disadvantaged due to their lack of reliable access to internet and electronic banking facilities.

The major accounting bodies have been undecided on the measure, with some arguing that the law should not criminalise the use of legal tender, and others believing the cash ban should be extended to all payments.

In particular, CPA Australia has questioned the need to introduce criminal offences and penalties, noting that there are already a number of checks and balances in the system to address illegal activities where cash is involved.

“While we are aware that cash is an enabler of illegal activity, criminalising certain cash transactions in the manner proposed is an unnecessarily harsh response to the problem of avoiding scrutiny by the Commissioner of Taxation and other government agencies,” said CPA executive general manager Dr Gary Pflugrath in his submission to the committee.

“There has also been insufficient reasoning as to why criminal offences are seen as being the most appropriate solution or why the power to set exceptions should be delegated to the minister.

“We remain of the view the policy intent behind this bill would best be achieved by a mix of administrative penalties for breaches, but also incentives for business to move to electronic payment options.”

However, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) believes there is merit in the measure, believing it will help level the playing field for small businesses, particularly in industries where cash transactions are common, including the building and construction industry, and motor vehicle sales and repairs.

“In a modern economy where the vast majority have access to, and regularly utilise, online payment arrangements, with cash usage in rapid decline, examples of situations where the cash payment limit will cause actual difficulty in day-to-day transactions are hard to find,” said CA ANZ tax leader Michael Croker.

“Yes, the measure is tough in terms of sanctions, but CA ANZ continues to agree with the simplicity and interoperability rationale for this measure — and the policy arguments more generally — which were articulated so well in the Final Report of the Black Economy Taskforce.”

 

 

Jotham Lian 
04 February 2020
accountantsdaily.com.au

 

 

 

There’s still time to move to Single Touch Payroll (STP)

It’s not too late to join the other 550,000 employers who are reporting through Single Touch Payroll (STP), but time is running out.

         

 

If you aren’t reporting through STP, you can start by:

  • finding a software solution that’s right for you.
  • asking for a concession. This could be reporting quarterly at the same time as your activity statement. Eligibility will depend on your circumstances.
  • asking for more time if you're not ready.

We understand that it takes time to transition to STP, but there are a range of options to assist your transition. Watch our video of a small business owner's experience transitioning to STP.

If you have been affected by a natural disaster, there is additional support available and we will help you sort out your tax affairs later.

Remember, registered tax agents can help you with your tax.

Find out more about:

 

ATO

 

 

 

Real Time World Population Growth – Wow!!

Watch as the world population changes every second of the day or see where everyone is.

           

 

Knowing exactly what’s happening with the World’s population can be both intriguing and a bit scary at the same time. Just getting one’s head around the rate of increase and where all these people live is a daunting task. But given the issues facing the world today learning a bit more about all its peoples is worth knowing.

Click here to view the interactive information contained in the image below but also click here to see how all these people fit across all the countries of the world.

 

 

 

 

 

ATO audits continue to target Lifestyle assets

Around 350,000 high-net-worth taxpayers with lifestyle assets are set to undergo scrutiny from the ATO after it revealed it would obtain five more years of policy details from insurers.

         

 

The ATO has today revealed its request to receive a further five years’ worth of policy information from over 30 insurance companies about taxpayers who own marine vessels, thoroughbred horses, fine art, high-value motor vehicles and aircraft.

The request will see the Tax Office’s lifestyle assets data-matching program extended up to 2019–20, with the agency already holding insurance policy information for the 2013–14 and 2014–15 financial years.

Marine vessels over the value of $100,000, motor vehicles worth over $65,000, thoroughbred horses worth over $65,000, fine art over $100,000 per item, and aircraft worth over $150,000 all fall within the ATO’s data-collection scope.

The Tax Office will use this information to form a more complete picture of a taxpayer’s financial situation to ensure they are fulfilling their tax and superannuation reporting obligations.

ATO deputy commissioner Deborah Jenkins said that while the Tax Office anticipates receiving information about assets owned by around 350,000 taxpayers, the data would not be used to initiate automated compliance activity.

“Taxpayers selected for compliance activities are identified through other methodologies. The data is made available to our compliance teams to support their risk profiling of the selected taxpayers. Existence of an insurance policy may or may not prompt the compliance officer to pursue a particular line of inquiry,” Ms Jenkins said.

“If a taxpayer is reporting a taxable income of $70,000 to us but we know they own a $3 million yacht, then this is likely to raise some red flags.

“Regardless of your level of wealth, we all need to pay the correct amount of tax, and this data will allow us to ensure those people who can afford these kinds of items are doing the right thing, along with everyone else.”

The ATO will retain each financial year’s data for five years from receipt of the final instalment of verified data files from the data providers.

Ms Jenkins also noted that aside from helping identify taxpayers who may be understating their income, the data from insurers may be used by the ATO to identify taxpayers who have made capital gains on the disposal of certain assets but who have not declared this to the ATO.

“With high-value assets like fine art, there can be some significant capital gains made when these assets are sold, and capital gains tax may need to be paid on the sale or disposal of these items,” Ms Jenkins said.

The data will also be used by the ATO to identify incorrect goods and services tax (GST) input tax credits where taxpayers are purchasing the assets for purely personal reasons and claiming GST credits as if the item was a business asset.

Self-managed superannuation funds that the ATO suspects may be acquiring lifestyle assets purely for personal enjoyment of the fund’s trustee or beneficiaries are also likely to be looked at by the ATO.

Insurers are required to provide the ATO with policy information where the value of assets is equal to or exceeds the following thresholds:

  • Marine vessels $100,000
  • Motor vehicles $65,000
  • Thoroughbred horses $65,000
  • Fine art $100,000 per item
  • Aircraft $150,000

 

Jotham Lian 
18 December 2019
accountantsdaily.com.au

 

 

 

Property deduction errors down to ‘lack of understanding’: ATO

A fundamental knowledge gap is continuing to trip property investors up, leading to simple mistakes and heaping pressure on tax agents, the ATO has revealed.

         

 

Last year, the ATO singled out rental property deductions as a “top priority” for the agency, with Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan claiming that errors were found in almost 90 per cent of returns.

For tax time 2019, the ATO doubled its number of in-depth audits for rental deductions to 4,500, with a specific focus on overclaimed interest, capital works claimed as repairs, incorrect apportionment of expenses for holiday homes let out to others, and omitted income from accommodation sharing.

Speaking on sister title Smart Property Investment’s podcast, ATO acting assistant commissioner of individuals and intermediaries, Adam O’Grady said a vast majority of these errors were down to “simple mistakes” from investors and failing to disclose information to their accountants at tax time.

“What we find when we do review returns and audit people is more often than not, it's a simple mistake or it's a lack of understanding of what they're allowed to do, what they're not allowed to do,” said Mr O’Grady.

“The vast majority of people don't deliberately go out to claim things they shouldn't or obtain refunds. Those that do, finish up in front of the courts and prison and those sorts of things.

“It's really that lack of education, that lack of understanding. So, what we hear stories of when we sort of audit, they walked up to their accountant and said, ‘Oh, here's my income from the real estate agent. Here are my line statements; I don't know about the rest of the expenses,” and just sort of scribble it down on a notepad and paper and say, ‘Oh, look, that's about what I think it is.’”

Mr O’Grady acknowledged that accountants are often at the mercy of their investor clients, noting that they are only as good as the information provided to them by their clients.

“Accountants out there are highly skilled, they understand the tax law, they can really help you, make sure you're structured in the right way and help you set up the proper recording requirements and all those sorts of things. But, they can only do that if you're open and honest with them,” said Mr O’Grady.

“You need to talk to your accountant, explain what you've done, why you've done it, how you've set it up, and then they can give you that right advice. But [if] you don't tell the accountant, they're not giving you the advice you need.”

Sharing economy focus

Mr O’Grady said investors receiving income from short-term rentals through sharing economy platforms such as Airbnb should be aware of the ATO’s new data-matching program that will identify taxpayers who have left out rental income and over-claimed deductions.

“Last calendar year for the first time, we actually collected data off a lot of these platforms, so we can see who rented their property out, for how long, what sort of income they earned from it, and we're working through that data and comparing that to tax returns to understand people that haven't reported that income or haven't reported the full amount, all those sort of things,” said Mr O’Grady.

“What we've been doing with the data we've acquired recently, is actually writing to people and giving them really an opportunity to self-correct their own return.

“It's more in that trying to educate people, that we can see you've got this income, you need to go and fix up your own affairs, and from this point forward, make sure you're reporting correctly,” he added.

“On top of that, we will use the data to audit people. So those, we do have some examples where people are on these platforms renting out 10, 20, 30 properties or rooms across various properties and not reporting on their tax obligations. So for those people, again, we'll take a pretty firm stance.”

 

 

Jotham Lian
31 January 2020
smsfadviser.com

 

Data can be great stuff! – Australia

It might be dry old data but it's how you're county's going and it's used to make decisions that affect you every day.

       

 

Please click on the following link to see all this interesting information. The areas covered are:

  • Overview
  • Markets
  • GDP
  • Labour
  • Prices
  • Money
  • Trade
  • Government
  • Business
  • Consumer
  • Housing
  • Taxes
  • Climate

 

Access all this data here.

 

 

tradingeconomics.com/australia

GST refunds for returned imported goods

A question many people ask relates to GST on online purchases.  This article helps explain how it works plus there is a link to extra resources at the end.

         

 

When you purchase digital products or goods online from overseas with a customs value of A$1,000 or less (low value imported goods) you may notice GST:

  • included in the advertised price
  • added at the checkout
  • included on your receipt or order confirmation
  • included in your shipping and insurance costs.

Not all purchases from overseas include GST. For example, some overseas merchants may not be required to register for GST because they don't reach the A$75,000 GST registration threshold (in sales to Australia). Some goods may also be GST-free items, such as some food or medical supplies.

If you return low value imported goods, your overseas supplier should refund the amount paid including GST.

Contact your supplier if you believe GST has been incorrectly applied and request a refund of the GST charged.

Remember, registered tax agents and BAS agents can help you with your tax.

Find out about:

 

 

14k employers, $230m in super: Financial Services Minister defends proposed SG amnesty

Over 14,000 employers are set to come forward under the proposed SG amnesty, paying out a total of $230 million in unpaid superannuation to employees, according to the Financial Services Minister.

         

 

In an address to the Conexus Financial Superannuation Chair Forum, Assistant Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and Financial Technology Jane Hume said Treasury estimates an additional 7,000 employers will come forward during the six-month amnesty period, adding to the 7,000 employers that have come forward to voluntarily disclose historical unpaid super since the measure was first announced.

The SG amnesty has been in legislative hell since the measure was first announced on 24 May 2018, with the 2018 version of the bill lapsing with the calling of the 2019 federal election.

Since then, the government has introduced a 2019 bill, with amendments to include an extended six-month amnesty period from the date it receives royal assent, as well as imposing minimum penalties on employers who fail to come forward during the amnesty period.

The bill passed the lower house late last year, with debate in the Senate set to resume when Parliament sits in February.

Ms Hume also took the opportunity to shoot down detractors of the proposed amnesty, arguing that it would help return $230 million of superannuation to employees who may have otherwise completely missed out.

“I know there are those who oppose an amnesty for employers and want us to take a strictly punitive approach. But just wielding the stick won’t encourage employers who want to set the past right to come forward,” Ms Hume said.

“In fact, it encourages them to hide.

“Let me be clear: the amnesty does not reduce employees’ entitlements by one cent, nor does it let employers off the hook.”

She added: “The only person getting less out of this arrangement is the federal government — we are waiving our entitlement to fees and penalties. And we’re doing it because we want to see workers get any superannuation they’re owed, paid in full, plus sizeable interest on top.

“Further, our bill proposes that employers who fail to come forward during the amnesty and who are later found to have historical SG non-compliance will face very heavy penalties.

“So, it’s carrot, and stick.”

Underpaid super ‘impossible in the future’

With Single Touch Payroll now fully rolled out to businesses of all sizes, giving the ATO “unprecedented level of visibility” over future superannuation compliance, Ms Hume said the proposed SG amnesty would help “clean up the past”.

“Now for the first time the ATO has ‘eyes in’ real-time visibility over all wage and salary payments of employers,” Ms Hume said.

“By matching this data with near real-time reporting of contributions received by funds, the ATO can now spot issues with superannuation compliance as they occur, and we’ve given them more resources to take timely action so that these issues don’t arise in the future.”

She added: “Undetected underpayment of workers’ entitlements to superannuation — whether intentional or inadvertent — will be almost impossible in the future.

“We can deal with the future via Single Touch Payroll. Let’s do our best to clean up the past, too, and make whole those employees who have missed out on what they are rightly owed.”

 

 

Jotham Lian 
30 January 2020
accountantsdaily.com./au