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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

 

 

Bushfires 2019–20 (ATO

Devastating bushfires have been burning across large parts of Australia since November 2019.

       

 

Important Information.

The bushfires have had a major impact on a large number of Australians and the trauma and devastation can't be overstated.  The ATO has already released a website update that outlines how it is helping those effected.  Accounting bodies and your accountant are also ready to help.

Also just released by the ATO is information about an automatic two-month deferral for lodgements and payments to those impacted by the ongoing bushfire crisis.  Identified impacted postcodes across New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and South Australia will be granted an automatic two-month deferral for activity statement lodgments and payments due.  Taxpayers or their agents do not need to apply for a deferral.

Read more …

 

ATO

 

Accounting profession responds to bushfire crisis

The professional accounting bodies have begun launching initiatives to help support accountants and their clients affected by the ongoing bushfire crisis.

       

 

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ), CPA Australia and the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) have now confirmed that they will be providing support to communities ravaged by the bushfire disaster.

CA ANZ has now partnered with Rural Aid to connect members wishing to assist drought and fire-affected businesses in rural and regional Australia with monetary donations as well as donations of their time and skill.

A range of CA ANZ resources has also been made available, including a checklist on practical issues for small businesses impacted by bushfires, and a mental health first-aid guide to help accountants engage in difficult conversations with their clients.

“As bushfires and extreme heatwave conditions persist across regions in Australia, my thoughts are with all our members in practice, your clients and the wider communities during this time, particularly those who have had losses or needed to evacuate to safety,” said CA ANZ president Peter Rupp.

“Accountants are often the backbone of their communities, playing a critical role to help Australians and businesses navigate the financial impact of bushfires and assist them through recovery.”

The IPA has also begun reaching out to its membership base to create a pro bono register for members to volunteer their services.

The accounting body had previously carried out a similar exercise in the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires and the 2010 Queensland floods.

The IPA has also reached out to members directly affected by the crisis and will offer support as required.

CPA Australia is currently in the midst of updating its online disaster recovery toolkit for businesses, with information to guide advisers on aspects to consider immediately following the disaster and steps to developing a recovery plan.

A CPA spokesperson said a number of other initiatives were currently being considered and would be announced shortly.

Not has the ongoing impact of the bushfires been lost on the profession itself, with firms and practitioners coming together to offer various forms of professional support.

 

 

Jotham Lian 
07 January 2020
accountantsdaily.com.au

 

 

 

 

 

Helping your business survive a natural disaster – ATO

Australia has experienced more natural disasters in the last few months, and over a greater area of the country, than ever before in such a short period of time.

         

 

The ATO, to its credit, has responded quickly and their efforts have helped accountants and financial planners offer support and assistance to their clients through these very tough times. 

In Australia, natural disasters such as floods, bushfires or storms can strike without warning. You can make sure your business is prepared by planning how your business might recover from a natural disaster.

If you are affected by a disaster or major incident, we, the ATO, understand that dealing with your tax affairs may not be a priority. We will give you time to deal with your more immediate problems first and can work with your accountant or help you directly to sort out your tax affairs later. Where your tax records have been damaged or destroyed, we, the ATO, can help you to reconstruct them.

We can also provide support by giving you more time to lodge, pay and respond.

If you or your business is affected by a disaster and you need further assistance, phone your accountant, or the ATO on 1800 806 218.

 

Find out about:

 

 

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO)

Single Touch Payroll (STP) – now ensure super is paid on time.

Single Touch Payroll (STP) will connect you to the Australian Taxation Office through your payroll software.

         

 

Each time you run your payroll and pay your staff, you will be sending your employee’s salaries and wages, Pay as You Go withholding and superannuation, to the ATO at the same time.

Superannuation funds will report to the ATO when they receive your employee’s superannuation contribution.

The ATO will know if you are now paying your workers their superannuation entitlements ON TIME, and strong compliance action will follow.

The payment deadlines cannot afford to be avoided.

 

 

AcctWeb

Beware of Australian Taxation Office (ATO) impersonation scams

The ATO warns taxpayers to be alert to malicious scammers who are using increasingly sophisticated methods and technology to impersonate the ATO.

         

 

A new tactic on the rise is “spoofing”, where scammers mimic a legitimate ATO phone number caller ID to call or send SMS messages, or mimic a legitimate email domain to send emails.

SMSs and emails may ask you to click on a link and provide your personal details to get a “refund” from the ATO. Scammers may also say you need to pay a (fake) tax debt. The ATO warns that these scammers may intend to steal not only your money, but also your identity by using your personal information.

If you’re not sure whether a communication is really from the ATO, don’t respond, don’t click any links and don’t open any attachments. Quickly hang up.  You could call us.  Alternatively, call the ATO’s scam hotline on 1800 008 540 to check its legitimacy.

 

On form of protection (if you remember) is that ANY communication with the ATO is via us – your tax agent.

 

AcctWeb

 

Australia by the Numbers

The following data is used to make decisions that effect every Australian's life.

         

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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