5 minute tax updates 2-6 November

Seasonal worker taxation fact sheet provided
Clients missed SG deadline?
Ongoing small business focus from ATO revealed
More on exemption from FBT for retraining and reskilling benefits
New guidance for re-shaped R&D incentive
Significant SMSF reporting change buried in Treasury’s “portfolio” amendments
Proposal to change rules so super complaints can continue to be dealt with
GST and property: Quick ATO guidance for enquiring clients
How the ATO is performing
Deductible gift recipient list, but some have conditions

Seasonal worker taxation fact sheet provided
The ATO has produced a fact sheet dealing with tax and seasonal workers who have changed from a subclass 403 visa to a different temporary visa (for example, a subclass 408 visa), and the obligations of their approved employers. The ATO is making arrangements to ensure previous tax arrangements continue to apply to seasonal workers who hold a different temporary visa. It has also indicated it will not be undertaking compliance activities on an approved employer where the employer continues to withhold and remit 15% tax where the employee’s temporary visa has changed and the employee stays in the program.

Clients missed SG deadline?
The ATO acknowledges that COVID-19 may continue to affect you and your clients. If your clients missed the 28 October super guarantee due date or underpaid, they need to lodge a Superannuation guarantee charge statement by 28 November 2020 to avoid penalties. You can lodge the statement on their behalf in Online services for agents.

Ongoing small business focus from ATO revealed
The Deputy Commissioner Small Business, Deborah Jenkins, gave a speech last week that included the ATO’s focus areas for small business. This includes resuming the ATO’s review and audit programs addressing shadow economy behaviour, as well as a focus on the TPAR program. From this month it will be contacting tax agents and their clients who are contractors in the cleaning, courier and building and construction industries and may not have included all of their income in their 2019 tax return. She also foreshadowed a new service – Online Services for Business. This will replace the business portal and the electronic superannuation audit tool.

More on exemption from FBT for retraining and reskilling benefits
Find out more about the government’s proposed FBT exemption which would apply to retraining and reskilling benefits provided by employers to redundant, or soon to be redundant, employees where the benefit may not be related to their current employment.

New guidance for re-shaped R&D incentive
The government has issued refreshed R&D Tax Incentive guidance, titled Guide to Interpretation. The new guide, available at business.gov.au, has been re-framed in consultation with business and tax practitioners, with the content aligned with recent Federal Court and Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) decisions.

Significant SMSF reporting change buried in Treasury’s “portfolio” amendments
Treasury released Miscellaneous amendments to Treasury portfolio laws 2020 late in October, however a change to SMSF reporting has been discovered that may have implications for trustees. The explanatory statement (see page 8) states that the change to the rules will require that accounts and statements of an SMSF must be prepared at least 45 days before the day by which section 35D of that act requires a return to be lodged for the entity. This is the same day by which an approved SMSF auditor must be appointed.

Proposal to change rules so super complaints can continue to be dealt with
The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) is proposing a rule change in the face of the demise of the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT) to facilitate the transition of any unresolved complaints still lingering on the SCT’s books. The SCT has finalised the majority of remaining complaints, however a small number of complaints may not be finalised before the SCT ceases operation on 31 December 2020, and would need to be transferred to AFCA. Pending approval by ASIC, AFCA anticipates the rules will be released in January 2021.

GST and property: Quick ATO guidance for enquiring clients
Now and then, a client may make enquiries about real property transactions and the application, or not, of goods and services tax. The ATO has a brief guidance web page  that may settle initial questions, with follow-up advice of course to be provided by yourself.

How the ATO is performing
The ATO publishes information about how it is performing against its commitments to service and also its commitment to transparent management, accountability for results and client-centred service delivery. Its current year performance (to 30 October) uses green, amber or red symbols to indicate its scores, showing (in that order) meeting or exceeding targets, marginally failing target by two percentage points or less, and failing to meet target by more than two percentage points.

Deductible gift recipient list, but some have conditions
Deductible gift recipients (DGRs) are either endorsed by the ATO or listed by name in the law, such as the Australian Sports Foundation and Amnesty International Australia. There are approximately 50 DGR endorsement categories that the ATO says it can endorse. Eligibility is based on the organisation’s purpose or the purpose of a fund, authority or institution it operates. However it is important to note that some DGRs have a gift condition, meaning the tax law adds an extra condition on the gifts that can be received, and the gift may only be tax-deductible if it is made within a specific period or for a specific use.

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