5 minute tax updates: 30 March – 3 April

Compliance relief given to SMSFs over rental properties
Six-month relaxing of the partner income test
Number of SMSF auditor number misuse revealed
SG and salary sacrificed guidance
Foreign investment framework changes
Outcome of mailout to SMSF auditors with no audits for five years
In case you missed it, AUSkey no longer available
Legislative determination on GST, margin schemes, and valuing real property
Early release of superannuation: Key industry messages
Free ATO webinars covering COVID-19 topics
The ATO has some security advice for tax practitioners
Guidance for tax practitioners on data breaches

Compliance relief given to SMSFs over rental properties
The ATO has committed to not carry out compliance action against any SMSF providing tenants with rent relief or reductions due to the financial effects of the COVID-19 crisis. In a Q&A style treatment of specific disaster approaches, the ATO says: “Some landlords are giving their tenants a reduction in or waiver of rent because of the financial impacts of the COVID-19 and we understand that you may wish to do so as well. Our compliance approach for the 2019–20 and 2020–21 financial years is that we will not take action where an SMSF gives a tenant – who is also a related party – a temporary rent reduction during this period.”

Six-month relaxing of the partner income test
In the face of the current crisis, the government has announced that it will temporarily relax the partner income test to ensure that an eligible person can receive the JobSeeker payment and associated coronavirus supplement. This means that their partner is able to earn up to $3,068 per fortnight, around $79,762 per annum. This will apply for the next six months. The personal income test for individuals on JobSeeker payment will still apply.

Number of SMSF auditor number misuse revealed
The ATO has released the results of the investigation it conducted last year when it began a proactive approach to identifying SMSF auditor number (SAN) misuse. It sent SMSF auditors lists of SMSFs who had reported them as their auditor for the 2017 and 2018 income years, and we asked the auditors to confirm they had conducted the audit. For 2017, 420 auditors confirmed 1,445 instances of SAN misuse connected to 1,685 funds and 626 tax agents. For 2018, 137 auditors confirmed 832 instances of SAN misuse connected to 832 funds and 230 tax agents. More details here.

SG and salary sacrificed guidance
The ATO has released guidance note GN 2020/1, which provides guidance for employers applying the super guarantee changes for salary sacrifice arrangements that commence on 1 January 2020. Some of these may require changes to the way employers calculate super guarantee payments.

Foreign investment framework changes
On the back of concerns raised over the COVID-19 crisis, the government has announced changes to the foreign investment review framework. These are designed to protect Australia’s national interest. Effective from 29 March all proposed foreign investments into Australia subject to the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 will require approval, regardless of value or the nature of the foreign investor.

Outcome of mailout to SMSF auditors with no audits for five years
In May last year the ATO wrote to 109 registered SMSF auditors who had not been reported as an SMSF auditor on an SMSF annual return (SAR) in the past five years.  The ATO asked these auditors to provide evidence of audit work they’d undertaken during this time and for evidence that they had met their continuing professional development and professional indemnity insurance requirements during this time.

In case you missed it, AUSkey no longer available
AUSkey was retired on 27 March 2020, and is replaced by myGovID and Relationship Authorisation Manager (RAM). The ATO says that using your myGovID will give you flexible access to the Business Portal. “You can use it to log in on any device, allowing you to work from home. This accessibility wasn’t available with AUSkey and will assist businesses looking for more flexible working options for their employees.”

Legislative determination on GST, margin schemes, and valuing real property
A GST legislative determination has been made to provide the acceptable methods for valuing real property so that the supplier can use the margin scheme to calculate the amount of GST payable. The determination specifies the requirements for making valuations to apply the margin scheme in Div 75 of the GST Act. It also specifies requirements for making valuations obtained by the ATO to apply the margin scheme in specified circumstances, for taxable supplies of property made before and on or after 1 March 2010.

Early release of superannuation: Key industry messages
The design and implementation of the Coronavirus – Early release of superannuation changes will leverage off the existing compassionate release process. The legislative requirements come into effect from 25 March 2020 (with applications able to be lodged from mid-April 2020) and will remain in place until 24 September 2020. Key points on the measure have been published by the ATO.

Free ATO webinars covering COVID-19 topics
With many small businesses financially affected by COVID-19, the ATO invites anyone who wants to attend its “Tax support for small business” webinar to help people understand the help and support available. This free webinar runs for 60 minutes on most days over the month of April, and covers topics such as enhancing the instant asset write-off, backing business incentive, and the boosting cash flow for employers.

The ATO has some security advice for tax practitioners
The ATO says criminals may target your practice to access your information and that of your clients, and advises that it is essential to review your security procedures from time to time. Crooks could also use your business to lodge fraudulent statements on their behalf.

Guidance for tax practitioners on data breaches
As tax professionals hold a large amount of client, staff and business information they have become a target for identity thieves. The ATO has again come to the aid of practitioners who experience a data breach may discover their client’s identities have been stolen, and refund fraud committed in the client’s name.

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