Daily update: 23 – 28 August

Thursday 26 august

Measures No 7 Bill introduced: Sharing economy reporting regime etc
The Treasury Laws Amendment (2021 Measures No 7) Bill 2021 has been introduced into Parliament. Among other things, the Bill contains the following measures: the introduction of a “Sharing economy reporting regime” to require electronic platform operators to provide information on transactions made through their platform to the ATO; transitional provisions relating to the repeal of the Superannuation (Resolution of Complaints) Act 1993; and the removal the $250 non-deductible threshold for work-related self-education expenses.

Federal support for SMEs to access funding
The Federal Government has reported that it is providing additional support to SMEs by expanding eligibility for the SME Recovery Loan Scheme. Among other things, the Government will remove requirements for SMEs to have received JobKeeper during the March quarter of 2021 (or to have been a flood-affected business) in order to be eligible under the scheme. In addition, SMEs who are dealing with the economic impacts of COVID-19 with a turnover of less than $250m will be able to access loans of up to $5m over a term of up to 10 years and the Government will guarantee up 80% of the loan amount.

Accessing super early under severe financial hardship – reminder 
Many individuals in financial stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic took the opportunity to obtain early access to their superannuation in 2020. However, since the COVID-19 early release of super program closed in December 2020, individuals who are still financially impacted by COVID-19 may be able to withdraw some of their super under severe financial hardship or on other compassionate grounds. If eligible under severe financial hardship, individuals can access no more than $10,000 and no less than $1,000 in any 12-month period. The rules slightly differ for individuals who have reached preservation age plus 39 weeks. It is important that any early release of funds are legitimate as the ATO can impose severe penalties on SMSF trustees for the illegal or unauthorised early release of super funds. For more information, see ‘Early access to your super’.

Addendum to TR 2013/7: foreign employment income exemption
An addendum has been issued to TR 2013/7 (Income tax: foreign employment income: interpretation of subsection 23AG(1AA) of the ITAA 1936). The addendum makes a range of changes to the ruling, including in relation to its operation in respect of certain Australian government agencies and various international organisations.

…is the TPB getting very serious?
In yesterday’s Daily Update (25 August) it was reported that the Tax Practitioners Board had advised that the registration of two tax agents had been terminated after showing “blatant disregard for their tax affairs”. The news item was headed “Tax agents terminated for disregard of personal tax affairs”. For those thinking that this was just an editorial slip-up, maybe the TPB is getting serious about these matters: its own media release was likewise headed “Tax agents terminated for disregard of personal tax affairs”! 

Wednesday 25 August

Tax agents terminated for disregard of personal tax affairs
The Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) has advised that two tax agents have had their registrations terminated after showing “blatant disregard for their tax affairs”. The decisions of the TPB were upheld by the AAT. In respect of one agent, who was banned for 18 months, the AAT confirmed he was not a fit to be registered as a tax agent due to his repeated non-compliance with his tax affairs over several years. The other agent, at the time of the TPB decision, had failed to pay, or enter into a payment arrangement, for tax debts totaling nearly $600,000 (and had defaulted on a subsequent payment arrangement).

House of Reps report on ESS released
The House of Representatives’ Standing Committee on Tax and Revenue has presented its report on “Employee Share Schemes” (ESS). The Committee made 18 recommendations to support the use of ESS in Australia. The Committee’s overarching recommendation is that Employee Share Schemes be treated as capital for the purposes of taxation, and that a tax liability would arise on the disposal of the assets granted, using the current CGT regime.

ATO: Appointment of auditor before lodging SAR
The ATO has reminded trustees of SMSFs that they need to appoint an approved SMSF auditor at least 45 days before the lodgement due date of their SMSF annual return (SAR). Among other things, the approved SMSF auditor must be registered with the ASIC and auditors should not audit a fund in which they hold any financial interest in, or where they have a close personal or business relationship with members or trustees.

Tuesday 24 August

Business support package for regional Victoria activated
package of automatic cash grants jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Victorian governments have been activated to provide regional Victorian businesses with the support following the extension of the Victorian lockdown to the whole of the state. Grants will be made automatically without the need for regional businesses to make an application. Business in regional Victoria that do not qualify for this support and have experienced a reduction in revenue of at least 70% are encouraged to apply for the $252 million Small Business COVID Hardship Fund, which provides grants of $14,000 to successful applicants.

WA: COVID Tourism assistance grants announced
Western Australian tourism businesses impacted by COVID will be able to apply for funding support under a new joint Commonwealth-State program. Eligible tourism businesses will be able to apply for grants of up to $10,000 to assist with some of the financial impacts resulting from much of the country being under significant COVID-19 restrictions. Applicants must demonstrate at least a 30% reduction in turnover by comparing the period 15 May to 25 June with 10 July to 20 August to be eligible for support.

Targeted assistance for childcare services during lockdown
The Federal Government will provide additional targeted support for child care providersimpacted by extended COVID-19 lockdowns, through new fortnightly payments. Childcare services in Commonwealth-declared hotspots will be eligible for payments of 25% of their pre-lockdown revenue. Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) services will be eligible for payments of 40%. This will apply to services seven days after the hotspot is declared, where states have directed families to keep their kids at home. Where kids are still allowed to attend, the supports will kick in four weeks after the hotspot declaration.

NSW and Vic grants declared NANE
The Income Tax Assessment (Eligible State and Territory Covid-19 Economic Recovery Grant Programs) Declaration 2020 has been amended to declare grant programs administered by the States of NSW and Victoria as being “eligible programs” for the purposes of the grants being non-assessable, non-exempt income (NANE) under s 59-97 of the ITAA 1997.

ATO: Scam alerts – and reporting them
The ATO has set out on its website examples of recent ATO impersonation scams. It also emphasised that if “you think a phone call, SMS, voicemail or email claiming to be from us is not genuine, do not reply to it. Instead you should either phone us on 1800 008 540 or go to ‘Verify or report a scam’ – which shows how to spot and report a scam”.

Vic: Regional First Home Owner Grants
The Victorian State Revenue Office has issued a reminder that the $20,000 regional First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) ended on 30 June 2021. However, it also advised that for contracts entered into from that date, eligible persons can apply for the $10,000 FHOG instead.

ATO: Compassionate release of super approval notification update
The ATO has advised that on 23 September 2021 it will be deploying an update to the Compassionate release of super (CRS) approval notifications sent to superfunds and administrators via the ‘Online services for business’ portal. It also advised that this update will see the Unique Superannuation Identifier (USI) of the nominated superfund included in the PDF file name.

Monday 23 August

ATO: Extra time to lodge for up to 5 clients
The ATO has advised that tax agents who need extra time to lodge a small number of client obligations will, from September, be able to call the ATO to request extra time to lodge up to five clients. In addition, the ATO reminded tax agents that there are already a variety of deferral options available and that a deferral request can be submitted by lodging a completed application form through Online services for agents.

Lockdown support for Northern Territory businesses
The Federal and the Northern Territory Labor Government have announced a new $12.5m package for Territory businesses impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. Among other thing the package will include a $9m Visitation Reliant Support Program for tourism and hospitality businesses reliant on international and interstate visitation. In addition, employing businesses will receive a $3,000 payment, while sole traders will receive a $1,000 payment. Eligible businesses must have an annual turnover of less than $10m, and will need to demonstrate a 30% decrease in turnover as a result of the lockdown.

Vic: Mental health and wellbeing “payroll” surcharge
The Victorian State Revenue Office has advised that the “mental health and wellbeing surcharge” will commence from 1 Jan 2022, which is payable on Victorian taxable wages paid or payable from 1 January 2022 by an employer or a group of employers. The surcharge will be payable if Victorian taxable wages are paid and the Australian wages exceed the first annual threshold of $10m. The surcharge is payable at the same time that payroll tax is payable. Separate returns will not be required.

Gold Coast property developer sentenced for GST fraud
A Gold Coast property developer has been sentenced at the Southport District Court for fraudulently obtaining $147,763 in GST refunds. He was sentenced to three years imprisonment to be immediately released on a recognisance release order, and a three-year good behaviour bond of $5000. In addition to  his criminal conviction, he was ordered to pay back the full amount to the ATO.

COVID business support declaration – for ATO info-sharing
The government has issued the Taxation Administration (Data Sharing-Relevant Covid-19 Business Support Program) Declaration 2021. This instrument lists the programs that have been declared relevant COVID-19 business support programs by the Treasurer to enable the Commissioner of Taxation to share protected data the ATO holds with relevant Australian government agencies that administer the programs.

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