Daily Updates: 25-29 January

29 January

NEWS
ATO ceases activity statement emails to agents
The ATO is reminding practitioners that it no longer issues activity statemen t emails to registered agents, but says you can check when activity statements are due with on-demand reports available through the practitioner lodgment service and Online services for agents. All you need to know can be found on this ATO web page.

Regulator makes changes to SMSF terms of engagement document requirements
The Accounting Professional and Ethics Standards Board (APESB) has made changes to the APES 305 Terms of Engagement standard, and what is required to be disclosed. When the new standard takes effect, from 1 July 2021, SMSF professionals will be required to include the details of all outsourced services and cloud computing in their SMSF engagement letters. Among the key changes are that the SMSF service provider must document and communicate to the client the details of the outsourced service provider, its geographic location, and the nature and extent of those services.

SMSF annual return (SAR) deadline nudge
For many self-managed super funds, lodgment of the SMSF annual return (SAR) for an income year is due 28 February the following income year. As 28 February falls on a Sunday in 2021, the ATO advises that the due date of the 2020 SAR will be 1 March 2021. It also reminds SMSF trustees that they should ensure the fund has been audited before lodging a SAR.

SAN misuse mailout soon to get a follow-up
In September 2020, the ATO completed an SMSF auditor number (SAN) misuse mailout to approved SMSF auditors for the 2019 income year. It is currently preparing to issue a follow up mailout to auditors who have not replied to the initial mailout. SMSF auditors are encouraged to check their lists carefully and report to the ATO whether their SAN has been misreported on a 2019 SMSF annual return.

28 January

NEWS
TBC to rise to $1.7 million from 1 July, and to be indexed
The ATO has announced that the general transfer balance cap (TBC), currently $1.6 million, will from 1 July 2021 be indexed to $1.7 million. When the general TBC is indexed to $1.7 million, there won’t be a single cap that applies to all individuals. Every individual will have their own personal transfer balance cap of between $1.6 and $1.7 million, depending on their circumstances.

CPI had slight bump up for December quarter
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released its latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) data, which shows an increase of 0.9% in the December 2020 quarter (it is now 117.2, up from 116.2 for the September quarter). The ABS says the CPI was primarily affected by an increase in tobacco excise and the introduction, continuation and conclusion of a number of government schemes, including childcare fee subsidies and home building grants.

Victorians to get added regional travel incentives
Victoria will open applications for the third round of its regional travel voucher program at 10am on 30 March — note that the time is important as it is again being offered on a first come, first served basis. The first round of $200 vouchers launched last December crashed the government’s system quick-smart, and the second offering made recently saw all 50,000 allocated within half an hour. For the March vouchers, you’ll need to register on the Victorian Government’s website.

The ATO’s ‘Online services for business’ launched
The ATO has announced that a new portal is now available, which is in beta format and requiring feedback from participants (there’s a form at the bottom of each page). Online services for business is to replace the Business Portal and the electronic superannuation audit tool (eSAT), although these will still be available until decommissioned later this year. The new service can be accessed on multiple devices, including a smart device like a mobile phone or tablet.

More consultation by BOT on CGT rollovers
The Board of Taxation has issued a second consultation paper in regard to its review of CGT rollovers, with submissions due 5 February. BOT emphasises that rationalising and simplifying CGT roll‐overs is not merely a matter of rewriting the existing law without disrupting the status quo. It involves confronting some quite fundamental questions about the role that roll‐overs should play in a mature business tax system, when relief should be available and to whom, and how it should be designed.

27 January

NEWS
NSW boarding house and low-cost accommodation land tax relief
Revenue NSW has issued rulings that spell out certain land tax exemptions for low-cost accommodation properties. Relief from land tax or a reduction in taxable land value is available for property mainly used to provide boarding house accommodation in accordance with guidelines approved by the NSW Treasurer. See LT 109 for details.

SG for quarter ending 31 December due tomorrow
COVID-19 is still having an impact on many businesses, and a generally quieter start to the year may come to a sudden halt with the super guarantee contribution deadline of 28 January (for the last quarter of 2020) for some of your clients. The ATO says it is unable by law to extend the due date, so employers who may miss the deadline will need to lodge a superannuation guarantee charge statement to the ATO by Monday 1 March 2021 to avoid penalties.

NSW to issue more economy-boosting vouchers
The NSW voucher scheme labelled Dine & Discover will be available from March in a bid to further aid the economic recovery after the havoc created by COVID-19. NSW residents aged 18 and over will be eligible for four $25 vouchers ($100 in total).  Vouchers can be used at participating NSW businesses that are registered as COVID Safe. They will be divided into two categories — two $25 vouchers to be used for eating in at restaurants, cafes, bars, wineries, pubs and clubs from Monday to Thursday (excluding public holidays), and two $25 vouchers to be used for entertainment and recreation, including cultural institutions, live music, and arts venues, any day of the week (excluding public holidays).

ASFA is to hold a virtual conference early February
The Australian Superannuation Funds Association (ASFA) is to host a virtual conference from 10 to 12 February 2021, and while the ATO will not have a booth or be attending the conference in a physical sense, it is making its presence felt and says attendees will be provided with many options to engage with the ATO. Along with its virtual showcase page, the ATO is making tax officers available to answer emailed questions from delegates. Presenters include former Prime Minister Paul Keating, the ABC’s Leigh Sales, demographer Bernard Salt and former Lord Mayor of Sydney Lucy Hughes-Turnbull.

ATO is reminding SMSF service providers that it is the client who will get the alert
The ATO is reminding SMSF professionals that the relevant client will receive an SMS or email should a change be made that affects the fund. These changes include updating details of financial institutions, electronic service addresses, authorised contacts and member details. SMSF practitioners may conduct regular services for a client’s fund or make updates, but so as to not alarm clients, the ATO says a quick email or call to those clients may be advisable.

25 January

NEWS
ACT extends payroll tax exemptions
The Revenue Office of the ACT has issued determinations to extend COVID-19 payroll tax exemptions to 30 June 2021 for eligible employers. For details, see Taxation Administration (Payroll Tax — Businesses Not Permitted to Operate) COVID-19 Exemption Scheme Determination 2021 (DI2021-10) and Taxation Administration (Payroll Tax) COVID-19 Exemption Scheme Determination 2021 (DI 2021-11).

NSW issues 2021 guidelines for COVID-19 land tax relief
State Revenue NSW has issued guidelines for 2020 land tax relief for eligible landowners providing rent reductions to tenants affected by COVID-19. Guidelines for 2021 are also available, which apply to eligible landowners with commercial leases in 2021 that provide a reduction in rent to a retail tenant experiencing financial distress as a result of COVID-19. The relief provides a reduction of up to 25% on land tax payable for 2021 for the relevant parcel of land.

Land tax exemptions for 2021 in Victoria
SRO Victoria has released information on the eligibility criteria and application process for 2021 coronavirus land tax relief measures. The SRO says landlords of residential and commercial properties who provide eligible rent relief from 1 January to 28 March 2021 can apply for a 25% reduction on 2021 land tax, and defer the balance owed to 30 November 2021. For commercial landlords, the rent relief provided must also be consistent with the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme.

OECD updates its guidance on tax treaties and the impact of COVID-19
Re-issued just last week, the OECD has provided an update to guidance first issued in April 2020 on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tax treaties. The guidance addresses tax issues associated with the temporary dislocation of people during the COVID-19 crisis, including the creation of a permanent establishment, corporate and individuals’ tax residency, and implications for cross border workers.

Second JobMaker period now open
The second JobMaker period is now open, spanning the period from 7 January to 6 April 2021. Claims for eligible employees taken on over this period can be made when the second claim period opens on 1 May. Note that both the employer and employee need to meet the eligibility criteria for the period of the claim.

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