Daily updates: 8-12 February

11 February

Free instructional webinar for new Online services for business
The ATO, via its Small Business Newsroom, is hosting a free webinar to help users make the switch to the new service, which is replacing the Business Portal. The Connecting online with the ATO: Businesses webinar will help you find and log into the new service, access functions you currently use on the Business Portal, and navigate the new functions in Online services for business. Register here (also lists session dates and times).

Super processing schedule released for February and March
The ATO has published its superannuation remittance and recovery processing schedule for APRA-regulated funds using SuperStream, covering the remainder of February and the month of March.

Quick Tax: Paying superannuation contributions late
Employers who do not pay the correct super for employees may have to pay a superannuation charge, which is made up of the shortfall amount, interest on that amount (currently 10%) and an administration fee. The ATO can take stronger action if an employer doesn’t pay the charge including issuing a penalty notice. View the video here.

Powerpoint chart details changes to the superannuation industry
Starting from January 2021, the ATO has made available a Powerpoint chart detailing changes that will affect the superannuation industry. Labelled as an industry “roadmap” (download it from here), the chart details the changes affecting the super industry up until the end of September 2021. The ATO is committed to update this information every quarter.
R&D tax scheme promotion case impact statement
A court case where an accountant and associated companies were promoters of tax exploitation schemes involving purported R&D activities (Federal Commissioner of Taxation v Bogiatto & Ors) has seen a decision impact statement being issued by the ATO. The decision made in the case found that the ATO did not have unlimited time to initiate proceedings in such a case where there was no actual implementation of the proposed scheme. The ATO is inviting comments to the appropriate tax officer about the consequences of the decision, with a deadline of 5 March.

10 February

ACT budget 2020-21 delivered
The ACT budget for 2020-21 was released yesterday. Highlights include the extension of commercial rates relief for landlords who drop rents for COVID-19 affected tenants, and payroll tax exemptions extended to businesses who are unable to trade due to health restrictions (which will be offered month-to-month payroll tax assistance between January and June). Businesses with payroll under $10 million who are in hardship will have interest-free deferrals of payroll tax extended until 30 June, with interest on deferred amounts to begin on July 1. Payroll tax exemptions for wages paid to new apprentices and trainees employed after 1 August 2020 will be extended until 30 June, and food business registration fees will be waived until 31 March 2022, with outdoor dining permit fees waived until 30 June 2022.

Fund validation service user guide update
Guidance has been provided by the ATO on its fund validation service (FVS), which is a suite of services that support implementation of SuperStream, the Federal Government’s system to provide a consistent, reliable electronic method of transacting linked superannuation data and payments. It supports funds to meet regulatory obligations to provide rollover and contribution information on a shared register.

New online services for business launched and explained
The ATO has launched a new service, “Online services for business”, to make it easier for your business clients to interact with the ATO online to manage tax and super obligations. It is replacing the business portal, however this will be available until later in the year to give businesses time to change over to Online services for business. The government website business.gov.au has a dedicated page with a lot more details.

Reuniting more super with members a step closer
The bill Treasury Laws Amendment (Reuniting More Superannuation) Bill 2020 is currently in its second reading before the Senate. The bill amends relevant legislation to facilitate the closure of eligible rollover funds (ERFs) by 30 June 2022 and allow the Commissioner to reunite amounts received from eligible rollover funds with a member’s active account. In the 2020-21 Federal Budget, Treasury announced that the date by which ERFs are required to transfer accounts below $6,000 to the ATO to 30 June 2021. Also announced was the transfer date of remaining accounts, which will be 31 January 2022. The bill also permits trustees to transfer any account to the ATO where this in in the member’s interest.

9 February

If a client asks for payroll help, there are 3 essential requirements
With the steady roll out and adoption of single touch payroll (STP) continuing, and smaller and micro employers steadily running out of options going forward, there may be clients who approach their tax or BAS agent and ask for help in the form of the provision of a payroll service (which includes payroll-related functions, such as interpreting related legislation or helping calculate PAYG or SG liabilities). The ATO is reminding practitioners that there are three essential requirements to be able to offer these services to clients.

Fresh produce picking employer clients and other seasonal STP use
With fruit and vegetable picking in the news lately, focus has been drawn by the ATO to STP as it relates to seasonal and intermittent employers. These are employers that generally have either zero or up to four employees for most of the year and then have an increase of employees for less than three months of a financial year (not necessarily consecutive). A concession to report quarterly will be rolled into the micro employer STP regime from 1 July 2021.

Car parking and FBT ruling still expected to be finalised
Draft TR 2019/D5 and a draft update to Chapter 16 of Fringe benefits tax – a guide for employers were both published in November 2019. Just over a year later further consultation was conducted. The ATO maintains that the ruling is nearly finalised and should be ready with a lead time before 1 April 2021, which should give your employer clients time to implement any necessary changes. A transitional approach is still however an active option.

Potentially taxable property transfers and matching activity statement reports
The ATO says it regularly receives data relating to the purchase and sale of properties from state and territory revenue and titles offices around Australia. As such transfers could be taxable transactions, the ATO checks the information received against what has been reported on activity statements. It has published information to help clarify what is expected from businesses.

8 February

Data-matching program for JobMaker
A notification in the Commonwealth Gazette includes an amendment to the economic response data matching program so that the JobMaker scheme is also covered. The ATO will acquire confirmation from Services Australia of income support payments made to additional employees nominated by applicants of the JobMaker Hiring Credit under the data matching program. The year-long program starts from 7 October 2020. Information will include details on the type of government income support payments received within the applicable period. Temporary early access to super payment recipients will also be scrutinised for the period 19 April 2020 to 21 December 2020.

National auditor to look at ATO’s handling of JobKeeper
The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) will be auditing the ATO’s administration of JobKeeper, focusing among other things on its effectiveness. It will also look at the ATO’s implementation of effective measures to protect the integrity of JobKeeper payments, and if it has effectively monitored and reported on the operational performance of the scheme. The report is due to be tabled in October 2021.

Closely held (related) payee exemption from STP
The ATO is reminding small employers (with 19 or less staff) and their tax agents that they are exempt from reporting closely held payees through single touch payroll (STP) until 30 June 2021. They don’t need to apply for this exemption, but from 1 July 2021, closely held payees will need to be reported through STP (with an option to report this information on a quarterly basis).

High time to reduce superannuation complexity
Treasury’s Retirement Income Review late last year found the system to be complex and hard to navigate. Now that the transfer balance cap (TBC) is to be indexed and increased, and as part of its Federal Budget submission for 2021, the SMSF Association is pressing for three key changes — to remove or simplify TBC proportional indexation; reduce the number of total superannuation balance (TSB) thresholds; and provide SMSF advisers and administrators access to ATO portals.

Quarterly STP reporting concession for micro employers to change
From 1 July 2021, the concession for micro employers to apply for a two-year window to digitally report payroll via their registered tax or BAS agent is set to change. The ATO says from then on it will only be considered for micro employers experiencing exceptional circumstances. For now, applications for the concession are not being accepted.


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