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Firm News

October 19, 2018

Event-based reporting framework for SMSFs

The event-based reporting (EBR) framework for self-managed super funds (SMSFs) commenced on 1 July 2018. The initiative allows for the administration of the Transfer balance cap (TBC). Under the EBR framework, you need to report to the ATO, when the first member of your SMSF begins a retirement phase income stream.

The SMSF annual return is to be kept separate from the transfer balance account report. The TBAR enables the ATO to record and track an individual’s balance for their TBC and superannuation balance.

The ATO does not provide ‘special circumstances’ discretion for contraventions of the TBC which is why SMSF trustees and members self-monitor to ensure that members do not exceed their TBC.

Events to report
Your SMSF must report events affecting a member’s transfer balance including:

Exclusions

ATO reminder: fuel tax credit rates have increased

Fuel tax credit rates have increased on 1 August. The ATO reminds you to use the new rates to calculate claims on your next business activity statement (BAS).

How to simplify fuel tax credit claims
If you claim less than $10,000 in fuel tax credits each year, you can use the ATO’s simplified methods to keep records and calculate your claims. Keep in mind the following tips:

Simplified record keeping strategies
Use the following records to substantiate claims of less than $10,000 per year:

October 12, 2018

Managing risk in your SMSF

SMSFs provide the trustee autonomy and an increased opportunity to maximise your retirement savings. However, an investment strategy must be accompanied by a risk management plan should some of your investments come up short.

Consider the following risk management strategies:

Diversification
Diversification reduces risk by investing in many different assets including property, annuities and equities. By spreading your earnings across several investments you minimise the risks to your retirement nest egg that can occur if one investment suffers a loss or a disappointing return. Organise your target returns according to your asset class and establish the accepted variation range from this target. This allows you to track your investment portfolio and whether it is setting you on the right financial path.

Liquidity
If you tie up your money in assets like property, then you may run short on cash. It is important that you have cash to cover the costs of running your SMSF and in the case of a member’s total and permanent disablement. If you’re also forced to sell an asset to get this cash the market conditions may not be ideal, and you could receive a disappointing return because you need cash in a rush.

ATO announces $20,000 instant asset write-off

The ATO has extended the $20,000 threshold to 30 June 2019.

If you buy an asset and it costs less than $20,000, you may write off the business portion in your tax return.

To be eligible to use the simplified depreciation rules and claim an immediate deduction for the business portion of each asset costing less than $20,000, you must:

If your asset costs more than $20,000, you are not eligible for immediate deduction. They will continue to be deducted over time using the general small business pool. You can write off the balance of this pool if the balance (before applying any other depreciation deduction) is less than $20,000 at the end of an income year.

The $20,000 threshold applies from 12 May 2015 to 30 June 2019 and reduces to $1,000 on 1 July 2019. Remember, registered tax agents and BAS agents can help you with your tax.

October 5, 2018

Choosing the right super risk profile

Choosing the right super risk profile at the right time can drastically increase your retirement savings.

The following considerations will help you invest wisely when it comes to building your retirement nest egg.

Types of investment options
Your super fund should offer a range of investment options to consider. Here is what to know about each kind of option:

Picking the right option
The investment option right for you depends on your retirement goals, your financial circumstances and your attitude towards risk. Your timeframe for investment should be substantial if you are looking at high-risk options as you have a considerable opportunity to recover from any losses. As your income stabilises and your retirement comes closer consider shifting to a low-risk alternative to secure what you have built up. You may also want to look to your assets like your business or various properties that may also help you fund your retirement when assessing if you can afford to take a risk.

Claiming tax when working from home

The ATO is seeking to increase their attention on home office expenses due to the high level of questionable claims made by taxpayers. There has been an increase in the number of Australians claiming deductions for costs incurred from working from home.

The ATO reports that in the last tax year 6.7 million taxpayers claimed a record $7.9 billion in deductions for ‘other work-related expenses’, including expenses relating to working from home.

The main mistakes stem from individuals claiming the whole instead of the work-related portion of expenses for bills related to phone, internet, printing and stationery.

The ATO has identified that a separate work area will incur work-related expenses eligible for tax deductions as opposed to answering some emails at a kitchen bench. The ATO has also recommended recording expenses in case of an audit or if the ATO contacts your employer to confirm your claim.

To ensure you do not suffer non-compliance penalties, the ATO recommends you follow the three golden rules for taxpayers working from home. One- you must have spent the money yourself and not been reimbursed, two- the claim must be directly related to earning your income, and three- you need a record to prove it.

September 27, 2018

3 easy ways to maximise your super

Superannuation is more critical than it has ever been. If having an ageing population has taught us anything, it is how managing money now can have substantial ramifications for your retirement plan.

Merge your super
Every super account you have comes with a set of fees. It is worth your while chasing down inactive accounts and putting all your super into the one account to reduce fees and maximise the investment benefits.

Salary sacrifice
If you can budget putting more of your salary away into a super account every month, you can reap multiple rewards. First, you can use the extra super payments to offset your pre-tax payments up to the current concessional contribution cap of $30,000 per year and after-tax contributions of $180,000. You can also build up your super while you can afford to.

Strategise
Your investment strategy should depend on the amount of risk you are willing to take. This will vary on where you are in your career. A growth investment option, which is high risk, might suit you if you are in the early stages of your career development. However, as your income stabilises to your goal amount, it might be wise to change super funds to a lower risk option that will protect your growing retirement nest egg.

ATO developing software to stop tax avoidance

The ATO is in the midst of developing advanced data programs to find individuals who are leaving a source of income out of their tax return. Analytical tools have been developed to utilise the amount of data the ATO receives to identify instances where income has gone unreported. This is to address the annual $1.4 billion tax shortfall caused by individuals who leave income out of their return.

The ATO has identified that the most common mistakes are made by taxpayers leaving out cash wages. There are also issues with the non-disclosure of income from second jobs, capital gains on cryptocurrency, the sharing economy, the gig economy and foreign-sourced income.

Concerning foreign sourced income, the ATO has identified that most funds come from the UK, USA, China, Switzerland, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Singapore. In response to this, the ATO is developing a single global standard for collection, reporting and exchange of financial account information on foreign tax residents.

The ATO imposes penalties and interest for a failure to disclose an accurate statement of income tax. The penalties can range from 25 per cent up to 75 per cent of the shortfall, in addition to paying the money owed.

September 24, 2018

Paying super to different visas

Normally employers have to pay a worker super. However, this becomes confusing with the different visas that employees might be on. Some rules are listed below.

Paying super to temporary residents
Temporary residents working in Australia are eligible for super guarantee. When temporary residents leave Australia, they can claim the super paid as a departing Australia superannuation payment (DASP). This is provided that they meet the requirements where you must:

Employees working overseas
An employee sent to work overseas must be paid superannuation by their employer. The other country may require the employer or employee to pay super there as well if Australia does not have a bilateral agreement with that country. To gain exemption from the super payment in the other country, the employer needs to show the authorities in the other country a certificate of coverage gained from the ATO.

Employees not eligible for super

Authorisations for Single Touch Payroll

On the 1 July 2018, the Australian Government introduced Single Touch Payroll (STP) for employers with 20 or more employees. The new scheme requires employers to report payment activities each time employees were paid. Authorisations for an agent to act on behalf of an employer to streamline the process of STP are provided below.

STP Engagement Authority
If a registered agent reports through STP for an employer, they can get written authorisation to make this declaration through an annual agreement. This authorisation will allow the registered agent to make the relevant declaration to the Commissioner when they lodge an STP at each pay event. Both parties should have a copy for their records although there is no need to provide a copy to the ATO

The agreement should include:

Eligibility for the Authority
For eligibility to provide an agent with the powers given above regarding STP, the employer must not:

Exclusions
The STP engagement authority does not apply to the other approved forms or finalisation declaration. A registered agent must still obtain a signed declaration in writing from an employer before making the finalisation declaration on behalf of the employer at the end of the financial year.

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