Common errors with new GST withholding rules
The ATO has noticed some common errors made
in activity statements since the introduction of "GST
at settlement" on 1 July 2018.
Editor: These new laws require purchasers to withhold GST on settlement (and pay it to the ATO directly) generally when buying 'new residential premises' from developers.
In particular, the new "GST at settlement" law does not affect a supplier’s obligation to lodge their activity statement and report their GST liabilities on taxable supplies in the activity statement period in which settlement occurred.
In addition, suppliers are advised not to report GST that has been withheld at settlement and paid to the ATO by the purchaser.
Instead, a credit for the amount the purchaser withheld and paid will appear on the supplier's activity statement account once the activity statement is processed.
Latest ATO benchmarks released
The ATO has released updated benchmark data
drawn from over 1.5 million small businesses
around the country to "help small businesses
across the country . . . gauge the strength of their
business and keep an eye on their competition".
Updated benchmarks for more than 100 industries are now available for the following categories:
- Accommodation and food;
- Building and construction trade services;
- Education, training, recreation and support services;
- Health care and personal services;
- Automotive electrical services;
- Machinery and equipment repair and maintenance;
- Architectural services;
- Veterinary services;
- Retail trade; and
- Transport, postal and warehousing.
The benchmarks are one of the tools the ATO uses
to crack down on the black economy, along with
data matching and referrals from the community.
“Businesses operating outside the benchmarks may trigger a red flag for businesses we suspect could be engaging in the black economy,” Mr Holt said.
“A frequent red flag is a business reporting minimal profit while the business owner seems to be maintaining a lifestyle far exceeding their personal income."
“If you use a registered tax professional, it’s also a good idea to have a chat with them about where your business sits in comparison with our benchmarks. They might have some advice about steps you can take to improve your performance.”
ATO warning regarding annual leave loading and OTE
The ATO has recently warned employers that it considers that annual leave loading should normally be part of ordinary time earnings ('OTE') for superannuation guarantee ('SG') purposes, unless it is referrable to a "lost opportunity to work overtime".
Therefore, if employers have self-assessed on the
basis that their annual leave loading is not OTE,
and there is a lack of evidence to demonstrate the
purpose of the entitlement, there is a risk that they
may have historical SG shortfalls and be liable for
the SG charge.
However, the ATO acknowledges the uncertainty around this topic, and the evidentiary difficulties in identifying the purpose for annual leave loading entitlements, and will apply a concessional compliance approach where certain requirements are met.
Editor: If this is a concern for your business, please contact our office and we can help with your SG obligations and (if necessary) determine whether you will be eligible for the ATO's concessional compliance approach.
Taxpayer living in serviced apartments overseas not a resident
The Full Federal Court has found that a taxpayer
had a "permanent place of abode" in Bahrain, even
though he lived in temporary accommodation, and
therefore allowed his appeal against a decision
that he was a resident of Australia.
This decision confirms that the correct focus of the "permanent place of abode" residency test is whether there has been an abandonment of Australian residence (i.e., to live permanently outside of Australia), rather than whether a person actually lives in permanent accommodation overseas.
In particular, the Full Court considered that the phrase "place of abode" is not a reference to a person's house or flat or other dwelling but rather the town or country in which a person is physically residing permanently.
Mostly vacant property still an 'active' asset
The AAT has held that a block of land next door
to a taxpayer's main residence, which they used
to store materials, tools and other equipment for
their business, was still an 'active asset' for the
purpose of the small business CGT concessions.
Editor: The small business CGT concessions can reduce, or completely eliminate, the tax payable on the sale of an 'active asset' (basically, a business asset).
Please Note: Many of the comments in this publication are general in nature and anyone intending to apply the information to practical circumstances should seek professional advice to independently verify their interpretation and the information’s applicability to their particular circumstances.