2018 Budget Update
The Government handed down the 2018/19 Federal
Budget on Tuesday 8th May 2018. Some of the
important proposals include:
- The introduction of the 'Low and Middle Income Tax Offset', a temporary nonrefundable tax offset of up to $530 p.a. to Australian resident low and middle income taxpayers for the 2019 to 2022 income years. This offset will apply in addition to the Low Income Tax Offset.
- Providing tax relief for individual taxpayers by progressively increasing some of the tax brackets (including an increase in the top threshold of the 32.5% personal income tax bracket from $87,000 to $90,000 from 1 July 2018), and eventually removing the 37% tax bracket entirely.
- The $20,000 immediate write-off for small business will be extended by a further 12 months to 30 June 2019 (i.e., for businesses with aggregated annual turnover less than $10 million).
- From 1 July 2019:
– Increasing the maximum number of allowable members in an SMSF from four to six members;
– Ensuring that unpaid present entitlements (or ‘UPEs’) come within the scope of Division 7A; and
– Denying deductions for expenses associated with holding vacant residential or commercial land.
ATO scrutinising car claims this tax time
The ATO has announced that it will be closely
examining claims for work-related car expenses
this tax time as part of a broader focus on work
Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson said:
“We are particularly concerned about taxpayers claiming for things they are not entitled to, like private trips, trips they didn’t make, and car expenses that their employer paid for or reimbursed.”
This is no doubt because over 3.75 million people made a work-related car expense claim in 2016/17 (totalling around $8.8 billion), and, each year, around 870,000 people claim the maximum amount under the cents-per-kilometre method.
Ms Anderson said that the ATO’s ability to identify claims that are unusual has improved due to enhancements in technology and data analytics: “Our models are especially useful in identifying people claiming things like home to work travel or trips not required as part of your job . . . simply travelling from home to work is not enough to qualify, no matter how far you live from your workplace.”
Ms Anderson said there are three golden rules for taxpayers to remember to get it right.
“One – you have to have spent the money yourself and can’t have been reimbursed, two – the claim must be directly related to earning your income, and three – you need a record to prove it.”
A traffic supervisor claimed over $11,000 for work related car expenses, and provided a logbook to substantiate his claim.
However, upon investigation the ATO discovered that the logbook wasn’t printed until the following year – the taxpayer admitted the logbook was fraudulent and it was ruled invalid.
Even though the logbook was invalid, the taxpayer was able to provide other evidence to show that he had travelled at least 5,000 kilometres for work-related purposes, so the ATO used the cents per kilometre method to calculate the taxpayer’s deduction (but his claim was reduced from over $11,000 to under $4,000).
Claiming for home to work travel
A Laboratory Technician claimed $3,300 for workrelated car expenses, using the cents per kilometre method for 5,000 kilometres.
However, he advised that his employer did not require him to use his car for work; this claim was based on him needing to get to work.
The ATO advised the taxpayer that home to work travel is a private expense and is not an allowable deduction – his claim was reduced to nil and the ATO applied a penalty for failure to take reasonable care.
Employers don't need to send the ATO the headcount information, but they may want to keep a copy for their own records.
Once an employer becomes a substantial employer, they will need to continue reporting through STP even if their employee numbers drop to 19 or less (unless they apply for and are granted an exemption).
Editor: Please contact our office if you need any assistance regarding the new STP regime.
What the super housing measures mean for SMSFs
The ATO has reminded members of SMSFs that
they will be able to use their voluntary super
contributions to assist with buying their first home,
or to make a contribution into their super from the
proceeds of the sale of their main residence (under
changes passed by Parliament in December 2017).
The First Home Super Saver Scheme
The First Home Super Saver (FHSS) Scheme allows SMSF members to save faster for a first home by using the concessional tax treatment available within super.
From 1 July 2018, SMSF members can apply to release certain voluntary concessional and nonconcessional contributions made from 1 July 2017, along with associated earnings to help buy their first home.
Editor: There are various conditions that need to be met in order to take advantage of this measure – contact our office if you would like to know more.
The downsizing measure
SMSF members who are 65 or over and exchange a contract for sale of their main residence on or after 1 July 2018 may be eligible to make a downsizer contribution of up to $300,000 into their super.
This downsizer contribution won’t count towards their contributions caps or total super balance test in the year it’s made.
However, it will count towards the transfer balance cap and be taken into account for determining eligibility for the age pension.
SMSFs must ensure the member's contribution has satisfied all relevant conditions and completed the downsizer contribution form before accepting a downsizing contribution.
Car limit for 2018/19
The car limit is $57,581 for the 2018/19 income
year (unchanged from the previous year). This
amount limits depreciation deductions and GST
input tax credits.
FBT: Car parking threshold
The car parking threshold for the FBT year
commencing 1 April 2018 is $8.83.
This replaces the amount of $8.66 that applied in the previous year commencing 1 April 2017.
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.