Tax scammer alert
The ATO has again warned taxpayers to be alert
for scammers impersonating the ATO, as it appears
they have changed tactics in 2019.
Specifically, the ATO is seeing the emergence of a new tactic where:
“scammers are using an ATO number to send fraudulent SMS messages to taxpayers asking them to click on a link and hand over their personal details in order to obtain a refund”.
The ATO has received reports of scammers maliciously manipulating the calling line identification so the phone number that appears is different to the number from which the call originated.
This is referred to as “spoofing” and is a common technique used by scammers to appear legitimate.
It appears these scams aim to steal taxpayers' personal details and identities.
The ATO has advised it will not:
- send an email or SMS asking a taxpayer to click on a link to provide login, personal or financial information, or to download a file or open an attachment;
- use aggressive or rude behaviour, or threaten taxpayers with arrest, jail or deportation;
- request payment of a debt via iTunes or Google Play cards, pre-paid Visa cards, cryptocurrency or direct credit to a personal bank account; or
- request a fee in order to release a refund owed to taxpayers.
Editor: If you are unsure about a call, text message
or email purportedly received from the ATO, the
best advice is not to reply.
Should you have any concerns, please contact our office directly, or alternatively you can call the ATO on 1800 008 540 to check if the contact was legitimate or to report a scam.
Non-compliant payments to workers
The rules for claiming deductions for payments to
workers are changing.
From 1 July 2019, businesses can only claim deductions for certain payments made to workers where they've met the Pay As You Go (‘PAYG’) withholding obligation for that payment.
Specifically, a business can only claim a deduction for the following payments if it complies with the relevant PAYG withholding rules:
- Salary, wages, commissions, bonuses or allowances to an employee.
- Directors’ fees.
- Payments to a religious practitioner.
- Payments made under a labour hire arrangement.
- Payments made for a supply of services (except from supplies of goods and real property) where the contractor has not provided their ABN.
Where the PAYG withholding rules require an amount to be withheld, the business must:
- withhold the amount from the payment before they pay their worker; and
- report that amount to the ATO.
Importantly, a deduction will not be lost if an incorrect amount is withheld (or reported) by mistake.
What’s new for Australian business
The ATO has recently reminded small businesses of the expanded tax concessions potentially available to them, as outlined below:
- The pending increase in the small business instant depreciating asset writeoff to less than $25,000 (as discussed in further detail above).
- Accelerated depreciation deductions for primary producers for eligible fodder storage assets, as well as for fencing and water facilities.
- Assistance for primary producers impacted by drought at Drought Help, or by contacting the ATO on 1800 806 218.
- A lower company tax rate of 27.5% for companies qualifying as a Base Rate Entity ('BRE').
- Increased Small Business Income Tax Offset (‘SBITO’) for eligible sole traders and individual partners and beneficiaries.
Finally, the ATO has reminded taxpayers that more businesses are now eligible for most small business tax concessions. Specifically, from 1 July 2016, a range of small business tax concessions became available to all businesses with an aggregated turnover of less than $10 million (i.e., the turnover threshold). Previously the turnover threshold was less than $2 million. The $10 million turnover threshold applies to most concessions, except for:
- the SBITO – which has a $5 million turnover threshold from 1 July 2016; and
- the small business CGT concessions – which continue to have a $2 million turnover threshold.
Note: The relevant turnover threshold for accessing the lower company tax rate is $50 million from the 2019 income year (increased from $25 million in the 2018 income year).
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.