News

Overtime Meal Allowance Amounts

The reasonable amount for overtime meal allowance expenses for 2016/17, where an allowance is paid under an award, order, determination, industrial agreement or a Commonwealth, State or Territory law, is $29.40 per meal.

Latest ATO benchmarks released

The ATO has released the latest benchmarks for small business based on the data from 2014 income tax returns and business activity statements, covering over 1.3 million small businesses.

Assistant Commissioner Matthew Bambrick said that, if a small business is inside the benchmark range for their industry and the ATO hasn’t received any extra information that may cause concern, they can be confident that they probably won’t hear from the ATO.

Mr Bambrick said the benchmarks were also a helpful guide for small businesses to see how they stack up against others in their industry.

“For example, one business told us how their accountant used the tailored benchmarks to work out that their expense to turnover ratio was higher than other businesses with a similar turnover.  Using this information the business adjusted some of their inputs and how they were pricing their products.  These changes resulted in an overall improvement in their performance.”

While the benchmarks are a helpful guide for small business, Mr Bambrick said it was also one of a number of tools the ATO uses to ensure a level playing field.

Tax time is prime time for scams

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The ATO is reminding Australians to be on the lookout for tax-related scams during tax time, as scammers are particularly active because of the large number of people lodging their tax returns.

Assistant Commissioner Graham Whyte said that, while most people were able to identify scams, it is important to remain alert during tax time.

For example, although the ATO makes thousands of outbound calls to taxpayers a week, there are some key differences between a legitimate call from the ATO and a call from a potential scammer:

“We would never cold call you about a debt; we would never threaten jail or arrest, and our staff certainly wouldn’t behave in an aggressive manner.  If you’re not sure, hang up and call us back on 1800 008 540”.

ATO also warns against identity theft

The ATO is also reminding Australians to protect themselves against identify theft this tax time.  Highly organised crime networks use a range of methods to steal personal information in order to commit refund fraud.

The ATO recommends following a few easy steps for taxpayers to protect themselves against identity theft:

  • Put a padlock on their letterbox;
  • Shred documents containing personal details (especially their tax file number (TFN)) before throwing them away;
  • Use legitimate and up-to-date antivirus, firewall and anti-spyware software; and
  • Make sure passwords are strong, using a combination of letters, numbers and symbols, don’t share them with anyone, and ensure they are changed regularly.

The ATO also says that taxpayers should report the loss or theft of their TFN without delay, if they can’t find their TFN, and/or think their TFN has been stolen or misused.