News

Update on the government’s superannuation program

Editor: Now that the government has been re-elected, it seems they are committed to proceeding with their superannuation policy, including the controversial measure to impose a ‘lifetime cap’ of $500,000 on the amount of non-concessional (i.e., undeducted) contributions that can be made into superannuation (calculated from all contributions made since 1 July 2007).

The Treasurer Scott Morrison has also indicated that transitional relief provisions will be introduced in relation to the lifetime non-concessional contributions cap of $500,000.

It is proposed that transitional provisions will allow for non-concessional contributions to be made under the rules and limits that existed prior to Budget Night where a superannuation fund has entered into a contract before 3 May 2016 to acquire an asset, and the contract settles after 3 May 2016.

Furthermore, there will be transitional relief for self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs) that had a Limited Recourse Borrowing Arrangement in place before 3 May 2016, and additional non-concessional contributions are to be made up to 31 January 2017 (so that the borrowing will comply with the ATO’s new guidelines).

Editor: There have also been reports that the government may also allow ‘carve-outs’ for extraordinary ‘life events’ (e.g., divorce).

The government is apparently going to release draft legislation for their superannuation changes some time in August 2016.

The ‘sharing economy’ in the ATO’s sights

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The ATO is concerned that those earning money from the ‘sharing economy’ may not realise they have to declare these amounts on their tax return.

In the sharing economy, buyers and sellers are connected through a facilitator who usually operates an app or website.

Assistant Commissioner Graham Whyte said:
“If you earn money from doing odd jobs or providing a service like task sharing, transporting passengers through things like ride-sourcing, or renting out a room or house, you need to declare it because it counts as assessable income.  If you are running a business through the sharing economy you also need to declare this income.
“It’s a bit different if the goods you provide or the activity you complete through a sharing economy website or platform is done as a hobby or recreational activity.  The amount you are paid may not be assessable income.” 

Editor: We can help you with this distinction.

Mr Whyte said ATO technology was keeping up with the sharing economy, and, thanks to their data collection and data matching activities, the ATO would know if taxpayers have left out a significant amount of income.

In addition, some taxpayers may need to register for, and pay, GST (especially those earning an income from carrying on an enterprise of ride-sourcing services, regardless of how much money they earn).

ATO’s deadline for non-arm’s length LRBAs extended

The ATO is allowing SMSF trustees additional time until 31 January 2017 to ensure that any limited recourse borrowing arrangements (LRBAs) that their fund has are on terms consistent with an arm’s length dealing, or alternatively are brought to an end.
Editor: The ATO had previously advised SMSF trustees they only had until 30 June 2016 to review the LRBAs in their fund.
As part of this extension, the ATO has advised that it will provide further information and illustrative examples, to assist SMSF trustees and advisers to make decisions about relevant arrangements, by 30 September 2016.

Goods taken from stock for private use: 2015/16

The ATO has provided an update of the amounts it will accept for 2015/16 as estimates of the value of goods taken from trading stock for private use by taxpayers in certain specified industries.
The amounts (which exclude GST) are:

Type of Business

Adult/Child over 16 years Child 4–16 years
Bakery 1,350 675
Butcher 800 400
Restaurant/cafe (licensed) 4,580 1,750
Restaurant/cafe (unlicensed) 3,500 1,750
Caterer 3,790 1,895
Delicatessen 3,500 1,750
Fruiterer/greengrocer 790 395
Takeaway food shop 3,410 1,705
Mixed business (includes milk bar, general store, and convenience store) 4,230 2,115

The ATO recognises that greater or lesser values may be appropriate in particular cases.  It says it will adjust the values annually.