What you need to know from the 2021-22 Federal Budget

What you need to know from the 2021-22 Federal Budget

As Scott Morrison kept reminding us this morning, ‘we are fighting the pandemic’ and so the Federal Budget focuses on key spending to drive Australia’s economic recovery.

This is a Budget promoting economic growth and employment. While you will have those who continue to have major concerns over government debt and the continued spending, could it be that we are seeing a ‘new’ way of thinking when it comes to debt? My colleague, James Weir, wrote a paper explaining this with Modern Monetary Theory (“MMT”), suggesting maybe the focus on debt is unwarranted?

So here are the simply the main features of the 2021-2022 Budget;

Personal Income Tax

Low and middle income tax offset

This will be extended to 2021-2022 providing a reduction in tax of up to $1,080 to low and middle income earners.

Superannuation

Federal Budget - Superannuation

Removing the work test

This is actually a significant change. Individuals aged 67 to 74 years will be able to make non-concessional super contributions, or salary sacrifice super contributions without meeting the work test.

However, in order to make personal deductible contributions, you will still need to meet the work test.

Downsizer contributions

The charges announced in the Budget from that article include reducing the eligibility age for 65 to 60 years of age. This scheme allows a one-off contribution of $300,000 per person from the proceeds of the sale of their home.

To learn more about downsizer contributions and how it can work for you check out my blog here.

SMSF residency restrictions

From 1 July 2022, the Government will extend the central control test from 2 years to 5 years and remove the active member test.

Super guarantee threshold

The $450 per month minimum income threshold under which employers are not required to make a super contribution for employees will be removed 1 July 2022.

First Home Buyer Scheme (FHBS)

From 1 July 2022, the Government will increase the amount of voluntary contributions to $50,000 which may be released for the purchase of a first home.

Family Support

Family Home Guarantee

The Government has introduced the Family Home Guarantee to support single parents with dependants buying a home. This is regardless of whether they are a first home buyer or a previous owner-occupier. From 1 July 2021, 10,000 guarantees will be made available over four years to eligible single parents with a deposit of as little as 2%, subject to an individual’s ability to service a loan.

The Government is also providing a further 10,000 places under the New Home Guarantee in 2021/22. This is specifically for first home buyers seeking to build a new home or purchase a newly built home with a deposit of as little as 5%.

Increasing childcare subsidy (CCS)

To ease the cost of childcare and encourage a return to the workforce, from 1 July 2022 the Government proposes to provide a higher level of CCS to families with more than one child under age 6 in childcare. The level of subsidy will increase by an extra 30% to a maximum subsidy of 95% for the second and subsequent children. For example, currently a family may receive a 50% subsidy on childcare costs for each child if family income is between $174,390 and $253,680. Under the proposal, the family would receive a CCS of 50% of costs for their first child and 80% for their second and subsequent children. The annual CCS cap of $10,560 for families earning between $189,390 and $353,660 will also be removed.

Social Security

Pension Loan Scheme

The Government has announced added flexibility by allowing up to two lump sum advances in any 12 month period up to 50% of the annual pension.

The Government will also not claim back any more than the sale price of the house used to guarantee the payment.

Aged Care

The Government has announced a $17.7b investment in aged care reform over the next 5 years which will cover:

  • Additional Home Care Packages
  • Greater access to respite care services
  • A new funding model for residential aged care
  • A new Refundable Accommodation Deposit (RAD) support loan program.

Business Support

COVID Package

The Government will extend until 30 June 2023 the instant write-off of depreciable assets as well as the ability for qualifying companies to claim back tax paid in prior years from 2018-2019 where tax losses occur until the end of the 2022-2023 financial year.

2021 tax tips – How to avoid overpaying

2021 tax tips – How to avoid overpaying

I’m sure we can all agree that tax is something we would prefer to not pay; or at least not pay any more than we need to.

The ATO provides us with the ability to claim a tax deduction for personal expenses we incur in the quest to generate assessable income. It also incentivises through tax concessions, to reward certain practices such as funding for our retirement through superannuation.

So, rather than leaving it late, we have listed a few general tax tips for individuals which you may consider to either reduce your potential tax liabilities for the 2020/2021 financial year, or even to maximise your tax refund. But remember, you should always receive professional advice to determine which of these tips are appropriate for you.

Tax Tips 2021

Superannuation contributions

A ‘concessional’ contribution of $25,000pa may be made and a full tax deduction claimed for the 2020/2021 financial year. It’s important you don’t exceed this amount and remember your employer contributions are included in this limit. So, check-in again in June at what level your contributions sit at for the year, and if it makes sense it may be worthwhile adding while under the $25,000 limit.

And if you qualify under the ‘catch-up’ super provisions (detailed in our previous blog) your concessional contribution could be significantly higher.

General working deductions

Generally you can claim a deduction for work-related expenses (including educational costs). In order for the expense to qualify, you must not have been reimbursed by your employer and the expense must relate directly to your occupation and the earning of income. You must always keep your receipts.

The ATO has a list of occupation specific expenses which is helpful here.

Home office deductions

Many of us are continuing to spend more time working from home. If you are, you may be able to claim a deduction for expenses you incur relating to work.

For 2020/2021, the ATO will allow you to continue to use the ‘Short-cut’ method in determining your home office expenses. This basically involves maintaining a diary for 4 weeks noting the hours you work from home. An amount of $0.80 per hour may then be claimable.

The second method is the ‘Actual’ method, whereby you retain receipts and claim work related expenses (including depreciation on equipment), for which your employer has not reimbursed you. If you have a dedicated office, you may also claim utility expenses.

It’s actually worth considering both methods and to compare which is more appropriate for you.

Pre-payment of expenses and interest

Bringing forward deductible expenses is a great way to help manage your tax position.

If you have borrowings on an investment, such as property or shares, you may pre-pay the next 12 months worth of interest in June.

Capital gains tax deferral & the 12 month rule

If you are contemplating the sale of an asset, and expect to generate a capital gain, you may want to consider selling after 30th June to defer your tax liability.

Also, if you can hold on to an asset for 12 months before selling it, you will qualify for a capital gains discount of up to 50% (except for an asset held in the name of a company).

Offsetting capital gains with capital losses

If you have a capital gain for the year, one way to reduce it is to sell down any asset which may be trading at a loss. Just remember that any capital losses will reduce the gross capital gain (ie. The gain before any discount is applied).

It’s also worth noting that any capital loss which is not used may be offset against future capital gains.

Income protection insurance

Income Protection insurance protects up to 75% of your salary, if you can’t work due to injury or illness.

Not only is income protection imperative for many people, the premium is also tax deductible.

If you haven’t had you insurance needs reviewed, this may well be a trigger to get it done and possibly benefit from a tax deduction.

With the end of the financial year approaching, careful planning now may help to minimise any tax liability you may incur. So, don’t wait until it’s too late.

Review your personal situation now, and if you need clarification on what you can do to improve your situation, please get in touch.

Call Steward Wealth today on (03) 9975 7070.

The 2020 Federal Budget

The 2020 Federal Budget

 The 2020 Federal Budget (postponed from May), has been characterised by spending and bringing forward tax cuts to get the economy moving again. Make no mistake, the numbers are big! However, COVID has been seen as a great a threat to the global economy has faced in a very long time (many suggest since The Great Depression), and so requires equally strong and unprecedented measures.

The Treasurer, Josh Freydenberg has said that once the economy recovers and unemployment falls comfortably below 6%, he will then look to tackle the deficit. This is forecast to be in 2023-2024.

Unlike other budgets where we find major changes to superannuation requiring more strategic assessment and planning, this budget is relatively straight forward.

  • Personal tax cuts have been brought forward 2 years. This means many of you earning over $50,000 pa will have at least an additional $41 per week in your pockets. This will be back dated to 1st July 2020.
  • Further support for pensioners, low income earners and job seekers. This includes two cash payments and incentives for employers to hire unemployed workers.
  • Making it easier to choose a super fund. There will be an interactive online comparison to assist you in making a decision on where to invest your super, as well as making it easier to have your new employer contribute to your existing fund.
  • First home buyer purchase caps lifted to assist an additional 10,000 first home buyers.
  • Business tax changes for small business including immediate tax write-off, and applying tax losses from 2019 – 2022 against previously taxed profits.
  • Increased business investment with $1.3bn for initiatives in ‘modern manufacturing’ and $5.7bn for new and accelerated infrastructure projects.

 The attached article provides a comprehensive summary from Westpac Economics.

Massive international tax scam

Massive international tax scam

The ACCC recently told Google and Facebook they have to negotiate with Australian media sources to effectively pay them for their news. This has sparked a furious response from both companies because they are conscious governments all over the world are watching very carefully, and if they give in to Australia it could well open the proverbial floodgates – much like the fight over plain paper packaging for cigarettes.

As well as sucking a huge amount of advertising revenue out of domestic media franchises, these transnational companies are renowned for utilising every legal loophole they can to avoid paying tax, especially the tactic of attributing revenue to low tax, offshore locations like Ireland, the Netherlands or Cayman Islands.

According to Neil Chenoweth of the AFR, Google’s CY2019 Australian ‘customer receipts’ were reported as $5.2 billion, but ‘revenue’ was $1.2 billion, so $4 billion of sales made in this country were somehow attributed to offshore offices.

Google reported pre-tax earnings of $134 million and ended up paying tax of $49 million. Chenoweth writes that if its Australian division is as profitable as the rest of the company’s non-US businesses, pre-tax earnings would have been $2.2 billion, which means Australian tax should have been more like $660 million, or 13 times more than what it paid.

Facebook reported CY2019 Australian revenue of $167 million and paid tax of $14 million. Chenoweth calculates revenue was probably more like $2.2 billion. Again, using average non-US earnings rates, pre-tax profit should have been $1.1 billion, which should have resulted in tax of $330 million, or 24 times more than what it paid.

Massive international tax scam

Michael West compiles an annual list of the worst tax dodging companies, and interestingly neither Google nor Facebook make the top 40.

These are but two example of what is a farcical international tax regime. A classic example of just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s right.

P.S. For anyone curious about the ramifications of social media, The Social Dilemma on Netflix is an interesting take on it.

Make sure you claim your working from home tax deductions

Make sure you claim your working from home tax deductions

While it’s difficult to find any real positives during COVID-19, as a result of the quarantine requirements forcing so many people to work from home the ATO has introduced a new shortcut method for calculating related tax deductions.

The method is very straightforward. All you do is calculate the total number of hours you’ve worked from home during the COVID-19 period and multiply those hours by $0.80. The final amount is your tax-deductible expense claim. If there are two people working from home, you can both claim the $0.80 per hour. Record keeping is fairly basic, all you need to do is keep a record of the hours you have worked from home.

Ian Alabakis, of Alabakis Chartered Accountants, told us the shortcut method is a special arrangement for COVID that was originally due to finish in June, but it can now be applied up until 30 September 2020.

This means, you will be able to use the shortcut method to calculate your working at home expenses for the period from:

  • 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2020 in the 2019–20 income year, and
  • 1 July 2020 to 30 September 2020 in the 2020–21 income year

Ian says the ATO may extend this period, depending on when work patterns return to normal and added that in most cases, if you are working from home as an employee, there will be no capital gains tax (CGT) implications for your home.

What you can’t claim

If you’re working from home because of the COVID-19 lockdown, you generally can’t claim:

  • Expenses such as mortgage interest, rent, insurance and rates
  • Coffee and other general household items
  • Costs related to children’s education

More details are available from the ATO.