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Firm Journal

16 May 2022

How You Structure Your SMSF Could Impact The Trustees In The Fund

The way in which a self-managed super fund is structured could change its legal compliance requirements. If you are in the process of setting up an SMSF, you will need to make a decision about how to structure it appropriately to suit. 

An SMSF can be structured as a single-member fund or a multiple-member fund, with the trustees of those funds deemed as either to be individual trustees or a corporate trustee

Examining the circumstances of your members could help to narrow down the structure that will be best suited. You can also work out from the requirements of each structure whether or not a fund structure would be suitable for the needs of your members. 

Individual Trustees

Individual trustees in a single-member fund will have two trustees within the fund. One trustee must be the fund member, but cannot be the other trustee’s employee (unless they are also relatives). An example of a single member trust fund structure could be a family super fund, where the members are trustees for the fund.

Individual trustees in a multiple-member fund structure generally have between two to six members. Each fund member must be a trustee and each trustee must be a fund member. Like the single-member fund, members of this fund structure cannot be the employee of another member (unless they are relatives). 

SMSFs that use individual trustees or are looking to use individual trustees in their structure may benefit from the following: 

Corporate Trustees

SMSFs that are set up using corporate trustees, typically set up a business or company to act as a trustee. The members within these kinds of funds are known as directors and will need to apply for a director identification number as such.

Corporate trustees within a single-member fund structure may have one or two directors, but one of those directors must be the fund member. If there are two directors, the member cannot be the other director’s employer (unless they are relatives).

Corporate trustees within a multiple-member fund structure generally number between two to six members, with each fund member also being a director. A member cannot be the employee of another member (unless they are relatives). An example of a corporate trustee SMSF could be a business acting as the trustee for a super fund, where the members are also directors of the fund. 

SMSFs that use corporate trustees or are looking to use corporate trustees in their structure may benefit from the following: 

The setup of an SMSF can be a complicated process. You may benefit from speaking with a professional assisting you in its preparation and establishment. Choose someone who is qualified, registered and licensed, and right for you and your circumstances. 

10 May 2022

Your Work-Related Tax Deduction Checklist For This Year’s Tax Return Made Easy

The end of the financial year is coming up next month (30 June), and you may be looking for ways in which you could make tax savings in this year’s tax return. This could be through tax deductions, expenses that you could make now for your work purposes or even with tax offsets introduced by the government. Whatever your tax situation, we’re equipped and ready to help you navigate the tricks and traps of income tax returns.

Upon completing a tax return, individuals are entitled to claim deductions for expenses that are directly related to their income. These can come in a variety of forms, but must usually be work-related to be claimable. 

There are three requirements individuals must meet to be able to claim a work-related deduction:

If an expense was for work and private purposes, individuals can claim a deduction for the work-related portion.

Here are some common types of deductible expenses taxpayers like employees and rental property owners can claim this financial year:

Home Office Expenses

The past year may have seen you working more from home or remotely than ever before, and setting up a home office may have incurred a number of additional expenses. Some of the expenses that you may be able to claim as tax deductions include

With home office equipment, you may be able to claim either:

Unless you meet very specific requirements, you probably will not be able to claim for home expenses, such as mortgage interest, rent and rates, or the cost of general household items. 

If you plan to use the temporary ATO approved ‘shortcut method’ (80 cents per hour for all additional running expenses) to claim your deductions, you cannot claim any other expenses for working from home for that period. If you purchased a desk to use when working from home for example, you cannot claim a deduction for that separately as it is covered by the 80 cents per hour work rate. The deadline for this method of calculation is 30 June 2022 (unless it is extended). 

Clothing Expenses

Individuals can make a claim for work-related clothing expenses including compulsory, non-compulsory and registered uniforms, occupation-specific and protective clothing, and expenses associated with work-related clothing, such as dry cleaning, laundry and repair expenses.

Self-education Expenses

Individuals can prepay self-education items before the end of the income year, including:

–        course fees (not HECS-HELP fees), student union fees and tutorial fees

–        stationery and textbook purchases

Other Work-related Expenses

Individuals can prepay the following expenses before 1 July 2022:

–        union fees

–        seminars and conferences

–        subscriptions to trade, professional or business associations

–        subscriptions to magazines and newspapers

If you are looking for assistance in working out potential expenses that you could incur prior to the end of the financial year, have queries about your claims or just want to prepare for 30 June 2022, start a conversation with us now. We are tax planning professionals ready and willing to help. 

 

2 May 2022

Director Identification Number Compliance Reminder For Businesses

As of 5 April 2022, new Directors will need to have applied for their Director Identification Number (DIN) prior to their appointment to the position.

Existing directors were required to obtain a DIN prior to the end of the transitional period (30 November 2022), whereas directors of Indigenous Corporation have until 30 November 2023. Failure to do so could result in penalties for non-compliance.

What Is A Director Identification Number?

Previously a company or business was registered through ASIC, where a Tax File Number and an Australian Business Number would be required. These are obtained through the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and are a critical part of setting up a business or company.

Introduced in November 2021, there will be an additional step introduced in the registering of a company, involving a Director Identification Number (DIN). This director identification number is a unique identifier that a director will apply for once and keep forever.

They were brought in as a part of a broader regulatory strategy to address the issue of phoenixing – this is where controllers of a company deliberately avoid paying liabilities by shutting down indebted companies and transferring assets to another company.

DINs are recorded in a database to be administered and operated by the Australian Tax Office and are made available to the public.

The ATO has the power to provide, record, cancel and re-issue a person’s DIN. A DIN will be automatically cancelled if the individual does not become a Director within 12 months of receiving the DIN.

Who Does A DIN Apply To? 

Director ID only applies to companies and corporate bodies registered under the Corporations Act and CATSI Act.

Director ID does not apply to sole traders, partnerships or trusts unless the trust has a corporate trustee.

Deadlines For Applying For A DIN

When the announcement of DINs was made in April 2021, there were set deadlines in place for those involved in profit and not-for-profit entities, as well as for Indigenous Directors. As of 5 April 2022, those deadlines have changed.

For profit entities, the deadline for applying for a DIN under the Corporations Act must be done before your appointment as a director.

For non-profit entities (including those entities registered under the ACNC Act as either private or public companies), you also need to have applied for your DIN before you are appointed as a director.

For new directors of Indigenous Corporations, the same requirements for applying are advised (prior to appointment).

How To Apply For A DIN

All directors must apply for their own DIN. This cannot be done by a third part, unless it can be proven to the Registrar that the director is unable to make the application on their own behalf (such as suffering some sort of incapacity, etc).

There are three ways to apply for a DIN:

  1. Online application via the myGovID app. This is different to myGov and is the quickest way to obtain a DIN.
  2. Phone application.
  3. Paper application (which is the slowest process).

These methods require proof of identity documentation, however, you may be able to use certified copies (witnessed by a Justice of the Peace) if you are using the paper application.

25 April 2022

The Benefits & The Downsides Of SMSF Set UP

One of the benefits of establishing or opting for an SMSF is due to the control they are given over where the money is invested. While this sounds enticing, the downside is that they involve a lot more time and effort as all investment is managed by the members/trustees. They are also often the targets of fraud and scams.

Firstly, SMSFs require a lot of ongoing investment of time:

Secondly, there are set-up and maintenance costs of SMSFs such as tax advice, financial advice, legal advice and hiring an accredited auditor. These costs are difficult to avoid if you want the best out of your SMSF. A statistical review has shown that on average, the operating cost of an SMSF is $6,152. This data is inclusive of deductible and non-deductible expenses such as auditor fees, management and administration expenses etc., but not inclusive of costs such as investment and insurance expenses.

Thirdly, investing in an SMSF requires financial and legal knowledge and skill. Trustees should understand the investment market so that they can build and manage a diversified portfolio.

Further, when creating an investment strategy, it is important to assess the risk and plan ahead for retirement, which can be difficult if one is not equipped with the necessary knowledge. In terms of legal knowledge, complying with tax, super and other relevant regulations requires a basic level of understanding at the very least.

Finally, insurance for fund members also needs to be organised which can be difficult without additional knowledge.

Although SMSFs have the advantage of autonomy when it comes to investing, this comes at a price. Members/trustees need to invest time and money into managing the fund and on top of this, are required to have some financial and legal knowledge to successfully manage the fund.

SMSF Fraud Alert

The ATO is also warning of an increase in Self Managed Super Fund identity fraud and scams targeting the retirement savings of individuals. This is something to be aware of if looking to start an SMSF and maintain it.

These fraudulent perpetrators use stolen identity information or may harvest information from individuals by cold calling the victim and presenting themselves as superannuation experts.

They typically offer superannuation comparisons and/or high-return investment options through the establishment of a fraudulent SMSF. Remain vigilant, and remember that if you are dealing with an advisor for the benefit of your SMSF, you should check to see if the advisor is listed on ASIC’s Professional registers or Moneysmart’s list of unlicensed companies you should not deal with. 

18 April 2022

Car Parking Benefit Readdresses FBT Definition, Employers To Benefit

It’s getting closer to the time that FBT returns need to be lodged, so it’s important to understand that there may be a change to the FBT liability of your business when it comes to one employee benefit.

Car parking as an FBT benefit is provided on a particular day when, between 7.00am and 7.00pm:

However, a car parking benefit provided in respect of an employee is exempt where:

Redefining a ‘commercial parking station’ to revisit a prior concept associated with the application of fringe benefits tax may make the perks of coming into the office a little more appealing to employees.

FBT applies to parking provided by employers to their employees where there is alternative parking available commercially available.

Prior to the recent ruling, there was a previous understanding that car parks that effectively charge penalty rates for all-day parking (to encourage shorter stays) would not represent genuine alternative parking arrangements for commuters, and should not trigger FBT liabilities as a result. However, the recent ruling has overturned this, which means that any alternative paid parking would trigger the liability.

This ruling came into effect on 1 April 2022.

This recent ruling on how car parking is treated as an FBT liability should assist in reducing the potential FBT burden on some employers (which should assist them in turn in incentivising employees back into the workplace with benefits).

Other FBT benefits that employers may be able to claim back on in their FBT return could include COVID-19 related benefits (such as office equipment, technology, etc), company cars, meals, entertainment, living away from home allowances, and more. As a result of the impact

If you need assistance with preparing your FBT return for lodgement, consult with a professional as soon as possible so that we can assist you with preparing your return.

11 April 2022

Paid Parental Leave Scheme Update For Federal Budget Announcements

If you have employees who are expecting to expand on their family (whether they are adopting or looking to become pregnant), the Federal Budget 2022-23 announced a change to paid parental leave that could impact you and your employees.

Single parents and fathers are now eligible for longer paid parental leave after the government proposed an ‘enhanced’ 20-week scheme from announcements made during the Federal Budget 2022.

Under existing arrangements, up to 18 weeks of paid parental leave can be taken by whoever is designated a baby’s primary carer – usually the mother – at the minimum wage, while a secondary carer is eligible to take two weeks. If the secondary carer does not use the two weeks, it is lost.

As a result of the recent announcements made in the Federal Budget 2022-23, the secondary carer’s leave will be merged with the 18 weeks of Paid Parental Leave to increase the government-funded scheme to 20 weeks of leave.

Single parents will see two additional weeks of paid parental leave added to what they normally would be entitled to, whereas two-parent households will be able to split the Paid Parental Leave as they would like. However, this leave must be taken within two years of the child’s birth or adoption.

The ‘use it or lose it’ incentive will not be implemented into the new scheme, but an emphasis may still be placed on the primary caregiver to take the bulk of the leave.

The enhanced scheme will also broaden the eligibility for paid parental leave to include a household income threshold of $350,000 per year.

This fully flexible leave aims to help working parents make caring decisions that suit their specific circumstances and encourage fathers to take up parental leave.

Presently, women who earn up to $151,350 can access paid leave, but women earning more than the threshold are not entitled to this scheme, even if their partner has lesser or no income.

The rate of paid parental leave has not increased either – it is simply that eligible parents will be able to access more of it. This may be a disincentive however to the higher income earner, as taking the paid time off may be less than what they would otherwise earn working.

Notably, though, the proposed scheme still does not include superannuation payments in parental paid leave. Paying super on paid parental leave would allow parents to continue building their retirement savings while taking time out of the paid workforce to care for children.

If all goes to plan, these changes to the paid parental leave scheme will take place no later than 1 March 2023.

Paid parental leave is a topic that can be tricky for employers. Having a discussion with a professional can be a way to alleviate concerns about what your employees are entitled to or the risks of failing to match standard employee obligations around the matter.

4 April 2022

Superannuation Changes To Affect Pensioners (And What You May Still Need To Take Into Account From Last Year’s Budget)

The Federal Budget was released last Tuesday, announcing key changes to taxation and business. For superannuation, the minimum pension drawdown amount was in the spotlight.

The reduction in the minimum pension drawdown amount for superannuation pension recipients has been extended for another year by the Federal Government, as announced in the Budget for 2022-23.

The minimum pension amount will be only 50% of the general amount (the balance from which the pension is drawn). For example, a 65-year old would usually need to draw down 5% of their opening balance as a pension payment throughout the year.

For the 2022-23 financial year, the minimum amount will be reduced 50% (dropping this to 2.5%). This measure is set to cost the Federal Government around $19.2 million dollars for the 2022-23 years, but you need to be alert and conscientious about it.

Why Is That?

Whilst it is a great outcome to keep as much of your money in your super as is possible (if it’s not required for you to live on), you do need to be conscious that at some point, the remaining balance will be passed onto the next generation, potentially as a part of their inheritance.

When this money does change hands and is given to the next generation if the superannuation balance includes a taxable component, then your children may be subject to as much as 17% tax on the capital value of that balance.

Different tax treatments can apply depending on whether your super is being paid as a lump sum, income stream or mixture of both, and if your beneficiary or beneficiaries are classified as ‘tax dependants’.

A tax dependant includes:

If your beneficiaries were not financially dependent of you, such as a spouse or child under 18 years of age, then they will have to pay tax on the inheritance that you have left for them in your superannuation fund.

However, if you take that money out of your super and it passes to your children as a part of your estate instead, there will be no death duties payable (in this instance, ‘death duties’ refers to inheritance tax that may be payable, which has not been an issue since 1981).

The primary reason for the reduction in the minimum pension payment amount is to protect pensioners from having to sell their assets during a volatile period. However, this is a double-edged sword that needs to be carefully considered and weighed against your circumstances.

You May Need To Start A Discussion 

Superannuation can be a tricky area to navigate, especially when you’re trying to do it by yourself.

If you’re approaching retirement, you may have questions about how to prepare for your pension years. These may include

  1. General retirement adequacy – how much money you’ll actually need to retire on
  2. How to manage your finances in retirement
  3. Old age issues that could crop up
  4. Using your home to fund retirement and insurance (and embracing the grey nomad lifestyle)
  5. Recent changes to superannuation measures, including the extended timeframe of the minimum pension drawdown,

Consulting with a professional is the best way to ensure that your pension is currently operating at its most effective level, and they can assist you with understanding what you may need to do to get your affairs in preparation for the future.

28 March 2022

COVID Deductions Rely On Work-Related Purposes (So Here’s What You Might Be Able To Claim)

People across different industries may have different items for work that they can claim a deduction on their tax returns for, but this season may see a few common occurrences across individual tax returns for 2022.

On your individual tax return this year, you may notice a few expenses pertaining to COVID-19-related purchases, such as masks, hand sanitisers and RATs tests that you may be able to claim (depending on your circumstances). These deductions may have specific conditions and requirements that must be met, and failure to comply may result in the Australian Taxation Office disallowing these claims.

Masks and hand sanitiser are claimable deductions for those who have required them to work in their industry (e.g. retail, hospitality, education). This is because they can be claimed as PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), but they must be directly connected to how you earn your income (for example, many State governments mandated at various points last year that hospitality workers were required to wear masks while working). If your place of employment did not provide this PPE to you, and you had to purchase it yourself, it may be claimable.

Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) however, must be purchased for a work-related purpose. There have been plans to specifically allow deductions for Covid-19 tests such as RATs by the Government to be claimed on individual tax returns.

This legislation is scheduled to be introduced on 1st July to specifically address this, but a COVID-19 RAT test can still be claimable if it is for a work-related purpose. This is the critical point to understand. It is a claimable deduction in this instance because it has been purchased for a work-related reason, or to be able to attend your place of work.

When claiming a deduction, it is important that you keep accurate records (such as receipts) to provide evidence of your purchase, and that these purchases weren’t reimbursed by your employer. If they were reimbursed, you will not be able to claim it back.

If you were working from home during 2021, you may be able to claim back some of the expenses related to this. One of the ways that you may be able to do so is through the ‘shortcut method’. This method allows you to claim 80 cents per hour for each hour worked from home (from 01 March 2020 to 30 June 2022). Importantly though, this includes everything – you don’t need to make other claims for work from home items such as phone, internet, stationery or furniture/equipment depreciation separately.

Depending on your circumstances, choosing the wrong method means you could cheat yourself out of big dollars on your tax return. Discuss your situation with your trusted tax agent so that you can understand what exactly is required from you in the lead up to tax return time.

21 March 2022

Passing The Business To Family? Here Are Three Things You Probably Hadn’t Considered

Succession planning for the family businesses has a number of factors that could impact the decision to pass the business onto the next generation. Namely,  you’ll be looking for someone in the family who is willing to assume the responsibility.

But if you intend to pass your business down the family tree there are also a number of taxation, financial and managerial considerations that need to be taken into account for a successful succession.

Taxation Implications

When transferring your family business and placing it in the name of another family member you may trigger a myriad of taxable consequences, including Capital Gains Tax (CGT), wine equalisation tax, fuel tax credits and excise duty. You need to consider, when preparing the business for succession include:

Consider A Family Trust

It is often suggested before a younger family member gains ownership of the business they should first assume managing responsibilities to prove themselves. If you want to relinquish control gradually rather than permanently, re-structuring the business as a family trust is an option.

Although this may be complicated and incur costs, as a trustee you will be able to have control of the assets from a distance and be able to step in should the need arise in the early phases of new leadership. Family trusts also carry increased tax benefits and concessions that can be taken advantage of.

This is a great solution for those looking to go into semi-retirement or looking to step back from the business but still want some involvement with the process.

Create A Family Constitution

To make the hand-off occur as smoothly as possible a family constitution should be drawn up collaboratively by all, directly and indirectly, involved in the business. The following should be included:

Develop A Succession Plan To Successfully Succeed

A succession plan is designed to assist you in transferring your business to a successor. To do so, it should include the following to further guide the process.

Identify who you would like to take over your business. If you wish to keep it in the family, you need to be certain that the person who will be taking over is skilled and prepared for the responsibilities to come. Make sure that you consider what is the best path for the business.

Understand how much your business is currently worth by getting your business valued. By doing so consistently, you can mark out how much your business is worth during events, the general day-to-day and more. This valuation may change substantially before you plan to leave, but having a valuation may assist you with planning for your succession.   

Review your plan regularly, as your circumstances and the business’s circumstances may change over time. Having an up-to-date succession plan will ensure you’re always ready in the event that you need to pass the business on earlier than expected. 

If the final preparations have been properly made, and you’re ready to go, you should simply be able to hand over the business and step aside. A clear and current succession plan should facilitate a smoother transition with far less chance of disruption to the business’s everyday operations.

14 March 2022

Why Keeping Money In Your Superannuation Needs To Consider Death Benefit Taxes

Most people will want to keep as much money in their superannuation account for as long as possible. One of the primary reasons behind this is that the longer the superannuation has a chance to stay within the account, the more returns may be seen (depending on how the investment assets are performing).

Often, people will ask if they actually have to take their money out. The simple answer is no.

You never have to take your own super out if you don’t want to. There are plenty of rules regarding keeping money in super (including the conditions and requirements to withdrawing, meeting preservation ages, etc). There are very few however that force you to take it out, and very rarely will you be forced to withdraw your superannuation if you do not want to.

The only time your super must be paid out is following your death (which, technically, means that you won’t receive that money anyway, it will be your beneficiary/ies who will).

The question though is whether or not you should leave your superannuation in there until you die. It comes down to who is receiving the money from your super.

If the money is being paid out to your spouse, it will be tax-free and there will be no issue with accessing it. You can also keep as much of your superannuation in there for as long as is necessary.

When you are a married couple, you can leave it to each other. However the remaining living spouse will often end up leaving their super to their adult children, and therein lies the catch.

When your super is paid to a child who is over 25 (without a disability), the adult child has to pay 17% tax on any taxable component of their parent’s super. In this situation, taking professional advice to compare the tax consequences of taking your super early (where you pay the tax on the earnings) versus the tax position of leaving it in super and your kids paying 17% on the taxable component instead, may be needed to work out what might be best for your situation.

One of the primary concerns is that those finding themselves in this position, where they have for example $600,000 in super and in their mid-eighties are not paying tax and not regularly seeking advice are the ones whose children end up paying the tax.

It may be that the next generation needs to be involved with their elderly parents’ financial positions to ensure that they are not going to be stung with Australia’s death taxes on superannuation payments.

Remember, this tax is only payable on the taxable component of the superannuation – there are strategies that can be put in place during your sixties that can reduce the taxable component of your super (without taking it out and remaining in your name).

Everyone in their sixties should be taking advice from professionals so that the impact of death benefit taxes are reduced for their adult children when it is mandatory for their parents’ superannuation to be paid out to them.

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