Tax help for people affected by bushfires
The ATO has advised that refunds will be fast-tracked for people directly affected by bushfires, and they will have additional time to lodge income tax returns and activity statements due between October and December 2013 (the new lodgment date is 28 January 2014).
“You do not need to apply for a deferral or a faster refund if your business or residential address is in one of the identified affected postcodes. It will happen automatically. You can visit our website to see the new lodgment dates and check if your region is included,” Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan said.
People outside of the identified postcodes that have been impacted by the disaster are still able to contact the ATO for assistance on 1800 806 218.
If taxpayers are experiencing any difficulties meeting their tax obligations, the ATO will make arrangements on a case-by-case basis.
“We understand that for many people their tax affairs are the last thing on their minds right now.”
“When people are ready, we will make sure they are supported in dealing with their tax obligations.”
The ATO can also provide more time for people to pay tax debts and can help reconstruct tax records where documents have been destroyed.
In addition, people donating up to $10 to ‘bucket appeals’ and other disaster relief funds this financial year will be able to claim a tax deduction without a receipt. For donations greater than $10, people should keep a receipt to substantiate their claim.
Tax changes under the new government
The new government has identified 92 announced but still unlegislated and unresolved tax and superannuation changes.
Of these, the government stated it will proceed with 18 initiatives, a further three initiatives will be significantly amended, and it will not proceed with seven initiatives. The remaining announced changes will be considered and, if required, the government intends that the bulk of any legislation that is to be progressed should be passed by Parliament by 1 July 2014.
Specifically, the government will not proceed with the following three measures which directly affect individual and business taxpayers:
The un-enacted measures the government will proceed with include:
Update on issues affecting SMSFs
At a compliance level, the ATO says that it is focusing on:
Related party transactions
The breaches most commonly reported to the ATO by SMSF auditors are trustees investing in, or transacting with, related parties in breach of the rules. This can include providing a loan or other financial assistance to a member or relative, which is prohibited.
Further, it is also common when there is a ‘loan’ to a member that it doesn’t meet the characteristics of a genuine loan anyway, and the member is simply accessing their super before they are entitled to.
ASIC warning to real estate industry
ASIC has warned the real estate industry that agents recommending investors use a SMSF to invest in property must ensure they are appropriately licensed to provide such advice.
Real estate agents may not realise they are providing ‘financial product advice’ and need an Australian financial services (AFS) licence when making recommendations or statements of opinion to a person to use an SMSF to invest in property.
Editor: Although this affects the real estate agents personally, it’s obviously important for SMSF trustees in this situation to ensure they are receiving appropriate advice from a person qualified to do so.
ATO to target work-related expense claims
This year the ATO is paying particular attention to a range of industries and occupations including:
The ATO says that it is also looking closely at:
ATO Data Matching Program
The ATO has advised that it will request and collect records relating to approximately 600,000 individuals receiving ‘Carer Allowance’ or ‘Carer Allowance Healthcare Card Only’ from the ‘Department of Human Services – Centrelink program’, to ensure that claims for the Dependent (invalid and carer) tax offset are being made correctly.