A consistent theme this tax time is overclaiming and under reporting. With the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) getting more and more sophisticated in its data matching approaches, taxpayers can expect greater scrutiny where their claims are more than what is expected. We take a look at the key issues for you, your business and your SMSF.
What’s new for you?
Work related deductions
Last financial year, over 8.8 million taxpayers claimed $21.98 billion in deductions for work related expenses. It’s an area under intense review by the ATO. If you claim work-related deductions, it’s important to ensure that you are able to substantiate any claim you make.
To claim a deduction, you need to have incurred the expense yourself and not been reimbursed by your employer or business, in most cases you need a record proving you incurred the expense, and the expense has to be directly related to how you earn your income – that is, the expense is directly (not sort of) related to your work. This also means ensuring that you only claim the work-related portion of items you use personally, such as mobile phones or internet services.
When you don’t have to keep records
If your claim for work related deductions is below $300 you do not have to keep a record of the expense, such as a receipt. Work related clothing has a $150 record keeping limit. However, the ATO is concerned that taxpayers are ‘automatically’ claiming these deductions without incurring any expenses because of a belief that you don’t have to support the claim. If you have claimed an amount up to the record keeping threshold, you may find that the ATO will ask you to explain how you came to that amount. If you don’t have diary entries or a good explanation, your claim might be denied.
Working from home
If you don’t have a dedicated work area but you do some work on the couch or at the dining room table, you can claim some of your expenses like the work-related portion of your phone and internet expenses and the decline in value of your computer. If you have a dedicated work area, there are a few more expenses you can claim including some of the running costs of your home such as a portion of your electricity expenses and the decline in value of office equipment.
If your home is your principal place of business, you might be able to claim a range of expenses related to the portion of your home set aside for your business. What the ATO is looking for is an identifiable area of the home used for business.
Ensure any claims are in proportion to the work-related use. You can’t, for example, claim all of your internet expenses because you do a bit of work from home in the evenings and need the internet.
Work related clothing
In general, you cannot claim the cost of your work clothes or dry-cleaning expenses unless the clothes are occupation specific, such as chefs’ whites or a uniform with a logo, or protective gear because your workplace has hazards (jeans don’t count as protective wear).
Just because you have to wear a suit to work does not make it deductible.
The ATO has a special taskforce dealing specifically with cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency is considered an asset for tax purposes, rather than a form of currency. This means that gains or losses made on disposal or exchange of cryptocurrency will often be captured under the tax system – regardless of whether you’re switching between currencies or ‘cashing out’ your asset into AUD.
You will need to keep records of all of your trades in order to work out whether you’ve made a taxable gain or loss each time you dispose of an asset.
Capital gains tax can be complex, and this is an area that the ATO is looking very closely at, particularly where taxpayers are claiming large losses. Also, some disposals can be taxed as ordinary income which means the CGT discount cannot apply and capital losses cannot be applied against the gains that have been made.
Rental property deductions
In the 2017-18 financial year, more than 2.2 million Australians claimed over $47 billon in deductions and the ATO believes that is too much – one in ten is estimated to contain errors.
What you can claim for your rental property has been significantly curbed. For example, you can no longer claim deductions for the cost of travelling to inspect the property. And, you can no longer claim depreciation deductions for second hand plant and equipment. Previously, you could for example, buy a rental property from someone else and then claim depreciation on the assets already in the property such as the kitchen appliances and carpet. From 1 July 2017, you can only claim deductions for new assets you purchase and install in the property.
4,500 audits of rental property deductions will be undertaken this year with the focus on over-claimed interest, capital works claimed as repairs, incorrect apportionment of expenses for holiday homes let out to others, and omitted income from accommodation sharing. Deliberate cases of over-claiming are treated harshly with penalties of up to 75% of the claim.
Earning money from the sharing economy
Income earned from the sharing economy, Airbnb, Uber, Airtasker etc., must be declared in your tax return. But you may also be able to claim proportional expenses associated to providing the service. Ensure that any deductions you claim are related to providing the service itself (not just switching on the app or making yourself available).
If you are a driver with Uber or another platform, you will need to be registered for GST regardless of how often you drive.
Timing of resolutions
Trustees (or directors of a trustee company) need to consider and decide on the distributions they plan to make by 30 June 2019 at the latest (the trust deed may actually require this to be done earlier). Decisions made by the trustees should be documented in writing, preferably by 30 June 2019.
If valid resolutions are not in place by 30 June 2019, the risk is that the taxable income of the trust will be assessed in the hands of a default beneficiary (if the trust deed provides for this) or the trustee (in which case the highest marginal rate of tax would normally apply).
Has your trust lodged TFN reports for all beneficiaries?
Trustees of closely held trusts have some additional reporting obligations outside the lodgement of the trust tax return each year. The ATO is currently reviewing trustees to ensure their compliance with these obligations, particularly the requirement to lodge TFN reports for beneficiaries.
Where beneficiaries have quoted their TFN to the trustee, trustees are required to lodge a TFN report for each beneficiary. The TFN report must be lodged by the end of the month following the end of the quarter in which a beneficiary quoted their TFN. For example, if the trustee receives a beneficiary’s TFN in April, they must lodge a TFN report by the end of July.
Where a TFN has not been provided by a beneficiary, the trustee is required to withhold tax at a rate of 47% and pay this to the ATO. The trustee must also lodge an annual report of all amounts withheld.
Failure to comply with the TFN reporting and withholding requirements may incur penalties.
Not making your full superannuation contribution? Now you can catch up
This year is the first year of new measures that enable people who have been out of the work force, like new Mums, to top up their superannuation.
If you have:
- A total superannuation balance below $500,000 as at 30 June; and
- Not utilised your entire concessional contributions cap ($25,000) for the year
then you can ‘carry forward’ the unused amount on a rolling 5-year basis.
For example, if your total concessional contributions in the 2018-19 financial year were $10,000 and you meet the eligibility criteria, then you can carry forward the unused $15,000 over the next 5 years. You may then be able to make a higher deductible personal contribution in a later financial year. If you are selling an asset and likely to make a taxable capital gain, a higher deductible personal contribution may assist in reducing your tax liability in the year of sale.
- Your total superannuation balance must be below $500,000 as at 30 June of the prior year before you utilise any carried forward amount (within the 5-year term); and
- In some cases, an additional 15% tax can apply (30% total) to concessional contributions made to super where income and concessional contributions exceeds certain thresholds ($250,000 in 2018-19). Your income could be higher than usual in the year when you sell an asset for a capital gain.
At Satori Advisory we understand that paying the right amount of tax and not a cent more means more disposable income in your pocket. Our accountants will ensure you’re doing just that AND help structure your accounts and/or business to maximise your income. Additionally, when you use Satori Advisory myVAULT to automatically collate your expenses, your time in managing your tax records is minimised, freeing you up to focus on what what’s really important to you.
Give the team a call and re-discover your freedom. The Accounting team are on 1300 925 081 or firstname.lastname@example.org