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税法

FY2020 Tax Return

Who would have guessed that the impact of COVID-19 would also be felt when preparing your tax return?   With various restrictions in place since March 2020, meaning many people have been work from home, more than ever it is important to understand what expenses you can and can’t claim as a tax deduction.   In recognition that going through expenses and apportioning what relates to work might not be most people’s cup of tea, the ATO has introduced a new method for calculating your deduction for work-related expenses for the 2020 financial year (called the “shortcut method”) with the view to reducing complexity.   We have set out a summary of the three methods of calculating your deductions in the table below.   If you plan on using a method other than the shortcut method, you will need to bear in mind the following general principles when claiming a deduction:   You must have spent the money. The expense must be directly related to earning your income. You must have a record to prove it.     So no, that shiny new coffee machine you bought is not likely to be deductible, even if you feel it’s the only way you can get through your working day.   What you can claim What you can’t claim Requirements Shortcut method 80c for every hour worked at home for the period from 1 March to 30 June 2020.   If you work 38 hour weeks, this would mean a deduction of just under $500. Actual costs of your expenses (e.g. utilities and equipment) – the 80c per hour is meant to cover all this. Record of the hours you have worked from home (e.g. timesheet, roster, diary, work records).   Fixed-rate method ·         52 cents for every hour worked at home to cover the cost of electricity, gas and depreciation of home office furniture. ·         Actual costs incurred for phone calls, internet, stationery. ·         Full cost of work-related equipment costing less than $300 (e.g. PC monitor). ·         Decline in value of work-related equipment over $300 (e.g. laptops and phones), based on their effective life.   For laptops this is 2 years,  desktops are 4 years, mobile phones are 3 years. See link below for ATO’s ruling as to effective life.     Actual costs of electricity, gas and home office furniture (covered by the 52c per hour deductions).   Non-deductible expenses, e.g: -       Snacks -       Toilet paper -       Coffee, tea and milk -       Luxury stationery -       Childcare or home schooling costs -       Items reimbursed by your employer. Dedicated workspace   Comprehensive records: -       receipts or other written evidence of amounts spent -       statements with breakdown between work and private calls to determine percentage of work-related use for a representative period (4 weeks) -       diary covering the representative period showing usual pattern of work -       your work-related internet use -       the percentage of the year you used depreciating assets exclusively for work. Actual expenses method ·         Actual cost of utilities, i.e. electricity and gas. ·         Actual cost of cleaning for the work area. ·         Actual costs incurred for phone calls, internet, stationery. ·         Repair costs for equipment and furniture. ·         Full cost of work-related equipment costing less than $300 (e.g. PC monitor). ·         Decline in value of work-related equipment over $300 (including furniture and fittings), based on their effective life. Non-deductible expenses per above. Dedicated workspace.   Comprehensive records (as described above) of all costs.   Can you claim the value of equipment you bought pre-COVID-19? You can claim the decline in value attributable to the period you used the equipment for work at home, provided it has not been written off already.   For example, a laptop (which has an effective life of 2 years) bought one year ago will have one year of effective life left. If you used the laptop for work purposes, then you will allowed a deduction corresponding to the decline in value for that period.   Say the laptop was worth $4000, and you used it for work purposes 50% of the time during 1 March and 30 June 2020. The deduction you get is under the prime cost method is:   $4000 × A × B × C = $330   Where: A = 50%, being the percentage representing 1 year of the 2 year life; B = 33%, being the percentage representing 121 days of the year; C = 50%, being the proportion used for work.   In this case, you are most likely already better off claiming under the fixed-rate method than the shortcut method, even if you don’t claim anything else (i.e. approximately $500 vs $654).   On the other hand, if you bought the laptop more than 2 years ago, there will be no deduction.   Can you claim expenses like your mortgage, rent and council rates? Most likely not if you are an employee simply working from home due to COVID-19 restrictions. These expenses can be claimed for example if you run a small business from home.   The key criteria are: 1.    The area claimed for occupancy expenses must be used extensively and systematically for taxpayer's work. This generally requires almost exclusive use for work such that the taxpayer and family have forgone domestic use of that room and/or that the room is not readily adaptable back to domestic use. 2.    The home office is not just a mere convenient place to work.   Note you don't get the full main residence exemption if your home is your principal place of business, although you're probably entitled to a partial exemption.   Can I claim a deduction for amounts where my employer provided an allowance? Yes, but only if the allowance is included as income in your tax return (and assuming it is not a reimbursement).   Can you claim travel from your home office to your actual office? No - your home is still a private residence and you cannot claim your trip from home to your regular workplace.   Is Jobseeker tax-free? It depends. Jobseeker will still constitute income, so you will need to include it on your tax return. If you remain under the tax-free threshold (taking into account all your other income), then you will not need to pay any tax. If your income is over the $18,200 threshold, then you will need to pay tax.   Early super withdrawals Please be warned that if you made an early withdrawal of your super improperly, there is a good chance the ATO may catch you in an audit. To have been eligible for the scheme, you must have been made redundant, working reduced hours of at least 20%, be unemployed or be eligible for welfare assistance such as JobSeeker (not JobKeeper), Youth Allowance or Parenting Payment. If you are a sole trader or run your own business, and have experienced a 20% or more fall in revenue, you are also eligible.   If you made a withdrawal even though ineligible, you will be liable to pay tax on the amount withdrawn as well as penalties. If this is your situation, the best way forward is to come clean and make a voluntary disclosure. If you need assistance in this regard (or any other tax matters), please feel free to contact us.   Link to ATO website: Home office expenses https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Income-and-deductions/Deductions-you-can-claim/Home-office-expenses/   Link to ATO website: TR 2019/5 – Income tax: effective life of depreciating assets https://www.ato.gov.au/law/view/document?DocNum=0000014624&PiT=99991231235958&FullDocument=true


税法

新南威尔士州最新税务政策解读

新南威尔士州议会最近通过了State Revenue Legislation Further Amendments Bill 2020,其中明确了当涉及全权信托(Discretionary Trust)的情况下,如何征收仅外国人需要缴纳的印花税附加税和土地税附加税。同时,该草案亦作出修订并明确了豁免条件 。当信托契约明确表示外国人不能成为信托受益人时,全权信托受托人所持有的住宅用地是可以得到豁免或退还印花税附加税及土地附加税。   印花税附加税和土地税附加税 过去4年来,新南威尔士州政府一直对在新州置业的海外人士征收额外的印花税和土地税。如果住宅物业由“外国人”持有,在通常税率和土地税(如果有)的基础上,需要支付: 印花税附加税: 额外8%的印花税 (购买物业时缴纳); 土地税附加税: 额外2%的土地税 (以每年12月31日为节点,需每年缴纳) 不同于土地税,土地税 附加税是没有免征额度的。这意味着,即使您不需要缴纳土地税,但是作为海外人士仍然需要支付附加税。譬如,物业的土地价值为$500,000, 原本不需要缴纳土地税,但是仍需支付$10,000的附加税。   家族信托可能会被征收附加税 在上述附加税的政策下,非澳洲公民或者没有永居签证的人士是需要缴纳额外的印花税和土地税。但令人意外的是,许多在澳洲建立的家族信托(全权信托的常见形式),也被视为“外国人”。这是因为,如果全权信托的任何一个潜在受益人(即使不是已定的受益人)是外国人,那该信托也会被视为外国人。当这样的情况出现时,即使受托人没有并且也没有向此类外国受益人进行利益分配的意向,或是没有列明可能的外国受益人,该信托仍会被视为“外国人”。 很多时候, 家族信托的受益人不仅包括家庭成员,而且会涵盖更多潜在的受益人(通常定义十分宽泛,可以包括父母、兄弟姐妹,叔叔和阿姨,侄女和侄子,孙子和孙女),以及公司或者信托受益人,甚至还有慈善机构(包括海外机构)受益人。为了表明这一政策影响范围之广,新南威尔士州地税局官网站给出了以下案例:   假设XYZ全权信托,其受益人包括A (作为已确定姓名的受益人之一)和A持有权益的公司或其他信托。A同时拥有着ABC Pty Ltd的1股股份,而ABC Pty Ltd的多数股权由一个外国人B持有。在这种情况下,XYZ全权信托将被视为一个外国人,因为ABC有限公司是XYZ全权信托的潜在受益人。如果XYZ全权委托信托购买新南威尔士州的不动产,则须支付购买物业的额外印花税和土地税,即使XYZ全权信托从未分配给ABC Pty Ltd,也从未打算这样做。   为了进一步举例说明,我所近期经手的一个家族信托,潜在受益人被指定为“澳大利亚境内或境外的学校、大学、学院和其他教育机构”,这同样导致该信托被认定为了“外国人”。 另外一种家族信托会被认定为 “外国人”的情形是,信托中的受益人包含延伸家庭成员并且他们没有在澳洲居住。 新的法案明确了附加税政策的广泛应用,其中引入的新章节规定:“就本章而言,全权信托的受托人应被视为外国受托人,除非该信托禁止外国人成为该信托的受益人。”   我们的咨询服务 如果您想通过家族信托购买(或已持有)物业, 该修正案允许家族信托通过修改信托契约,表明 ”禁止外国人成为该信托的受益人”, 从而避免被征收附加税费。 虽然距离修正案的正式生效(即2020年12月31日)仍有一段时间的缓冲期,但是我们建议尽快修改信托契约,尤其是现有家族信托契约有被认定为“外国人”的风险。   如果您不确定您的信托契约是否有“禁止外国人成为信托受益人”的条款,H & H Lawyers律师事务所可以协助您审查信托契约的内容,以确是否会受到新政策的影响。如果我们发现信托契约的条款会导致您的家庭信托被认定为“外国人”,我们可以进一步协助您对信托契约进行的必要修订。


工作场所与雇佣

临时工 vs 正式工

2020年5月20日,澳大利亚联邦法院全席法庭对WorkPac Pty Ltd v Rossato一案作出判决。 此案聚焦并围绕劳务派遣公司WorkPac Pty Ltd(以下简称 “WorkPac”)和Robert Rossato (以下简称“Rossato”)之间的雇佣关系进行展开。该公司派遣Rossato先生到Glencore公司名下两处位于昆士兰州的矿山工作。Rossato先生作为临时员工 (casual employee)工作的三年半期间,签订的是滚动合同(rolling contract)。作为一名临时员工,他在工资的基础上还获得了25%的额外报酬 - 这是为了弥补临时员工未能享有类似年假等福利的通常做法。 澳大利亚联邦法院全席法庭驳回 WorkPac 认为Rossato先生是临时员工的主张,判定他属于正式员工(permanent employee)。联邦法院基于以下理据,做出上述判决:Rossato先生的工作性质是 “定期(regular)、稳定(certain)、连续(continuing)、持续性(constant)” ,而且有事先被告知工作日程。 Rossato先生有资格享受根据《2009年公平工作法》(Fair Work Act 2009 Cth)和企业协议(Enterprise Agreement)中全国就业标准(National Employment Standards - NES)所规定正式员工应享有的福利,其中包括带薪年假,个人病假/照顾者假,丧病假及法定公共假日等。 这一判决对于雇佣临时员工的雇主,无论是通过直接雇用、外包劳务、转包等不同的雇佣途径,都是不能忽视的重要判决。对于该判决,联邦政府可能会采取干预措施或向最高法院提出上诉,但是在判决发生改变之前,雇主现在应该仔细审查与临时员工之间的雇佣安排,更新与临时员工的合同条款。雇主应重新考量与劳务派遣公司以及派遣员工之间的关系,特别需要注意以下三点: 雇主应该进行阶段性审查与临时员工的雇佣安排,并考虑与临时雇佣相比,兼职或固定期限等其他形式的雇佣关系是否更加合适。  如果临时雇佣关系仍然适用,雇主应该注意合同中是否单独列明临时员工会获得额外报酬,由于临时员工不享受全国就业标准(NES)以及正式员工的应享福利。我们建议雇主与临时员工签署一份声明,表明如果之后被认定为正式雇佣关系,雇主有权要求员工退还之前所获得的额外报酬。  我们建议雇主至少每年定期审查临时雇佣合同。以评估该合同下的雇佣关系是否会被认定为工作日程稳定并且持续的雇佣关系。   如果您认为WorkPac Pty Ltd v Rossato的判决结果,会对您公司现有员工的工作安排有所影响,或者在处理与员工之间的雇佣关系上需要专业的法律意见,请与我们联络。  


遗嘱与遗产规划 , 家庭法

韩国流行歌星具荷拉遗产争夺战提醒人们有效遗嘱的重要性

熟悉韩国流行音乐新闻的人一定听说过韩国女团Kara的前成员,歌手具荷拉去世的消息。在具荷拉去世后,随着她的母亲根据韩国继承法提出分割遗产的主张,她悲伤童年经历逐渐被大众知晓。   据报道,在具荷拉八岁时,她的母亲抛弃了她和她的哥哥,自那之后从未照顾或联系过他们。具荷拉的母亲后在2006年放弃了对具荷拉和她哥哥的有关的法定监护权。具荷拉后来由哥哥和祖父母照顾,而她的父亲大部分时间都在建筑工地工作,为孩子们提供财力支持。   具荷拉去世时年仅 28岁,没有配偶或孩子。根据韩国继承法,如果逝者没有有效的遗嘱,那么逝者的遗产将按以下顺序分割: 1. 子女(或孙子女) 2. 父母(或祖父母) 3. 兄弟姊妹 4. 有第4级血缘关系的亲属   如果有多个亲属属于以上同一级别,那么他们就平等地分割遗产。   自从具荷拉去世后,她的父亲将分给他的具荷拉遗产份额交给了具荷拉的哥哥,他说他总是因长期在外工作感到内疚,没有为孩子们提供情感上的支持,孩子们在他不在的时候相互依赖。   目前,具荷拉的母亲已经指定了一名律师,并根据韩国继承法提起诉讼,要求作为母亲获得她一半的遗产份额。具荷拉哥哥表示,他对给妹妹的生活带来如此多痛苦的人现在将从她的死亡中受益感到难过,并发誓要保护妹妹的遗产。   有人可能会认为,如果韩国司法系统允许具荷拉的母亲分享她遗产,那么法律就导致了一个不公正的结果。但根据韩国现行继承法的规定,除非韩国继承法对“母亲”的定义有不同的方式,将在逝者生前未履行母亲职责的母亲排除在外,否则法院必须将具荷拉遗产的一半份额判给她的母亲。   相似地,在新南威尔士州,当一个人在没有有效遗嘱的情况下去世时,《新南威尔士州继承法2006》(Succession Act 2006 (NSW),下称‘《继承法》’)将决定逝者的遗产如何分配。在新南威尔士州,遗产通常会先分配给逝者尚在世的配偶,如果没有尚在世的配偶,则按以下顺序分割: 1. 子女 2. 父母 3. 兄弟姊妹 4. 祖父母 5. 姑姑、姨母、叔叔、伯伯 6. 堂/表兄弟姊妹   法律在分配遗产时不考虑逝者与家人的个人关系;法庭唯一会考虑的是可能的继承人与逝者在法律上的关系。   在新南威尔士州有很多类似的案例。以近期发生的一起案件为例,为了确保孩子的安全,法庭向一名有虐待和家庭暴力史的父亲发出了限制令(Apprehensive Violence Order, 下称“AVO”),以阻止他接近年幼的儿子。在法院发布AVO后不久,孩子的母亲就与这位父亲离婚,搬到了悉尼。孩子快三十岁的时候,经过努力工作,他已经积累了自己的财富。他与母亲保持着密切的关系,但与父亲没有任何形式的关系。他的父亲从来没有联系过家人,他们过着不同的生活。   后来,这个20多岁的孩子不幸突然死于一场事故。他去世时还没有结婚,也没有孩子。这个孩子从来没有想过要做好遗产规划,因此在他去世时没有有效的遗嘱。这位母亲为了最终确定她儿子的遗产,向法院提交了文件,成为其儿子遗产的管理人和唯一受益人。法院告知这位母亲,如果一个人在没有遗嘱的情况下去世,那么法律将决定谁是遗产的受益人。根据《继承法》,由于逝者没有配偶或子女在世,接受逝者遗产的是逝者的父母。因此,父亲和母亲必须平分已故儿子的遗产。   这位母亲感到悲痛的是,这位虐待儿子的父亲,在她儿子的一生中没有参与抚养他,对于她的儿子来说几乎是个陌生人,但现在将从她儿子的死亡中受益。然而,法律在这件事上是明确的,无遗嘱者的遗产分配必须依法进行,法律规定,如果一个人去世时没有任何配偶或子女在世,那么逝者的父母就是下一个分享遗产的人。《继承法》不探究父母与子女之间的个人关系,其本人是孩子的父母这一事实即是唯一需要的资格。   每个家庭都有不同的故事和不同的关系,这对每个家庭来说都是独一无二的。不过,法律在分配没有有效遗嘱的逝者的遗产时,并不考虑这些因素。一个人能够确定和控制去世后发生的事情的唯一方法就是制定一份有效的遗嘱。   人们会同意并认识到制定有效遗嘱的重要性,但对大多数人来说,这很容易被推到他们的“待办事项”清单的底部。然而,由于我们目前正经历着一段不确定的时期,在这次新冠病毒大流行期间,我们有更多的空闲时间,也许是时候考虑一下遗产规划,以避免给家人带来不确定性和心痛。  


工作场所与雇佣

Needs for employment contract in writing

Q: Some mid-career employees have been working for 10 years without a formal employment contract. I've had no problem without an employment contract, but should I still have an written employment contract? (Male in their 40s, HR department at Japanese company) A: Employment contracts do not necessarily have to be reduced in writing. Oral employment contracts have legal effect. Even if specific terms of employment contract have not been discussed, there is in principle an employment relationship if an employee actually works for an employer. It goes without saying that wages, working hours, annual Leave and superannuation, etc., must meet the minimum labour standards set by law, even if no detailed employment conditions are negotiated. However, labour standards set by law are complex. Employers may violate inadvertently minimum labour standards if they do not ensure that minimum employment standards are well covered in the employment contract. Fair Work Ombudsman may impose a fine in case of violation of the standards. Also, even if employees are employed under conditions that exceed the minimum labour standards, it is necessary to confirm and reduce in writing that both parties understand the details of the terms. When an annual salary is presented (as opposed to hourly wages), there could be a disagreement between the parties about what their wage cover. For example, an employer may understand that its salary includes reasonable overtime work, while an employee understood that overtime works are billable separately. In this case, the employer is legally required to notify the employee in writing that the overtime payment is included in the salary. Another common issue is that in the absence of a contract, an uncertainty arises whether a notice is required to terminate an employment contract. Generally, if an employment contract states that a notice of dismissal should be given before certain weeks (except for unfair and illegal dismissal), an employee must be informed of the termination before that period. However, in the absence of a written agreement, the notice of termination must be a reasonable period. The reasonable period is determined a case-by-case. If you hire a position that need creativity, you need to make sure who owns the intellectual property that arises as your employees perform their duties. In addition, it will be disadvantageous for employers if an employment contract fails to incorporate confidentiality obligations and non-competition obligations after termination. Especially for mid-career employees or employees in senior management positions, if above terms are not stipulated in their employment contract, it can lead to major legal issues later. However, it may be difficult to ask for sign an employment contract suddenly, it is recommended that written employment contract is presented to employees at their promotion.   

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