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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。


税法

Single Touch Payroll

Purpose   Approximately 2 years have passed since the federal government introduced the rules pertaining to ‘Single Touch Payroll’ (‘STP’). The particular policy enables the government to undertake more stringent monitoring over employers who are operating businesses within Australia in relation to their reporting obligations.   Businesses operating with an employee headcount of 20 or more on the 1st of April 2018 were required to begin reporting to the ATO through a STP-enabled solution. For all other businesses, the use of STP had been implemented voluntarily through an opt-in solution.   From the 1 July 2019, it has since become mandatory for all businesses to observe the new rules, regardless of the number of employees. Prior to the new rules, businesses had supplied their payroll data through generating payment summaries on an annual basis. The new system, however, will allow for businesses to automatically report their payroll data to the ATO on a pay-by-pay basis.      Who needs to report?  As previously mentioned, from 1 July 2019, all employers will be required to submit the following information to the ATO:  Salaries & Wages and PAYG Withholding amount Ordinary Time Earnings   Superannuation Guarantee Contribution  The ATO has improved its operational framework by introducing the Super Cleaning House in relation to the employer's superannuation contributions, which simplifies for the ATO to learn any non-payments by the employers. Consequently, in light of the forthcoming implementation of the Single Touch Payroll starting from May this year, employers should be well prepared for the ATO's monitoring and regulation of any arrears of their superannuation contributions.  By replacing the previous system, the STP system no longer requires employers to produce payment summaries to its employees. In addition, the new regulations carve out an exception when it comes to closely held payees. Accordingly, for those payments made to family members within a family business, company directors and shareholders and beneficiaries of a trust, the new regulations will not be made applicable until 1 July 2021.     When must I report?   STP reporting must occur prior to or on the day payments are made to the employee.     How do I report?   Most existing payroll or accounting solutions will likely include a function to report STP data to the ATO (E.g. Xero, MYOB). Employers who do not utilise payroll or STP-enabled software may nonetheless satisfy their reporting obligations by installing AusKey - an alternate software launched by the ATO. After installation, users may log into their Business Portal and report directly to the ATO. However, the alternative solution is time consuming with increased room for error when entering in key information. Thus, best practice would posit the use of STP-enabled software for fulfilling reporting obligations.     Failure to comply  From the 1 July 2019, in the event that an employer fails to comply, the ATO may impose relevant sanctions. Additionally, employers may find themselves subject to tax benefit exemptions or penalised for income tax. These may arise if, for example, employers make a salary payment without reporting PAYG withholding tax or failing to submit relevant tax returns.      Taxable Payments Annual Report  In addition to labour contracts, businesses operating in the provision of building and construction services, cleaning services and courier services were required to report any payments made to their contractors. Since the expansion of the new regulations, additional classes of businesses will be required to fulfil the same obligations.   As a result, from the 1 July 2019, businesses providing the following services will also need to report information pertaining to payments made to their contractors for services:   Security Service   Road Freight   IT Service  The new STP regulations have introduced vital changes when it comes to employers’ reporting obligations. Stakeholders to which the new rules intend to cover will need to be all the more vigilant in ensuring compliance with the rules in order to avoid potential violation and associated sanctions.       Written by Ben Youn, CPA & CTA quantum house    


税法

养老金与遗产规划

自从1991年引入养老金保障以来,大多数澳大利亚人拥有某种形式的养老金作为其资产的一部分。对于大多数人来说,当他们接近退休年龄时,养老金通常将是他们除了住宅房产之外最大的资产。而对于刚刚开始职业生涯的年轻一代来说,他们不会有太多机会在自己的名下积累大量的养老金储蓄或资产,而遗产规划更是他们后期才会考虑的事情。   然而,由于养老金自带的人寿保险(Superannuation Death Benefit)的存在,遗产规划对所有年龄段的人都很重要,即使是暂时没有拥有重大资产的年轻人。大多数养老金包括人寿保险,在年轻人不幸过早去世的情况下,从人寿保险中支付的养老金自带的死亡抚恤金将远远超过逝者养老金储蓄余额,因此在这种情况下,养老金自带的死亡抚恤金通常是逝者留下的最大资产。   大多数人认为他们的养老金死亡抚恤金会自动支付给他们的近亲,但实际的情况是, 通常,如果养老金所有人没有指定其养老金的死亡抚恤金执行人(binding death benefit nomination),其养老金的受托人将在支付其死亡抚恤金时行使他们的酌情处理权。   根据澳大利亚《联邦养老金产业监督法1993》(Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (Cth) ,下称 ‘SIS法’),养老金死亡抚恤金必须支付给下列相关人: • 现任配偶; • 逝者的子女(包括现任配偶的子女); • 与逝者有相互依赖关系(Interdependency Relationship)的人;或 • 逝者的法定遗产代理人(legal personal representative)。   根据SIS法第10条,如相关人自认为与逝者存在‘相互依赖关系’,则相关人需证明其与逝者在紧邻逝者去世前的一段时间内: • 有密切的个人关系; • 共同生活; • 一方或每一方向另一方提供财力支持;以及 • 一方或每一方向另一方提供家务或个人方面的照顾。   在养老金投诉仲裁庭(Superannuation Complaints Tribunal, 下称‘SCT’) 第D09-10\023号裁决中,一名18岁的男子(逝者)在没有遗嘱的情况下不幸去世。他的女友住在自己的父母家,而在逝者去世前三个月,他也搬进了女友的父母家,并支付每周70澳币的食宿费。在逝者去世时,其养老金账户内只有1,537澳币的累积储蓄,但由于人寿保险,逝者养老金支付的死亡抚恤金高达131,437澳币。逝者养老金基金的受托人最初决定向逝者的父母支付死亡抚恤金,但逝者的女朋友向SCT申诉,称其与逝者存在相互依赖的关系。仲裁庭决定推翻受托人原先向逝者父母发放死亡抚恤金的决定,并判给与其同住仅三个月的女友全数131,437澳币。   此决定或许看起来是不公平的,但鉴于逝者远离家居住,SCT表示,逝者的父母在SCT决定死亡抚恤金的去处时,没有证明自己属于SIS法列出的任何类别。再加上其没有被提名为逝者养老金的死亡抚恤金执行人,SCT认为,尽管女友和逝者只在一个屋檐下生活了三个月,但在逝者去世时,他的女友是唯一符合“相互依赖关系”定义的人。   如果逝者希望他的近亲,在此情况下是他的父母,成为他死亡抚恤金的受益人,那么他本应该签署文件,并指定他的父母以“法定遗产代理人”身份作为他的死亡抚恤金的接受者,然后留下一份遗嘱,明确此意愿。