New rules for telcos to tackle ATO scams (posted 3/12/2020)
As reported in Accountants Daily today, new rules that require telcos to detect, trace and block scam calls have now been registered, as such scams - including ATO impersonation scams - cost Australians $36 million in 2020 so far.
See the full story here.
Wage theft criminalised in Queensland (posted 23/9/2020)
Queensland has just followed in the footsteps of the ACT and Victoria and criminalised wage theft - with new laws that focus on penalising employers who intentionally steal from their employees by failing to provide them with their full entitlements. The Wage Theft Act commenced on 14/9/2020 and amends the Criminal Code to provide that employee entitlements are a thing capable of being stolen. Entitlements that can be stolen include:
- Unpaid hours or underpayment of hours
- unpaid penalty rates
- unreasonable deductions
- unpaid superannuation
- withholding entitlements
- underpayment through intentionally misclassifying a worker including wrong aware, wrong classification or 'sham contracting' and the misuse of ABNs
- authorised deductions that have not been applied as agreed.
The Queensland Police Service (QPS) have been given jurisdiction to investigate claims of wage theft.
It is important to note that the QPS would need to prove that the employer had intentionally stolen wages from an employee or had intentionally sought to deprive the employee of their entitlements as opposed to a situation where an employer has accidentally underpaid staff and seeks to rectify that underpayment when it is identified.
Penalties for wage theft include imprisonment of up to 10 years. Where an employer commits fraud against an employee, the employer is liable to imprisonment for up to 14 years.
It is probably timely for employers to review their employment agreements. Annual internal reviews of employees pays to ensure they've been paid correctly - and immediately rectify any identified shortfalls - is also worth consideration.
What is Cyber Insurance?
Contact Sean Kenny to find out how Cyber Insurance can help protect your business from the costs associated with a data breach or malicious action.
WorkCover releases important information on legislative amendments effective 1 July 2020 (posted 20/7/2020)
New ATO Home Office Guidelines (posted 8/4/2020)
The ATO has announced a temporary simplified short cut method claim for individual taxpayers working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The NTAA has kindly provided this helpful summary.
TPB board member Debra Anderson has said that a rule of thumb is that if a business owner was seeking to change something they would normally do in order to obtain the stimulus, then they were doing the wrong thing. She went on to say that those trying to work around the system to obtain extra payments will not 'outsmart' the Tax Office because of the data analytics systems in place. Teams at the TPB and the ATO have been set up to look specifically at stand-out data.
Do you have a Discretionary Trust? Does it hold residential land in NSW?
Well, if it does you may need to review and amend the Trust Deed to accommodate proposed changes.
The State Revenue Further Amendment Bill 2019 (NSW) was introduced before the NSW Parliament on October 22, seeking to amend legislation relating to duties and land tax. So what?
Well, if you have a discretionary trust and you're located outside NSW, under the Duties Act 1997 and the Land Tax Act 1956 (NSW) a foreign trustee will be liable to pay a surcharge transfer duty and surcharge land tax on the acquisition and holding of residential land owned by the trust for which it is trustee in NSW.
These proposed changes specify that the trustee of a discretionary trust is taken to be a foreign trustee, unless the trust prevents a foreign person from being a beneficiary of the trust. A discretionary trust is taken to have done this if:
- no potential beneficiary of the trust is a foreign person (the no foreign beneficiary requirement); and
- the terms of the trust are not capable of amendment in a manner that would result in there being a potential beneficiary of the trust who is a foreign person (the no amendment requirement).
So what does all that mean?
It means that a discretionary trust deed that complies with the requirements will be exempt from (or may be entitled to a refund of) purchaser duty and surcharge land tax payable in respect of residential land acquired or held by the trust.
The NSW OSR's interpretation of compliance is yet to be seen, but there are transitional arrangements for trust deeds amended BEFORE 31 December 2019. Therefore it's recommended that discretionary trusts that hold or intend to hold, residential land in NSW conduct an immediate review of the trust deed.
Information kindly provided by ACIS.
Claiming Kilometres using a logbook ... close enough is not good enough ... so rules the ATO
A recent case between a taxpayer and the ATO has highlighted the importance of completing a logbook correctly if you want to claim deductions for car expenses using the logbook method.
The logbook method is used by those who claim more than 5000 business kilometres - under that, the simpler method to use is the cents-per-km method.
So, if you want your logbook to be considered valid by the ATO make sure that:
- you show the date the journey began and ended
- you show the odometer readings at the start and end of the journey
- you accurately record the number of kilometres travelled.
Further, for the first year in which you're claiming car expenses, the logbook must be meticulously kept for a continuous 12-week period.
So, once again, the importance of accurate and careful record keeping is highlighted!
Reid v Commissioner of Taxation  AATA 4624 (12 November 2019)
REMINDER from the ATO - new thresholds now apply for study or training loans (STSL)
If you have an employee who has indicated they have a study or training loan on their Tax file number declaration or Withholding declaration form, you may need to withhold an extra amount from their pay to cover compulsory repayments at the end of the financial year.
Further to our BLOG back in July, please be advised that the ATO has issued a reminder to employers that from 1 July 2019, the new minimum repayment threshold is $45,881. This means that employees who have previously earned below the threshold may now need to make compulsory payments for the first time.
Be sure to let your employees know they need to declare their study or training loan to avoid bill shock at the end of the financial year. This could mean that your existing employees may need to complete a new Tax file number declaration or Withholding declaration form to ensure they have answered to the study or training loan question correctly.
Stay Smart Online Issues a warning about tax time myGov and ATO scams .... again
Tax time is here, and with that comes a surge in scammers impersonating trusted brands like myGov or the ATO - with the goal being to trick you into giving them money or almost worse still, your personal details. These scams can come through as emails, text message and fake myGov login pages.
Usually these scams will say you're entitled to a tax refund or that you need to pay a debt. They are also made to look very real through the sophisticated use of myGov and ATO logos, information and even email addresses which makes it easy for anyone to fall victim.
In June 2019, the ATO received 6,444 reports of tax-time scams that impersonated the ATO. Emails with links to fake myGov login pages were the biggest email scam in that month.
The rollout of Single Touch Payroll (STP) has meant that many more people would have set up myGov accounts in recent times (in order to access their income statements - which have replaced payment summaries), so we all need to be alert and switched on to these scammers and their capers.
Visit Staysmartonline for more tips to stay safe online this tax time.
MAJOR ATO system outage
The ATO's online systems experienced an unplanned outage on Tuesday morning (4/6/2019), with its tax professionals portals, online service for agents, PLS service, and superannuation services all going down.
The ATO has advised that practitioners will not need to seek deferrals for the late lodgement or payment on 5 June as a result of the outage.
Update: The ATO has since restored all online services as of Wednesday morning. Agents will not need to seek deferrals if they are unable to meet the 5 June finalisation date for Income Tax Lodgement as a result of yesterday's disruption.
Get Set for EOFY 2019
Things to think about:
- QBO, MYOB and XERO have all prepared EOFY/Small business Checklists to help clients prepare for and process EOFY matters - and finalise payroll;
- Be sure of your rental property claims and check if unsure because the ATO is auditing and has found that 9 out of 10 claims have been wrong; and
- The ATO has ramped up their data matching program so be careful with claims and make sure you declare income from the sharing economy(car sharing etc).
Scammers are sending pre-recorded messages from what appear to be legitimate ATO numbers (this is called spoofing) claiming that you have a debt with the ATO, and if you don't call to arrange payment, a warrant for your arrest will be issued.
Don't be fooled by this scam. A legitimate ATO call will always appear as a private number – and the ATO never uses pre-recorded messages. Further, they will never threaten arrest or demand immediate payment.
We ask you to stay vigilant and never provide any personal details to someone who's called you.
If you receive a pre-recorded message claiming to be from the ATO …Hang up.
If you have any concerns about the authenticity of the contact, call the ATO's official scam line on 1800 008 540. For more information about these threat-based scams, visit StaySmartOnline.
Extended Liability for SGC, PAYGW and GST - what you need to know
The government has progressed legislation which will extend the penalties and enforcement measures applying to SGC, PAYGW and GST – including imprisonment!
For full details click here, but the amendments highlight the need for company directors to ensure their current and future assets are protected if the ATO were to make a claim against them personally.