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Secrets to a savvy SMSF

Posted on 17 January '18 by admin

Opting for a self-managed super fund (SMSF) can be a clever financial decision, but it’s not for everyone.

If you aren’t prepared to adhere to the following tips, your SMSF will most likely fail to perform as well as you would of hoped it to.

Stay informed
You can’t expect your SMSF balance to be the most profitable for you in your retirement phase if you don’t remain educated on the vastly changing compliance laws. Remaining up-to-date with these changes, and how they impact upon your nest egg is an essential aspect of making your SMSF work for you, your spouse and your children.

Strategy
The ultimate long-term goal of your SMSF is to allow you to retire comfortably, maintaining the life you have become accustomed to throughout your working years. To do this, you need to have a strategy; the decisions you make regarding your SMSF should be part of this strategy, not just transfers here and there because your financial advisor told you to. Your strategy should be reviewed at least annually. You need to be aware of how each decision will impact upon and ultimately lead you towards the financial security you work so hard to achieve for your later years.

Seek advice
Running a self-managed super fund doesn’t involve having all the answers, but it does require understanding when it’s time to talk to a professional to get the best advice on your SMSF. You can never ask too many questions when it comes to your future financial security.

FBT parking exemptions for small businesses

Posted on 17 January '18 by admin

It is quite common for small businesses to provide their staff with car parking benefits, however, many business owners may not take into account the effect parking has for fringe benefits tax (FBT) purposes.

Fortunately, if you are a small business, car parking benefits are exempt if you meet all of the following conditions:

– the parking is not provided in a commercial car park
– you are not a government body, a listed public company, or a subsidiary of a listed public company
– either your gross total income for the last income year before the relevant fringe benefits tax (FBT) year was less than $10 million, or you were a small business for the last income year before the relevant FBT year.

Where an employer reimburses an employee’s car parking fees, i.e., if they park at a commercial car park, this will subject the employer to FBT.

Super funds boast high returns in 2017

Posted on 11 January '18 by admin

Superannuation funds in Australia have delivered a return of 10.5 per cent for 2017 – the first double-digit growth since 2013.

According to recent findings, there was a 1.3 per cent rise in November 2017 and 0.6 per cent rise in December 2017 alone.

The new figures mark the sixth consecutive year of positive returns for super funds.

Super fund returns overtook returns in the property market, as property returns weighed in at 9.1 per cent last year.

Investors should review their super fund’s performance at the start of the new year and make sure it is delivering value for money outcomes.

Although the returns provide a degree of confidence for investors, it is important to remember that markets are volatile and having a long-term investment strategy in place is vital.

ATO targeting mischaracterised lifestyle assets and private pursuits

Posted on 11 January '18 by admin

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) is targeting privately owned and wealthy groups that display specific behaviours and characteristics in relation to their tax affairs and lifestyle.

A large focus is currently on lifestyle assets and private pursuits that generate deductions or are mischaracterised as business activities. The ATO is also looking at those assets and pursuits which are incorrectly accounted for in terms of Division 7A or Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT).

Activities that attract the Tax Office’s attention include:
– private aircraft ownership or activities
– art ownership and dealings
– car or motorbike racing activities
– luxury and charter boat activities
– enthusiast or luxury motor vehicles
– grape growing and other farming pursuits
– horse breeding, racing and training activities
– holiday homes and luxury accommodation provision
– sporting clubs and other activities involving the participation of principals or associates of principals of private groups.

The ATO is addressing the following tax risks:

Income tax
– Entities claiming deductions from ownership lifestyle assets or private pursuits against other income derived by the entity but not carrying on a business.
– Individuals disposing of assets and not declaring the revenue or capital gains on those disposals.
– Entities incorrectly apportioning deductions where assets have been used privately or periods not available for rent or hire.
– Division 7A – individuals purchasing assets through their business entities but applying assets to the personal enjoyment of a shareholder or associate of a private company giving rise to a deemed dividend.

FBT
– Individuals purchasing assets through their business entities but applying those assets to the personal enjoyment of an employee or associate giving rise to a FBT liability.

GST
– The purchasing of assets or expenditures concerning private pursuits for personal use through their business or related entities and claiming input tax credits they are not entitled to claim.

Superannuation
– SMSF’s acquiring assets but applying them to the benefit of the fund’s trustee or beneficiaries.

Super housing legislation

Posted on 21 December '17 by admin

The First Home Super Saver (FHSS) Scheme and the downsizing contributions into superannuation measures passed Parliament on 13 December 2017.

As of 1 July 2017, individuals can make voluntary concessional and non-concessional contributions into their super fund as part of the FHSS Scheme. The scheme may help first home buyers save faster due to the concessional tax treatment within super.

From 1 July 2018, individuals can then apply to release their contributions, along with associated earnings, to help purchase their first home.

The downsizing contributions into super measure allows individuals who are 65 years and over to make a contribution into their super after selling their home.

Contributions of up to $300,000 from the proceeds of your main residence can be added into your super fund. Your spouse may also be able to make a contribution.

To be eligible for a downsizer contribution, you must have entered into the contract of sale on or after 1 July 2018 and have owned the home for 10 years or more.

Downsizer contributions will be taken into account for determining eligibility for the age pension.

Earning income from the sharing economy

Posted on 21 December '17 by admin

The holiday season is a peak time for activities in the sharing economy to increase. During this time those participating in the sharing economy must not forget their tax obligations.

The most common sharing economy activities around the festive season include:
– Providing ride-sourcing services for a fare.
– Completing jobs or errands for payment.
– Renting out a room or a whole house or unit.
– Renting out a vehicle or a car parking space.

Depending on the activity, the tax obligations vary. The ATO is reminding those that participate in the sharing economy to consider the following:
– declaring income in their tax return
– what income tax deductions and GST credits they can claim for expenses related to earning income and what they can’t claim because of personal use
– how all of their sharing economy earnings added together affect their income tax and GST obligations
– keeping records of their income and expenses to meet their tax obligations

Excess Transfer Balance Determinations from January 2018

Posted on 15 December '17 by admin

The Australian Tax Office will start sending Excess Transfer Balance (ETB) Determinations from January 2018.

ETB determinations will be sent to any individuals who have exceeded their transfer balance cap and have not taken any steps to correct this error.

If you manage a SMSF and have exceeded the balance transfer cap by less than $100,000 on 1 July 2017 as a result of income streams in existence prior to 20 June 2017, you have until 31 December 2017 to commute the excess capital, under transitional rules.

If you manage a SMSF and have exceeded the balance transfer cap by more than $100,000, under the transitional rules, you may receive the ETB determination. The ATO becomes aware of transitional balance cap breach based on information APRA funds pass on.

If you receive an ETB determination from the ATO, remember the following:
– The quicker the member rectifies the amount owing set out in the ETB Determination from the retirement phase, the lower the amount of excess transfer balance tax they will be required to pay.
– The SMSF trustee must report information relevant to the member to the ATO, so that they have all the relevant information needed. It is important to do this straight away, if it has not already been done.
– You must commute the amount owing as listed on the ETB Determination from retirement phase. If you choose to remove the amount by making a large pension payment, you will still be in excess of your transfer balance cap as the large pension payment will not, under the circumstances, result in a debit on your transfer balance account.
– You may keep the excess amount determined in the ETB Determination in an accumulation phase account, unless you are commuting a death benefit income stream. If you are, the amount needs to be removed from the super stream.
– Ensure minimum pension payment standards are met at the time of commuting money into your income stream.

If you have any questions or queries regarding Excess Transfer Balance Determinations and how this may affect you, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Annual ATO closure

Posted on 15 December '17 by admin

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) will be closed from midday Friday 22 December 2017 to 8.00am Tuesday 2 January 2018 over the festive season.

The Tax Agent Portal Dashboard and BAS Agent Portal Dashboard will be available to check portal availability.

The ATO’s technical help desk will be available from 7.00am to 6.00pm weekdays, excluding public holidays and 10.00am to 4.00pm Saturdays to assist with technical log on, connection, firewall and VPN issues.

The Tax Office will hold returns and forms not processed before the annual closure until processing resumes in the New Year.

Lodgements made after 7 December may not issue until the New Year.

ATO action on overdue SMSF annual returns

Posted on 7 December '17 by admin

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) is cracking down on self-managed super funds (SMSFs) that have overdue SMSF annual returns, particularly those with two or more returns overdue.

As part of its compliance action, the ATO is currently:
– Cancelling approximately 9,000 ABNs of SMSFs that show no evidence of operating
– Writing to SMSF trustees who are in pension phase to remind them that they still have a lodgment obligation
– Continuing to focus on SMSFs with high levels of income and/or high-value assets who also have overdue returns
– Taking further compliance and audit action on selected SMSFs
– Visiting selected tax agents to obtain feedback on why their SMSF clients’ lodgments are overdue
– Contacting tax agents by phone to obtain an agreed date for lodgment of overdue SMSF annual returns.

SMSFs that do not meet the agreed lodgment timeframes will be subject to serious financial implications.

Early payments

Posted on 7 December '17 by admin

Taxpayers are being reminded they can prepay amounts towards their expected tax bill to help stay on top of their tax and avoid falling into debt.

To make a prepayment to the Tax Office, you must get the correct payment reference number, decide how much to pay and choose a payment method.

Using the correct payment reference number is critical in ensuring the ATO credits the right account.

The payment reference number can be found on a relevant notice or payment slip received from the ATO, or through the ATO portals.

The ATO’s research shows keeping amounts for GST, super and income tax payments separate from other business affairs, i.e., in a separate bank account or by making a prepayment helps to stay on top of payments to the Tax Office.

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