Lodgement amnesty and new landlord data matching program
While the government is boosting the tax deductions available for small business spending on staff training, other taxpayers such as landlords are facing closer scrutiny from the Australian Taxation Office. Here are some of the latest developments in the world of tax.
Amnesty for small business late lodgements
If your small business is not up-to-date with its tax lodgements, it could be a smart idea to take advantage of the government’s current Lodgement Penalty Amnesty.
The program is designed to encourage small businesses to re-engage with the tax system and fix any outstanding income tax, FBT returns and business activity statements due between 1 December 2019 and 28 February 2022.
Taxpayers have until 31 December 2023 to lodge their overdue forms without lodgement penalties being applied (general interest charges still apply).
Businesses with an annual turnover under $10 million when the original lodgement was due are eligible for the amnesty.
Insurance focus for latest data-matching
As part of its ongoing data-matching program, the ATO has announced it will require both income protection (IP) and landlord insurers to provide information on their customers for the period 2021-22 to 2025-26.
Insurers must provide detailed information on the policy and policy owner to help the ATO “identify and educate” taxpayers failing to meet their lodgement obligations.
The landlord data is expected to net records relating to around 1.6 million landlords, while the IP data will cover 800,000 individuals.
New skills and training boost starts
Small business owners keen to upskill their employees can now take advantage of the government’s new skills and training boost if they spend money on these activities before 30 June 2024.
If you have an aggregated annual turnover of less than $50 million, you can claim a bonus deduction equal to 20 per cent of qualifying expenditure on external training courses provided by eligible registered training providers.
You can also claim an additional 20 per cent bonus for expenditure on digitising your business operations and relevant assets such as portable payment devices, cyber security systems and subscriptions for cloud-based services.
Tax penalties increase again
The unit amount used by the ATO to calculate penalties it imposes has increased again, rising to $313 from 1 July 2023.
The government had already increased the penalty amount for the 1 January to 30 June 2023 period, making this the second increase this calendar year.
If the ATO decides to impose a penalty, the unit amount is used to calculate your actual fine. Activities such as giving false or misleading statements, or behaving with intentional disregard for example, result in a 60 penalty unit fine.
GST food and beverage list updated
If you supply or sell food and beverage products, it’s time to recheck the ATO’s detailed food list showing the GST status of major food and beverage product lines, as the tax regulator recently made around 30 updates to the list.
Although some changes corrected existing entries, new food and beverage lines have been added and some current entries deleted.
The ATO encourages businesses to review this list regularly to ensure they are meeting their GST obligations accurately.
Reminders about tax offsetting rules
The ATO is currently writing to businesses with a debt on hold of more than $10 to explain its tax offsetting process.
Under the offsetting rules, any tax refund and credit entitlements are automatically used to pay off an existing tax debt.
If you have an outstanding tax debt, you can choose to pay all or part of it at any time, including through a payment plan.
New-look ATO Charter
Taxpayers could find their interactions with the ATO improving following the release of its revised Taxpayers’ Charter, now called the ATO Charter.
The Charter explains what you can expect when interacting with the ATO, the regulator’s commitments to taxpayers, and the steps you can take if you’re not satisfied.