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The Federal Budget was handed down on 6 October 2020. Following is a precis of some of the headline measures that may impact you or your clients. We emphasize that these measures are at this stage proposals, and will require legislation to be passed
Expanded Access to Small Business Tax Concessions
Access will be expanded to a range of small business tax concessions. Under the changes, businesses with an annual aggregated turnover of less than $50 million (up from $10 million) will have access to the following concessions:
** Currently this concession tends to be utilised by small retailers whereas it would appear that this measure will allow a greater number of entities to use the simplified accounting method in calculating their net GST amount.
Note: access to the small business CGT concessions has not been expanded, and remains at an aggregated turnover of less than $2 million, or less than $6 million in net assets.
Extension of the Instant Asset Write-Off
Businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $5 billion will be able to deduct the full cost of eligible capital assets acquired from 7:30pm AEDT on 6 October 2020 (Budget night) and first used or installed by 30 June 2022.
“Full expensing” in the year of first use will apply to new depreciable assets and the cost of improvements to existing eligible assets.
For small- and medium-sized businesses (with aggregated annual turnover of less than $50 million), full expensing also applies to second-hand assets. Businesses with aggregated annual turnover between $50 million and $500 million can still deduct the full cost of eligible second-hand assets costing less than $150,000 that are purchased by 31 December 2020 under the existing instant asset write-off.
Companies that have paid tax in the past, but that are now in a tax loss position, will be permitted to carry their loss back to those past years to obtain a refund of some of the tax they previously paid. This measure will enable many distressed companies to claim back the taxes they paid on their pre-COVID-19 profits against losses they are incurring during the current downturn.
Specifically, companies with an aggregated annual turnover of less than $5 billion, will be permitted to carry-back losses from the 2019–20, 2020–21 and 2021–22 income years against tax paid in the 2018–19, 2019–20 or 2020–21 income years.
The tax refund would be limited by requiring that the amount carried back is not more than the earlier taxed profits. The tax refund will be available on an election basis by eligible businesses when they lodge their 2020-21 and 2021-22 tax returns.
Companies that do not elect to carry back losses under this measure, can still carry losses forward as normal.
FBT Exemptions to Support Training and Re-Skilling
An FBT exemption will be introduced for retraining and reskilling benefits provided by employers to redundant, or soon-to-be redundant, employees where the benefits may not be related to their current employment. Before this change (which will apply from 6 October 2020) FBT was payable where an employer provides training to redundant or soon-to-be redundant employees and that training does not have sufficient connection to their current employment.
Hiring Credit for Employers
A new JobMaker Hiring Credit scheme will be available to employers from 7 October 2020 for each new job they create over the next 12 months for which they hire an eligible young person. For each eligible employee, employers will receive for up to 12 months:
The new employees must have received JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance (other) or Parenting Payment for at least one of the previous three months at the time of hiring. Employers must demonstrate that they have increased their overall employment to receive this payment for up to 12 months for each position created. To claim the credit, employers need to report their employees’ payroll information to the ATO via Single Touch Payroll.
The $1 billion JobTrainer Fund matches funding between the Commonwealth and state and territory governments. The fund will support up to 340,700 additional free or low-fee training places in areas of genuine need.
Reductions in individual tax rate thresholds will apply for the 2020-21 income year. That is, from 1 July 2020:
This brings forward changes previously legislated to commence from the 2022-23 income year. By way of illustration, this will result in an annual tax saving of $1,080 for individuals with a taxable income of $50,000, a saving of $1,530 for those earning $100,000, and a saving of $2,430 if you are earning $150,000.
CGT Exemption for ‘Granny Flat’ Arrangements
From 1 July 2021, CGT will not apply to the creation, variation or termination of a granny flat arrangement providing accommodation where there is a formal written agreement in place. This will apply to arrangements that provide accommodation for "older Australians or those with a disability". At the time of writing, there are no further details as to what constitutes "older" or "disability". The exemption will only apply to agreements that are entered into because of "family relationships or other personal ties" and will not apply to commercial rental arrangements.
To be clear, this measure will provide a CGT exemption for the home-owner in relation to any capital gains arising from the creation of “granny flat rights” and/or for the variation, extension or ending of such rights.
All told, this measure will remove the adverse tax consequences for the property owner while providing protection for older parents or people with disabilities. Note that the exemption is limited to cases where the home is the principal residence of the property owner.
Unlike recent years, there were no taxation or contribution-related reforms in the Budget, however a broad package of measures was announced aimed at improving the superannuation system by: