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The Federal Budget was handed down last night. 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 through
Extension of loss carry-back – the loss years that an eligible company (aggregated annual turnover of up to $5 billion) can currently carry back a tax loss (2019/20, 2020/21 and 2021/22) will be extended to include the 2022/23 income year. This will give companies greater scope to carry-back their losses and offset them against prior year tax paid, potentially resulting in a refundable tax offset.
Temporary full expensing – this depreciation measure will be extended by one year to 30 June 2023, providing eligible businesses (those with an aggregated turnover of less than $5 billion) with more time to access this incentive. Full expensing assists cashflow by allowing eligible businesses to deduct the full cost of eligible depreciating assets rather than having to claim depreciation deductions over a number of years.
Extension of loan scheme for small business - the government is extending the SME (small and medium enterprises) Recovery Loan Scheme which builds on the SME Guarantee scheme. It includes an increased government guarantee of 80%, a higher maximum loan size of $5 million, and maximum loan term of 10 years with interest rates capped at approximately 7.5%. Borrowers may also be offered repayment holidays of up to 24 months on appropriate products. The Scheme is available to SMEs with a turnover of up to $250 million that were recipients of the JobKeeper payment between 4 January 2021 and 28 March 2021 or were impacted by the floods in eligible Local Government Areas in March 2021.
Tax exemption for storm and flood grants – qualifying grants made to primary producers and small businesses affected by the storms and floods in Australia in early 2021 will be made income tax exempt. The grants must relate to the storms and floods in Australia that occurred due to rainfall events between 19 February 2021 and 31 March 2021. These include small business recovery grants of up to $50,000, as well as primary producer recovery grants of up to $75,000.
Small business ATO debt recovery action paused – the government will allow small businesses engaged in debt disputes in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) to apply to pause or modify ATO debt recovery actions linked to the dispute (such as garnishee notices) until that dispute is resolved in the AAT. Currently, small businesses are only able to pause or modify ATO debt recovery actions through the court system, which is an expensive and protracted process.
Employee share scheme tax relief – tax will no longer be payable on employee share schemes when an employee leaves the business. This will result in tax being deferred until the earliest of the remaining taxing points (in the case of shares, when there is no risk of forfeiture and no restrictions on disposal; in the case of options, when the employee exercises the option and there is no risk of forfeiting the resulting share and no restriction on disposal; or the maximum 15-years deferral).
Self-assessment of effective lives for intangible assets – businesses will be allowed to self-assess the effective life of certain intangible assets (such as intellectual property and in-house software), rather than being required to use the effective life currently prescribed by law. This may enable businesses to depreciate these assets more quickly.
30% digital games tax offset – tax incentives will be provided to stimulate investment in digital technologies, including a 30% Digital Games Tax Offset for eligible businesses that spend a minimum of $500,000 on qualifying Australian games expenditure. This will be available from 1 July 2022, however games with gambling elements or that cannot obtain a classification rating will not be eligible.
Tax relief – the low and middle-income tax offset (LMITO) will be extended for another year. It was due to expire on 31 June 2021 which would have meant an increase in taxation for those earning less than $126,000.
The amount of the LMITO is $255 for taxpayers with a taxable income of $37,000 or less. Between $37,000 and $48,000, the value of LMITO increases at a rate of 7.5 cents per dollar to the maximum amount of $1,080. Taxpayers with taxable incomes from $48,000 to $90,000 are eligible for the maximum LMITO of $1,080. From $90,001 to $126,000, the LMITO phases out at a rate of 3 cents per dollar.
Tax rates unchanged – individual income tax rates are unchanged for the coming financial year (2021/22), with the next round of tax cuts not currently due to commence until 1 July 2024.
Reducing self-education compliance costs – the Budget removes the exclusion of the first $250 of deductions for prescribed courses of education. This will simplify the tax return process and reduce compliance costs for individuals claiming self-education expense deductions. This will apply from the date of the enabling legislation.
Simplifying tax residency rules – the individual tax residency rules will be simplified. The primary test will be a simple ‘bright line’ test: a person who is physically present in Australia for 183 days or more in any income year will be an Australian tax resident. Individuals who do not meet the primary test will be subject to secondary tests that depend on a combination of physical presence and measurable, objective criteria.
Childcare relief - from 1 July 2022, the government will:
As a result of the changes, a single parent on $65,500 with 2 children in 5 days of long day care who chooses to work a fifth day will be $71 a week better off compared to the current system; while a family earning $110,000 a year will have the subsidy for their second child increase from 72% to 95%, and would be $95 per week better off for 4 days of care.
Super guarantee increase to proceed – the superannuation guarantee rate will increase from 9.5% to 10% from 1 July 2021. Although the increase is already legislated, the government announced last year that it was subject to review and would be finalised as part of the Budget.
Super guarantee low earner exemption removed – the $450 per month eligibility threshold will be removed from 1 July 2022. Consequently, employers will be required to make quarterly contributions on behalf of their low-income employees earning less than this amount per month unless another exemption applies.
Work test repealed - a rule requiring those aged at least 67, but under 75, to have to be gainfully employed for at least 40 hours over less than 31 continuous days in order to make super contributions will be abolished from 1 July 2022. Consequently, this cohort will be able to make better provisions for their retirement by making personal contributions and salary sacrifice contributions to superannuation without having to work.
First Home Saver Scheme: increasing the maximum releasable amount – the maximum amount of voluntary superannuation contributions that can be released under the First Home Super Saver (FHSS) scheme will be increased from $30,000 to $50,000. This will apply from the date of the enabling legislation, which the government anticipates will be by 1 July 2022.
Downsizer contributions: eligibility age reduced – the minimum eligibility age to make downsizer contributions into superannuation will be lowered to age 60 (down from age 65) from 1 July 2022. Consequently, individuals aged 60 or over will be able to make an additional non-concessional contribution of up to $300,000 from the proceeds of selling their home. Existing contribution caps and restrictions do not apply to the downsizer contribution.