Christmas is a time to unwind and celebrate. However, we’re well aware that one thing that can dampen the festive mood is unexpected tax. So let’s see some of the most responsible ways you can keep the Fringe Benefits Tax grinch at bay and enjoy some fiscally responsible merriment.
In the quest for financial stability and success, we often focus on tangible elements like earning more money, saving diligently, or investing wisely.
But have you ever stopped to consider the role your financial mindset plays in achieving your financial goals?
His words might have been recorded over 200 years ago, but Benjamin Franklin’s famous uttering “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes” remains as true today as it was in 1789. The one thing that has constantly changed is tax law, and although death is impossible to avoid, with the many options available to us, taxation doesn’t need to inflict too much pain.
If you are an employee, there are two ways in which you can optimise the tax-effectiveness of your additional super contributions:
- Opt for a salary sacrifice arrangement, whereby your employer makes additional superannuation contributions beyond the compulsory superannuation guarantee (SG) amount from your pre-tax earnings and reduces your salary accordingly; or
- Make a personal contribution and claim a tax deduction when you submit your tax return.
IS YOUR COMPANY COMPLIANT?
What we don’t often do at the end of a calendar year is legal compliance housekeeping, but perhaps we should. Legislation and regulations change throughout the year and these have an impact on your business. Perhaps your company took on more employees and has a higher turnover? These are excellent indicators of growth and success but also have the potential to attract new legal obligations.
Here is a list of 5 commonly overlooked legal issues you should review to ensure that your company is compliant this year…
Know the rules !
1. Corporate Governance
Corporate Governance Rules apply to every company regardless of their size, and the Australian Securities Investment Commission (ASIC) will issue fines for failure to keep your company records up to date.
Make sure all relevant documents have been lodged with ASIC, and the company register is complete. Consider whether your shareholder’s agreement and constitution still reflect the nature and structure of your company.
The end of the year is also a good time to follow up with your directors to make sure they have disclosed any new conflicts of interest and share trading activities in the course of the year.
2. Privacy Principles
If your company experienced growth and now has an annual turnover of more than $3 million it will now trigger the Privacy Act. There are also legislative triggers for smaller businesses who deal with personal information or sensitive health and financial information.
Review your company’s position and if in doubt seek some advice.
3. Finance Arrangements
There is no one size fits all finance solution and Companies often find that they ‘outgrow’ their finance arrangements, particularly during growth stages. When this happens facilities will need to be amended, updated and renegotiated.
It is also important to make sure you are complying with all of your obligations under your finance facilities, particularly in relation to any security you may have offered to secure loans.
Are you SuperStream ready
With only two quarters left until SuperStream becomes mandatory, employers are being urged to cross SuperStream off their ‘to-do’ list ahead of the 30 June 2016 deadline.
It takes a little time to set up, but over a quarter of a million employers who have made the change are already enjoying (on average) a 70% reduction in the time they spend on super. That equates to approximately 1.5 hours each cycle! If you haven’t done so already your options to get ready include:
- upgrading your current payroll software
- using your super fund’s online system
- using a messaging portal
- using a clearing house (like the ATOs free Small business superannuation clearing house).
You can also ask your accountant or bookkeeper for help.
An important part of SuperStream preparation is collecting your employees’ TFNs and their funds’ unique super identifiers (USIs). You then enter it into your system ahead of the next quarterly due date on 28 January. This gives you time to check that things are running smoothly before the deadline.
CHANGES TO CAR ALLOWANCES
Claiming work-related car expenses is a common tax-time claim for many taxpayers. In fact, almost 4 million taxpayers claim the deduction each year. There are of course certain rules that must be adhered to in claiming these expenses and these days, the Australian Tax Office takes a close interest in such claims given the cost to the revenue.
The Treasurer announced in the 2015-16 federal budget that the methods used for calculating work-related car expense deductions would be simplified and modernised – in other words, changed.
Currently, taxpayers have an option to use one of four methods to determine their work-related car expense deductions:
- cents per kilometre
- logbook method
- the 12% of original value method, and
- one-third of actual expenses incurred.
Changes to car allowances mean if you are paying your employees a car allowance in excess of 66c per kilometre, you need to withhold tax on the amount you pay over 66c.
If you haven’t been doing this since July 2015, you should begin to withhold tax on the amount you pay over 66c and advise your employees.
What if your employees think that not withholding until now might result in them getting a tax bill?
Depending on the amount you’ve paid them, this shouldn’t have a significant impact on their tax for the year. But you can agree to increase the amount you withhold for the remainder of the financial year to cover the shortfall.
Welcome to the new year! We’re also now halfway through the financial year.
This month we’re looking at updates on:
- Reminder to get SuperStream ready
- Changes to car allowance
- February fuel tax credit rates change
If you have any queries at all, please get in touch.