News - February 2020 Edition 2

Important:

Clients should not act solely on the basis of the material contained in this newsletter. Items herein are general comments only and do not constitute or convey advice per se. Also changes in legislation may occur quickly. We therefore recommend that our formal advice be sought before acting in any of the areas.

This newsletter is issued as a helpful guide to clients and for their private information. Therefore it should be regarded as confidential and not be made available to any person without our prior approval.  

Please contact us if you wish to discuss how the points raised in this edition specifically affect you.

MYEFO – 2019/20

Treasury has released its Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (‘MYEFO’) for 2019/20 forecasting a surplus of approximately $5 billion.

Proposed new record-keeping course


One new tax-related measure of note in the MYEFO was the announcement the ATO would be provided with a new discretion to direct taxpayers (found to be lacking in their substantiation efforts under audit) to undertake an approved record-keeping course, instead of applying financial penalties.

This is yet another measure designed to tackle the ‘black’ or ‘cash’ economy.

Specifically, the Commissioner will be given the discretion to direct taxpayers to undertake the course where he reasonably believes there has been a failure by the taxpayer to comply with their reporting obligations.

The Commissioner will not apply this discretion to those who disengage with the tax system or who deliberately avoid their record-keeping obligations.

Note: Such a proposal raises obvious concerns as to the onerous nature of having to comply with such a course, particularly for small business owners whose main priority is to run their business.

Interestingly, there is a precedent for similar ATO directions to taxpayers (i.e., to undertake an approved course), with legislation passed earlier this year allowing the Commissioner to require employers to undertake a superannuation guarantee obligations course where there has been a failure by an employer to comply with those obligations.

New ‘gig’ economy reporting

Additionally, the MYEFO also announced the Government’s intention to implement a new third-party reporting regime for the sharing economy.


This will apply to businesses who operate via online platforms within the ‘sharing’ or ‘gig’ economy (e.g., Uber and Airbnb).

It is proposed to be introduced in two stages, starting from 1 July 2022 (for ride-sharing and accommodation platforms) and from 1 July 2023 (for asset sharing, food delivery and tasking-based platforms).

The online platforms will be required to report identification and income information for all its participating members (i.e., both the sellers and providers).

These reports will go directly to the ATO for data-matching (i.e., review and audit) purposes. Ref: MYEFO 2019/20

The ATO’s Bushfire crisis response

In response to the devastating bushfires across large parts of Australia, the ATO has been keen to advise those impacted that it understands people’s priority is their family and community.

If taxpayers live in one of the identified impacted postcodes, the ATO will automatically defer any lodgements or payments, meaning that income tax, activity statement, SMSF and FBT lodgements (and their associated payments) are deferred until 28 May 2020.

For those affected not in the current ATO postcodes list, assistance can still be provided, with impacted taxpayers encouraged to phone the ATO’s Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218.

Note: Please contact our office if you have been impacted by this or another disaster for assistance. Ref: ATO website, 20 January 2020 and ATO media release, 20 January 2020.