Dated residency tests hindering those here and abroad

 

As international borders reopen and we are all eager to return to normal, a hurdle that has increasingly become more obvious is the largely outdated tax residency definition for individuals. 

The 2021 budget did acknowledge an overhaul, however no fixed date was declared, nor in fact, has any draft legislation been released. It is safe to say that any changes are therefore a long way off. 

Realistically, we are looking at the earliest possible date for changes to take effect to be July 1st 2023, which is far too late for both Australians choosing to live and work abroad and foreign talent finding security here. 

A reform is necessary because existing residency tests are outdated and highly subjective. Also, in 2009, the general exemption for foreign-sourced income earned by Australian tax residents overseas was removed. As a result, many Australians took efforts to cease being a resident so that they were only taxed in the country they were working. 

For those living and working internationally, it is common knowledge that in most other countries, the individual tax rates are lower than that of Australia’s. Declaring a salary in both countries is also painstaking and impractical. It is no wonder the courts are seeing a dramatic increase in individual tax residency statuses. 

It has been proposed that by simplifying tax residency status to automatically treat an individual as an Australian tax resident if they are residing in this country for more than 183 days will offer greater certainty. 

For those with more complex cases, they will either need to apply for a commencing residency test or a ceasing residency test. They may also need to satisfy a factor test, which all adds up to becoming equally as cumbersome as current tax residency tests are. 

There is no doubt about the fact that a lot of work needs to go into improving the strategies surrounding these decisions so that Australia is more aligned with their approaches to residency as other countries are. 

If you are considering a move to live and work overseas now that international borders are open, it is imperative that you understand your tax obligations. It’s best to consult our team at Glance Consultants on 03 9885 9793 to get the support you need as it is likely your residency status will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. 

Inflation hitting small businesses hard

The CPI (consumer price index) figure, a measure of inflation, was higher than expected for this quarter at 5.1% and this is going to impact businesses and individuals in some way or another. 

Previously, Australia’s inflation rate was lagging behind other countries such as those in Europe and the US, however the scale of the recent increase indicates that this is changing. 

The RBA recently increased its cash rate target to 0.35% as a response and we can expect further inflation pressures to cause uncertainty for businesses in the coming months. 

In particular, small businesses are hit hard by inflation, primarily due to the flow on effect on wages and the cost of capital. Although we are going down the same CPI path as other developed countries, it doesn’t make the news any less difficult to take. 

Tony Greco, the general manager technical policy at IPA acknowledges that ‘the cost of capital is a business cost, so businesses need to factor into their price structures the impact of future rate hikes’.

Highly leveraged operations are going to be more exposed than those that do not have significant levels of borrowing, so the impact and response across the economy is not going to be a uniform one. This is cause for concern for many businesses that have seen it tough over the past few years and have yet to recover, yet would have otherwise had the ability to do so.

Fuel price is yet another great unknown that companies are needing to adjust their forward estimates to compensate for. Temporary excise cuts cannot mitigate the issue for long and there is a large question mark over the likelihood of peace in Ukraine in the foreseeable future. 

However, perhaps the biggest factor for businesses to consider is the need for an increase in wages in response to ongoing inflationary pressures. 

By considering a 5% wage increase and understanding the impacts that this would have in addition to other additional expenses, businesses are able to determine how they are able to continue operations over time. 

Needless to say, many small businesses are going to find it difficult and impacted negatively when CPI increases and the value of the dollar goes down. 

We are aware of the need for forward thinking and proactive approaches at this time and are eager to support our clients in ensuring that they are securing their businesses in these uncertain times. 

Contact Glance Consultants today to get help or advice for your small business on 03 9885 9793

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