News

ATO Update: Tax Deduction Rules on Travel to Rental Properties

Tax Deduction RulesThe ATO has enforced strict guidelines on tax deductions for rental property owner’s travel expenses.

As a rental property owner, you are not able to claim deductions for travel expenses relating to inspecting, maintaining or collecting rent. If you have already claimed a tax deduction for the cost of travel to and from your property in your 2018 return, you will need to request an amendment. The law change came into effect on 1 July 2017 and affects tax returns from 2017-18 onwards.

Exclusions

You may claim these travel expenses on your tax return if you are carrying on a rental property business or are an excluded entity.

An excluded entity is a:

Corporate tax entity
Superannuation plan that is not an SMSF
Public unit trust
Managed investment trust
A unit trust or a partnership, all of the members of which are entities of a type listed above

ATO Warns of Illegal Early Super Release

Early Super ReleaseThe ATO has issued a warning to the public regarding illegal early release of super schemes, which are subject to severe penalties.

There are strict rules around when you can access your super so your current decisions do not jeopardise your quality of life in retirement. The ATO has reminded the public you may only access your super early if you have experienced severe financial hardship or you have reached the preservation age and have stopped working.

How these schemes work

The promoters of these schemes:

Encourage you to transfer or rollover your super from your existing super fund to an SMSF to access your super before you are legally entitled to
Target people under financial pressure or those who do not understand super laws
Claim you can access your super and put the money towards anything you want which is not true
Charge high fees and commissions, presenting the risk of losing some or all of your super to them
May request your identification documents which can result in identity theft
Penalties:

Penalties apply to promoters and individuals who illegally access their super early. If you illegally obtain your super early, it is included in your assessable income even if you return the super to the fund later. If you are an SMSF trustee, you may be fined up to $420,000 and liable for jail terms of up to five years. Civil and criminal penalties apply to promoters.

Is a House or Apartment a Better Investment?

House or Apartment InvestmentProperty is a valuable addition to any investment portfolio. Deciding whether a house or apartment is a worthier investment depends on many factors. Keep in mind that timing is your best friend for buying any property due to the housing market’s volatility.

Consider the information below so you can make the right move for you in the property market.

Apartments

Apartments are not inferior investments to houses as they present many advantages that houses do not.

Apartments are usually more reasonable than houses as they lack land and costs like insurance, maintenance and upkeep are provided for by body corporate in a strata scheme
Apartments in inner-city areas that are accessible to tenants and provide higher rental yields, lending security to your investment.
You can build up a diversified property portfolio with greater efficiency with apartments as opposed to the more costly investment of houses

Houses

Houses also offer several advantages.

The value of land appreciates over time, making your investment worth it in the long run
Suburban houses are less costly but still have significant investment potential if the suburb is being developed or accessible by public transport
You may have complete autonomy and control of how your run your house as opposed to apartments which have to adhere to body corporate rules

 Contact us for more information.

Checking the Fine Print of your Home Loan

Checking the fine print of your home loan

If a home loan is too good to be true, odds are it is. Due to the lengthy time commitment of a home loan and the costly investment, what may seem like small oversights can add and cost you thousands. A guide to reading the fine print of your home loan is attached below.

Introductory rates

Low-interest rates on loans may not be for the entire borrowing period.

These types of rates offer a very competitive interest rate that many don’t realise is for a limited period, usually 12 months. The interest rate will rise to a lender’s standard variable rate, which may not be the most competitive rate you sought on the market. It is vital to know how long the introductory rate on your home loan is available for before signing the agreement.

Don’t forget about LMI

If you borrow over 80 percent of the value of your property, you are required to pay lender mortgage insurance. The higher percentage amount of the value of the property you borrow, the higher this fee will become.

Restrictions on additional payments

In some variable rate loans and fixed-rate loans, additional payments at any time or within the fixed rate period are not permitted. A cap may be placed on additional payments. You should check your terms and conditions to make sure that if you receive an inheritance, a bonus at work or win the lottery, you can pay your home loan down when the opportunity is presented to you.

3 Ways to Maximise your Super

Superannuation is more critical than it has ever been. If having an ageing population has taught us anything, it is how managing money now can have substantial ramifications for your retirement plan.

Merge your super

Every super account you have comes with a set of fees. It is worth your while chasing down inactive accounts and putting all your super into the one account to reduce fees and maximise the investment benefits.

Salary sacrifice

3 Ways to Maximise your Super

If you can budget putting more of your salary away into a super account every month, you can reap multiple rewards. First, you can use the extra super payments to offset your pre-tax payments up to the current concessional contribution cap of $25,000 per year and after-tax contributions of $100,000. You can also build up your super while you can afford to.

Strategise

Your investment strategy should depend on the amount of risk you are willing to take. This will vary on where you are in your career. A growth investment option, which is high risk, might suit you if you are in the early stages of your career development. However, as your income stabilises to your goal amount, it might be wise to change super funds to a lower risk option that will protect your growing retirement nest egg.

Changes to FBT for Utes

Changes to FBT for Utes

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has released draft guidelines changing its previous stance on Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) for utes. Amendments originated from reports that dodgy tax returns were responsible for a loss of $8.7 billion in income tax due to wrongful claims. Failure to comply with the new requirements listed below may result in a 20 percent FBT imposed on the cost of the vehicle.

The requirement of a logbook

New rules require employers to ensure their workers using these vehicles keep detailed logbooks. Whether the logbooks are the electronic or hard copy, it is vital that the process be effective for returns lodged in the 2019 FBT year, when the law takes effect. Employers receive confirmation via email from employees using the vehicles at the end of the 2019 FBT year with their logbook including all regulated diversions and private use.

Diversions and private use rules

The guidelines introduce capped limits for the log books to comply with. Professional travel means that the vehicle must not deviate more than 2km from its usual route. However, 1000 km of non-work related travel is allowed, provided that there is no single trip exceeding 200 km. Such regulations provide greater flexibility than previous guidelines. What the ATO deems “minor” or “irregular trips” like carpooling the children to and from school or an occasional trip to visit relatives will not render you non-compliant so long as it is recorded as non-professional use.

Cash-only business? Consider making the switch

The Tax Office has released further findings that reveal cash-only businesses could be missing out on a significant chunk of revenue simply by not offering customers the option of electronic payment.

An ‘inconvenience’ was the most popular word consumers surveyed in the study used to describe when a business does not provide the option to pay via card.

Cash-only may also be having a direct effect on the business’s reputation. The results determined that Australian customers are twice as likely to perceive ‘cash-only’ as negative rather than positive – with many respondents questioning whether the business is honest and paying less tax (regardless of whether this may be fact or fiction).

While change may be difficult, cash-only businesses might like to consider the benefits that exist with no longer operating in cash. For instance, electronic tap-and-go payments take less time and cost around 9 cents less than payments made in cash.

By providing electronic payment only, a business can find it easier to keep more accurate record-keeping as well as help them to meet their tax and super obligations.

Hiring temporary residents: employer super obligations

Glance ConsultantsEmployers are being reminded by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) not to forget that along with permanent residents; temporary residents are also entitled to super guarantee (SG).

In most cases, an employer will be required to pay SG on top of their employee’s wages (temporary residents included) if they pay them $450.00 or more before tax in a calendar month.

Providing the temporary resident has met all the requirements, they can submit their claim for the super that their employer has paid as a ‘department Australian superannuation payment’ (DASP) once they have left Australia.

The ATO is encouraging employers to notify their temporary resident workers of the DASP application as it will be easier for these individuals to get the required supporting documents certified in Australia and then lodge once they have left the country.

Cents per kilometre rate rises for work-related car expenses

Tax accountingThe Tax Office has confirmed the rate for work-related car expenses will rise to 68 cents per kilometre for the income year beginning 1 July 2018.

The new rate will affect those eligible individuals who elect the cents per kilometre method when calculating the income tax deductions for their work-related car expenses for the 2018-19 income year. This rate also applies to the following income years until the Commissioner of Taxation deems it should be varied (these rates are reviewed each year).

Taxpayers working out their car expenses for the 2015-16 year, 2016-17 year and the 2017-18 year should remember that the previous rate of 66 cents per kilometre still applies to their calculations.

When selecting the cents per kilometre method, eligible individuals:

  • are not required to supply the ATO with written evidence of how many kilometres they have travelled;
  • may need to show how they worked out their business kilometres calculations;
  • cannot claim more than 5,000 business kilometres per car;
  • and cannot make a separate claim for depreciation of the car’s value.

It is also important to note that the amount will take into account all the vehicle running expenses.

Ins and outs of funeral insurance

Ins and outs of funeral insurance

Before purchasing funeral insurance, it is essential to check whether it is the right choice for you. Specifically, if it will be worth the expense, you will pay in premiums.

Take a look at these considerations.

Benefits

Can help you save
It is a handy way to make sure you save enough funds to cover your funeral expenses.

Instantly covered (with exclusions)
You can be covered immediately.

Disadvantages

Exclusions apply
Only accidental death is covered for the first two years in most policies. Should you die from another cause, you may find that you are not covered.

Rising premiums
More than likely your premiums will increase over time. A policy that may seem initially like the best cost-effective solution could, in reality, be expensive in the long run.

Premiums can exceed the cost of your funeral
As Australians continue to live longer, you could end up paying more in premiums than the cost of your funeral.

Your beneficiaries must wait for payouts
Your family members may have to wait to receive an insurance payout to cover your funeral costs.

Non-refundable premiums
Should you cancel your policy or find you can no longer afford to pay the premiums, you generally can not receive a refund on the premiums you have already paid.

It is always important to check the terms and conditions of a policy before making your final decision.

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