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Spry Roughley Articles

The ATO and Treasury have released a joint statement advising that the previous estimate of the number of employers who would access the JobKeeper program was significantly overstated. Treasury now estimates the number of employees likely to be covered under the JobKeeper program to be around 3.5 million (down from a previous estimate of 6.5 million employees). As a result, Treasury has revised down the estimated cost of JobKeeper to around $70 billion (down from the original $130 billion estimate).  Read more…

Snapshot of Federal COVID-19 pandemic measures

The following is a snapshot of Australia's all-of-Government financial measures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It does not deal with the response measures specific to the various states and territories.  Read more…

JobKeeper: measuring decline in turnover

Law Companion Ruling LCR 2020/1, issued on 4 May 2020 and effective from 9 April 2020, explains various aspects of the JobKeeper "decline in turnover" test and also sets out practical compliance approaches that an entity can apply to calculate its turnover. The Ruling is intended to supplement guidance already available on the ATO website. The ATO says it decided to issue a (non-binding) ruling as it continues to receive questions about some aspects of the test.  Read more…

STP exemption for small employers extended to July 2021

The ATO has announced that it has extended the Single Touch Payroll (STP) exemption for small employers in relation to closely held payees from 1 July 2020 to 1 July 2021 in response to COVID-19.  Read more…

Foreign employment income and the impact of COVID-19

The ATO has issued a fact sheet for taxpayers who have returned to Australia as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly to address their status in regards of the income tax exemption for foreign earnings. Foreign earnings include salary, wages, commissions, bonuses and allowances earned from engagement in foreign service.  Read more…

Rental properties and the impact of COVID-19

The ATO has updated its webpage that addresses questions about residential rental properties and the financial impact of COVID-19. Some of the more interesting issues are outlined here.  Read more…

Processing of super early releases resumes with extra risk filters

Processing of COVID-19 early release of superannuation applications resumed 11 May 2020 after the ATO added extra risk filters for all files that are delivered to super funds.  Read more…

Directors’ duties still apply despite COVID-19 relief

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has reminded companies, directors and officers faced with COVID-19 challenges to reflect on their fundamental duties to act with due care, skill and diligence, and to act in the best interests of the company.  Read more…

ATO opens applications for early release of super

The ATO has released its application form for the early release of superannuation by individuals impacted by COVID-19. From 20 April, an individual can make one application to access up to $10,000 (tax-free) in the 2019–2020 financial year (ie they must make the application by 30 June 2020). A second application for up to $10,000 can be made in the 2020–2021 year (ie from 1 July 2020) until 24 September 2020.  Read more…

Understanding the JobKeeper Payment scheme - Part 2

Understanding the JobKeeper Payment scheme - Part 2 Read more…

Understanding the JobKeeper Payment scheme - Part 1

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg registered the Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Payments and Benefits) Rules 2020 on 9 April 2020. These statutory rules set out the actual rules and taxpayer requirements for the JobKeeper Payment scheme, which will be administered by the ATO. The statutory rules complement the JobKeeper Payment legislation, the Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Payments and Benefits) Rules 2020, which was passed by Parliament on 8 April 2020. Read more…

Coronavirus cash flow boost payments explained

As a part of the second round of economic stimulus in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Government has legislated a measure to boost cash flow for employers. Put simply, the cash flow boost payments are intended to support employment by providing Federal support for employers through the tax system. This is admirable yet is likely to prove complex to administer.  Read more…

Federal Budget night shifts to 6 October 2020

The Australian Government recently announced that this year's Federal Budget will not be handed down until 6 October 2020. In making the announcement, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that this postponement is intended to "provide more time for the economic and fiscal impacts of the coronavirus, both in Australia and around the world, to be better understood".  Read more…

Super guarantee amnesty for employers

The super guarantee amnesty Bill has finally received Royal Assent, which means that the amnesty for employers to come forward to declare any super guarantee (SG) shortfalls will run from 24 May 2018 to 7 September 2020. Under the super guarantee amnesty, employers can self-correct SG underpayments with reduced penalties, and can also claim a tax deduction for payments of SG charge or contributions made during the amnesty period.  Read more…

The ATO has advised that it has extended and expanded its pilot program which offers an independent review service to eligible small businesses disputing income-tax-related audits. The pilot will continue until 31 December 2020.  Read more…

Scams targeting natural disaster victims

Victims of the recent natural disasters beware: there is an SMS scam circulating that purports to give you "an 8% bonus" on your 2020 tax return. The scam urges victims to start the process by filling out a form and provides a link to a what looks like the genuine myGov website. According to the ATO, this website is fake and this scam is a classic case of scammers impersonating the ATO in an effort to collect personal information including names, birth dates, addresses, emails, phone numbers and online banking login details.  Read more…

Working from home: what can I deduct?

Have you been directed by your employers to work from home to limit the spread of COVID-19? While working from home has its benefits, there may be extra expenses too, ranging from printing costs to the need for more internet data and perhaps even additional equipment. You may be able to claim a deduction for the additional running costs you incur. The costs you may be able to claim include the work-related portion of any heating, cooling and lighting for the area you're working from, work-related phone and internet costs, and work-related decline in value of a personally owned computer and associated office equipment. To claim these expenses, you must keep specific records ranging from diary entries to receipts.  Read more…

Coronavirus

ATO coronavirus administrative support


A series of administrative measures to assist businesses experiencing financial difficulty as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been announced by the ATO. These include deferring the payment date and amounts due on Business Activity Statements (BASs), income tax assessments, FBT assessments and excise by up to four months. Businesses will also be allowed to change payment and reporting cycles for GST and vary PAYG instalment amounts. Any interest or penalties applied to tax liabilities incurred after 23 January 2020 may be remitted.  Read more…

Victoria

As part of the package, the Government will provide full payroll tax refunds for the 2019-20 financial year to small and medium-sized businesses with payroll of less than $3 million – giving $550 million back to businesses who need it.

Payments will start flowing next week and will save eligible business up to $113,975 a year, with businesses saving an average of $23,000. These businesses employ around 400,000 workers. This assistance is a refund, not a loan.

The same businesses will also be able to defer any payroll tax for the first three months of the 2020/21 financial year until 1 January 2021, freeing up a further $83 million in cashflow.

ACT

The ACT Government has announced an economic survival package, including a plan for payroll tax relief for small and medium businesses.

There will be a 6-months waiver on payroll tax for the hospitality, creative arts and entertainment industries. There will also be access to interest-free deferrals of payroll tax commencing 1 July 2020 for all businesses up to a payroll threshold of $10m in Australian taxable wages. The current threshold for the exemption from payroll tax will remain at $2m. In order to facilitate the program, a business liaison team will assist local business with these measures.

The government will announce further packages as ACT progresses to different phases of the crisis.

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