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‘Great deal of uncertainty’ with tax measures on hold

‘Great deal of uncertainty’ with tax measures on hold

With Parliament adjourned until 10 September, the accounting industry has been left in a limbo over a number of proposed measures with retrospective start dates, leaving practitioners with “a great deal of uncertainty”.

Tax&Compliance Jotham Lian 27 August 2018
— 2 minute read

Despite the passage of Treasury Laws Amendment (Enterprise Tax Plan Base Rate Entities) Bill 2017 and the defeat of the hotly debated corporate tax cut plans last week, a backlog of bills continue to sit before the Senate.

Speaking to Accountants Daily, TaxBanter senior tax trainer, Robyn Jacobson, said practitioners and their clients were facing uncertainty on their tax and business position due to the drawn out process of securing passage of the proposed bills.

“We’ve got a number of measures that are not just important and crucial in the nature of their changes but many of the start dates have already passed, it is retrospective now – they may not have been retrospective when they were announced but by the time they get enacted, they will certainly be retrospective,” said Ms Jacobson.

“When you’ve got accountants, practitioners, taxpayers trying to prepare their tax returns, trying to get their tax affairs in order, trying to do some planning, we don’t know what the law is going to be with effect from those retrospective dates and that's what creates the uncertainty.”

Among some of the measures yet to be passed, the superannuation guarantee amnesty is still before the Parliament despite only running for a 12 month period from 24 May 2018 to 23 May 2019.

“If an employer makes a disclosure to the ATO in the meantime and the bill doesn’t go through, which is possible, then those employers will be treated as having made a full voluntary disclosure to the ATO and that means the current law would have to be applied,” said Ms Jacobson.

The measure to extend the Single Touch Payroll (STP) regime to small employers with 19 or less employees has also yet to be passed, leaving small business owners with less time to prepare, should it go through.

The extension of the $20,000 small business instant asset write-off to 30 June 2019 has also yet to be passed, meaning that clients need to be mindful that the current threshold of $1,000 applies, said Ms Jacobson.

Further, uncertainty continues to linger around the complex integrity changes to the small business CGT concessions, with proposed changes to the start date to 8 February 2018 yet to be confirmed.

“The bill is intending for those measures to start 1 July 2017 but there are two amendments before the Senate, one by Senator Leyonhjelm and Senator Cameron and both of those amendments are suggesting that the bill should start on 8 February 2018 which was the date the draft legislation was released for comment. The government has yet to confirm through a media release or through an amendment that it will be 8 February so there is still uncertainty about the start date of those changes,” added Ms Jacobson.

The main residence exemption changes for non-residents have also yet to be secured, with Ms Jacobson highlighting the severity of the rules because of its retrospective application that goes as far back as 20 September 1985.

“I am particularly concerned about those measures because of the retrospective impact – the amendments will deny the main residence exemption as far back as 20 September 1985 and this will impact on Australian expats who sell their homes once they become non-residents,” said Ms Jacobson.

“They could have lived in Australia for 30 years, become a non-resident, then sell their home once they are overseas and if they do so after 30 June 2019, they will lose their main residence exemption back to the day they bought it.”

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‘Great deal of uncertainty’ with tax measures on hold
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