Capital Gains Tax Can Be Tricky – That’s Why We’re Here To Help

Posted on 13 September '21, under Tax.

If you have disposed of any assets (which can include the loss, destruction or sale of an asset) which are subject to capital gains tax, you need to let us know as soon as possible. These are known as capital gains events, which can affect the way in which a capital gain or loss is calculated, and when it is included in a net capital gain or loss.

The type of CGT event that applies to your situation may affect the time of the CGT event’s occurrence, and exactly how to calculate your capital gain or loss. As mentioned earlier, a CGT event can involve the loss of an asset, the destruction of an asset or the sale of an asset.

The Sale Of An Asset

If there is a contract of sale, the CGT event happens when you enter into the contract.

A common CGT asset involved with contracts of sale that is often sold is the house. The CGT event, in that case, happens on the date of the contract, not on the date of settlement.

If there is no contract of sale, the CGT event is usually when you stop being the asset’s owner.

Your capital gain or loss for the assets is usually the selling price, less the original cost and certain other costs associated with acquiring, holding and disposing of the asset.

Loss Or Destruction Of An Asset

If a CGT asset that you own is lost, stolen or destroyed, then the CGT event happens when you first receive compensation for the loss, theft or destruction.  In this way, the capital gain for such an asset is the amount of compensation less the asset’s original cost. If you do not receive compensation for the asset, the CGT event happens when the loss is discovered or the destruction occurred. Replacing the asset may result in being able to defer (or “roll over”) the capital gain until another CGT event occurs (e.g. selling the replacement asset).

The best way to ensure that you are doing the right thing when it comes to CGT tax is to keep your records up to date. This will assist us in ensuring that you are remaining compliant Any CGT events that have occurred need to be recorded (including asset disposals for at least five years after the event occurred. The best way to ensure this is to keep track of:

  • receipts of purchase, transfer or sale
  • if money was borrowed and details of interest
  • receipts for insurance, rates and land taxes
  • receipts for the cost of maintenance, repairs and modifications
  • any market valuations
  • brokerage on shares and cryptocurrency
  • digital wallet records and keys.

Keeping accurate and well-maintained records for CGT events is of utmost importance, as it allows us to ensure that you are accurately reporting your transactions and lodging your return correctly. If they incur any net capital losses, this needs to be reflected in the return as they may be able to offset these against capital gains in a later year. Once a loss has been offset against a capital gain, you need to keep the records about that CGT event for two years (for individuals and small businesses) or four years (for other taxpayers).

If you are in the process of disposing of a capital gains asset, you will want to be certain that you are doing the right thing. Capital gains tax can be a tricky issue, with plenty of rigamarole. Come speak with us to ensure that your returns are lodged with the most accurate and correct information needed for submission.

A Restructure Only Means A Setback To Your Business, And Not A Closure – Here’s What The Reforms Could Mean For Your Business

Posted on 6 September '21, under Business.

With the demanding conditions that have plagued the retail industry over the past twelve months, business owners need to be aware of all the restructuring options available before it is too late.

COVID-19 has unfortunately resulted in reduced foot traffic, store closures, the accumulation of legacy creditors and significant deteriorations in working capital positions.

Even with the support of JobKeeper and other government initiatives buoying business ventures from early 2021 to now, many family and small businesses are sure to continue to struggle.

The Misconceptions Of Formal Restructures

The idea of restructuring your business or reaching out for external help can appear scary and often seen as something to be avoided at all costs. However, business owners are not on their own when dealing with the difficult conditions facing them in their short-term future.

No one wants to see a business fail.

That’s why there are always options available to businesses. However, the longer a company holds off on making a decision, the more the business and its available options will deteriorate.

If companies and businesses can act early enough, their options include informal arrangements and advice, voluntary administration, and new restructuring reforms for small businesses.

With the availability of these options and the right people involved, there is no reason why a financially distressed small business cannot survive the challenging times and thrive in the future. All companies experience some form of distress from time to time and often at no fault of their own. The ones that survive focus on cash, seek appropriate advice from trusted advisors at the right time and act further on it.

How Might A Business Survive Financial Distress

Using the voluntary administration process as a restructuring tool allowed Tuchuzy (a well-known retailer in Bondi) to successfully deal with legacy creditors, refocus on high margin product lines, and ultimately, the company continued to trade profitably.

The key to Tuchuzy’s restructure was a ‘light touch’ administration to minimise costs and disruption to the business and closely working alongside the director to ensure the proposal submitted to her creditors would be acceptable than an immediate winding up scenario (of which it was).

There is a lot of flexibility and breathing space afforded in the voluntary administration process.

The administrator can quickly reset the cost base by exiting unprofitable stores, reducing the workforce, and focusing on only buying and selling favourable margin products.

Even when a liquidation becomes necessary, the process can be reasonably quick, fair and transparent if run properly.

The secret is to overcome the general stigma accompanying restructures and approach restructuring experts early who will ‘unemotionally’ explain each available option and provide an impartial recommendation that aligns best with the individual circumstances.

What Do The New Small Business Restructuring Reforms Mean For You?

For a business with few creditors and a single location, the process of voluntary administration can be expensive and unnecessary.

Indeed, voluntary administration is often not appropriate for many small businesses due to associated financial costs and the hurdle accompanying a director relinquishing control.

The government has responded to this critique and offered an alternative. This alternative comes at a perfect time as directors are, once again, exposed to personal liability for insolvent trading.

The new small business restructuring (SBR) reforms offer a lower cost and far simplified restructure process, critical for small businesses to continue to trade after government assistance such as JobKeeper ceased in March 2021. The reforms add an essential new path that will assist many retailers.

Though there have been only a handful of SBRs to date, and their effectiveness to save businesses is yet to be appropriately evaluated, it is an option to explore in the right circumstances.

Critical Questions Your Business Should Be Asking

The COVID-19 crisis has put a severe strain on many previously successful businesses. Though the government and many advisors are attempting to ensure that they do not collapse, directors and business owners need to be proactive and engage early for them to work.

Often businesses approach liquidators and advisors at the point where their financial problems have become insurmountable, and a liquidation/shutdown is often the only option left. The timing of coming and asking for help can be the difference between a shutdown and the continuation of trading.

With proper preparation and an effective plan that considers all stakeholders, any business should be able to restructure and continue to trade.

If your answer to any of the below questions is yes, you should seek immediate advice from a trusted restructuring advisor.

  1. Am I currently losing money?
  2. Am I finding it hard to pay bills on time?
  3. Have I got old debts that I am finding hard to pay down?
  4. Do I need some breathing space?
  5. Do I have my ‘head in the sand’?

Breaching The Complex Laws That Surround SMSFs Could Land You In Hot Water

Posted on 30 August '21, under Super.

There is a proverb that says that it is better to ask for forgiveness than to ask permission.

Generally speaking, the idea behind this saying is that if you ask for permission and you do not receive it, then the punishment will be a lot harsher than if you do the thing that you asked to do and get caught afterwards.

For example, if your children were to ask you if they could go to the local pool, and you deny them that request, the chances are that they would be in more trouble than if they simply circumvented you, and went anyway. It may also be said that you may never get caught doing the wrong thing, but asking for permission to do the act could have someone keeping watch over you.

The same cannot be said for Self Managed Superannuation Funds.

It is never a good idea to break the rules and then ask for forgiveness in that instance (or at least not intentionally). SMSF laws are complex. Breaking the rules could be thought of as being quite easy, but is not an excuse.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) makes each and every person appointed as a trustee sign a declaration that they are aware of the rules and enforce that that declaration must be witnessed.

Then, after signing a declaration that you are aware and know the rules, they also force you to appoint an independent auditor to thoroughly check everything you have done and to make sure that you have not breached any of the rules.

If they find out that you have breached the rules then that auditor must then report the breach to the Tax Office.

Once it has been reported, this breach must be addressed as quickly as possible. It is even better if you rectify the breach before the auditor reports the breach. Your attitude towards rectifying the breach has a lot of impact on the action that the Tax Office will take against you as a trustee.

Where you can show that this was an inadvertent breach and you fixed it immediately upon realising you made the breach then most likely you will not receive any type of punishment.

Conversely, where the breach was made knowingly and you show hesitancy in rectifying it you should expect to feel the full wrath of the regulator. The ATO does not take lightly to a person not administering their super to the letter of the law.

What Punishments Can The ATO Give You?

There are a number of sticks the ATO has to punish wayward SMSF trustees. The most common punishment used is a direction to do something. For example, you might have acquired an asset off a member that was against the rules. In this case, the ATO would direct you to sell that asset back to the members.

Further on the next level of punishment would be education directives. The ATO has the authority to force you to do some formal SMSF Trustee training. There are a number of providers of these training courses.

That is the extent of the punishments that do not incur monetary penalties. However, the next level of punishment is significant fines for each individual trustee or director of the corporate trustee. These fines can be up to $10,000 per person.

The biggest punishment that can occur is to classify the SMSF as “non-complying,” where the cost of this will be 47% of the accumulated taxable component of the whole fund.

Essentially, that’s half of your super taken from you.

That’s why we always recommend complying with the rules. When you are unsure of the rules, then you should seek further clarification from an expert (and keep off of the ATO’s naughty list while you’re at it).

Renovations, DIY and Repairs – Here’s The Tax Information You Need To Know As A Property Investor

Posted on 23 August '21, under Tax.

As a property investor, you might find yourself implementing repairs and renovation work onto a property to ensure that you are maximising its value on the market. However, though both can be claimed on your tax return, it’s of paramount importance that you know how to claim them. Getting it wrong can be both costly, and unlawful.

A rental property improvement is a renovation where something is improved beyond its original state and must be claimed with depreciation. This means that you are claiming a deduction for the decline in the value over the effective life of the renovation. For example, a rental property improvement that could be claimable by a property investor could include a bathroom getting retiled.

Maintenance and repairs however can be claimed differently, with all records kept containing accurate information on that work. This will assist in working out the depreciation of assets of the property.

A depreciation schedule is a report that outlines all available tax depreciation deductions for a residential investment property or commercial building. These depreciations can be claimed in your tax return each financial year and could help you to save thousands.

Investors who renovate and lodge their tax returns prior to ensuring that they have updated their tax depreciation schedule correctly could get caught out in making a mistake between the two types of work. Those who fail to properly record rental property improvements in a tax depreciation schedule risk making inaccurate claims and inviting the scrutiny of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

Your tax obligations and entitlements when renovating your property may change depending on how you go about it. Depending on whether you are a personal property investor, engaged in the profit-making activity of property renovations or carrying on a business involved in renovating properties, you will have to abide by certain requirements outside of maintaining the depreciation schedule.

Personal Property Investor

As a personal property investor engaging in renovations to a property:

  • The net gain or loss gained from the renovation is treated as a capital gain or capital loss.
  • Capital gains tax concessions such as the CGT discount and the main residence exemption may reduce your capital gain.
  • You will not be required to register for GST as you are not conducting an enterprise.

Profit-Making Activity of Property Renovations

Consider yourself a ‘flipper’ of properties? You will be required to:

  • Report your net profit or loss from the renovation in your income tax return as a result of the profit-making activity.
  • Have an Australian business number.
  • May be required to register for GST if the renovations are substantial.

In The Business Of Renovating Properties

If you are carrying out the business of renovating or flipping properties:

  • They are regarded as trading stock (even if you live in one for a short period of time.
  • The costs associated with buying and renovating them form part of the cost of your trading stock until they are sold.
  • You calculate the business’s annual profit or loss in the same way as any business with trading stock
  • You’re entitled to an Australian business number (ABN)
  • You may be required to register for GST if the renovations are substantial.

In this instance, CGT does not apply to assets held as trading stock. Similarly, the CGT concessions (such as the CGT discount, small business concessions and main residence exemption) will not be applicable to the income gained from the sale of the properties.

If you are concerned about any of the topics discussed above, or want to know more about claiming property improvements on your tax return, you can come and speak with us for further information and advice.

Finding The Right Partner For Business Is As Serious As A Marriage – And Just As Complicated

Posted on 16 August '21, under Business.

Making decisions as the owner of a business can be a world of difficult choices, but none so much as deciding that your business requires a partner. It’s a critical, strategic decision for the business that you won’t want to get wrong.

Approach your search for the right business partner to suit your business as you would a life partner. As a major legal covenant, a partnership is not unlike a marriage of sorts in the business world. It’s also something that you won’t want to rush into. A good partnership requires:

  • A shared vision and goal
  • Mutual hard work
  • Open communication
  • Mutual respect
  • A balance of power
  • Effective conflict resolution

You might already have an idea of what you are looking for when it comes to a business partner, but it’s still important to identify key aspects of what makes a good one.

Critical Skills & Experience 

A candidate for a business partner should possess skills and experience that can be brought to the table which complement that which you already possess. They may possess strengths that you simply do not, which can make it easier to start, plan, grow and run a business.

For example, you may be a customer relations extraordinaire but struggle with the operational aspect of business development. That might be the skillset you look for in a business partner.

If the candidate for a business partner can also provide you with the resources and credibility for your business on top of sharing your vision, this can be a gamechanger. Those resources could include a secure business network, industry connections, client list or specific credentials and expertise that can add value to your business.

Values, Entrepreneurial Spirit & Business Vision

You will need to be able to communicate effectively with your partner to make decisions, set goals and drive the business forwards. Aligning your values and business vision with your partners will help facilitate your business’s development and growth without hindrance.

Minimise The Personal Intruding On The Professional

If your prospective business partner is facing serious challenges in their life, they may translate over to the business. While giving someone a chance to challenge themselves is an honourable act, running a small business takes focus, time and tremendous energy that they may not be able to afford to give.

Personal & Business Ethics

A partnership should be a mutual and trusting relationship. Someone who values honesty and practices good personal and business ethics should be at the top of your list. You don’t want to be involved with someone whose moral code does not align with yours, or who could get you involved in legal matters that may besmirch you and your business’s reputation.

Also, if you cannot respect your partner or they cannot respect you on a professional level, your ability to work as a team will suffer, and your clients will read into that as a lack of professionalism. Never partner with someone that you do not respect, or who does not respect you.

In the event that you choose or have chosen a business partner that is not right for you, make sure that everything agreed upon for the partnership was set out in writing, as breaking the partnership is no easy matter. With a lot of legal ramifications that you may face in dissolving the agreement at play, having evidence and a plan can save you plenty of grief.

For assistance with drawing up partnership agreements, business planning or simple advice on anything brought up here, you can speak with us.

How Much Super Should You Have To Retire?

Posted on 9 August '21, under Super.

Retirement might seem like a far off dream for many in the workforce, but it’s never too early to start thinking about how much money you might require to live comfortably in your golden years.

Your super balance will most likely fund your retirement, so knowing how well it is performing at your current age is a critical way to address performance issues and optimise its path going forward. You want to make sure you’ll be getting the most out of your super so that when it comes to retiring, you can afford the lifestyle you want.

The amount of super that you may need to live comfortably during your retirement may depend on a range of factors, such as expenses that you may incur, outstanding debts you may have and whether you will be eligible for other types and forms of income (such as through investments, savings, an inheritance or the Age Pension).

According to figures set out in March 2021, those who are looking to retire today (regarding individuals and couples around the age of 65) would need an annual budget of around $44,412 or $62,828 to fund a comfortable lifestyle. For a modest lifestyle, they would need an annual budget of $28,254 or $40,829 respectively.

Everyone’s situation is different, and their super balance will likely reflect those differences.

Men and women may have different super balances due to pay gaps, salary differences and potentially the amount of time they have actually spent working (maternity leave, working part-time versus full-time etc, taking time off work for travel, etc.). As an example, a woman in the 20-24 age bracket may have an average super balance of $8,051, while a man in the same bracket is expected to have an average balance of $9,481. In the 40-44 age bracket, the average super balance for men is $134,992, while women in that same age group may only possess $98,572.

So how can you make certain that your superannuation gets the boost it needs to fund your retirement? We can suggest the following:

  • Track down lost super to make sure that you’re not paying for multiple fees on different accounts.
  • Consider whether consolidating your funds might be a worthwhile option, to keep easier track of them.
  • Review your investment options (you may want to consider switching to a more growth-focused super investment option, for example).
  • Review your super at least once a year, and check the fund’s performance, fees that you are paying, what insurance you might have inside your super and if it is still suitable for your current needs.

If you’re looking towards your future, and want more advice on how to plan for your retirement with regard to your superannuation, you can speak with us or your super provider.

When Does A CGT Concession Or Exemption Apply To Your Small Business?

Posted on 2 August '21, under Tax.

Small businesses are facing a set of challenges once again that can make fulfilling tax obligations seem like a daunting task. However, as a small business, capital gains tax concessions on assets used to conduct your business may be of interest to you. These assets are known as “active assets” and can, for example, be a tangible asset (such as commercial property), or an intangible asset (such as goodwill).

The turnover threshold for such CGT concessions is $2 million, according to the ATO.  If your turnover is more than $2 million, then you need to satisfy an assets test.

There are stringent eligibility requirements and conditions that you must meet in order to access these concessions.

If you have owned an active business asset, you may only be required to pay tax on 25% of the capital gain when the asset is disposed of.

If you are 55 years of age or older, and are retiring or are permanently incapacitated (and have owned an active business asset for at least 15 years), you may not have to pay any CGT when disposing of an asset by sale, gift or transfer. You might also be able to contribute the amount that you make from this exemption to your super fund without affecting your non-concessional contributions limits (you can speak with us about this if you are unsure about this process).

If you are under 55, the taxable 25% of the disposal of an asset can be paid into a complying fund or a retirement savings account. There is then a full CGT exemption on the sale of an active business asset of up to $500,000 (the lifetime limit). Any amounts earned from this exemption to CGT may be able to be paid into your super fund without affecting the non-concessional contributions limit).

Disposing of an active asset, but are going to buy a replacement asset or improve on an existing one? You can defer your capital gain in this instance until a later year. The replacement asset can be acquired one year before or up to two years after the last CGT event in the income year that you choose the roll-over for.

If the asset is a share in a company or an interest in a trust, there will be additional conditions that you will be required to meet as well. If you are a small business, there are other CGT exemptions, rollovers and concessions specific to small businesses that you may be able to access, if you meet the eligibility criteria. These small business CGT concessions will reduce the taxable capital gain and in some cases result in no tax being paid at all on the gain.

Speak with us to find out what you may be entitled to when it comes to CGT and your business to ensure that you are doing the right thing with your tax obligations after selling an asset.

The Pros & Cons Of A Partnership As A Business Structure

Posted on 27 July '21, under Business.

If you’re looking to go into business with someone, the chances are that you might be looking at using a business structure known as a partnership. A partnership is a type of business structure that is made up of two or more people who distribute income or losses between themselves and is a fairly popular form of structure amongst those looking to develop a business.

It offers ease and flexibility to run your business as individuals, eliminates the need to create a company structure and avoid reporting obligations. You’re also not going into creating a business by yourself, which can be an added bonus for some and reduces some of the initial financial burden and uncertainty of the setup.

Just as there are advantages to choosing to set up a partnership, one must also examine the disadvantages.

A partnership generally exists between two or more parties, so disagreements in management may occur, and decision-making may never be truly equal. It can be difficult to add or remove partners into and out of the partnership, and adding more partners can make the partnership more complex to manage.

Partnerships also generally do not receive access to many government grants (barring special exemptions).

A partnership business structure may be the structure for you to employ as they possess the following key elements:

  • Partnerships are relatively easy and inexpensive to set up
  • Have minimal reporting requirements
  • Require separate tax file numbers
  • Must apply for an ABN and use it for all business dealings
  • Share control and management of the business
  • Don’t pay tax on the income earned, as each partner pays tax on the share of the net partnership income that each receives
  • Do require a partnership tax return to be lodged with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) each year
  • Require each partner to be responsible for their own superannuation arrangements.

There are three main types of partnerships that you may have come across in your own research. Each one has advantages and disadvantages that you may want to take into account when considering what would be the best suited to your situation.

A general partnership is where all partners are equally responsible for the management of the business. For any debts and obligations that may be incurred by the business, each partner has unlimited liability for them.

A limited partnership is made up of general partners whose liability is limited to the amount of money that they have contributed to the partnership. Those involved in this style of partnership are known as limited partners who are usually passive investors without a role to play in the day-to-day management and running of the business.

An incorporated limited partnership is where the partners involved in this type of partnership can have limited liability, but at least one general partner must have unlimited liability. If the business cannot meet its obligations, that general partner (or partners) become personally liable for the shortfall and debts.

Each state and territory has different legislation and regulations that must be abided by when setting up a partnership. Learn what is legally required from you prior to setting up your partnership, or discuss with us what you may be obligated to do.

Using A Corporate Trustee Instead Of Individuals For A Family Trust

Posted on 19 July '21, under Super.

A family trust is a great structure.  It provides tax flexibility whilst giving you asset separation in two directions.  But what does asset separation in two directions mean? And why might we suggest it to you as a recommendation?

First of all, why do you want asset separation? If there are multiple assets, you want to make sure that if someone makes a claim against the owner of a particular asset that your other assets can be quarantined from that claim. This isolation will mean that they can’t gain access to the assets that are yours and separate from the claim.

If you own a business and have a successful financial claim made against your business where the claim is for an amount that is more than the assets of the business, you will first need to use the business to cover the claim, and then find something additional to supplement the shortfall. In this case, if you also own your own home, and its worth is enough to cover that shortfall, it may be used to meet the claim by combining the business assets’ worth and the family home’s value. You could lose your family home!

However, if we structure your business in a particular way then the person making that claim will only have access to the assets in the business and you will be able to keep your family home.

This is what is called asset separation. Generally, it’s a good thing to employ, but it does have one flaw – it usually only goes one way.

If someone claims on your business, they won’t get the house but if they successfully make a financial claim against you, they will successfully get all of the assets that you own, including those of your business.  This is a risk that you must be willing to take if you own a business.

When you operate a business through a family trust instead of owning that business, you will merely “control” it, and have but a “mere expectancy” of being considered in the distribution of any profits or capital from that business.

The good part here is that although you only have a mere expectancy to be considered, we would set it up so it is YOU that “considers” who gets the money.  This means that if someone makes a claim against you then they can’t get access to assets in the family trust. What this does is give you two-way asset protection.

There is a bit of an issue with family trusts though – although you will see the debts of the trust as debts of the trust at law, they are in actual fact the debts of the trustee. If you are the trustee, all of the debts of the trust are your personal debts. You can use the trust assets to pay down those debts, but if the trust assets are insufficient to pay the debts, it will be up to you to pay off the rest.

When you’re an individual trustee of a trust, you lose the perk of asset separation, which is why a company may be used as a trustee, as the company does nothing other than act as the trustee of the trust. If there are insufficient funds in the trust to cover the debts of the trust, then those debts fall on the trustee and the creditors have no access to your personal assets because you have no individual debts owing.

Want to know more about asset separation? Interested in trusts? We’re here to help.

Receive A Relief Or Support Payment? Here’s What You Need To Watch Out For This Tax Season

Posted on 12 July '21, under Tax.

Have you, over the course of the past financial year, received a government assistance payment, support payment or disaster relief supplement?

There have been a number of cases where people who received financial assistance from the government were hit with additional owed tax to the ATO, due to their payments increasing their income threshold.

When lodging your individual income tax return this year, you will need to declare certain Australian Government payments, pensions and allowances in your tax return. If you did not elect to pay tax on those payments, this could affect the payment received from your return (or mean that you actually owe money to the ATO).

Some of the taxable payments that you may need to include in your tax return include:

  • the age pension
  • carer payment
  • Austudy payment
  • JobSeeker payment
  • Youth allowance
  • Defence Force income support allowance (DFISA) where the pension, payment or allowance to which it relates is taxable
  • veteran payment
  • invalidity service pension, if you have reached age-pension age
  • disability support pension, if you have reached age-pension age
  • income support supplement
  • sickness allowance
  • parenting payment (partnered)
  • disaster recovery allowance (but not in relation to 201920 bushfires)

Most of these pensions, payments and allowances will pre-fill in your tax return if you lodge online. You will need to make sure that all information submitted is correct though. Verify the pre-filled information with your own records to ensure that you are lodging the right information, and not missing anything.

Do you have concerns about your tax return this year? Uncertain about deductions, or if certain taxes will apply to you? Want a little more help or information about your government payments?

Be prepared for your individual income tax return with a consult with us. We can advise you on your tax returns, and potentially help you minimise the tax you will end up paying.