Chartered Accountants & Business Advisers, Harrington McNamara Business Services Pty Ltd, Chatswood, Sydney, Australia


Harrington McNamara Blog Archives  

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Federal Budget - 2016

Click here to view the key announcements of the May 2016 Federal Budget and how they impact:

  • personal taxation
  • business taxation
  • GST
  • superannuation
Tax Planning
There are many ways in which entities can defer income, maximise deductions and take advantage of other tax planning initiatives to manage their taxable income. Taxpayers should be aware that they need to start the year-end tax planning process early in order to maximise these opportunities. Click here to read more.
SuperStream deadline is approaching - get started now so you are ready by 30 June

If you are an employer it's important you know about some changes in the way you pay super and that you take action now. Click here to read more.


Deadline looming for SMSF collectables compliance
The ATO has reminded trustees of self-managed super funds (SMSFs) that if they have investments in collectables or personal-use assets that were acquired before 1 July 2011, time is running out to ensure their SMSFs meet the requirements of the superannuation law for these assets. Click here to read more.
Travellers with student debts need to update contact details
From the 2016–2017 income year, anyone who has a HELP or TSL debt and earns above the minimum repayment threshold will be required to make repayments regardless of where they live. Click here to read more.
Withholding tax for car allowances

Car expense deductions for individuals were simplified from 1 July 2015. Click here to read more.


Trust's ABNs to be cancelled if no longer carrying on business
The ATO has advised that the Registrar of the Australian Business Register (ABR) will begin cancelling the Australian Business Numbers (ABNs) of approximately 220,000 trusts, where there is evidence they are no longer carrying on an enterprise. Click here to read more.
Are your super saving goals on track?
The new calendar year is a good time to conduct a superannuation health check and set some new goals to help boost superannuation savings. Although there have been no seismic shifts in the superannuation landscape of late, it may be prudent to reacquaint yourself with the rules. Click here to read more.
Single Touch Payroll pilot and tax offset proposed
The Government is looking to cut red tape for employers by simplifying tax and superannuation reporting obligations through its initiative called Single Touch Payroll (STP). Click here to read more.
ATO's proportionate compliance approach to SMSFs
From 1 July 2014 the ATO has three new regulatory compliance powers to deter and address contraventions of the superannuation law by trustees of self-managed super funds (SMSFs). These three new powers include the ability of the ATO to issue education directions, rectification directions and administrative penalties. Click here to read more.
Foreign property investors – reduced penalty period ending
The ATO has reminded foreign investors that the reduced penalty period for possible breaches of Australia's foreign investment rules for purchases of Australian real estate will close soon. Click here to read more.
Excessive deduction claims on holiday homes on ATO hit list
The ATO is increasing its focus on holiday home investors and, in particular, whether they are correctly claiming deductible expenses. Click here to read more.
Small business tax discount on the way
In a surprise – but welcome – move in the 2015 Federal Budget, the Government announced a small business tax discount. Click here to read more.
SMSFs in pension phase need to exercise care
The ATO is of the view that most trustees of SMSFs do the right thing. However, it has identified a number of issues concerning SMSFs in pension phase, noting the growing number of people expected to receive a pension in the next 10 years. Click here to read more.
ATO data-matching: immigration visa holders
The ATO has announced that it will acquire names, addresses and other details of visa holders, their sponsors and migration agents for the 2013–2014, 2014–2015, 2015–2016 and 2016–2017 financial years from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). Click here to read more.
Crowdfunding for small proprietary companies: consultation 
The Government is looking at ways to facilitate equity crowdfunding and whether its proposed regulatory framework should be extended to proprietary companies. Click here to read more.
Share-economy service providers need to assess tax implications
ATO has warned that individuals providing share-economy services may have tax obligations, which may include declaring income and registering for GST. Click here to read more.
Work-related and rental property claims on ATO's watch list
Tax time is in full swing and the ATO has highlighted areas of concern for individuals ahead of tax return lodgement time. Click here to read more.

Age Pension changes on the way


The Government has proposed legislation to give effect to several changes affecting the Age Pension. Click here to read more.




Dependent spouse tax offset to be abolished


The Government has proposed legislative amendments to abolish the dependent spouse tax offset (DSTO) and expand the dependent (invalid and carer) tax offset (DICTO). Click here to read more.




R&D tax incentive rate reduction back in spotlight


The Government has introduced legislation proposing to change the rates of assistance under the R&D tax incentive to 43.5% for eligible entities with a turnover under $20 million per annum and not controlled by a tax exempt entity, and to 38.5% for all other eligible entities, to apply from 1 July 2014. Click here to read more.



Accelerated depreciation write-off for SMEs


Legislative amendments to allow a short-term accelerated depreciation write-off up to $20,000 for assets acquired by small businesses have made their way through Parliament. Click here to read more.




Small business company tax rate cut


Parliament has passed legislation to reduce the company tax rate for companies that are small business entities with an aggregated turnover of less than $2 million. Click here to read more. 



Time limits on trustee tax assessments clarified

The ATO has issued a statement which outlines its practice of limiting the period within which it will raise an original trustee assessment. Click here to read more.




Single Touch Payroll


Businesses need to be aware of big changes afoot with the implementation of the Government's proposed Single Touch Payroll. Click here to read more.



GST treatment of credit card surcharges

The ATO has issued a Ruling which explains the goods and services tax (GST) treatment of a surcharge imposed by a merchant on a customer in respect of a credit card transaction concerning supplies of goods or services by the merchant to the customer. Click here to read more.


Are your superannuation savings goals on track?

Superannuation should never be a "set and forget" strategy. With the new calendar year here, now is a good time to review your circumstances and perhaps set some new goals to help boost retirement savings. Click here to read more.


Borrowing by superannuation funds under scrutiny

Late last year, the Murray Financial System Inquiry called on the Government to restore the general prohibition on direct borrowings by superannuation funds. Click here to read more.



Eligibility for family assistance lump sum payments

If you want to claim Centrelink family payments for the 2014 financial year, you must lodge your claim AND your 2014 individual income tax return by 30 June 2015 to be eligible. Click here to read more.



Rental property deductions - avoid common errors

The ATO has identified a number of common errors made by rental property owners. Click here to read more.



Subsidy to encourage employers to hire mature workers

The mature age worker tax offset will be abolished by the Government from the 2014-2015 income year and later income years. However, a new expenditure program will be delivered by the Department of Employment. Click here to read more.


Everyone has 1,440 minutes a day

Time is one of those things which cannot be expanded, however it can be better managed. Click here to read more.



We are in challenging times

The Australian economy has a number of contradictions at present. As an SME operator, what can you do about this? Click here to read more.



Characteristics of a well run business

Well-run businesses have systems in place to ensure ongoing advice is received regularly. Click here to read more.



ATO delivers guidance on Bitcoin

The ATO has now delivered guidance on the taxation treatment of Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies in time for people to complete their 2013/14 Income Tax Returns. Click here to read more


Conditions are 'confidence sapping'

With all the global and local uncertainty at present, businesses need to take into account a sluggish economy with potentially little growth when preparing their budget and cash flow forecasts for the next 12 months. Click here to read more


Changes affecting employers

Are you paying the correct amount of super guarantee? Are you using the correct tax tables? Unsure of the effects of the Temporary Budget Repair levy? Click here to read more.



2014 changes to ATO refunds

In 2014, businesses that lodge their tax returns electronically must provide Australian financial institution account (FIA) details. Click here to read more.

The new tax receipt

Starting from 1 July 2014, the majority of taxpayers will receive a tax receipt as part of the annual income tax return process. This is a new government initiative to increase transparency on how and where the government spends taxpayer money. Click here to read more.

ATO changes to managing activity statements

From 1 July this year, you may no longer receive paper activity statements. Click here to read more.

Administrator of deceased estate breached duty

The Supreme Court of Queensland has ruled that an administrator of a deceased estate breached her fiduciary duty by applying for her deceased son's superannuation benefits to be paid to her personally, rather than on behalf of his estate. Click here to read more.

Tax amnesty for undeclared offshore income

The ATO has launched a voluntary disclosure initiative The Tax Commissioner has warned that the initiative is a last chance opportunity for individuals who have not declared their overseas assets and income to come back into the tax system before 19 December 2014 in order to avoid steep penalties and the risk of criminal prosecution for tax avoidance. Click here to read more.



2014 Federal Budget newsletter


Welcome to our special Budget edition newsletter, outlining key taxation announcements of the May 2014 Federal Budget. Click here to access newsletter.


ATO targeting eBay online sellers


The ATO has announced a data-matching program targeting eBay online sellers, looking at and testing correct tax reporting by taxpayers and identifying areas that require improved educational and compliance strategies in order to encourage voluntary compliance by individuals. Click here to read more.


Review of small business tax hurdles


The government has asked the Board of Taxation to conduct a "fast-track review" to identify features in the tax system that are hindering or preventing small businesses from reaching their commercial goals. Click here to read more.


Value of trading goods taken for private use

The ATO has updated the amounts that the Tax Commissioner will accept for 2013–2014 as estimates of the value of goods taken from trading stock for private use by taxpayers in certain specified industries. Click here to read more.

Dividend washing arrangements – extension of 'self-amendment without penalties' period

The ATO has issued a number of letters advising the recipients that the ATO holds information that indicates that they, or an entity closely associated with them, participated in a franking credit arrangement where two sets of franking credits have been claimed on what is effectively the same parcel of shares. Click here to read more.


No deduction for preparatory activities on new business venture


Successful entrepreneurs are a creative and motivated bunch, but it generally takes several attempts to develop a successful business venture. Costs are quickly incurred in determining the viability of, and in pursuing, a business idea. However, careful consideration of the deductibility of such costs needs to be taken. If the idea is a winner and a new business venture is born, a deduction may be available. However, in other cases, the deduction may not be available. Click here to read more.


Brothers in business together, but not a partnership


The Supreme Court of Western Australia has found that two brothers were not in a partnership despite the two brothers spending some 30 years in business together. Click here to read more.


Daughter found to be "puppet director" of company trustee


A married couple has been successful before the AAT in a matter concerning access to the capital gains tax concessions for small businesses. Click here to read more.


ATO data-matching targets bank card sales

The ATO has announced that it will request and collect bank card sales data for the periods from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2014. Click here to read more.

Penalty for unsubstantiated work-related deduction claims

The AAT has recently affirmed a decision of the Tax Commissioner to impose a penalty on an individual equal to 50% of the tax shortfall amount arising from deduction claims for work-related expenses that were unsubstantiated. Click here to read more.

GST refund request made too late

An individual taxpayer has been unsuccessful before the AAT in seeking a review of the Commissioner's decision to refuse a GST refund. Click here to read more.

New Federal Government Confirms its Super and Tax Plans

The Coalition Government has reiterated its position on a range of previously announced superannuation and tax issued, as part of its Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO). Click here to read more.

Tax changes following carbon tax and mining tax repeal

The Abbott government has introduced into Parliament proposed legislation to repeal the carbon tax and the mining tax. Click here to read more.

Parent liable to CGT on half-share of townhouse

An individual has been unsuccessful before the AAT in arguing that he should not have to pay CGT on the sale of a townhouse he owned jointly with his son because, he argued, he was only holding his interest in the property to protect his inexperienced son from selling it on a whim. Click here to read more.

Changes to the Repayment Bonus for HELP Voluntary Repaymen

From 1 January 2014, subject to the passage of legislation, the 5% bonus on voluntary HELP repayments that either pay off a HELP debt, or are $500 or more, will be removed. Click here to read more.

ATO warns of 'dividend washing' schemes

The ATO has cautioned taxpayers against trading shares on a special market operated by the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) with the sole purpose of obtaining additional franking credits. Click here to read more.

Extra 15% super contributions tax for high income earners 

The superannuation law has been amended so contributions tax for certain concessional contributions has been doubled high income earners. Click here to read more.

Poor recordkeeping, so fuel tax credit claims refused

A trustee of a family trust that operated a construction and earthmoving equipment business has been unsuccessful before the AAT in its claim for fuel tax credits. Click here to read more.

ATO telephone advice does not excuse wrong GST claim

The AAT has confirmed the Commissioner's decision to impose on a taxpayer an administrative penalty at the rate of 50% for "recklessness" in relation to incorrectly claimed input tax credits (ITCs). Click here to read more.

Reasonable travel and meal allowance amounts 

The ATO has announced the travel and meal allowance amounts considered reasonable for 2013–2014. Click here to read more.

Division 7A benchmark interest rate

The ATO has advised the benchmark interest rate for the income year commencing 1 July 2013. Click here to read more.

Higher contributions cap of $35,000 

The concessional contributions cap has increased for for individuals aged 60 years and over. Click here to read more.

Medicare levy increase to fund DisabilityCare Australia 

The Medicare levy has been increased to help fund the government's National Disability Insurance Scheme, known as DisabilityCare Australia. Click here to read more.

Superannuation income stream following death of member 

The government has made tax law changes to provide tax certainty for superannuation trustees and deceased estates in situations where a person has died while in receipt of a superannuation income stream. Click here to read more.

Phase-out of medical expenses tax offset

The Government will phase out the net medical expenses tax offset, with transitional arrangements for those currently claiming the offset. Click here to read more.

New ATO data-matching programs

The ATO has recently announced new data-matching programs in relation to employers and WorkCover, student and temporary work visa holders, and online sellers. Click here to read more.

FBT rates and thresholds 2013–2014 

The ATO has announced important fringe benefits tax (FBT) rates and thresholds for 2013–2014. Click here to read more.

Car expenses - Rates per kilometre for 2012-2013

The Government has announced the "cents per kilometre" rates for calculating tax deductions for car expenses for the 2012–2013 income year. Click here to read more.

Schoolkids Bonus has replaced the Education Tax Refund

The Schoolkids Bonus has replaced the Education Tax Refund (ETR), making it easier for you to receive assistance for education-related expenses. Click here to read more.

Changes affecting employers from 1 July 2013

From 1 July 2013, employers across Australia will have new superannuation obligations under a range of reforms. Click here to read more.

No splitting of rental income for couple

The AAT has refused a husband's argument that he could split his rental income with his (now estranged) wife even though the commercial property was registered under his name only. Click here to read more.

EFT refunds for individuals

The Australian Taxation Office is starting to move away from issuing cheques and will soon require bank details for EFT refunds. Click here to read more.

Deductions for rental properties allowed

In a recent decision, the AAT allowed a taxpayer's claim for 50% rental deductions in respect of properties owned with her two sons as joint tenants, while the properties were rented to her ex-husband and one of her sons. Click here to read more.

Mistaken belief does not revoke excess super tax bill

A taxpayer has been unsuccessful before the AAT in arguing that her "mistaken belief" as to the timing of a superannuation contribution was a "special circumstance" that warranted reallocating excess superannuation contributions to an earlier financial year. Click here to read more.

Voluntary Entry into PAYG Instalments

Traditionally, new businesses are not brought into the Pay As You Go (PAYG) instalments system until after they lodge their first Income Tax Return. Click here to read more.

Disaster relief - no receipts needed for donations up to $10

The ATO offers support for people affected by the recent bushfires, and makes it easier for people to make donations to the disaster relief. Click here to read more.

Extra time for your December 2012 monthly BAS

The 21 January 2013 due date for lodgement and payment of the December 2012 monthly BAS has been extended. Click here to read more.

Special circumstances found to set aside excess contributions tax

A taxpayer has successfully argued before the AAT that there were special circumstances in his situation to allow for the exercise of the Commissioner's discretion under the law to reallocate superannuation contributions. Click here to read more.


Depreciation deduction allowed for certain

A recent case before the AAT has highlighted the need for businesses to maintain appropriate records of plant and equipment used in business. Click here to read more.

ATO to data-match motor vehicle purchases

The ATO is collecting details of individuals and businesses who have purchases or acquired a vehicle with a transaction value of $10,000 or greater in the 2011-2012 or 2012-2013 financial years. Click here to read more.

Mini-budget tightens fringe benefits, health rebates and more

The government's mid-year budget update was handed down in late October 2012, including the announcement of the removal of the concessional treatment for in-house fringe benefits that are accessed through a salary sacrifice arrangement. Click here to read more.

Reform of SMSF levy arrangements

The government will reform the levy on self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs), by changing when the levy is collected from SMSFs and increasing the levy to ensure all regulatory costs are fully recovered. Click here to read more.

Property developers and GST under ATO spotlight

The ATO has advised that it intends to increase its focus this financial year on property developers who have a history of non-compliance with GST obligations. Click here to read more.

Excess super contributions: once-only refund offer

The ATO has started offering refunds to some individuals who have exceeded their annual superannuation concessional contributions cap. Click here to read more.

Dependent Spouse Tax Offset Phase-out

The Government is continuing to phase out the dependent spouse tax offset (DSTO), with changes effective 1 July 2012. Click here to read more.

FITO can be applied against Medicare liabilities 

The Government has amended the law to allow the ATO to apply any remainder of foreign income tax offset (FITO) for an income year, after first applying it against basic income tax liability, against a taxpayer's liability to pay Medicare levy and Medicare levy surcharge for that income year. The changes apply for 2008-09 and later years. Click here to read more.

ATO focus on small businesses & wealthy individuals 

The ATO has launched a public online resource that spells out its tax compliance approach to small businesses and wealthy individuals. Click here to read more.

Worked overseas, but still an Australian resident, says Tribunal

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has recently heard two cases relating to whether the individual taxpayers involved, men who worked in the oil and gas industry in the Middle East, were Australian residents for tax purposes. Click here to read more.

ATO Small Business Benchmarks 

The ATO has been publishing small business benchmarks since 2009 as part of its strategy to help small businesses to compare their performances against similar businesses. The benchmarks are also used by the ATO to identify taxpayers who may be under-declaring income. Click here to read more.

Complimentary Financial Analysis 

Interested in taking advantage of a free no obligation financial analysis  of your personal and/or business finance from a trusted loan specialist? Click here to read more.

ATO Compliance Activities 

The ATO has highlighted a number of areas that it will focus on in its compliance activities this year. Click here to read more.

Living Away from Home – Tax Law Changes on the Way 

The Government has introduced into Parliament proposed changes to the tax treatment of living-away-from-home (LAFH) allowances and benefits, restricting access to the concessions. Click here to read more.

Award, what Award? 

Do you know what Award your employees are covered under? Does it matter? Natasha Hawker of Employee Matters Pty Ltd says yes! Click here to read more.

Car Depreciation Limit & Luxury Car Tax Threshold 

The ATO has released the following limits and thresholds for the 2012-2013 income year. Click here to read more.

Reasonable Travel & Meal Allowance Amounts 

The ATO has announced the amounts the Commissioner considers are "reasonable" for the 2012-2013 income year in relation to claims made for meal and travel expenses. Click here to read more.

ATO Data-matching Programs 

The ATO has revealed details of two new data-matching programs aimed at identifying tax non-compliance. This will affect individual taxpayers. Click here to read more.

Employee / Contractor Decision Tool

This decision tool is designed to help you determine whether an individual worker is engaged as an employee or independent contractor. It gives a decision based on answers to some simple questions. Click here to read more.

Occupations in the Spotlight this Tax Time

This year, the ATO will be paying close attention to deductions claimed by people employed as plumbers, information technology managers and defence force non-commissioned officers.  Click here to read more.

Companies Reprimanded by the ACCC for Cashing in on the Carbon Tax

A grieving family claims that a cemetery slapped them with a $55 carbon tax bill for burying a relative, saying "even the dead don't escape the carbon tax" – just days after the tax was introduced. Click here to read more.

Small Business Has Achieved Some Tax Recognition

Every successive government always appears to try and claim that they are out to help the little Aussie battler small business owner. For many years this was something that never really has any substance, but in recent years, the small business entity regime has emerged as part of the Income Tax Assessment Act. This means that small business has become eligible for various useful tax concessions. Click here to read more.

Trust Distributions Before 30 June 2012

The Australian Taxation Office has withdrawn an administrative ruling given some years ago that trustees had until the end of August each year to decide on trust distributions. The Taxation Office has indicated that it will be enforcing the full meaning of the law which is that trust distributions have to be made by 30 June each year. Click here to read more.


Find out what the staff are thinking, it really pays dividends

Surveys of employees provide smaller companies with many benefits, says Lanning Bennett, CEO of the Centre for Organisational Innovation. Click here to read more.  

Pitfalls of "Late" Super Payment

A taxpayer has been unsuccessful before the AAT in arguing that the Commissioner should exercise his discretion and reallocate excess super contributions to a previous financial year. The taxpayer had used an electronic funds transfer on 30 June 2007 to transfer the funds, but they were not credited to the super fund's account by the bank until 2 July 2007, thereby pushing the transfer into the next financial year. Click here to read more.

Net Medical Expenses Tax Offset Income Test

If you previously took advantage of the Net Medical Expenses Rebate in your tax return, where your net expenses for you and your family exceeded $2,000 and you received an unconditional 20% rebate, as of 1 July 2012 this will change - the government announced in the 2012-13 Budget that it will income test the net medical expenses tax offset. Click here to read more.

Doctor Found to be a Share Trader

In a recent decision, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) held that a medical doctor was engaged in a share trading business not only in relation to listed shares she acquired, but also in relation to units she acquired in a listed aged care property trust that she had purchased from her family trust. Click here to read more.

ATO Targets Disclosure of Foreign Sources of Income

Following recent compliance activities that have been conducted, the ATO says many Australian resident taxpayers may not be aware of their Australian taxation obligations in relation to their worldwide income. Click here to read more.

Make the Most of Superannuation Prior to 30 June 2012

Superannuation remains a highly tax-effective structure through which to hold investments. However, contributions caps mean that it is important to make sure you are making the best use of superannuation every year. Click here to read more.

Private Health Insurance - Save This Side of 30 June 2012

Tax planning tip for 2012 - have you thought of how the new Private Health Rebate will affect you post 1 July 2012? You can do something NOW to save yourself money. Depending on your circumstances, you could save on your private health insurance premium this side of 30 June 2012 for the next 12 months. Click here to read more.

Tax Planning

Tax planning involves objectively assessing and actively managing tax risk. Common tax planning techniques include deferring the derivation of assessable income and applying techniques to bring forward deductions. Click here to read more.

ATO Reporting Requirements for Builders and Contractors  

The Government has introduced regulations that require certain businesses in the building and construction industry to report annually to the ATO details of payments made to contractors in the industry. Click here to read more.