Monthly Archives: February 2017

Simpler BAS reporting

Simpler BAS reporting? Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it?  

The ATO has been in consultation with tax bodies, industry associations, small businesses and accounting software providers. The end result is that one will soon be able to choose to only report:-

  • G1 – Total sales
  • 1A – GST on sales
  • 1B – GST on purchases

But does this really save time and cost?

It depends.

If your accounting processes are basic then it probably will.

But for most people, it won’t constitute any real saving.  With modern accounting software and by implementing automated bank feeds and perhaps even integrated point of sale systems and other modules, it has become much easier to run an up to date and accurate accounting system.  From such a system, completing a BAS is no harder than running a couple of reports after undertaking some checks.  Preparing an accurate BAS should be no more than a by-product of a reliable and up to date accounting system.  So reporting less on a BAS doesn’t mean much.

If running an up to date accounting system is a challenge or impractical, then I suggest that the simpler BAS option may not be the best option. If you struggle to run accurate accounting records, then having fewer labels to won’t actually amount to much.  Perhaps the better solution is to utilise GST Option 3 where one pays a fixed amount as advised by the ATO.  Then, when the year end financial statements and Tax Return have been finalised, an annual BAS / GST Return can be prepared (within which credit is given for the quarterly GST instalments paid).

I suggest that for most, a Simpler BAS is only simpler in name.

At MRS, we will spend today planning for your success tomorrow.

Can I deduct the cost of a website?

Can I deduct the cost of a website?  This has always been a good question but an even better one now that the ATO have re-defined their position.

The ATO released TR2016/3 just before Christmas. A TR is a tax ruling which is binding on taxpayers and the ATO.  They are only issued for big ticket items. 

The ATO had previously issued a tax ruling in 2001 but withdrew it in 2009 due to the changing nature of websites.

So what is the ATO’s stance now?

No matter how basic, the costs to acquire or develop a website are deemed to be capital. This means they are progressively depreciated.  However, an immediate deduction can be claimed where the purpose and life of the web page is intended to be short – say like a short term sales campaign.

Initial website expenditure may also be deductible where it is paid for periodically under a licence fee model.

Domain name registration fees and website hosting costs are deductible when expended.

So what about maintaining a website?

Such costs would generally be deductible provided they aren’t in respect of significant modification. The ATO states that significant modification would not include:-

  • Persevering the website.
  • Doesn’t alter the functionality of the website.
  • Doesn’t improve the efficiency of the website.
  • Doesn’t extend the useful life of the website.

One common question is in respect of adding another on-line payment method. This would be considered to not being a significant modification and can therefore be deducted in full.

Social media posts are generally deductible due to their immediate short term nature.

We welcome any question you may have.

At MRS, we will spend today planning for your success tomorrow.

Beware of the $1,600,000 pension cap

Beware of the $1,600,000 pension cap. If you thought it was straight forward, then think again. 

It’s complex and the costs of getting it wrong are high as evidenced by:-

  • You have to monitor your position. You have to know the balance of your transfer balance cap (your amount in pension mode) against the general transfer balance limit (the allowable limit).
  • If you exceed your transfer balance cap at 30th June 2017, you will receive an excess notice which will require you to pay tax and withdraw sufficient monies to get beneath the general transfer balance limit. Doing nothing is not an option if you currently exceed or may exceed your transfer balance cap. Thankfully our SMSF clients will know where they are at with our real time SMSF reporting system and will be able to take prompt action. Those with public funds may know their balance as of the day before but will find it, to say the least, difficult to bring themselves sufficiently under their cap as redemptions can take weeks to process.
  • Many with their own super fund may well know the value of their super interests.  But what if the fund’s assets include  assets that aren’t valued daily such as properties?  One needs to have a very good understanding of the value of all fund assets.  And keep in mind that Melbourne property prices posted double digit growth for 2016.
  • You need to be aware that the very useful estate planning tool of reversionary pensions may no longer be such a wonderful solution. The reversionary pension will count against your transfer balance cap – although one has 12 months grace in pulling money out as a lump sum.
  • The growth in your pension assets doesn’t count against your transfer balance cap. Think carefully about what assets you keep / put into pension mode.
  • And here is a real nasty one. If you exceed your transfer balance cap, then you will be denied taking advantage of any further increases in the cap. So when it increases from $1,600,000 to $1,700,000,  to $1,800,000 and so on, you will be denied these increases if you have ever exceeded your transfer balance cap.

These are just some of the issues to be addressed well before July 2017.

Inaction can be the worst action.

With the removal of the accountant’s exemption as from June 2016, accountants can no longer provide any form of financial planning advice.  The only way for you to properly address your situation is to obtain financial planning advice and do so from a financial planner who understands these complex tax rules.

So what are the ins and outs of the $1,600,000 pension cap?

July is now not that far away and by then the amount of monies you can have pension mode will be limited to $1.6 million. So what are the ins and outs of the $1,600,000 pension cap?

The $1,600,000 will be indexed in $100,000 increments. It will also be recorded and tracked like a general ledger account with various transactions and events either adding to or reducing the balance.

Items that will count against the balance include:-

  • The balance of any pension account as at 30 June 2017.
  • Reversionary pensions commenced between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2017 (and which will be subject to a separate blog).
  • Superannuation pensions started after 30 June 2017.
  • Reversionary pensions started after 30 June 2017.
  • Excess transfer balance earnings (a.k.a. the penalty for exceeding a pension cap).
  • Reversionary death benefits (and which will also be subject to a separate blog).
  • Defined benefit income streams (as rare as they are these days).

Items that will reduce one’s balance include:-

  • Amounts converted back into accumulation mode.
  • Structured settlement contributions (being personal injury payments).
  • Losses due to fraud.
  • Transactions voided under the Bankruptcy Act.
  • Family Law superannuation splits.
  • Pensions that fail to comply with the standards (with the most typical occurance being a pension that ceases as the minimum pension has not been made).

It is important to note that the pension payment will not be reduced by:-

  • Pension payments.
  • Investment losses – although the government’s 364 page Explanatory Memorandum contemplates the impact of another 2008/2009 financial meltdown. Paragraph 3.103 states at the government will review the impact of the transfer balance in the event of a microeconomic shock that substantially affects retirement incomes. It is only a stated intention to review – it doesn’t say they will do anything and doesn’t say how big a shock it has to be.

The superannuation changes are complex (as evidenced by a 364 page explanatory memorandum) and require many to properly review their affair and to do so well before July.

In this blog, we have simply outlined the technicalities of the new pension cap. In future blogs we will explore various aspects of this in more detail as well as addressing some of the other more significant super changes. 

At MRS, we will spend today planning for your success tomorrow.