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2019-20 Federal Budget Highlights

The Federal Treasurer, Mr Josh Frydenberg, handed down the 2019/20 Federal Budget at 7:30 pm (AEDT) on 2 April 2019.

Mr Frydenberg said the Budget is “back in the black”, announcing a budget surplus of $7.1b, and forecasting a surplus of $11b in 2020/21, $17.8b in 2021/22 and $9.2b in 2022/23. The budget focuses on “restoring the nation’s finances”, further strengthening the economy to create more jobs and to “guarantee the essential services”.

The government proposes various changes to further lower individual taxes, including increasing the low and middle-income tax offset and lowering the 32.5% rate to 30% in 2024/25. More businesses will have access to immediate deductions for asset purchases, with the expansion of the instant asset write-off to businesses with an annual turnover of less than $50m.

The full Budget papers are available at www.budget.gov.au and the Treasury ministers’ media releases are available at ministers.treasury.gov.au.

The tax, superannuation and social security highlights are set out below.

Income tax

  • The legislated Personal Income Tax Plan will be changed to further lower taxes for individuals, including changes to the low and middle-income tax offset (LMITO), the low-income tax offset (LITO) and the personal income tax (PIT) rates and thresholds.
  • The instant asset write-off threshold for businesses with an aggregated turnover of less than $10m will be increased to $30,000 for eligible assets that are first used or installed ready for use, from 7.30 pm (AEDT) on 2 April 2019 to 30 June 2020.
  • Businesses with an aggregated turnover of $10m or more but less than $50m will be able to immediately deduct purchases of eligible assets costing less than $30,000 that are first used or installed ready for use, from 7.30 pm (AEDT) on 2 April 2019 to 30 June 2020.
  • The Medicare levy low-income thresholds for singles, families, seniors and pensioners will be increased from the 2018/19 income year.
  • Payments to primary producers in the Fassifern Valley, Queensland affected by storm damage in October 2018 will be treated as exempt income.
  • An income tax exemption will be provided for qualifying grants made to primary producers, small businesses and non-profit organisations affected by the North Queensland floods.
  • Six more organisations have been approved as specifically-listed deductible gift recipients.
  • The list of countries whose residents are eligible to access a reduced withholding tax rate of 15% on certain distributions from Australian managed investment trusts (MITs) will be updated.

Tax integrity and black economy

  • Australian Business Number (ABN) holders will be required to lodge their income tax return and confirm the accuracy of their details on the Australian Business Register annually to retain their ABN status.
  • The start date of amendments to Div 7A will be delayed by 12 months to 1 July 2020.
  • Minor amendments will be made to the hybrid mismatch rules to clarify their operation from 2019.
  • The ATO’s Tax Avoidance Taskforce will extend its operations and expand its activities, including increasing its scrutiny of specialist tax advisors and intermediaries that promote tax avoidance schemes.
  • The ATO will receive funding to increase activities to recover unpaid tax and superannuation liabilities with a focus on large businesses and high wealth individuals.
  • A dedicated sham contracting unit will be established within the Fair Work Ombudsman to address sham contracting behaviour by some employers.

Superannuation

  • Members of regulated superannuation funds will not have to meet the work test after 1 July 2020 if they are 65 or 66 years of age.
  • The restrictions on claiming the spouse contribution tax offset will be eased from 1 July 2020, giving 70 to 74-year-old spouses eligibility.
  • The calculation of exempt current pension income will be simplified for superannuation funds from 1 July 2020, allowing a preferred method of calculation and removal of some actuarial certificates.
  • Transitional tax relief for merging superannuation funds will become permanent from 1 July 2020.
  • SuperStream will be expanded from 31 March 2021 to include electronic ATO requests for release of superannuation funds and SMSF rollovers.
  • An expression of interest process will be undertaken to identify options to support the establishment of a Superannuation Consumer Advocate.

Indirect taxes

  • For vehicles acquired on or after 1 July 2019, eligible primary producers and tourism operators will be able to apply for a refund of any luxury car tax paid, up to a maximum of $10,000.
  • Access to refunds of indirect tax, including GST, fuel and alcohol taxes under the Indirect Tax Concession Scheme has been granted or extended.

Social security

  • There will be a one-off Energy Assistance Payment of $75 for singles and $62.50 for each member of a couple eligible for qualifying payments on 2 April 2019 and who are resident in Australia.
  • Single Touch Payroll reports lodged by employers will be shared with social security agencies from 1 July 2020.
  • Family Tax Benefit eligibility will be extended to the families of ABSTUDY (secondary) student recipients who are aged 16 years and over, and are required to live away from home to attend secondary school.
  • From 1 July 2019, net income generated from the forced sale of livestock will be exempted from the Farm Household Allowance payment assessment, when that income is invested into a farm management deposit.
  • The HELP debt incurred for recognised teaching qualifications after teachers have been placed in very remote locations of Australia for four years (or part-time equivalent) will be extinguished. Indexation on HELP debts of all teachers, while they are placed in very remote locations, will no longer accrue from 14 February 2019.

For any questions you might have about the Budget announcements and their implications for you or your business, please contact us.

First published on iKnow CCH – 2 April 2019.