New measures applied from 1 January 2021
The Government has provided an update of a number of new measures which came into effect from 1 January 2021.
They include (among others):
- The most significant changes to Australia’s insolvency framework in 30 years, which are intended to reduce costs, cut red tape and help more small businesses recover from the pandemic. The reforms introduce a new, simplified debt restructuring process. These measures apply to incorporated businesses with liabilities of less than $1 million — covering around 76% of businesses subject to insolvencies today, 98% of which have less than 20 employees.
- Australians will have more power to choose their own superannuation fund: ‘Your Superannuation, Your Choice’ allows around 800,000 Australians to decide where their retirement savings are invested, representing around 40% of all employees covered by a current enterprise agreement.
- The Government’s HomeBuilder program has been extended to 31 March 2021. The scheme is expected to support the construction or major rebuild of an additional 15,000 homes.
- Major reforms to Australia’s foreign investment framework take effect, with new requirements for foreign investors.
Cash payment limit Bill shelved
It appears that the Government has decided not to proceed with its proposal to limit cash payments in Australia to $10,000.
This measure was originally raised as part of the 2018/19 Budget, and the Government subsequently introduced a Bill to the House of Representatives, proposing to make it an offence for entities to make or accept cash payments of $10,000 or more.
That Bill passed the House and was then introduced to the Senate on 11 November 2019, but proceeded no further, and the Government withdrew the Bill from the Senate on 3 December 2020.
AAT decision on JobKeeper and backdated ABNs
On 21 December 2020, the AAT handed down its decision in a case relating to a taxpayer’s eligibility for JobKeeper payments.
It was in specific circumstances where the Registrar of the Australian Business Register decided to reactivate a previously cancelled ABN after 12 March 2020, with a backdated effective date on or before 12 March 2020.
The AAT held that the taxpayer met the JobKeeper requirement to have an ABN on 12 March 2020.
However, the ATO disagrees with this decision and has lodged an appeal in the Federal Court.
While the appeal outcome is pending, the ATO will postpone finalising decisions regarding an entity’s eligibility for JobKeeper where the entity has backdated its registration in order to qualify
The ATO is taking a similar position in regards to eligibility for the Cash Flow Boost.
Note that the AAT’s decision has not changed the need to satisfy all other eligibility conditions.
ATO data-matching programs
The ATO has announced it will engage in the following data-matching programs:
- it will acquire motor vehicle registry data from state and territory motor vehicle registry authorities for 2019/20 through to 2021/22, with records relating to approximately 1.5 million individuals to be obtained each financial year; and
- it will acquire data on Australian sales made through online selling platforms for the 2018/19 through to 2022/23 financial years, collecting 20,000 to 30,000 account records each financial year (with around half of the matched accounts relating to individuals).
These records will be electronically matched with ATO data holdings to identify non-compliance with registration, lodgment, reporting and payment obligations under taxation laws.
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