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Tax Planning Pointers for Business 2012
Small Business Entity Rules
- Small Business Entities – the small business entity rules apply to a sole trader, partnership, company or trust which has a group turnover of less than $2M in the previous year, or likely to be less than $2M in the current year.
- Depreciation Rules – if the asset costs less than $1,000 it may be written off in full in the year in which it was acquired. Most other depreciating assets, with an effective life of less than 25 years, are pooled and depreciated at 30%.
- Trading Stock Rules For Small Business Entities – small business entities do not have to account for changes in trading stock or do a stocktake for tax purposes where the difference between the value of the opening stock and a reasonable estimate of the closing stock is $5,000 or less.
- Entrepreneur’s Tax Offset – a tax offset of 25% is available to small business entity taxpayers with an aggregated turnover of less than $75,000 for the year ending 30 June 2012. (This tax offset has been withdrawn from 1st July 2012).
- Prepaid Expenses – a small business entity taxpayer can claim an immediate deduction for certain prepaid business expenses that satisfy the 12-month rule.
- Prepayments – Small Business Entity – small business entity taxpayers are entitled to a deduction where the relevant services will be wholly provided within 12 months of the date of expenditure, such as office supplies, stationery, rent, advertising etc.
- Prepayments – Not Defined As Small Business – the prepayment rule for other small businesses applies to business taxpayers with a group turnover of $2M or more.
- Prepayments “Excluded Expenditure” – there is an exemption for payments of “excluded expenditure”. (See us for further details.)
- Interest On Investment Loans – taxpayers who have borrowed money for a non-business investment (e.g. rental property) can check with their lenders to see if they can prepay interest prior to 30th June 2012.
- Staff Bonuses – ensure a cheque has been written prior to 30th June and PAYG withholding tax deducted.
- Staff Holidays – where practical, encourage staff to take holidays prior to 30th June 2012.
- Superannuation – for the year ended 30th June 2012, superannuation contributions can be paid for a person under 50, up to $25,000 and for a person 50 and over up to $50,000. In 2012/13 the superannuation contribution for all taxpayers is $25,000.
- Self-Employed Persons – self-employed persons can obtain a superannuation deduction on the same basis as that adopted for employees.
- Salary Sacrifice Arrangements – salary sacrifice arrangements can be utilised to maximise superannuation contributions subject to the overall deduction limits.
- Non-Concessional Contributions – non-concessional contributions can be made up to $150,000 per annum or a total of $450,000 over a 3-year period.
- Superannuation Minimum Contributions – superannuation contributions have to be paid to all eligible employees who are paid at least $450 gross per month.
- Superannuation Co-contribution – the government will give lower income earners $1 for each $1 they contribute to superannuation from their after-tax salary up to a maximum of $1,000.
- Interest On Loan Funds – interest can be claimed on loans taken out for business purposes or to buy income producing properties and/or shares.
- Repairs and Maintenance – ensure that the work has been completed prior to 30th June.
- Directors’ Fees – ensure cheques are drawn prior to 30th June and that PAYG Withholding Tax is deducted.
- Travel Deductions
- Overseas – prepare a full itinerary & diary.
- Local – more than 6 nights you are required to maintain a diary.
- Taxation Advice – fees payable to an accountant or registered tax agent for taxation advice can be claimed.
- Motor Vehicle Expenses – there are 4 methods available to calculate tax deductions for work related motor vehicle expenses:
- cents per kilometre method;
- logbook method;
- 12% of the original value method; or
- 1/3 of actual expense method.
- Expense Substantiation – ensure that you can justify all employment related expense amounts incurred.
- Depreciation – review capital expenditure and ensure you claim depreciation at the highest legally allowable amount.
- Donations – any promised tax deductible donations should be made prior to 30th June.
- Building Allowance – construction costs of income producing buildings may be written off at 2½% or 4%, depending on date of construction.
- Borrowing Costs – borrowing costs can be claimed over the shorter of five years or the term of the loan.
- Entertainment – entertainment is not deductible unless it is provided as a fringe benefit and Fringe Benefits Tax has been paid.
- Research and Development – companies that incur research and development can claim additional taxation benefits. There are two components:
- companies with turnovers under $20M; and
- companies with turnovers over $20M.
- Companies with Turnovers under $20M – the company will receive the benefit of a research and development 45% refundable tax offset, calculated at 45% of the eligible research and development expenditure, equivalent of 150% tax deduction. The rebate can be paid to the company by the Australian Taxation Office within 30 days of the company lodging its income tax return.
- Companies with Turnovers over $20M – the company will receive a 40% non-refundable tax offset, equivalent to a deduction of 133% of the eligible R & D Expenditure.
- If you require further information on the treatment of research and development expenditure, please contact us.
- Gifts – ensure that the payment is made to a tax-deductible charity on or before 30th June.
- Property Owners’ Deductions – property owners can claim a number of expenses against rental income, including, but not limited to, agents’ fees, repairs & maintenance, travel & accommodation for inspection of the investment property, interest on loans borrowed for the property acquisition, etc.
- Negative Gearing – the net loss, which may include interest, borrowing costs etc, may be deductible.
- Audit Fees – deductible if there is a contract that creates a presently existing liability before the 30th June.
- Salary Packages – ensure that salary packages for 2012/13 are negotiated and documented prior to 30th June 2012.
- Working From Home Expenses – expenses can be claimed for working from home (as distinct from having a home office). However, you could be subject to capital gains tax when you subsequently sell the property.
- Expenses For Shareholding Investments – expenses incurred in gaining income from shares are a tax deduction.
- Legal Costs – review any legal costs that have been incurred. If the legal costs relate to regular business operations, e.g. debt collections, separate them from costs relating to capital items which are not claimable for income tax purposes.
- Luxury Car Tax – the Luxury Car Tax is 33% and applies to the GST inclusive value in excess of $57,466. The Luxury Car Tax for “fuel efficient vehicles” applies from a cost of $75,375.
- Deductions On “Accruals” Basis – (Subject To Income Tax Return Being Lodged On An “Accruals” Basis)
- Fringe Benefits Tax Payment (Accruals Basis) – if a Fringe Benefit Tax instalment is due on 21st July 2012, it can be accrued and claimed as a tax deduction in the year ending 30th June 2012.
- Commissions Owing (Accruals Basis) – where employees or another business are owed commission by your business for services rendered up to 30th June 2012, the accrued amount can be claimed as a tax deduction at 30th June 2012.
- Bad Debts (On An Accruals Basis) – actually write-off any bad debts prior to 30th June and prepare minutes authorising the write-off.
- Interest (Accruals Basis) – any accrued interest outstanding on a business loan that has not been paid at 30th June 2012 can be claimed as a tax deduction at 30th June 2012.
- Salaries And Wages (Accruals Basis) – the accrued expense for the days that employees have worked, but not paid at 30th June 2012, can be claimed as a tax deduction at 30th June 2012.
- Commercial Bills (Accruals Basis) – where the term of a Commercial Bill expires beyond the 30th June 2012, the discount applicable to the period up to 30th June 2012 can be claimed as a tax deduction.
- Rent (Accruals Basis) – if rent is in arrears, the part that is owed up to 30th June 2012 can be claimed as a tax deduction.
- Stock On Hand – review stocktake list as at 31st May, 2012. Determine whether to conduct “sales” prior to 30th June 2012. Conduct stocktake as at 30th June 2012. If you are conducting regular “rolling” stocktakes throughout the year, it may not be necessary to conduct a stocktake as at 30th June 2012. Stocktaking may not be necessary if you are a small business entity.
- Value Of Stock – stock can be valued at different individual methods for each item of stock:
- Sales Value; or
- Lower of Market Value or Replacement Cost.
- Obsolete Stock – identify any obsolete stock and decide whether to clear or dump that stock prior to stocktake.
- Fixed Assets – determine if there are any benefits in scrapping any fixed assets to obtain the tax write off prior to 30 June 2012.
- Payment Summaries – payment summaries have to be prepared and forwarded to all employees by 14th July each year.
- PAYG Withholding Tax – annual summary due 14th August to Australian Taxation Office.
- Payroll Tax (if you are liable) – you have to prepare a reconciliation of total payroll for the year showing the total amount of payroll tax payable and then reconcile this with the remittances that you have forwarded on a monthly basis.
- Work Cover – a Work Cover Declaration is due by 31st August certifying wages paid for year ending 30th June.
- Contributions to superannuation funds are taxed at 15% of the contribution.
- Earnings made in a superannuation fund are taxed at 15% and paid by the superannuation fund.
- For people 60 years or over and who have started drawing a pension, payments from the superannuation fund are, in the majority of cases, tax-free.
- Generally, moneys invested in superannuation funds cannot be accessed until 55 years of age.
- Bad Debts Recovered (on an accruals basis) – if a debtor, who had been written off as a bad debt and claimed as a tax deduction for the amount of the bad debt, subsequently pays any part of the amount owing, you have to bring the amount paid to account as assessable income in the year of recovery.
- Deferring Livestock And Produce Sales – farmers can defer livestock and produce sales until after 30th June. However, if you are a farmer you need to assess whether you will suffer price reductions because of the decision to defer sales.
- Income Splitting – income splitting can be highly tax effective, especially if investments have been placed in the name of a lower income earner. This can be applicable where a spouse is not working and the income in the spouse’s hands would therefore be taxed at a lower rate.
- Interest Earned – declare interest earned on bank accounts, loans, etc.
- Employee Share Schemes – if you are a member of an employee share scheme you should ensure that any income that has been earned is included in your income tax return.
- Qualifying Employee Share Schemes – scheme formed before 1st July 2009 – Any discount on the shares is subject to taxation. If the scheme qualifies under the Employee Share Scheme Rules, the employee can choose when they include the discount in their assessable income. If the employee elects to include the discount benefit in their tax return for the year of receipt of the benefit they are eligible for an exemption of the first $1,000 of the discount.
- Scheme Formed After 1st July 2009 – the discounts on Employee Share Schemes are taxed either upfront or on a deferred basis. For ‘qualifying’ schemes, if the employee is earning less than $180,000 taxable income plus reportable fringe benefits, reportable superannuation contributions and total investment losses, then the employee can claim a $1,000 exemption from the inclusion of the assessable discount.
- Government Grants – if your business has received a grant from a government department, it is most likely paid to you on the basis that it is taxable income and therefore you need to disclose in your tax return the receipt of the government grant. If you are lodging your income tax return on a cash basis, this highlights the desirability of ensuring that all of the government grant funds have been expended on tax-deductible items prior to 30th June (if possible).
- Franking Account – a company’s dividend payments and franking profile should be reviewed before year-end to ensure sufficient franking credits are available.
- Company Loans – the law requires that the loan to the shareholder is properly documented. If there is no security offered, the term of the loan should not exceed 7 years. If security is offered, the loan should not exceed 25 years. Interest rate to be charged during 2011/12 is a minimum of 7.8%. If loans have been made to shareholders that have not been supported by properly documented loan agreements, then the Taxation Office can treat these payments as being dividends that are assessable to the shareholder.
- Personal Service Income – taxation laws include measures that are designed to limit the deductions available to certain contractors, whether operating as a sole-trader or through a company, trust or partnership; these are known as the Personal Services Income (PSI) measures. A taxpayer who meets certain specified tests will be treated as carrying on a personal services business and will be able to claim a wider range of deductions. If you are operating a personal service business you need to be aware of the Australian Taxation Office’s strict approach to income retention and income splitting.
- Non-Commercial Losses – for a business to be commercial under the “non-commercial losses tests”, the business needs to meet certain prescribed tests. If the tests are not met, any losses arising from the activities have to be carried forward and offset in a later year against future income from the same type of source.
Capital Gains Tax Items
- Matching Capital Losses and Capital Gains – capital losses are not directly deductible. Capital losses have to be offset against any capital gains generated during that financial year.
- 50% Capital Gains Tax Discount – you should check your eligibility for the general 50% capital gains tax discount for individuals. If you are a small business operator and are able to meet the $6M net value asset or have turnover of less than $2M, you might be entitled to further capital gains tax concessions.
- “Wash Sales” – the ATO has issued a ruling that relates to “wash sales”. This is a situation where shares, in companies listed on the Stock Exchange, are sold to crystallise the capital loss and then shortly thereafter the taxpayer, or an associate of the taxpayer, purchases shares in that corporation on the Australian Stock Exchange.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us on 08 9301 2200, or contact us today.
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