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Last sitting week of Parliament B4 the Budget..

So what tax laws are sitting in the Parliament for our hard working MPs to consider in the last sitting week before the May Budget?

  1. A bill that has been in the Parliament for 4 days less than a year that supplements the ‘same business test’ with a ‘similar business test’  and to provide taxpayers with the choice to self-assess the effective life of certain intangible depreciating assets they start to hold on or after 1 July 2016… Its not like anyone has completed a 2017 tax return already!!!
  2. A Bill to transfer the regulator role for early release of superannuation benefits on compassionate grounds from the Chief Executive Medicare to the Commissioner.
  3. A Bill that prohibits the production, distribution, possession and use of sales suppression tools and also requires entities that provide courier or cleaning services to report details of transactions that involve engaging other entities to undertake those courier or cleaning services for them.
  4. A Bill that provides that a corporate tax entity will not qualify for the lower 27.5 per cent corporate tax rate if more than 80 per cent of its assessable income is income of a passive nature.
  5. A Bill that progressively extends the lower 27.5 per cent corporate tax rate to all corporate tax entities by the 2023-24 financial year; and further reduce the corporate tax rate in stages so that by the 2026-27 financial year, the corporate tax rate for all entities will be 25 per cent.
  6. A Bill that removes the entitlement to the capital gains tax main residence exemption for foreign residents.
  7. A Bill that requires purchasers of new residential premises and subdivisions of potential residential land to make a payment of part of the purchase price to the ATO.

Add to this some changes to tax concessions for Venture Capital, the Banking Levy, new whistle blower protections, a new Junior Mineral Exploration incentive, tax consolidation fixes, and a lot of minor super changes (can’t use salary sacrificed super to meet SGC requirements and those under EBAs must get a choice of super form)…

As almost all of these were announced in last years budget (some in the budget from the year before), wouldn’t it be great if they finalised these in the last sitting week before we get the next budget with an entirely new set of announcements!!!!

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Is the Opposition just trying to kick SMSFs?

As I have commented on before, the Opposition has announced that if there is a change in the Government, they will stop almost all refunds of excess imputation credits. Resident individuals or super funds will still be able to use the imputation credits to reduce the tax they have to pay. However, if their tax reaches zero and they still have unused imputation credits, in effect they have excess imputation credits, they will not be able to get a cash refund for the excess credits.

The only entities that will still be able to get these cash refunds are income tax exempt charities and not-for-profit institutions with deductible gift recipient status.

But what effect will this have?

Importantly, this change will put SMSFs at a disadvantage to APRA regulated funds when it comes to share ownership. As APRA funds are treated as a single entity they normally have enough other income to offset their imputation credits against so they get the full value of any imputation credits. But an SMSF that is heavily invested in listed shares will find a substantial reduction in returns if they can no longer obtain the refund of the excess imputation credits.

To own shares in an SMSF, and to use all their imputation credits on these shares, the trustee will need to have income from sources other than franked dividend that is greater than the franked dividend income. If an SMSF gets a $70 fully franked dividend they will need an additional $100 of income from other sources (unfranked dividends, rent, interest…) to use all the $30 of imputation credits on the $70 dividend.

So having an SMSF with a majority of share ownership might not be advisable any more as they could roll the amount into a retail or industry fund that gets the benefit of all of the imputation credits. And there are funds that allow an effective investment in majority listed shares. But what is the benefit of doing this?

Take the example of an SMSF and a retail fund that get a $70 fully franked dividend. The dividend is grossed up to $100 and the tax payable on it is $15. but neither pays the tax due to the imputation credit. At this point both the SMSF and the retail fund have $70. The retail fund uses the remaining $15 imputation credit to reduce tax on other income, which is credited to the member, so giving the member of the retail fund $85. This means the return on listed shares can be as much as 21% higher through a retail fund than an SMSF (but this will be lower if there is other income in the SMSF).

 

 

The days of the financial advisor who is a great stock picker and puts everyone in an SMSF and has every SMSF with a majority of listed shares might be over after the next election. Even the best stock picker is going to struggle if they start at as much as 21% behind.

“A FAIRER TAX SYSTEM: DIVIDEND IMPUTATION REFORM”, Media Release, Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen, Chrisbowen.net, 13 March 2018

 

 

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ALP Tax Policy for 2019 election

The ALP don’t appear to be scared to take some radical tax changes to the next election.

Today they announced removing the ability to get excess imputation credits refunded… There will be some very unhappy SMSF and retirees (and charities) who get lots of cash each year from the ATO in the form of refunded imputation credits.

But that is nowhere near all they want to change… and isn’t it funny that all the changes raise taxes…

  • Removing the ability to get excess imputation credits refunded;
  • They want to remove negative gearing deductions that can be applied against PAYGW income on all assets except new residential property;
  • They want to reduce the CGT discount to 25%;
  • They want to introduce a minimum 30% tax on discretionary trust distributions;
  • They want to limit the 27.5% company tax rate to Small Business Entities (turnover less than $10m);
  • They want to limit deductions for tax advice to $3,000 for non business entities;
  • Decrease the threshold at which the Division 293 tax applies to $250,000;
  • PERHAPS add back the temporary budget levy to get the highest marginal tax rate to 49% (I doubt they will actually do this); and 
  • Changes to large business taxation like removing the safe harbour rule from thin capitalisation so that businesses can only use the worldwide gearing ratio, change the MEC rules for consolidated groups, reduce the public reporting rules for private companies from $200 million to $100 million, and make the country by country transfer pricing documentation publicly available.

Still more than a year to the election, which it looks like the ALP will win with a comfortable majority, and this will be our new tax system from possibly 1 July 2019…