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[av_heading heading=’The News Brief_20200812′ tag=’h1′ style=’blockquote modern-quote modern-centered’ subheading_active=’subheading_below’ size=’6vw’ av-medium-font-size-title=” av-small-font-size-title=” av-mini-font-size-title=” subheading_size=’20’ av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=” color=’custom-color-heading’ custom_font=’#000000′ margin=’0′ margin_sync=’true’ padding=’0′ link=’manually,http://’ link_target=” id=” custom_class=” av_uid=’av-kdpm6g1g’ admin_preview_bg=’rgb(34, 34, 34)’][/av_heading]

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[av_heading heading=’860,000 businesses hit with ATO compliance letters’ tag=’h1′ style=” subheading_active=” size=” av-medium-font-size-title=” av-small-font-size-title=” av-mini-font-size-title=” subheading_size=’15’ av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=” color=” custom_font=” margin=” margin_sync=’true’ padding=’10’ link=’manually,http://’ link_target=” id=” custom_class=” av_uid=’av-kdpm74ej’ admin_preview_bg=”][/av_heading]

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The Tax Office has now reached out to 860,000 businesses to remind them of their superannuation guarantee obligations ahead of the one-off amnesty deadline.

The ATO has now confirmed that it has begun contacting 860,000 business owners through emails and letters to “encourage them to assure themselves that they have met their super guarantee obligations to their employees”. An ATO spokesperson has confirmed that the letters are not specifically directed to employers who are suspected of failing to meet their SG obligations.

“Many of the employers who receive the correspondence will check their records and conclude that they have fully complied with their obligations. If this is the case, these employers do not need to do anything further,” the ATO spokesperson said. “However, for those employers who receive the ATO’s correspondence and determine they need to address any unpaid super guarantee, the letter reminds them the amnesty ends on 7 September 2020.”

Despite coinciding with shutdowns and the economic downturn caused by COVID-19, the SG amnesty continues to run to its six-month deadline on 7 September.

While the ATO is unable to extend the benefits of the amnesty beyond its legislated due date, it has acknowledged that some businesses may not be fully able to pay their super guarantee debt at this time due to COVID-19. As such, it will allow businesses to establish a payment plan that can be extended beyond 7 September, although only payments made by the deadline will be tax-deductible.

Assistant Minister of Superannuation, Senator Jane Hume has said that “Super is a form of deferred wages and every bit as important to be paid, and paid in full,”

“The super guarantee amnesty allows employers a one-off opportunity to come forward, pay or put a plan in place to pay, and set things right without facing financial penalties from the Tax Office.” She has urged that if there is any doubt it is vitally important to talk to your tax agent or ATO today.
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[av_heading heading=’Melbourne stage 4 coronavirus restrictions hit property market with inspections and auctions cancelled’ tag=’h1′ style=” subheading_active=” size=” av-medium-font-size-title=” av-small-font-size-title=” av-mini-font-size-title=” subheading_size=’15’ av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=” color=” custom_font=” margin=” margin_sync=’true’ padding=’10’ link=’manually,http://’ link_target=” id=” custom_class=” av_uid=’av-kdpm8cey’ admin_preview_bg=”][/av_heading]

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Hundreds of auctions around Melbourne are set to be cancelled in the next six weeks, as vendors pull their properties off the market because of the city’s stage 4 coronavirus restrictions.

In-person property inspections are now banned under the new rules, meaning prospective buyers will only have the option of completing virtual tours online.

Realtors are not optimistic as chief executive of real estate firm Philip Webb, Anthony Webb, said his company was preparing “for no sales over the next six weeks”. “It’s only happened once in my 21-year career that I’ve had someone buy a property without inspecting it,” Mr Webb said.

Mr Webb’s outlook was matched by the head of the Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV), Leah Calnan. She told ABC Radio Melbourne earlier this week that “We expect the transaction levels over the next six weeks will be almost nothing,”

The median house prices in metropolitan Melbourne dropped 3.5 per cent to $864,000 between the March and June quarters, according to the REIV.

This year’s second quarter figure is still higher than 12 months ago, but experts say the upcoming September quarter will be telling and will show the impact of Melbourne’s highly restrictive stage 4 lockdown.

Landlords are also feeling the squeeze during the pandemic, Mr Webb said.

Under changes made to Victoria’s Residential Tenancies, a moratorium on evictions is in place until September 29, and rental increases have been suspended.

Mr Webb said his firm managed about 6,000 properties around Melbourne, most of which were owned by “mum and dad investors”.

“Rental arrears is four times higher than it normally would be, and I’m comparing that to Christmas time when rental arrears is usually quite high,” Mr Webb said.

Unemployment, restrictions on travel and a lack of overseas visitors and tourists also sent some elements of the rental market plummeting.

Apartment rental prices across Melbourne have dropped 5.8 per cent in the last 12 months, according to SQM Research, while in the CBD they were down 16.8 per cent.

Rental home prices across Melbourne had dipped 1.3 per cent in the last year, the research showed.
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[av_heading heading=’Banks to give struggling customers another four-month loan deferral’ tag=’h1′ style=” subheading_active=” size=” av-medium-font-size-title=” av-small-font-size-title=” av-mini-font-size-title=” subheading_size=’15’ av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=” color=” custom_font=” margin=” margin_sync=’true’ padding=’10’ link=’manually,http://’ link_target=” id=” custom_class=” av_uid=’av-kdpm9gfw’ admin_preview_bg=”][/av_heading]

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Australians hit hard by coronavirus could be eligible for a further four-month extension on their mortgage payments.

A six-month deferral scheme for those struggling financially because of coronavirus came into place in March, and more than 800,000 Australians have taken up the offer. However, as the end of the scheme approaches, banks are looking for customers to resume payments as soon as possible.

But anyone still struggling to pay their mortgage could be offered an extension to the length of their loan to convert their repayments to interest only for a period of time or to consolidate their debt.

Those who need more time will be eligible for a further four months of payment deferrals, though Australian Banking Association CEO Anna Bligh believes many customers will only need a fraction of that time to either restructure their loans or return to full payments. “Australia’s banks supported their customers as the country entered the COVID-19 crisis, and they are determined to support their customers on the way out of the crisis.”

The extra four months will not be automatic, and customers will need to apply for the extended grace period, while those who can begin to repay their loans must do so.

CEO Ross McEwan said “Bankers will speak with customers about their individual circumstances and the options appropriate for them which may include loan restructure, determining alternative fund sources, hardship assistance or further deferral for up to four months.”
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[av_heading heading=’ATO pencils October start date for tax audits’ tag=’h1′ link=’manually,http://’ link_target=” style=” size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ margin=” padding=’10’ color=” custom_font=” custom_class=” id=” admin_preview_bg=” av-desktop-hide=” av-medium-hide=” av-small-hide=” av-mini-hide=” av-medium-font-size-title=” av-small-font-size-title=” av-mini-font-size-title=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=”][/av_heading]

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ATO second commissioner Jeremy Hirschhorn told a Senate Select Committee on COVID-19 last week that the Tax Office has refrained from initiating new audits since the pandemic hit, redeploying its auditors instead to deal with the rollout of stimulus measures, including JobKeeper and the cash-flow boost.

However, Mr Hirschhorn said that based on the ATO’s current plans, audits and its general work streams would recommence between September and October, subject to the developing pandemic situation.

Mr Hirschhorn’s comments were made before Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews declared a state of disaster and imposed stage 4 restrictions across metropolitan Melbourne this week.

“We have redeployed about 3,000 staff. We’ve been able to do that because, given the COVID scenario, we have really redeployed people from initiating new audits,” Mr Hirschhorn said.

“So, for the last few months, we have not been initiating new audits, except in certain circumstances.

“Things like GST for audit we still have, but, as a general comment, given the position the community is in, I think the last thing most people would like is a call from my auditors saying, ‘You’ve been selected for audit.’ So, we made a very conscious choice.”

The ATO’s latest indication comes after it earmarked August and September as potential dates to recommence its debt and lodgement intervention activities.

The ATO has yet to finalise its systems for JobKeeper 2.0 changes, Mr Hirschhorn said that the Tax Office would devote its resources to provide guidance around the new eligibility criteria.

From 28 September, businesses will need to meet the requisite decline in turnover using actual GST turnover for the September quarter to access the two-tiered payment of $1,200 for full-time workers and $750 for those working less than 20 hours a week.

From 4 January 2021, businesses will need to reassess their turnover to demonstrate that they have met the decline in turnover test for the December 2020 quarter.

Mr Hirschhorn said “There will be significant resources spent in terms of community education and guidance, because new questions will arise, although we anticipate not to the same extent as JobKeeper 1…”
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[av_heading heading=’Demand for SMSF loans remains steady amid economic downturn’ tag=’h1′ style=” subheading_active=” size=” av-medium-font-size-title=” av-small-font-size-title=” av-mini-font-size-title=” subheading_size=’15’ av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=” color=” custom_font=” margin=” margin_sync=’true’ padding=’10’ link=’manually,http://’ link_target=” id=” custom_class=” av_uid=’av-kdpma92x’ admin_preview_bg=”][/av_heading]

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Despite the recent impact of COVID-19 on the property market, non-bank lenders continue to see demand for SMSF loan products, with some trustees looking to take advantage of the lower property prices.

Thinktank director Per Amundsen said despite ATO data suggesting a levelling off in the number of new LRBAs after years of strong growth, non-bank lender Thinktank is continuing to see a consistent increase in demand for SMSF loan products as members search for more attractive investment options.

“The volatility and increased uncertainty attached to equities in the current climate and the low yields on bonds and term deposits has been leading people to actively consider other asset classes,” Mr Amundsen said.

Mr Amundsen said while the growth in SMSF loans may not be “spectacular” over the next few years, he does expect it to remain ongoing and steady. He believes that it remains “an area of significant activity and opportunity for brokers and their clients. “

Mortgage Ezy managing director of operations Joanna James agrees that SMSF loans “have stood firm in these more uncertain times”. Beyond the general adjustment that all lending has needed to make with new ways of looking at VOI, valuations and mortgage documentation, demand, she says, has remained strong.  

Rocco Massaria, the managing director of non-bank lender Your Manager, said he has also seen a comeback with these types of loans, with clients looking for opportunities with lower property prices. Commercial SMSF lending, in particular, has “definitely picked up”.

“With many majors no longer offering SMSF loans and locking in clients in high rates, brokers are looking to save clients’ money with the lower rates and features,” he said.

According to Mr Amundsen, some regulatory changes impacting related-party loans have also seen a renewed interest in commercial lenders providing SMSF loans.

Mr Amundsen said, Thinktank has seen quite a lot of activity in this area over the last year or two as financial advisers and trustees have become “increasingly proactive as they look to optimise their combined SMSF, personal and business arrangements”.
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Sources: news.com.au, abc.net.au, accountantsdaily.com.au and smsfadviser.com
Disclaimer: This is general information only and is subject to change at any time. Your complete financial situation will need to be assessed before acceptance of any proposal or product. The Content provided herein has been prepared for informational purposes only. The Content does not constitute tax, legal or accounting advice and should not be relied upon as such. You should seek tax, legal or accounting advice before acting or relying on any Content.

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