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[av_heading heading=’The News Brief_20201014′ tag=’h1′ style=’blockquote modern-quote modern-centered’ subheading_active=’subheading_below’ show_icon=” icon=’ue800′ font=” 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=” icon_size=” av-medium-font-size-1=” av-small-font-size-1=” av-mini-font-size-1=” color=’custom-color-heading’ custom_font=’#000000′ icon_color=” margin=’0′ margin_sync=’true’ padding=’0′ icon_padding=’10’ link=’manually,http://’ link_target=” id=” custom_class=” av_uid=’av-kg7pctp7′ admin_preview_bg=’rgb(34, 34, 34)’][/av_heading]

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[av_heading heading=’Tax cuts set to flow ‘within a few days or weeks’’ tag=’h1′ style=” subheading_active=” show_icon=” icon=’ue800′ font=” 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=” icon_size=” av-medium-font-size-1=” av-small-font-size-1=” av-mini-font-size-1=” color=” custom_font=” icon_color=” margin=” margin_sync=’true’ padding=’10’ icon_padding=’10’ link=’manually,http://’ link_target=” id=” custom_class=” av_uid=’av-kg7pd3hx’ admin_preview_bg=”][/av_heading]

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With the Morrison government’s stage 2 income tax cuts sailing through Parliament last week, the ATO now anticipates that it will be able to publish updated tax withholding schedules over the next few days. 

Despite the tax cuts being backdated to 1 July this year, the Tax Office has confirmed that it will not adjust withholding schedules to account for any over-withheld amounts that individuals have accrued since the start of the financial year.

Instead, this over-withheld amount will be factored into the tax assessment of an individual at the end of the income year.

“Following this, employers will need to make adjustments in their payroll processes and systems in order for the tax cuts to be reflected in people’s take-home pay. The complexity of implementing these adjustments may be different for each employer,” the ATO said.

“This means that some people may notice the tax cuts reflected in their take-home pay within a few days or weeks, while for others it may be longer.

“Any ‘over-withholding’ that occurred prior to the employer updating their payroll software and processes will be included in the tax assessment of the employee at the end of the income year.”

The Institute of Public Accountants chief executive Andrew Conway believes non-salary and wage earners can immediately take advantage of the tax cuts by varying their September quarter instalment.

“Taxpayers earning income outside of wages and salaries can immediately take advantage of stage 2 tax cuts by varying down their quarterly instalment in the September BAS which is due on 28 October 2020,” Mr Conway said. 

“Small-business entrepreneurs are mostly unincorporated entities and therefore are also beneficiaries of the stage 2 tax cuts. We are encouraging all our members to vary down PAYG to take advantage of this initiative.”
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[av_heading heading=’Vic property values defy gloomy predictions’ tag=’h1′ style=” subheading_active=” show_icon=” icon=’ue800′ font=” 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=” icon_size=” av-medium-font-size-1=” av-small-font-size-1=” av-mini-font-size-1=” color=” custom_font=” icon_color=” margin=” margin_sync=’true’ padding=’10’ icon_padding=’10’ link=’manually,http://’ link_target=” id=” custom_class=” av_uid=’av-kg7pdxvj’ admin_preview_bg=”][/av_heading]

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Despite the prolonged lockdown and a reduction in auctions, Victorian property values have continued to defy gloomy price predictions with regional homes even setting a new quarterly record.

Releasing new data on Sunday, Real Estate Institute of Victoria President Leah Calnan said values were holding firm after six months of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“The quarterly median prices for the September Quarter 2020 released by the Real Estate Institute of Victoria have highlighted remarkable resilience in the Victorian property market,” Ms Calnan said.

“The highlight of the September Quarter is Regional Victoria. Regional Houses set a new quarterly record at $442,500 recording incredible growth at 5.1 per cent for the quarter and 4.9 per cent over the last 12 months.”

The REIV data indicates regional units fell slightly to $327,000, down 3.1 per cent from the past quarter but are 8 per cent more valuable than they were 12 months ago.

“The varying levels of restrictions placed on Melbourne Metro and Regional Victoria over the last couple of months impacted transaction volumes as expected,” Ms Calnan said.

“While transaction numbers in Melbourne plummeted by 31 per cent compared to the June Quarter, transactions in Regional Victoria soared by 15 per cent.

Market restrictions meant fewer properties were listed for sale, keeping prices relatively stable over the quarter.

House values in Metropolitan Melbourne remained strong, falling by just 1.7 per cent during the September Quarter to a median price of $846,000 while recording a 7.4 per cent annual growth.

Units in Melbourne achieved a median price of $622,500, which is 0.2 per cent higher than the June Quarter and an annual increase of 5.4 per cent.

Sales by private treaty increased in popularity with units in Melbourne Metro even recording 0.8 per cent growth to a new record surpassing $600k for the first time.

These results come amongst a backdrop of incredible and ongoing change in the Victorian property market.

“REIV market statistics are based on results directly sourced from agents and government records and provide a true picture of Victorian real estate.”
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[av_heading heading=’Homeowners plough cash into mortgages during lockdown’ tag=’h1′ style=” subheading_active=” show_icon=” icon=’ue800′ font=” 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=” icon_size=” av-medium-font-size-1=” av-small-font-size-1=” av-mini-font-size-1=” color=” custom_font=” icon_color=” margin=” margin_sync=’true’ padding=’10’ icon_padding=’10’ link=’manually,http://’ link_target=” id=” custom_class=” av_uid=’av-kg7peruo’ admin_preview_bg=”][/av_heading]

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Voluntary payments into mortgages more than doubled in July, August and September from the previous 12 months, data from non-bank lender Firstmac shows, raising the question whether consumers will save, rather than spend, extra cash handed to them in last week’s budget.

Firstmac’s analysis of its $5.8 billion direct retail mortgage book shows the level of additional payments made by borrowers jumped to an average 10.2 per cent of the portfolio in the past three months, compared with the monthly average payment of 4.8 per cent last year.

“There’s obviously a lot of money flowing through the economy and people are choosing to save that money,” Firstmac chief financial officer James Austin told The Australian Financial Review.

“Paying down the mortgage is another form of saving.”

The surge in additional mortgage savings is consistent with other indicators, such as the June quarter national accounts showing the country’s household savings ratio jumped to 19.8 per cent, the highest level since 1974. 

On one hand, the figures, which explain the relatively low level of arrears among mortgages seeking payment relief, provide a counterargument to concerns expressed by the Reserve Bank of Australia in last week’s Financial Stability Review that defaults could spike as these pandemic-relief measures come to an end.

But they also show a clear risk for the $17.8 billion in personal tax cuts Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced last week to encourage people to spend and help lift the economy out of its first recession in 29 years: consumers could save, rather than spend, extra money they get.

Mr Austin said the increase in the extra payments by Firstmac’s customers, which at the end of September stood at 7.3 per cent of its total $12.2 billion portfolio, showed people were cautious.

“It would have to suggest borrowers were feeling uncertainty about what’s coming, so they’re paying down mortgages,” he said. “The obvious follow-on is they’re choosing not to spend it.”
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[av_heading heading=’2020–21 special budget edition’ tag=’h1′ style=” subheading_active=” show_icon=” icon=’ue800′ font=” 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=” icon_size=” av-medium-font-size-1=” av-small-font-size-1=” av-mini-font-size-1=” color=” custom_font=” icon_color=” margin=” margin_sync=’true’ padding=’10’ icon_padding=’10’ link=’manually,http://’ link_target=” id=” custom_class=” av_uid=’av-kg7pm84e’ admin_preview_bg=”][/av_heading]

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A big spending Budget that is all about jobs

On Tuesday 6 October, the Treasurer, The Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, delivered the delayed 2020­–21 Federal Budget, his second Budget.

How times change. In April last year, Mr Frydenberg delivered a Budget that was forecast to produce a surplus. Now, thanks largely to the economic shocks resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government is faced with record deficits and high unemployment.

The Government’s response is a Budget that is “all about jobs”, “helping those who are out of a job get into a job” and “helping those that are in work, stay in work”. Mr Frydenberg said “there is no economic recovery without a jobs recovery” and “no budget recovery without a jobs recovery”.

To that end, the government is spending a lot of money – both directly and indirectly (bringing forward the 2022–23 tax cuts and providing incentives for business to hire and invest). The Government’s overall “response and recovery support” is $507 billion, including $257 billion in direct economic support.

But it may not end there. As Treasury points out, there remains substantial uncertainty around the global and domestic outlook, including around the spread of the coronavirus, future outbreaks, as well as timing and efficacy of vaccines and other medical treatments. Only time will tell if the measures in this Budget are sufficient and/or well targeted.

Big picture overview

The big picture highlights of this year’s Budget:

Other announcements

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[av_heading heading=’Further technical detail needed on new super measure’ tag=’h1′ style=” subheading_active=” show_icon=” icon=’ue800′ font=” 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=” icon_size=” av-medium-font-size-1=” av-small-font-size-1=” av-mini-font-size-1=” color=” custom_font=” icon_color=” margin=” margin_sync=’true’ padding=’10’ icon_padding=’10’ link=’manually,http://’ link_target=” id=” custom_class=” av_uid=’av-kg7pnzjf’ admin_preview_bg=”][/av_heading]

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As part of its Your Future, Your Super package, the government revealed plans in the federal budget on Tuesday to staple existing superannuation accounts to a member in order to avoid the creation of a new account when the person changes their employment.

Heffron head of SMSF technical and education services Lyn Formica explained that under the current system where an employee doesn’t make a choice about which fund they’d like their superannuation guarantee contributions to go to, contributions are made to the employer’s default fund.

“This inevitably means that many individuals end up with multiple superannuation accounts when they change jobs, simply because they fail to nominate their existing fund as their chosen fund,” she said.

From 1 July 2021, the government has proposed that an individual’s super fund will be stapled to them, which means that if an employee does not nominate a fund at the time they start a new job, their new employer must pay their super contributions to their existing fund rather than the employer’s default fund, she said.

Details of an employee’s existing fund will be available to their employer via the ATO.

Speaking in a Heffron webinar, Ms Formica said it is still unclear, however, how these rules would work if the employee already has multiple super accounts at the time they change jobs. 

For example, the process for deciding which fund of these multiple funds the contributions will be paid to is still uncertain, she said. 

The fund that the employer decides to pay the contributions to may not be the fund holding life insurance. 

“One of those [multiple] funds may not recognise me for life insurance for my occupation,” she noted. 

“There is a lot of detail that the government still needs to work through as they consult on getting these measures ready, but essentially, it would seem to be a good idea in terms of improving people’s superannuation options.”
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Sources: The Australian Financial Review, Accountants Daily, Elite Agent, SMSF Advisor and CFH Partners
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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