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FBT issues that raise ATO attention

With the FBT year-end just around the corner, it is a good time to review your FBT compliance to avoid raising attention from the Australian Tax Office (ATO).

The ATO is currently targeting the following rules for FBT:

Motor vehicles
Situations where an employer-provided motor vehicle is used or available for private travel for staff. This is a fringe benefit and must be declared on the FBT return (if lodgment is required). However, there are some circumstances where this is exempt; be sure to check before lodgement.

Employee contributions
The ATO focus on employee contributions that have been paid by an employee to an employer and are declared on both the FBT return and employer’s income tax return to ensure they are correctly reported.

Employer rebate
A taxpayer must be a rebatable employer to claim a FBT rebate, the ATO will check the taxpayer’s eligibility as some employers incorrectly claim for this rebate.

Living-away-from-home (LAFHA) allowance
Common errors with the LAFHA allowance include claiming reductions for ineligible employees, failing to obtain declarations from employees, claiming a reduction in the taxable value of the LAFHA benefit for exempt accommodation and food in invalid circumstances and failing to substantiate expenses relating to accommodation and food or drink.

Non-lodgement
Employers who provide fringe benefits must lodge a FBT return unless the taxable value of all benefits has been reduced to nil.

Car parking valuation
Common errors include market valuations that are significantly less than the fees charged for parking within a one km radius of the premises on which the car is parked, the use of rates paid where the parking facility is not readily identifiable as a commercial parking station, rates charged for monthly parking on properties purchased for future development that do not have any car park infrastructure, and insufficient evidence to support the rates used as the lowest fee charged for all day parking by a commercial parking station.

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Investing in shares vs property in SMSFs

March 19, 2020

Shares and property are two popular investment options for those with a self-managed super fund (SMSF). However, they both have very different attributes and choosing the one that will achieve the best outcome for an SMSF depends on your personal goals and situation.

While the price of shares can vary drastically, property is a relatively stable asset, making it appealing to those who want more security and predictability. Property prices are also negotiable unlike shares, and you can generally borrow money at a lower rate for property purchases.

It may seem hard to find the perfect investment property, but older and undercapitalised properties can be renovated for profit. However, returns from property rentals can be dented due to factors such as land tax, utilities and rates, maintenance and tenancy vacancies.

Shares are more dynamic and volatile than property. One advantage is the accessibility of investing in shares, as you can enter the share market with a few thousand dollars – much less than what you need to invest in a property.

Maintaining a portfolio of quality shares that pay tax-effective dividends may be a good way to fund retirement. With the right portfolio allocation, shares also have the potential to provide a better, stronger income than property rentals, as long as that income is sustainable and increasing.

Property can generally be used as a wealth-creation tool, while shares can create a reliable retirement income. For those who can afford to put more money into investments, it may be a good idea to consider investing and diversifying in both. If you’re unsure about which investment option is right for you, seeking financial advice may be the best option.