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Penalty relief for taxpayers

From 1 July 2018, the Tax Office is advising Australians that if they find an error in their tax return or activity statement they will not incur a penalty but will advise of the error and how to get it right next time.

Penalty relief will only apply to eligible taxpayers or entities (i.e., turnover of less than $10 million) every three years.

These may include:
– Small businesses
– Co-operatives
– Self-managed super funds (SMSFs)
– Not-for-profit organisations

Eligible individuals will only be given penalty relief on their tax return or activity statement if they make an inadvertent error because they either:
– took a position on income tax that is not reasonably arguable, or
– failed to take reasonable care

The ATO will not provide penalty relief when individuals have (in the past three years):
Received penalty relief
– Avoided tax payment or committed fraud
– Accrued taxation debts with no intention of being able to pay (i.e., phoenix activity)
– Previously penalised for reckless or intentional disregard of the law
– Participated in the management or control of another entity which has evaded tax.

Individuals can not apply for penalty relief. The ATO is reminding individuals that they will provide relief during an audit should it apply.

Penalty relief will not be applied to:
– Wealthy individuals and their businesses
– Associates of wealthy individuals (that may be deemed a small business entity in their own right)
– Public groups, significant global entities and associates

Penalty relief will also not be applied to certain taxes, i.e., fringe benefits tax (FBT) or super guarantee (SG).

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News

Changes to FBT for Utes

September 14, 2018

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has released draft guidelines changing its previous stance on Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) for utes. Amendments originated from reports that dodgy tax returns were responsible for a loss of $8.7 billion in income tax due to wrongful claims. Failure to comply with new requirements listed below may result in a 20 percent FBT imposed on the cost of the vehicle.

The requirement of a logbook
New rules require employers to ensure their workers using these vehicles keep detailed logbooks. Whether the logbooks are electronic or hard copy, it is vital that the process be effective for returns lodged in the 2019 FBT year, when the law takes effect. Employers receive confirmation via email from employees using the vehicles at the end of the 2019 FBT year with their logbook including all regulated diversions and private use.

Diversions and private use rules
The guidelines introduce capped limits for the log books to comply with. Professional travel means that the vehicle must not deviate more than 2km from its usual route. However, 1000 km of non-work related travel is allowed, provided that there is no single trip exceeding 200 km. Such regulations provide greater flexibility than previous guidelines. What the ATO deems “minor” or “irregular trips” like carpooling the children to and from school or an occasional trip to visit relatives will not render you non-compliant so long as it is recorded as non-professional use.