The 2014 Federal Budget Tax Changes

Summary:

Below are the key highlights impacting small business outlined by Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey in the 2014-2015 Federal Budget announced on 13 May 2014.

> The much-talked about Deficit Levy will be a new tax now called the Temporary Budget Repair Levy, and will be a 2% levy on salary / wages above $180,000 for a period of 3 years.

> Government abolishes the Mature Age worker and Dependent Spouse Tax Offset from 1st July 2014.

> Super Rate increase from 9.25% to 9.5% for the 2014 / 2015 financial year and then frozen for 3 years.

> To improve business opportunities, company tax will be cut by 1.5 percentage points for around 800,000 businesses. The carbon tax and mining tax will be abolished.

> $1 billion a year in red tape will be removed.

> The Budget deficit will fall from its current $49.9 billion to $29.8 billion next year. It will then fall to a deficit of $2.8 billion in 2017/18.

> Over the next ten years expected debt will be reduced by nearly $300 billion from $667 billion to $389 billion.

> The Budget documents say medium-term projections show surpluses building to over 1% of GDP by 2024-25.

> A Growth Package over the next six years is to help build new roads, rail, ports and airports.

1 Budget Overview

1.1 Significant Revenue (Tax) Measures Summary

The main revenue measures in the Budget can be summarised as:

> A temporary (3 year) 2% Budget deficit levy (tax), known as the Temporary Budget Repair Levy, is to apply from 1 July 2014 for incomes above $180,000.

> The Government has confirmed its commitment to cutting the company tax rate by 1.5 percentage points to 28.5% from 1 July 2015. For large companies, the reduction will offset the cost of the Government’s 1.5% Paid Parental Leave levy

> The super guarantee rate is to increase to 9.5% on 1 July 2014

> Fuel excise indexation is to recommence

> Most dependent offsets are to be abolished

> The FBT rate will be increased from 47% to 49% from 1 April 2015 until 31 March 2017 to reflect the Temporary Budget Repair Levy and align with the FBT tax year.

> There is to be a withdrawal option for excess non-concessional (i.e. after tax) superannuation contributions.

> The rates of the refundable and non-refundable offsets for the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Incentive will be reduced by 1.5 percentage points.

> Medicare levy surcharge and private health insurance offset thresholds are to be frozen.

> Family Tax Benefit changes: 2-year freeze on rates.

> There were a number of significant welfare changes.

2 SME Tax Changes

2.1 General

The main changes in the Federal Budget affecting small business can be summarised as follows:

> The Government has confirmed its commitment to cutting the company tax rate by 1.5 percentage points to 28.5% from 1 July 2015.

> The Temporary Budget Repair Levy, is to apply for three (3) years from 1 July 2014 for individuals with taxable incomes above $180,000.

> The FBT rate will be increased from 47% to 49% from 1 April 2015 until 31 March 2017 to reflect the Temporary Budget Repair Levy and to align with the FBT income year.

> The super guarantee rate is to go to 9.5% on 1 July 2014, rather than the previously proposed deferred date of 1 July 2016.

> There is to be a withdrawal option for excess non-concessional superannuation contributions so that the member will be taxed personally but only on the amount of the excess contributions withdrawn.

> The rates of the refundable and non-refundable offsets for the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Incentive will be reduced by 1.5 percentage points.

2.2 SME Recognition

There is again recognition for SMEs in the Federal Budget including the absence of the imposition of the paid parental leave levy and the deferral of the FBT rate increase until 1 April 2015.

2.3 Reduction in the Company Tax Rate

The reduction of the company tax rate by 1.5 percentage points to 28.5% from 1 July 2015 has been confirmed in the Federal Budget.

Small business will not be liable for the 1.5% paid parental leave levy applying to companies with larger taxable incomes (in excess of $5M).

2.4 Increase in the FBT Rate

The FBT rate will be increased from 47% to 49% for two FBT years, covering the period from 1 April 2015 until 31 March 2017, to reflect the Temporary Budget Repair Levy and align with the FBT income year.

This change does not effectively start until 10 ½ months after delivery of the Budget, and is one year in total less than the period of the income tax budget deficit levy.

There were no adverse changes announced to the FBT exempt benefit caps for public benevolent institution /not-for-profit (PBI/NFP) employees.

3 Technical Business Tax Changes

There are a number of technical tax changes announced, but the main one affecting small businesses is the Research and Development (R&D) tax incentive. It will be reduced by 1.5 percentage points.

Currently, there is:

> A 45% refundable tax offset for eligible entities with an aggregated group turnover of less than $20m, provided entities are not controlled by income tax exempt entities.

> A 40% non-refundable tax offset for all other eligible entities.

4 Personal Taxes

4.1 Overview

There were a number of personal tax changes announced in the Federal Budget:

> A temporary (3 year) 2% Budget deficit levy (tax), known as the Temporary Budget Repair Levy, is to apply from 1 July 2014 for incomes above $180,000.

> Most dependent tax offsets will be abolished, as will be the mature worker tax offset.

> Current family assistance rates will be kept at the same level for two years.

> The Family Tax Benefit Part B income threshold will be reduced to $100,000.

> For a typical family receiving the base rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A, payments will start to reduce when family income exceeds $94,316 per year.

> Thresholds for the Private Health Insurance Rebate and most Medicare fees will also be paused.

> A tax receipt from the ATO for individuals will be introduced from 1 July 2014.

> The first home saver account scheme is to be abolished.

> The uniform penalty regime is to be amended.

4.2 Temporary Budget Repair Levy

From 1 July 2014, higher income earners are to pay a Temporary Budget Repair Levy that in effect increases the top marginal tax rate by two percentage points.

The Temporary Budget Repair Levy is to apply for three (3) years from 1 July 2014 for individuals with taxable incomes above $180,000.

4.3 Family Tax Benefits Payments

There are number of significant changes to Family Tax Benefits payments:

> The Family Tax Benefit (FTB) payment rates are to remain at the same level as 2014 for 2 years from 1 July 2014. Under this measure, indexation of the maximum and base rates of FTB Part A, and the rate of FTB Part B will be paused until 1 July 2016.

> The Family Tax Benefit Part B primary earner income limit is to be reduced from $150,000 per annum to $100,000 per annum, from 1 July 2015. The income threshold for the Dependent (Invalid and Carer) Tax Offset will also be reduced to $100,000 as it is linked to the FTB primary income earner limit.

> A new allowance is to apply for single parents on the maximum rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A where their youngest child is aged between 6 and 12 years old from the point when they become ineligible for FTB Part B. This allowance will provide $750 for each child aged between 6 and 12 years old in an eligible family from 1 July 2015.

> The Family Tax Benefit Part A per child add-on to the higher income free threshold for each additional child will be removed from 1 July 2015.

> The Family Tax Benefit end-of-year supplements are to be revised to their original values with indexation ceasing from 1 July 2015. The revised supplements will provide $600 per annum per FTB Part A child and $300 per family per annum for each FTB Part B family.

4.4 Abolition of Most Dependent Tax Offsets

The Government will abolish nearly all of the dependant tax offsets, including the dependent spouse tax offset (DSTO), for all taxpayers from 1 July 2014.

> A new dependant offset was introduced with effect from the 2012-13 income year, the dependant (invalid and carer) tax offset (DICTO). As a result, access to the DSTO was restricted to those taxpayers whose spouse was born before 1 July 1952 and to taxpayers who qualify for the zone tax offset (ZTO), overseas civilians tax offset (OCTO) or overseas forces tax offset (OFTO), regardless of the age of their dependent spouse.

> The Government has now announced that DSTO and the other dependency offsets will be abolished from 1 July 2014. Treasury also confirmed that the housekeeper offset will be abolished from 1 July 2014.

> From 1 July 2014, taxpayers who qualify for ZTO, OCTO and OFTO may qualify for the DICTO. Further, taxpayers with a dependant who is genuinely unable to work due to a carer obligation or a disability may be eligible for the DICTO.

4.5 Mature Age Worker Offset Abolished

The mature age worker tax offset will be abolished from 1 July 2014.

The offset will be replaced from 1 July 2014 by the expanded seniors employment incentive payment called Restart.

4.6 Medicare Levy Surcharge and Private Health Insurance Rebate

The income thresholds for the private health insurance offset and the Medicare levy surcharge will be frozen for 3 years from 1 July 2015.

5 Superannuation

5.1 Superannuation Guarantee

The super guarantee (SG) rate is to rise to 9.5% on 1 July 2014, rather than the previously announced deferral date of 1 July 2016.

> Employers are required to increase their superannuation contributions on behalf of employees to 9.5% of ordinary time earnings from 1 July 2014.

> The 9.5% rate is to remain until 30 June 2018. The SG charge percentage will then increase by 0.5% each year until it reaches 12% from 2022-23, a year later than previously proposed.

5.2 Excess Non-Concessional Super Contributions

There is to be a withdrawal option for excess non-concessional (i.e. after-tax) superannuation contributions so that the member will be taxed personally on the amount of the excess contributions withdrawn.

> The withdrawal option is to apply non-concessional contributions made from 1 July 2013, and to any associated earnings.

> The withdrawn amount will be taxed at the individual’s marginal tax rate.

The measure does not address the fact that the non-concessional contributions have actually been made from after-tax income, but does avoid the potential 93% tax impost.

6 Social security and other measures

The main social security and other similar measures can be summarised as follows:

> The Government is to gradually increase the pension age eligibility to 70 by 2035.

> From next year, unemployed people under 25 will get Youth Allowance, rather than the NewStart Allowance.

> People under 30 will wait up to six months before getting unemployment benefits, and then will have to participate in Work for the Dole, to be eligible for income support.

> The Government will provide direct financial assistance for all students studying diploma and sub bachelor degree courses.

> Universities are to set their own tuition fees from 2016. However, for students already studying, existing arrangements will remain until the end of 2020.

> Untaxed superannuation will be included in the income test for new recipients of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.

> The annual Seniors Supplement will be abolished from 1 July 2014.

> Asset and associated income test thresholds will be indexed between now and 2017, but then remain at fixed levels for three years.

> The Government will reduce the income threshold for repayment of Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) debts commencing in 2016-17, and will adjust the indexation of HELP debts from 1 June 2016.

Section 2 Other budget changes affecting small business

There were four other significant changes announced by the Treasurer that will impact businesses.

2.1 Incentive Bonus for Businesses Employing People over Age 50

To change the culture of many businesses towards hiring older workers and in an attempt to move mature workers from welfare to the workforce, businesses that employ an Australian over the age of 50 who has been on unemployment benefits or the Disability Support Pension for six months or more will receive a payment of up to $10,000 under a program called ‘Restart’.

> The payment will be phased in over 24 months whereby businesses will initially receive $3,000 upfront when they hire a person over age 50 who has been out of work for six months or more.

> Businesses will be then eligible for a further $3,000 payment when the person has been employed for a total period of 12 months.

> A further $2,000 will be paid once the person has been working for a total of 18 months followed by a final payment of $2,000 where the person has reached 2 years of service.

> This change will apply from 1 July 2014 and be implemented over 4 years. To be eligible, businesses will need to demonstrate the job they are offering is sustainable and ongoing, and that they are not displacing existing workers with subsidised job seekers.

2.2 Support Loans for Tradesman

From 1 July 2014, the government will support those learning a trade by providing concessional Trade Support Loans of up to $20,000 over a four-year apprenticeship. This will replace the the current ‘Tools for your Trade’ apprenticeship assistance program.

This should provide further incentives for Australians to undertake a trade and will also benefit businesses as they will have a greater pool of talent to choose from when hiring an apprentice.

2.3 Fuel Excise Indexation Reintroduced

Funding of the Government’s infrastructure projects will be sourced from reintroducing a biannual indexation by the consumer price index of excise duty for all fuels (except aviation fuels). The excise has been locked at 38.1 cents a litre since the Coalition abolished indexation in 2001. The re-indexation of fuel will start from 1 August 2014.

2.4 Consolidating a Range of Industry Assistance Programs

The Government will consolidate a range of separate industry assistance programs while cutting overall funding for them.

> The Budget announced the creation of the Entrepreneurs Infrastructure Programme at a cost of $484.2 million over five years, which aims to support the commercialisation of good ideas and provide market and industry information and advice.

> However related to this, the Government is eliminating eight separate industry assistance bodies and programs that perform a similar function to save $845.6 million over five years.

> The Government will also save $124.7 million over five years by reducing funding to Clean Technology (Investment and Innovation) programmes and Cooperative Research Centres.

> There are further savings predicted of more than half a billion dollars by abolishing 10 different skills and training programs and rolling them into one Industry Skills Fund. Businesses will be required to make a co-contribution to the cost of training, with the size of the contribution depending on the size of the business.

Section 3 Current tax changes previously announced

Aside from the Budget, a number of tax changes were recently announced that will affect business during the current financial year and also from 1 July 2014.

> The first two changes apply if your business is considered to be a small business under the Tax Act. In order to be a small business, the turnover of your business, including connected entities and affiliates, has to be less than $2 million GST exclusive per annum. The turnover for either the current financial year or the previous financial year can be used.

3.1 Increase in Medicare levy to 2% from 1 July 2014

The medicare levy for individual resident taxpayers will increase from 1.5% to 2% of taxable income from 1 July 2014.

Employers will be required to install new tax rate tables into their payroll software from 1 July 2014 to capture this increase to the Medicare levy.

Note that no change has been proposed to the Medicare levy surcharge which is currently imposed at a rate of 1.5% to 2% (depending on the income levels and marital status of the individual resident taxpayer). The surcharge applies where the taxpayer does not have adequate private health insurance cover.

3.2 Instant asset write-reduced to $1,000 from 1 January 2014

Under the current law, a small business can claim an immediate tax deduction for ‘individual’ assets (including motor vehicles) costing less than $6,500 (GST exclusive), including individual assets that form part of a set.

This immediate write-off applies equally to the purchase of new and second hand assets which are used in the business.

As part of the changes contained in the mining tax repeal Bill, the Government has proposed that the instant asset write-off will be reduced from $6,500 to $1,000 for individual assets ‘first used or installed ready for use’ on or after 1 January 2014.

It is unlikely that this bill will be passed by the Senate and made law before 1 July 2014.

This proposed change means that for the 2013/14 year, a small business can still claim a $6,500 instant asset-write-off for individual assets that meet the above ‘first used or installed ready for use’ test up to 31 December 2013.

Therefore, where an asset was purchased prior to 1 January 2014, but was first used or installed ready for use after this date, the instant asset write-off threshold of $1,000 applies.

Note that a business is not required to aggregate individual assets costing less than $1,000 which form part of a set, when applying the $1,000 threshold from 1 January 2014 or $6,500 threshold prior to this date. For example, if on 15 January 2014 you buy a boardroom table costing $950 and 5 matching chairs each costing $200, the business would still be entitled to claim an immediate deduction for the entire $1,950.

3.3 Accelerated depreciation for motor vehicles repealed from 1 January 2014

Under the current law, a small business can claim an accelerated depreciation tax deduction of $5,000 (on a GST exclusive basis) for new or second hand motor vehicles acquired during the year.

> Where the cost of the vehicle is $6,500 or more (GST exclusive), an immediate deduction can be claimed for both the first $5,000 plus 15% of the cost less $5,000. The balance of the purchase price is depreciated as part of the asset pool at a rate of 30% in the second and subsequent years.

> As part of the mining tax repeal Bill, the Government has proposed that the $5,000 threshold will be reduced to $1,000 for vehicles first used or installed ready for use on or after 1 January 2014.

> Where a vehicle was acquired prior to 1 January 2014, but was first used or installed ready for use after this date, the instant asset write-off threshold of $1,000 applies.

Note that where the purchase of a vehicle meets the ‘use or installed’ test up to 31 December 2013, the current more favourable rules still apply as outlined above.

3.4. Increase in 2015 FBT rate and gross-up rates from 1 April 2014

Due to the increase in the Medicare levy, a new FBT rate and also new gross-up rates apply from 1 April 2014 (i.e. the 2015 FBT year and following). These are as follows:

> 2015 FBT rate 47% (an increase of 0.5% from the 2014 FBT year)

> 2015 Gross-up rates Type 1 benefits grossed-up by 2.0802 (increased from 2.0647)

Type 2 benefits grossed-up by 1.8868 (increased from 1.8692)

Employers will need to ensure that they review and adjust employee salary packages to take into account these changes (if permitted under the employment contact).

Note that following the introduction of the Temporary Budget Repair Levy that applies at a rate of 2% on individuals’ taxable income in excess of $180,000 per annum, the FBT rate will be further increased from 47% to 49% from 1 April 2015 until 31 March 2017 to align with the FBT year.

3.5 Changes to age-based concessional superannuation caps from 1 July 2014

The concessional (tax deductible) superannuation contribution caps for the 2013/14 year based on an individual’s age are:

> Aged 60 and over on 30 June 2014 $35,000 contribution cap

> Aged 59 and under on 30 June 2014 $25,000 contribution cap

The concessional superannuation caps for the 2014/15 year based on a person’s age have changed as follows:

> Aged 49 and over on 30 June 2014 $35,000 contribution cap

> Aged 48 and under on 30 June 2014 $30,000 contribution cap

Note that employer super guarantee contributions and salary sacrifice contributions are included in these caps.

3.6 Repeal of company loss carry back rules effective from the 2014 income year

The 2012 Budget announced rules effective from July 2013, that allow companies and entities taxed like companies, to carry tax losses incurred in the current year back to specified prior income years and receive a refund in that year.

For the 2013 income year, a transitional rule applies whereby companies are able to carry back up to $1M of tax losses incurred in the 2013 income year to recoup up to $300,000 (30% of $1M) of tax paid during the 2012 income year.

The Government has introduced legislation which if enacted as proposed, will result in the repeal of the loss carry-back rules with effect from the 2014 income year. Accordingly companies will only be able to apply these rules for the 2013 income year.

It is unlikely that this legislation will be made law before 1 July 2014.

 

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Source: MYOB 2014 Federal Budget Small Business, General Business & Personal Tax Related Changes