Federal Budget 2021-22 for Businesses
The Government has decided not to go down the austerity path, which will be a relief for many taxpayers and businesses.
Rather, the Government has decided to put its foot on the accelerator with the hope that the growth in the economy over a long period of time will help to pay down the debt that has been central to the Government’s response to COVID-19.
On personal taxation, in an expected announcement, the Government confirmed that it will extend the low and middle income tax offset (LMITO) beyond 2020-21 so that taxpayers will continue to receive the tax offset (between $255 and $1,080) in the 2021-22 income year.
In summary, the major tax-related measures announced in the Budget included:
- Personal tax rates – no changes were made to personal tax rates, the Government having already brought forward the Stage 2 tax rates to 1 July 2020. The Stage 3 personal income tax cuts remain unchanged and will commence in 2024-25 as already legislated.
- LMITO retained for 2021-22 – the Government will retain the low and middle income tax offset for the 2021-22 income year. The LMITO provides a reduction in tax of up to $1,080.
- Temporary full expensing extended – the Government will extend the 2020-21 temporary full expensing measures for 12 months until 30 June 2023. This will allow eligible businesses with aggregated annual turnover or total income of less than $5 billion to deduct the full cost of eligible depreciable assets of any value, acquired from 7:30pm AEDT on 6 October 2020 and first used or installed ready for use by 30 June 2023.
- Loss carry-back extended – the loss years in respect of which an eligible company (aggregated annual turnover of up to $5 billion) can currently carry back a tax loss (2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22) will be extended to include the 2022-23 income year.
- Individual residency test reformed – the Government will replace the existing tests for the tax residency of individuals with a primary “bright line” test under which a person who is physically present in Australia for 183 days or more in any income year will be an Australian tax resident.
- Employee share schemes – the Government will remove the cessation of employment as a taxing point for the tax-deferred employee share schemes.
- ATO debt recovery – the AAT will be given the power to pause or modify ATO debt recovery action in relation to disputed debts of small businesses.
- Self-education expenses – $250 threshold to be removed.
Superannuation and related measures
The key superannuation and related measures announced in the Budget include:
- Superannuation contributions work test – to be repealed from 1 July 2022 for voluntary non-concessional and salary sacrificed contributions for those under age 75. However, the work test will still apply for personal deductible contributions by those aged 67-74.
- SMSF residency rules – to be relaxed by extending the central management and control test safe harbour from two to five years, and removing the active member test for both SMSFs and small APRA funds.
- Conversions of legacy income streams – individuals will be permitted to exit certain legacy retirement income stream products (excluding flexi-pensions or lifetime products in APRA-funds or public sector schemes), together with any associated reserves, for a two-year period. Any commuted reserves will not be counted towards an individual’s concessional contribution cap. Instead, they will be taxed as an assessable contribution for the fund.
- Super Guarantee $450 per month threshold – to be removed from 1 July 2022.
- Downsizer contributions – eligibility age to be lowered from 65 to 60.
- First Home Super Scheme – to be extended for withdrawals up to $50,000, plus some technical changes for tax and administration errors in applications.
- Victims of domestic violence – the Government will not proceed with its previous proposal to extend the early release of super to victims of family and domestic violence.
- Pension Loans Scheme – will be expanded to allow access up to two lump sums in any 12-month period (up to a total of 50% of the maximum annual Age Pension); together with a Government guarantee that “no negative equity” will apply.
At the same time, the Budget did not contain any change to the legislated Super Guarantee rate increase from 9.5% to 10% for 2021-22.
As previously announced, the Budget confirmed:
- 30% Digital Games Tax Offset – for eligible businesses that spend a minimum of $500,000 on qualifying Australian games expenditure (excluding gambling) from 1 July 2022.
- Intangible assets depreciation – option to self-assess effective life for certain intangible assets (eg intellectual property and in-house software).
- Brewers and distillers – the excise refund cap for small brewers and distillers will increase to $350,000 from 1 July 2021.
- Venture capital – a review of the venture capital tax concessions will be undertaken in 2021.
- Child care – increased subsidies from 1 July 2022.
- Government to help another 10,000 first-home buyers build a new home with a 5% deposit.
- Some 10,000 single parents to purchase a home with a 2% deposit.
- Increasing the amount that can be released under the First Home Super Saver Scheme to $50,000 from $30,000.
- To allow those aged over 60 to contribute up to $300,000 to their superannuation fund if they downsize their home, freeing up more housing stock for younger families.
- Budget provides a further $2.1 billion in targeted support for aviation, tourism, arts and international education providers.
- Tax relief for around 1,000 small brewers and distillers.
- Double its commitment to the “JobTrainer” fund to help create new apprenticeships and traineeships.
- Investing $1.2 billion to build digital infrastructure, skills and cyber security.
- Launching a new “patent box”, under which income earned from new patents developed in Australia will be taxed at a concessional 17% rate. The patent box will apply to the medical and biotech sectors.
- To spend $13.2 billion over four years for National Disability Insurance Scheme.
- To commit $17.7 billion in new aged care funding.
- A $2.3 billion commitment to mental health care and suicide prevention.
- To commit $2 billion to fund preschools.
- To provide more than $19 billion in funding for universities in 2021-22.
The Government believes the 2021-22 Budget will consolidate the gains made since the last Budget in October 2020 and put the economy on course for the unemployment rate to fall below 5%. To reach these targets the Government has committed $291 billion (or 14.7% of GDP) in direct economic support for individuals, households and businesses since the onset of COVID-19. Some of the measures mentioned above are fleshed out below.
Temporary full expensing: extended to 30 June 2023
The Government will extend the temporary full expensing measure until 30 June 2023. It was otherwise due to finish on 30 June 2022.
Other than the extended date, all other elements of temporary full expensing will remain unchanged. The measure allows eligible businesses to deduct the full cost of eligible depreciating assets, as well as the full amount of the second element of cost. A business qualifies for temporary full expensing if it is a small business (annual aggregated turnover under $10 million) or has an annual aggregated turnover under $5 billion. Annual aggregated turnover is generally worked out on the same basis as for small businesses, except the threshold is $5 billion instead of $10 million.
Assets must be acquired from 7:30pm AEDT on 6 October 2020 and first used or installed ready for use by 30 June 2023.
Loss carry-back extended by one year
Under the temporary, COVID driven, restoration of the loss carry back provisions announced in the 2020-21 Budget, an eligible company (aggregated annual turnover of up to $5 billion) could carry back a tax loss for the 2019-20, 2020-21 or 2021-22 income years to offset tax paid in the 2018-19 or later income years.
The Government will extend the eligible tax loss years to include the 2022-23 income year. Tax refunds resulting from loss carry back will be available to companies when they lodge their 2020-21, 2021-22 and now 2022-23 tax returns.
This will help increase cash flow for businesses in future years and support companies that were profitable and paying tax but find themselves in a loss position as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Temporary loss carry-back also complements the temporary full expensing measure by allowing more companies to take advantage of expensing, while it is available.
Intangible assets depreciation: option to self-assess effective life
The Budget confirmed that the income tax law will be amended to allow taxpayers to self-assess the effective life of certain intangible assets (such as intellectual property and in-house software), rather than being required to use the effective life currently prescribed.
This amendment will apply to patents, registered designs, copyrights and in-house software for tax purposes. Taxpayers will be able to bring deductions forward if they self-assess the assets as having a shorter effective life to the statutory life.
The self-assessment of effective lives will apply to eligible assets acquired following the completion of temporary full expensing (introduced in the 2020-21 Budget — ie to assets acquired from 1 July 2023).
Extended consultation on corporate tax residency rules
In the 2020-21 Budget, the Government announced that it would amend the law to provide that a company that is incorporated offshore will be treated as an Australian tax resident if it has a “significant economic connection to Australia”. This test will be satisfied where both the company’s core commercial activities are undertaken in Australia and its central management and control is in Australia.
The Government has now announced that it will consult on broadening this amendment to trusts and corporate limited partnerships. The Government will seek industry’s views as part of the consultation on the original corporate residency amendment.
The amendments, as they affect companies incorporated offshore, will have effect from the first income year after the date the enabling legislation receives assent, but taxpayers will have the option of applying the new law from 15 March 2017 (the date on which the ATO withdrew an earlier ruling). It not known whether the same arrangements will apply for the start date for trusts and corporate limited partnerships should they be brought under the new rules.
Small business to be able to pause disputed ATO debt recovery
The Government will introduce legislation to allow small businesses to pause or modify ATO debt recovery action where the debt is being disputed in the AAT. Specifically, the changes will allow the Small Business Taxation Division of the AAT to pause or modify any ATO debt recovery actions – such as garnishee notices and the recovery of GIC or related penalties – until the underlying dispute is resolved by the AAT. This measure is intended to provide an “avenue” for small businesses to ensure they are not required to start paying a disputed debt until the matter has been determined by the AAT.
Small business entities (including individuals carrying on a business) with an aggregated turnover of less than $10 million per year will be eligible to use the option. The AAT will be required to “have regard to the integrity of the tax system” in deciding whether to pause or modify the ATO’s debt recovery actions.