ATO

2021 Fringe Benefits Tax Update

Whilst some aspects of life transition to a new “COVID-normal”, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) continues to highlight its understanding of how COVID-19 is impacting business, and communicate some of the changes and administrative concessions relevant to employers for the Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) year ending 31 March 2021 and beyond.  

Allocation of professional firm profits - the compliance approach

Following several years of deliberation, the ATO has finally released draft Practical Compliance Guideline - PCG 2021/D2 that sets out the ATO's proposed compliance approach to the allocation of profits by professional firms. The guideline explains how the ATO intends to apply compliance resources when considering the allocation of professional firm profits or income in the assessable income of the individual professional practitioner (‘IPP’). It also assists the IPP to self-assess against the risk assessment factors set out.

Can your company still protect you?

Asset protection is one of the primary reasons companies are used. A company is a separate legal entity and the corporate veil provides protection to the directors, however, in limited circumstances the protection afforded to directors is lost. The traditional instances where director protection is lost were breach of fiduciary duties (i.e. doing what’s in the best interests of the company) and trading whilst insolvent (i.e. being unable to pay company debts as and when they fall due). In addition to what the Corporations Law (the act that governs company conduct and director responsibilities) provides as exclusions from protection of directors, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has always had the weapon of the dreaded Director Penalty Notice (DPN).

Be careful using the ATO like a bank overdraft

Individuals and businesses with cash flow difficulties sometimes use the ATO like a bank overdraft. They deliberately don’t pay their taxes on time and whilst they may incur interest in doing so, it allows them to use the monies owing to the ATO for other purposes. Up until now, the ATO have been very slow at chasing outstanding monies owing to it but this may change. Soon they will be able to disclose tax debt information to credit reporting bureaus which may have serious and inescapable consequences.