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The ATO has announced it will continue its data matching program of share transactions acquired between 20 September 1985 to 30 June 2018.

The objective of the program is to ensure that taxpayers are correctly meeting taxation obligations in relation to share transactions, including registration, lodgement, reporting and payment responsibilities.

In particular, the ATO will continue to acquire details of share transactions from sources such as Computershare, Link Market Services, Australian Securities Exchange, Boardroom and ASIC.

The ATO has enacted legislation to extend the industries required to report payments to contractors under the Taxable Payments Reporting System (TPRS) regime.

Road freight, IT and security investigation or surveillance industries will need to report payments from 1 July 2019.   This is in addition to the cleaning and courier industries which came under the TPRS from 1 July 2018, and the Building and Construction industry which has been required to report payments to contractors since 2012.

Rural financial counsellors help farmers who are dealing with, or are at risk of, financial hardship.  Rural financial counsellors can:

• Help identify financial and business options, including negotiating with lenders

• Help develop an action plan

• Help access the Farm Household Allowance (FHA)

• Provide information about government and other assistance schemes

• Provide referrals to accountants, agricultural advisers and educational services

• Provide referrals to Department of Human Services and to professionals for succession planning, family mediation and personal, emotional and social counselling.

There are 30 Rural Financial Counsellors located throughout NSW, including offices at Young, Forbes, Dubbo, Mudgee, Ganmain, Crookwell and Yass-Gundagai. A full list of Rural Financial Counsellors in NSW and their contact details can be found at http://www.agriculture. gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought/assistance/rural-financialcounselling-service/nsw. gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought/assistance/rural-financialcounselling-service/nsw.

CHRISTMAS PARTIES, GIFTS AND TAX

Many employers hold Christmas parties and give gifts to employees during the festive season, but may not be aware of the Income Tax, GST and Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) implications.

Christmas Gifts Generally, where the value of a gift given to an employee and their family members is $299 or less, then it is exempt from FBT.

If the gift of $299 or less is NOT entertainment, it is also tax deductible and a GST credit can be claimed, for example: - Christmas hamper, bottle of wine, gift voucher etc. If the gift of $299 or less IS considered entertainment, it is NOT tax deductible and a GST credit cannot be claimed, for example: - ticket to attend the theatre, movies, sporting event or amusement park, accommodation or airline ticket.

A gift to clients or suppliers does not attract FBT, is tax deductible and the GST credit can be claimed. Christmas Parties The FBT and tax treatment of Christmas parties is slightly more complicated, depending on the method chosen to calculate FBT and the cost of the entertainment provided. It does not matter whether the event is held on the employer's premises or at another venue.

Actual FBT method:

•  food, drink and entertainment cost $299 or less per head – no FBT, but not tax deductible and no GST credit claimable

•  food, drink and entertainment cost more than $299 – FBT payable, but is tax deductible and GST credit claimable

50:50 FBT method:

•  food, drink and entertainment (irrespective of cost) – 50% FBT payable, 50% tax deductible and 50% GST claimable

Food, drink and entertainment provided to clients and suppliers do not attract FBT, but are not tax deductible and  a GST credit cannot be claimed.

As a long-standing member firm of Count Financial, Twomeys makes a voluntary monthly donation to  The Count Charitable Foundation which aims to make a positive and lasting difference to the wellbeing of vulnerable and at-risk people in the communities in  which we live and work.  

The dedicated team at Young Meals on Wheels were  overwhelmed to receive a recent donation of $5,000 from  The Count Charitable Foundation.

Above left to right: Michael Gay, David Parr,  Jenny Rea, Kerrie Walsh, Jim Reeves, Stephen Thurn

TWOMEYS WELCOMES NEW PRINCIPAL

Stephen Thurn commenced with Twomeys as a Principal of the firm on 10 December 2018.

Stephen joins Twomeys from Deloitte Private's Sydney CDB office where he spent 11 years, the last five as a Principal.  Prior to Deloitte, Stephen worked for Grant Thornton, Horwarth's and other mid-tier firms, with a career spanning 30 years of Business Services and Family Enterprise Advisory work.  His first role of 8 years was with a small two partner practice with ten employees.

As an experienced Chartered Accountant in public practice, Stephen is well versed in the issues facing family businesses and high net wealth families, in managing large complex private client groups and with an ability to quickly gain a deep understanding of their business and service requirements.

Stephen has key expertise in providing a broad range of business and taxation services including business advice, private and corporate taxation consulting and compliance services, management reporting, taxation structuring, asset protection and estate planning.  He is experienced in managing the tax compliance and advisory affairs for complex groups including middle market enterprises, corporate groups, subsidiaries of multinationals, family owned businesses, professionals and high wealth individuals in a variety of industries

 Stephen grew up in Narrabri, is married to Kim, an interior designer, has two children (Tom 21 and Mili 18) , and is a passionate baseball player (currently looking for a new team). Stephen is based in Twomeys' Young Office and can be contacted on 02 6381 4200 or email stephen.thurn@twomeys.com.au

BUY A BALE

Twomeys staff August morning tea raised a massive $2,062.40 for Rural Aid's Buy a Bale campaign, including dollar for dollar matching by the Count Charitable Foundation.

Twomeys also makes a monthly donation to The Count Charitable Foundation which in turn has also donated $10,000 to both Drought Angels and Aussie Helpers.

RURAL LEASES – TIPS AND TRAPS

It goes without saying that all rural leases should be documented; even leases for small parcels of land.

One of the issues that parties should pay particular attention to is that of repair, maintenance and capital upgrades. There are no fixed rules and the responsibility for these costs needs to be negotiated in the context of the term of the lease, the rent being charged and the state of the farm at the commencement of the lease. The general starting point with many leases is that the landlord pays for capital/structural replacements and the tenant pays for repairs. The parties need to be aware of those items where the definition of repair/replacement is grey; they also need to take into account the requirement for insurance.

One issue tenants need to be particularly mindful of is whether the landlord is required to replace a capital item if it is destroyed. It is often the case in commercial leases that the landlord has no such obligation and where leases have been based on commercial leases these type of clauses may remain. These issues are especially important in irrigation leases as the costs of repair and replacement of pumps and irrigation infrastructure can be very high.

It is good practice for tenants and landlords to agree a farm condition report at the commencement of the lease. This report should be as comprehensive as possible and where practical include an agronomists report detailing the state and condition of the paddocks including soil reports and weed reports.

One of the greatest areas of dispute at the end of a lease is around the weed burden in paddocks.

In NSW the Agricultural Tenancies Act contains provisions around compensation at the end of a lease. If a party has a dispute they should seek advice promptly as the deadline under the ATA for bringing a claim is a very tight 3 months.

ATO DEBT – EVEN UNDER PLAN – IS A DEAL BREAKER!

Over recent years, bank scrutiny of the ATO position of clients has gradually increased.

This is was originally on the back of the substantial increase in ATO debts during the GFC in 2008. The ATO was very supportive of business through this period and significant debt accumulated as a result. From circa 2010, this position changed and the ATO became much firmer and has since been the cause of many businesses been wound up.

The banks have gradually increased their scrutiny of the ATO debt position of clients. Until recently, a debt under an arranged payment plan (with an explanation as to why this occurred) or a recently repaid debt, were things that would generally be accepted by the banks. However, we are now in an environment (again with a large reason being the Royal Commission) where any ATO debt, even under a payment plan, is an automatic 'no' to any finance request. Furthermore, even if there is a debt that has recently been repaid, this can similarly stop a transaction from proceeding with many banks now wanting a 6 – 12 months clean history with the ATO.

So, what is the reason behind this? From the bank's perspective, ATO debts are due to GST and PAYG Withholding payments plus PAYG Tax Instalments for the clients themselves. Particularly the first two of these relates to money which the business is effectively holding on behalf of the ATO – it is technically cash that is never owned by the business and is just been administered by the business on behalf of the ATO. If the client is unable to make these payments, then it means one of two things. Either the client has a cash flow issue or has poor management ability. Both of these items are major red flags for the banks. It is not unusual for a business to have periods of tight cash flow, but the banks do not see delaying BAS and Tax payments as a solution to this. The clients need to work through this and, if required, look to their main bank for additional assistance.

There is no doubt obtaining a payment plan from the ATO is quick and easy and they generally refund any interest and thus it is also economical. If cash flow is, or maybe a little tight, an ATO payment plan looks like a quick,  simple and cost-effective option. We are now in an environment where this needs to be seriously weighed against any intended finance requirements, or annual reviews on existing finance, with a bank over the next 12 months (and not many businesses go 12 months without dealing with the bank).

From 1 January 2018 eligible small businesses (generally with less than $2 million turnover) will not be required to pay duty on certain types of insurance, including:

> Commercial vehicle insurance - for a motor vehicle used primarily for business purposes

> Commercial aviation insurance – for an aircraft used primarily for business purposes

> Occupational indemnity insurance (or professional indemnity) - covering liability arising out of the provision of professional or other services (other than medical indemnity insurance)

> Product and public liability insurance – insurance covering liability for personal injury or property damage occurring in connection with, or arising out of the products or services of, a business.

In order to receive the insurance duty exemption for your small business, you need to provide a small business declaration to your insurer. A declaration is only valid for one income year, so a new declaration will be required each income year.

www.revenue.nsw.gov.au/taxes/insurance/exemptions/sbe#type