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Spouse contributions – when are you eligible for a tax offset?

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Spouse contributions – when are you eligible for a tax offset?
Spouse contributions – when are you eligible for a tax offset?

Contributions made on behalf of your spouse to a complying superannuation fund or a retirement savings account (RSA) may be eligible for a tax offset.

The 2019/2020 tax rules allow you to claim an 18% tax offset on super contributions up to $3,000 on behalf of your spouse. While you are able to contribute more than $3,000, there will be no spouse contribution tax offset over this amount. The amount you can claim depends on your spouse’s annual income:

  • $540 for spouse income of $37,000.
  • $360 for spouse income of $38,000.
  • $180 for spouse income of $39,000.

The tax offset may be available for individuals who meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Your spouse’s assessable income, fringe benefits amounts and employer superannuation contributions equate to under $40,000.
  • Contributions made on behalf of your spouse were not deductible to you.
  • You and your spouse were Australian residents at the time of contributions.
  • Your spouse did not have non-concessional contributions that equated to a higher amount than their non-concessional contributions cap, or they did not have a total superannuation balance of $1.6 million or more at 30 June 2018.
  • Your spouse is younger than their preservation age, or are not retired while being between 65 and their preservation age.

Under Australian superannuation law, your spouse can be either:

  • Your partner who you are married to and live with, or;
  • Your de facto partner, who you live with on a genuine domestic basis.

The spouse contributions tax offset can be claimed on your tax return.

What you need to know about fringe benefits tax

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What you need to know about fringe benefits tax
What you need to know about fringe benefits tax

A fringe benefits tax (FBT) is a tax paid on benefits provided to employees (usually non-cash). FBT is calculated based on the gross taxable value of benefits employers provide to their employees. Employees must lodge their return and pay the total FBT amount they owe for the previous FBT year. Due to COVID-19, the FBT lodgement deadline has been extended from 31 March 2020 to 25 June 2020.

The following are the types of fringe benefits you must lodge before the extended due date:

  • Car fringe benefits: when a car your business owns or leases is available for employee private usage.
  • Debt waiver fringe benefits: when you waive or forgive an employee’s debt (including those you write-off as a genuine bad debt).
  • Loan fringe benefits: when you provide a loan to an employee and charge a low rate of interest or no interest during the GBT year.
  • Expense payment fringe benefits: when you reimburse an employee for expenses they incur or pay a third party for expenses incurred by an employee.
  • Housing fringe benefits: when you provide an employee with accommodation as a usual place of residence for the employee.
  • Living-away-from-home allowance fringe benefits: any payments you make to compensate an employee for any disadvantages suffered because they have to live away from home to be employed at your business.
  • Airline transport fringe benefits: any payments made in relation to airline transport.
  • Board fringe benefits: meals provided to employees.
  • Entertainment fringe benefits: payments for entertainment by the way of food, drink or recreation.
  • Tax-exempt body entertainment fringe benefits: when you incur entertainment expenses and you are wholly or partially exempt from income tax or don’t derive assessable income from the activities related to the entertainment.
  • Car parking fringe benefits: when you provide car parking for your employee.
  • Property fringe benefits: when you provide free or discounted property (including goods such as electricity and gas, real property and rights to property) to an employee.
  • Residual fringe benefits: broadly speaking, any rights, privileges, services or facilities provided in respect of employment.

Businesses who have paid less than $3000 in FBT in the previous year only need to make one payment when lodging their FBT this financial year. For businesses with more than $3000 in FBT, they must lodge their FBT quarterly. Clarify with your tax agent or accountant for your FBT details before lodging.

Reviewing your business’ progress

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Reviewing your business’ progress
Reviewing your business’ progress

With the current economic slowdown, now is the perfect time to review your business strategy and conduct a business “health check” to come out the other side improved and ready to go. Analyse whether or not your business is in the state that you want it to be in and any improvements you can make to prepare for when the economy starts to recover.

Clients and customers

Client and customer loyalty is a trait all businesses should appreciate, but if your clients’ values are misaligned with yours, conflict is inevitable. Hence, now is the time to re-evaluate which clients you want to keep loyal and which ones you can see a cooperative future with. Re-assessing your target audience and deepening your understanding of the wants and needs of your clients would also be beneficial, as you can perfect your marketing strategies now while you have the time. If you have clients who frequently struggle to pay you on time, rude to your service and employees and generally disrespectful to your business, take the time to assess whether your attention is worthwhile and if you would like to continue to work with them when the economic situation improves.

Employees

Your employees are another stakeholder to check up on during this downtime opportunity. Your employees will always be your business’ representatives so make sure they are up to standard and help them improve on their skills now when they have the time to. Take the time to teach your employees more about your business goals and strategies and improve the team atmosphere by introducing team recreational activities. Your relationship with your employees now during a global crisis will dictate how they feel about you as a leader and if they can rely on you in the future. Foster respectful, strong and healthy bonds between you and your employees and only good things will be coming your way.

Suppliers

The key question to ask when reviewing your suppliers is whether or not you are getting what you need from them at a reasonable cost. Of course, not all sales deals are made equally and while you may get the bad end of the stick now, that is sometimes for the benefit of the long term. However, if this is not the case and you feel that your suppliers are asking too much from you, letting you down with their product quality or causing other complications, take the time now to look for other options. As most businesses struggle through current economic conditions, more and more suppliers are becoming competitive and hence, there are more options to consider. Do your research and decide on the suppliers you want to work with for the long-term future.

Financing

Managing your finances is always a difficult task but it is now more important than ever. Your budget and profit predictions for this year are likely going rogue so reevaluate your finances and research other funding options such as commercial rent, interest rates and banking services. Consider how you can minimise cost while maximising efficiency and productivity, save as much money as you can during these downtimes, and review your investments in detail to determine whether or not they are worthwhile.

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