The ATO has updated the following guidance on tax concessions for small businesses:
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has revealed that he has reached an agreement on a mandatory code for the provision of rent relief by commercial landlords to tenants.
On Tuesday, 7 April, Mr Morrison said the mandatory code agreed to with the national cabinet will be legislated and regulated as appropriate in each state and territory jurisdiction.
Mr Morrison said the code will apply to tenancies where the tenant or landlord is eligible for the JobKeeper program and where they have a turnover of $50 million or less.
“The code is designed to support those small and medium-sized enterprises, be they a tenant or indeed a landlord,” Mr Morrison said.
“The code brings together a set of good faith leasing principles. Landlords must not terminate the lease or draw on a tenant’s security. Likewise, tenants must honour the lease.”
Landlords will be required to reduce rent proportionate to the trading reduction in the tenant’s business through a combination of waivers of rent and deferrals of rents over the course of the pandemic.
Waivers of rent must account for at least 50 per cent of the reduction in the rental provided to the tenant during that period, while deferrals must be covered over the balance of the lease term and in a period no less than 12 months.
“If the lease term goes for three years, you can advertise the cost of the lease of the rental deferral over that three-year period, after the end of the pandemic period. But if the lease only has another six months to run, then the tenant would have a minimum of 12 months after the pandemic period in order to cover up on the deferrals of the rental payments,” Mr Morrison explained.
A binding mediation process
Mr Morrison also said the rental relief arrangements negotiated by the tenant and landlord will be overseen through a binding mediation process that will be run by the states and the territories.
“The point here is simple: it’s the same request we made of landlords and tenants about 10 days or so ago when I stood up on this issue, and that is they sit down and they work it out. This must be shared,” he said.
Further, Mr Morrison said banks also must “come to the table” and provide support to landlords.
In particular, he wanted to send that message to international banks operating in Australia which he said that in many cases are providing that support, especially to many larger landlords.
“We will expect those banks to be providing the same levels of support and co-operation as we are seeing from the Australian banks who are aware of these arrangements,” Mr Morrison said.
“What this does is preserve the lease. It preserves the relationship. It keeps the tenant in their property and it keeps a tenant on the lease, which is also good for the landlord, and it preserves the lease that is in place that underpins the value of those assets.
“This is seen as a proactive, constructive and co-operative mechanism for landlords and tenants to see this through together.”
On 4 December 2019 a case of fraud and theft was heard in Mt Druitt Magistrates Court NSW against an unregistered tax agent. The case highlights the risk of identity crime and the importance of not sharing your private myGov password information.
Information obtained from the hearing of Benjamin Cox revealed that he had fraudulently posed as a tax agent and lodged over a thousand individual tax returns using each taxpayer’s personal myGov access. He charged clients for his services and also stole some refunds his clients were due,using his own bank details to take the payments.
Mr Cox advertised his services through Facebook and Gumtree, targeting vulnerable people in the community who were unfamiliar with the Australian tax system.
In court Mr Cox pleaded guilty to the following charges:
- Dishonestly obtained financial advantage etc by deception under the NSW Crimes Act 1900 paragraph 192E(1)(b).
- Dealt with identity information to commit etc indictable offence under the NSW Crimes Act 1900 section 192J.
As a result of his actions, Mr Cox received a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence to be served in the community by way of an Intensive Corrections Order. He was also ordered to pay over $13,000 in compensation to the ATO and his victims, and has had $22,000 worth of his assets seized.
Tips to identify unregistered preparers
People pretending to be tax agents often promise refunds that are too good to be true or provide discounted services much cheaper than legitimate registered tax agents.
Another tell-tale sign to look out for is that unregistered preparers often use a taxpayer’s personal login details to access their ATO Online account through myGov to lodge tax returns. A legitimate tax practitioner will never ask for your myGov credentials – they use dedicated ATO Online services to lodge returns for their clients.
Giving an unregistered agent your myGov password also puts your personal information at risk.
Make a complaint
If you know of someone providing tax agent services for a fee or other reward who is not registered, you can let the Tax Practitioners Board know at tpb.gov.au/complaints