These measures apply to businesses, individuals and self-managed funds in the local government areas impacted by the bush fires. The ATO website lists the affected postcodes. Note that the deferrals do not apply to large withholders.
If you have lost documents in a bush fire, or they are damaged, the ATO can reissue income tax returns, business activity statements and notices of assessment, help you re-construct tax records and help you find your tax file number.
If you are impacted by the bush fires but you are not in an affected postcode (as included in the list on the ATO website) or are a large withholder, you can call the ATO’s Emergency Support infoline on 1800 806 218 for assistance. The Commissioner of Taxation, Mr Chris Jordan, has said that he expects ATO staff to be “flexible, reasonable and pragmatic” when considering each request for assistance.
Monthly GST credits
If you are making purchases to replace stock and other losses, and you report and pay GST quarterly, you can elect to change to monthly reporting and payment, to get quicker access to net amount refunds. You can only change from the start of a quarter, so a change now will take effect from 1 April 2020.
Once you choose to report and pay GST monthly, you must keep reporting monthly for 12 months before you can elect to revert to quarterly reporting (unless your GST turnover is more than $20 million, in which case you must report and pay monthly).
Changing your GST reporting cycle to monthly doesn't mean you have to change your PAYG withholding reporting cycle. You can manage this by specifying the roles you are changing.
If you're registered for fuel tax credits, and change your GST reporting from quarterly to monthly, you will also need to claim your fuel tax credits monthly.
You can change your GST reporting cycle through your tax or BAS agent, in the business portal, or by phoning the ATO on 13 72 26.
If you are a quarterly pay as you go (PAYG) instalments payer, you can vary your PAYG instalments to nil on your activity statement for the December 2019 quarter by lodging a revised activity statement before you lodge your income tax return for the year.
You can also vary your PAYG instalments in future periods. The ATO won't apply penalties or charge interest to varied instalments for taxpayers within the impacted postcodes in the 2019–20 financial year.
If you have already lodged
If you've already lodged any quarterly activity statements for 2019–20, you can claim a credit (at item 5B) on your next activity statement for the instalment amount you paid in the previous quarters, to receive a refund of the amount paid.
You can also revise your latest lodged activity statement to nil, and claim a credit for amounts previously paid.
If you realise you've made a mistake working out your PAYG instalment, you can correct it by lodging a revised activity statement or varying a subsequent.
Exemption for disaster relief payments
The Government has announced that various disaster relief payments received by individuals as a result of the 2019-20 bush fires will be tax exempt. The exemption will apply to the following payments:
Disaster Recovery Allowance payments
Payments that would otherwise be taxable under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements, such as grants that may be made to small businesses and primary producers
Payments made to eligible Rural Fire Service Volunteers for loss of income where they have been called out for extended periods of service.
Super guarantee obligations unchanged
The ATO has reminded employers impacted by the bush fires that they still need to meet ongoing super guarantee obligations for their employees. The ATO does not have the power to vary the contribution due date or waive the superannuation guarantee charge but, if an employer needs help, the ATO can agree to a payment plan.
Causbrooks gives you a client manager supported by a team of knowledgeable small business experts. We’re here to take the guesswork out of running your own business.
Get in touch with us to set up a consultation or use the contact form on this page to inquire whether our services are right for you.
Any advice contained in this document is general advice only and does not take into consideration the reader’s personal circumstances. Any reference to the reader’s actual circumstances is coincidental. To avoid making a decision not appropriate to you, the content should not be relied upon or act as a substitute for receiving financial advice suitable to your circumstances.