Tax news, Views and Clues from Sutton Partners – June 2015

JUNE 2015

Commissioner’s statutory remedial power on the way

Even though the Commissioner of Taxation endeavours to interpret the law to give effect to its purpose or object, there are instances where this is not possible. To address this, the Government has announced that it will provide the Commissioner with a statutory remedial power to allow for a more timely resolution of certain unforeseen or unintended outcomes in taxation and superannuation law.

In announcing the Government’s plan, the Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the power will be appropriately limited in its application and will apply to the extent that it has a beneficial outcome for taxpayers. It will only be available where the modification is not inconsistent with the purpose or object of the law and has no more than a negligible revenue impact. The Commissioner will consult publicly prior to any exercise of the power.

ATO ramps up face-to-face contact with wealthy individuals

The ATO has released details of its new approach to wealthy individuals and their private groups. The ATO is focusing on a “prevention-before-correction” approach and is ramping up its face-to-face interaction with key taxpayers.
According to the ATO, about 30% of wealthy individuals and their private groups are considered “high risk”. Acting Second Commissioner Michael Cranston said that if taxpayers are open and transparent with the ATO, they can expect better services and faster turnaround of key decisions.

Mr Cranston also noted the ATO “will sign-off on the previous year’s tax returns of taxpayers who have been open and transparent” about their affairs, have good compliance records and are considered low-risk. He said this will provide certainty for about 30,000 privately owned and wealthy groups that they will not be subject to an audit for specific income years.

TIP: If you sell products or services online, you need to understand whether you are doing it as a hobby or carrying on a business. The ATO said the ongoing collection of online-selling data enables it to review online sellers who are transitioning from hobby status to potentially being “in business”. When selling online becomes a business, the income you earn from it is subject to tax. If this is the case, you may also be eligible for tax deductions.