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ATO targeting SMSF tax avoidance

Posted on May 16, 2016 by admin

The Australian Tax Office has its sight set on an emerging tax avoidance tactic being taken up by a number of self-managed superannuation funds.

The ATO has warned trustees not to use a strategy known as personal services income (PSI) through their SMSF to pay little or no tax. Even though only a handful of cases are currently being investigated, the Tax Office believes the strategy could become more widespread.

Consultants and contractors often receive a personal services income (PSI) which is paid via a trust, partnership or company for legitimate tax advantages. PSI is common in professions such as finance, IT, engineering, construction and medicine, as it is distinct from salary income paid by an employer.

The ATO had become aware of instances where PSI was placed into an SMSF so that the income was taxed at a concessional rate rather than full marginal rates.

The Tax Office has released a statement that seeks to make it clear that individuals who are avoiding paying income tax by directing their earnings into their self-managed superannuation fund are breaching the law.

Those that are found to be promoting these or similar arrangements will leave themselves open to the possibility of penalty under the promoter penalty laws.

The ATO has issued guidance for SMSFs about related-party loans and dividend stripping, where a private company channels franked dividends into an SMSF, instead of the company’s original shareholders, to escape tax.

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Avoiding mortgage default

Posted on August 26, 2020 by admin

As individuals struggle with cash flow through the coronavirus, the Australian Bankers Association records that repayments on almost 500,000 mortgages have been deferred for six months. While repayments can be delayed, they cannot be avoided altogether.

Lenders can send you a default notice the day your repayment is overdue. However, they could also wait until your repayment is overdue by 90 or more days. When you receive a default notice, you are given 30 days to repay the amounts you have missed in addition to the regular repayment on your loan. Individuals who are struggling with their home loan repayments can avoid mortgage default by considering the following.

Contact your lender
Lenders are generally willing to work with you through financial hardship. Don’t be afraid to contact your lender to discuss your situation and find out what options are available for you. Lenders are often willing to negotiate short-term variations to repayment schedules that both parties can agree to. However, make sure that you do not agree to unrealistic repayment conditions that cannot be met.

Many Australian banks are offering a six-month deferral on mortgage repayments (including interest) for customers who are experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19. If this is you, contact your bank to see if this is an option.

Apply for a hardship variation
Mortgage holders may be able to change the terms of their loan or temporarily pause or reduce their repayments under a hardship variation. A hardship variation can still be requested after you receive a mortgage default. To apply for one, contact your lender’s “hardship officer” and tell them that you wish to change your loan repayments due to financial hardship. This will usually require you to explain why you are struggling to make payments and to estimate how long your financial problems will continue to determine how much you can afford to repay.

After submitting a hardship variation request, your lender must contact you within 21 days with the outcome of your request. They may ask you for more details regarding your request; in this case, they must contact you again within 21 days from when you provide the additional information.

Consider selling your home
Selling your home is a tough decision, but in some cases this may be the better option if your circumstances are unlikely to improve. If you get to the point where your lender takes possession of your home and sells it, it’s likely that you won’t make as much as if you sold it yourself. When you sell your house on your own terms, chances are you will get a better price and avoid having to pay the legal fees passed on by your lender. Inform your lender if you decide to sell your home; they may ask for proof, such as a copy of the contract with your real estate agent or property advertisements.

Renting out your home until you can afford to make repayments again may also be an option if you are able to live somewhere else during this period.

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