Sky Update – April 2022
On Sunday the 10th of April, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that the 2022 Federal Election will be held on Saturday the 21st of May 2022.
Consequently, the Governor General has prorogued the Parliament and has dissolved the House of Representatives.
This means that all business in the House has lapsed, including any Bills that had not yet been passed into law.
It also means Bills to give effect to announcements made in the recent Federal Budget cannot be introduced. This affects items such as the Small Business Technology Investment Boost and Small Business Skills and Training Boost that have garnered much interest.
During the election campaign, Ministers continue in office, but “caretaker” conventions apply.
Whether lapsed Bills and other announced measures are introduced into the new Parliament after the election will be a matter for the new Government (whomever that is) to decide.
As such, we must patiently wait to see which Budget measures will be proceeding, and also to receive the much needed detail to better understand those measures.
As you would expect in an election campaign, both sides of politics have been making a large number of promises and will no doubt continue to do so up until election day.
Whilst the party making the promise may supply “costings”, it must be remembered that not all costings are equal and a level of scepticism is often warranted.
Most of what is announced are based on costings prepared by the party themselves which are often criticised as lacking in rigour. However, some costings are prepared by the Treasury and the Department of Finance at the request of the Government and/or the opposition.
Any such costings prepared will comply with the Charter of Budget Honesty – Policy Costing Guidelines and can be found on the Treasury and Department of Finance website.
We will be keeping a close eye on the election result and will be providing updates on the impact of the outcome on Federal Budget announcements and other finance/taxation related announcements made during the campaign.
Fuel Tax Credits Rates
For those who participate in the Fuel Tax Credit scheme, please be aware that the rates have changed with effect from 30 March 2022 as a result of the Government temporarily halving fuel excise rates for 6 months to assist with cost of living pressures.
This change follows on from the recent change in Fuel Tax Credit rates which apply from the 1st of February 2022.
Given the number of changes to the rates in recent times, extra care is needed to ensure that Fuel Tax Credits are calculated correctly.
If you need assistance to calculate your businesses Fuel Tax Credits, or are interested in participating in the Fuel Tax Credit scheme, please get in touch.
These changes affect matters including vaccination restrictions, isolation requirements and mask wearing.
Businesses are urged to take steps to understand these changing restrictions to ensure that they are following the correct rules as significant issues can arise.
For example, a business continuing to impose restrictions on unvaccinated parties, where vaccination requirements have been removed, may be at risk of breaching discrimination law.
If you require assistance to understand the COVID-19 rules that currently apply to your business, please get in touch.
Fair Work Ombudsman Surprise Inspections
Earlier in April, the Fair Work Ombudsman’s inspectors were back out on the streets conducting approximately 50 surprise visits to “cheap eats” food outlets in inner south Melbourne.
The businesses were located in suburbs including Albert Park, Balaclava, Brighton, Elwood, Port Melbourne, Prahran, South Yarra, St Kilda and Windsor.
The inspectors, with the authority to issue compliance notices, arrived at businesses un-announced and requested records to help them to assess whether the business was compliant with their employer obligations.
Understandably, the Fair Work Ombudsman’s field activities have been curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, these surprise visits signal that this period of reduced activity has come to an end and serve as a warning to businesses to ensure that they are compliant and have their records in order.
Employers should take note that significant penalties can be applied by the Fair Work Ombudsman for compliance notice and record-keeping breaches.
Fast food outlets, restaurants and cafes are a particular focus of the Fair Work Ombudsman in light of those types of businesses being over-represented in the Ombudsman’s new litigations in 2020/21.
If you need assistance to understand your businesses employer obligations and/or record keeping obligations, please get in touch.
Fringe Benefits Tax 2022
In February, we wrote about Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT), which is a tax payable by employers on non-cash benefits provided to employees.
With the FBT year having ended on the 31st of March 2022, employers should now be taking steps to ascertain their FBT position and to prepare to lodge a FBT return where necessary.
The due date to lodge a FBT return, and pay any FBT owing is the 23rd of May 2022.
However, where you lodge your FBT return through a registered tax agent (eg. Sky Accountants), the due date is extended to the 27th of June 2022.
If you need assistance to understand how FBT applies to your business, or to prepare your FBT return, please get in touch.
Reduced Minimum Pension Rates Extended
Where a superannuation fund member has commenced an account-based pension or a transition to retirement income stream, minimum pensions must be paid by the fund to that member each year.
Those minimums are calculated as a percentage of the member’s pension account balance, as determined by their age at the start of the financial year.
In acknowledgement of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on retirees, the minimum payment rates had previously been halved up to the 30th June 2022. The purpose in halving the minimum pension rates was to assist retirees to preserve their superannuation balances.
On the 25th of March (just prior to the recent Federal Budget), a further extension of the reduced rates to 30 June 2023 was announced. The regulations have since been made to give effect to the announcement.
If you need assistance to understand how the temporary reduction affects you and/or your retirement planning, please get in touch.
Quote of the Month
With a Federal Election just around the corner we have been reminded that politics can be a very grubby business.
These days, it seems that we are routinely seeing examples of politicians and political parties who are less than honest, who seek to mislead the public, who are intentionally divisive and who are wilfully ignorant on important issues.
Now more than ever, we encourage readers to engage with politics. To educate themselves on the important issues of our day and to understand each party’s policies in respect to those issues.
As Plato dramatically put it, “the price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men”.
If we are all better informed, we can collectively make better decisions about who should be elected to represent us. We can also hold those representatives to a higher standard.
As we head to the ballot boxes, let us not be the ignorant wreckers described by George Eliot when she said “it is a common sentence that knowledge is power; but who hath duly considered or set forth the power of ignorance? Knowledge slowly builds up what ignorance in an hour pulls down”.
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