August – Tax Update

myGov and ATO tax scams, undisclosed income, unusual claims and lost super.

Warning to watch out for myGov and ATO tax scams

The government’s Stay Smart Online website warns taxpayers that there is a surge in scammers impersonating trusted bodies like myGov and the ATO to trick people into giving them money or personal details. These scams can take the form of emails, text messages and fake myGov login pages.

In June 2019, the ATO received 6,444 reports of tax-time scams that impersonated the ATO. Emails with links to fake myGov login pages were the most widespread email scam in that month.

The trend in scammers demanding ‘debt’ payments via gift cards is also on the rise, with Australians aged 18–44 years making the majority of iTunes payments to scammers ($94,420 in June alone), closely followed by Google Play cards ($27,993).

If someone is unsure about the validity of a tax-related message or phone call, contact our office on 03 9870 1300 and we can look into it or the ATO Scam Hotline on 1800 008 540.

Stay Smart Online reminds that:

  • myGov will never send anyone a text, email or attachment with links or web addresses that ask a person for their login or personal details. Do not click on links in emails or text messages claiming to be from myGov.
  • People should always log into their official myGov account to check their tax, lodge their return and check if they owe a debt or are due a refund. Do this by manually typing https://my.gov.au/ into the internet browser.
  • Unfortunately, ATO and other scams continue well beyond the 30 October deadline for tax returns, as scammers know many people are waiting for a refund or debt owed. It’s important to watch out for scams throughout the year.
ATO watching for undisclosed foreign income

The ATO has reminded Australians who receive any foreign income from investments, family members or working overseas to make sure they have reported it this tax time.

New international data-sharing agreements allow the ATO to track money across borders and identify people who aren’t meeting their obligations. Under the new Common Reporting Standard (CRS), the ATO has shared data on financial account information with over 65 tax jurisdictions across the globe. This includes information on account holders, balances, interest and dividend payments, proceeds from the sale of assets, and other income.

Tip: If you’re an Australian resident for tax purposes, you are taxed on your worldwide income, so you must declare all of your foreign income no matter how small the amount.

Unusual claims disallowed

The ATO has published information about some of the most unusual claims it has disallowed. Around 700,000 Australians have claimed almost $2 billion of “other” expenses, including non-allowable items such as child care and even Lego sets.

Assistant Commissioner Karen Foat says a systematic review of claims found and disallowed some very unusual expenses. “A couple of taxpayers claimed dental expenses, believing a nice smile was essential to finding a job, and was therefore deductible. It isn’t!”

Tip: The “other” deductions section of your tax return is for expenses incurred in earning income that don’t appear elsewhere on the return – such as income protection and sickness insurance premiums.

ATO contacting small employers about Single Touch Payroll

From 1 July 2018, employers with more than 20 employees have been required to provide real-time reports to the ATO of salary and wage payments, super guarantee contributions, ordinary time earnings of employees and PAYG withholding amounts.

From 1 July 2019, this Single Touch Payroll (STP) reporting system has extended to all employers.

The ATO is now writing to small employers who haven’t yet started reporting or applied for a deferral, to remind them of their STP obligations.

Tip: Small employers have until 30 September 2019 to start reporting or apply for extra time to get ready.

There will be no penalties for mistakes, or missed or late reports, for the first year, and employers experiencing hardship or who are in areas with intermittent or no internet connection will be able to access exemptions.

Lost super

The ATO noted that at 2 July 2019 it held 5.39 million super accounts worth $3.98 billion. Of this money, the ATO estimates it will be able to reunite $473 million with 485,000 fund members using the Protecting Your Super measures (which have been enacted under the recently passed Treasury Laws Amendment (Protecting Your Superannuation Package) Act 2019).

The ATO encourages fund members to find out about their lost and unclaimed super through ATO Online via myGov. In 2018–2019, fund members consolidated or transferred over 537,000 accounts worth $4.38 billion using myGov.

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