Treasury has released its Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (‘MYEFO’) for 2019/20 forecasting a surplus of approximately $5 billion.
Proposed new record-keeping course
One new tax-related measure of note in the MYEFO was the announcement the ATO would be provided with a new discretion to direct taxpayers (found to be lacking in their substantiation efforts under audit) to undertake an approved record-keeping course, instead of applying financial penalties.
This is yet another measure designed to tackle the ‘black’ or ‘cash’ economy.
Specifically, the Commissioner will be given the discretion to direct taxpayers to undertake the course where he reasonably believes there has been a failure by the taxpayer to comply with their reporting obligations.
The Commissioner will not apply this discretion to those who disengage with the tax system or who deliberately avoid their record-keeping obligations.
Editor: Such a proposal raises obvious concerns as to the onerous nature of having to comply with such a course, particularly for small business owners whose main priority is to run their business.
Interestingly, there is a precedent for similar ATO directions to taxpayers (i.e., to undertake an approved course), with legislation passed earlier this year allowing the Commissioner to require employers to undertake a superannuation guarantee obligations course where there has been a failure by an employer to comply with those obligations.
New ‘gig’ economy reporting
Additionally, the MYEFO also announced the Government’s intention to implement a new third party reporting regime for the sharing economy.
This will apply to businesses who operate via online platforms within the ‘sharing’ or ‘gig’ economy (e.g., Uber and Airbnb).
It is proposed to be introduced in two stages, starting from 1 July 2022 (for ride-sharing and accommodation platforms) and from 1 July 2023 (for asset sharing, food delivery and tasking-based platforms).
The online platforms will be required to report identification and income information for all its participating members (i.e., both the sellers and providers).
These reports will go directly to the ATO for data-matching (i.e., review and audit) purposes.
To read the MYEFO in full, head to: https://budget.gov.au/2019-20/content/myefo/index.htm