Federal Budget 2017/18: What it means for you…

On Tuesday 9 May, the Federal Government handed down its Budget for the 2017–18 financial
year.
budget 17 18 According to Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison, this year’s Budget is founded on the principles of fairness, security and opportunity. Mr Morrison claims that the government’s proposed measures will raise almost $21 billion in revenue over the next four years, returning Australia’s budget to surplus by 2021.

Here’s a roundup of some of the key proposals put forward, and a look at how they might affect your financial goals — whether you’re starting out in your working life, building a career and family, or enjoying the fruits of your labour in retirement.

Remember, at this stage these are just proposals and not yet law. As such, they could change as legislation passes through parliament.

Superannuation
1. First Home Super Saver Scheme
Proposed effective date: 1 July 2017
From 1 July 2017, individuals will be able to make extra voluntary super contributions of up to $15,000 a year beyond their employer’s Super Guarantee payments, up to a total of $30,000. These contributions will be taxed at 15% and can be withdrawn to go towards the deposit on a first home. Withdrawals will be allowed from 1 July 2018.

What this could mean for you
When you withdraw your extra contributions to pay for a deposit, they’ll be taxed at your marginal tax rate minus a 30% tax offset. While the tax concessions for these contributions may allow you to save a larger deposit, you won’t be able to access your money until retirement if you decide not to buy a home.

2. Contributing the proceeds of property downsizing to super
Proposed effective date: 1 July 2018
Additional non-concessional cap for retiree downsizers
From 1 July 2018, people aged 65+ will be able to contribute up to $300,000 into super from the sale of their principal home, if they’ve owned their home for at least 10 years. The existing restrictions for contributions over age 65 won’t apply for these non-concessional contributions.

What this could mean for you
You may be able to contribute an additional $300,000 to super (or $600,000 for couples), over and above your existing concessional and non-concessional caps. However, if you or your partner receives the age pension, this could cause your entitlements to be reduced.

Taxation – general

3. Marginal tax rates remain unchanged
Marginal tax rates are unchanged from 2016–17. As legislated, the Temporary Budget Repair Levy – which is an additional 2% on the top marginal tax rate – will expire on 30 June 2017.

4. Increase to Medicare levy
Proposed effective date: 1 July 2019
The Medicare levy, which is still assessed on taxable income, is proposed to increase from 2% to 2.5% from 1 July 2019.The Medicare levy low-income thresholds for singles, families, seniors and pensioners will increase from the 2016–17 financial year. The increase in the Medicare levy will be used to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

What this could mean for you
The increased levy may also result in increases to many tax rates linked to the top personal tax rate, including fringe benefits tax and excess non-concessional contributions tax.
Certain lump sum super payments that attract the levy may also be impacted, such as disability benefits paid to people under preservation age.

5. Residential investment property – disallowance of deduction for travel expenses and limitation on deductible depreciation
Proposed effective date: Various
From 1 July 2017, travel expenses incurred in inspecting, maintaining or collecting rent on your residential investment properties will no longer be tax deductible. As a residential property investor, you will continue to be able to deduct fees paid to real estate agents or other property managers for these services. In a separate proposal, depreciation deductions for plant and equipment – such as dishwashers and ceiling fans – in residential investment properties will be limited to the actual expenditure you incur. This is an integrity measure designed to ensure that successive purchasers of a property cannot depreciate an asset beyond its true cost.

What this could mean for you
If you’re a subsequent investor in a property, the acquisition of existing plant and equipment will be reflected in the cost base for CGT purposes. Grandfathering applies to plant and equipment that forms part of a residential investment property as at 9 May 2017 and will continue to give rise to depreciation deductions under current rules.

The new rule around travel expense deductions applies to all property investors, including SMSFs, family trusts and companies.

6. Tax changes for foreign tax residents and property owners
Proposed effective date: 9 May 2017
Foreign or temporary tax residents will no longer have access to the CGT main residence exemption on properties acquired after 7.30pm AEST on Budget night (9 May 2017). Also from Budget night, foreign owners of residential property that is not occupied or genuinely available on the rental market for at least six months per year will be subject to an annual levy of at least $5,000.

What this could mean for you
If you’re a foreign of temporary tax resident and you held an existing property before Budget night, the property will be grandfathered and you’ll be able to continue claiming the CGT main residence exemption until 30 June 2019. However, from 1 July 2017, the CGT withholding rate that applies to foreign tax residents will increase from 10% to 12.5%.

Taxation – small business

7. Instant asset tax write-off extension
Proposed effective date: 1 July 2017
The government will extend the existing accelerated depreciation allowance for small businesses by 12 months to 30 June 2018.

What this could mean for you
If your small business has aggregated annual turnover below $10 million, you’ll be able to immediately deduct the purchase of eligible assets costing less than $20,000 where they are first used or installed ready for use by 30 June 2018. After that date, the immediate deductibility threshold will revert back to $1,000.

8. Company tax rate reduction
Legislated from: 1 July 2016
Federal Parliament has now also finalised passage of legislation to reduce the company tax rate. The first step involves reducing the corporate tax rate for companies that are small business entities, from 28.5% to 27.5%, for the 2016–17 income year. Small business entities are classified as companies that carry on a business and have an annual aggregated turnover of less than $10 million. Other companies remain subject to the 30% corporate tax rate. The second step involves subsequent increases in this annual aggregated turnover threshold so that progressively larger companies with annual aggregated turnover under $50 million will qualify for the 27.5% corporate tax rate. For companies with annual aggregated turnover under $50 million the tax rate will progressively reduce to 25% from the 2026–27 income year.

9.Unincorporated businesses – annual aggregated turnover threshold
Legislated from: 1 July 2016
This offset is available to unincorporated small businesses and is currently 5% of the individual’s net small business income tax liability capped at a maximum offset of $1,000 per annum. The annual aggregated turnover threshold from 1 July 2016 is to be increased to $5 million (up from $2 million) for unincorporated business looking to qualify for the small business income tax offset.

What this could mean for you
This small business income tax offset will progressively increase to 16% of an individual’s tax liability related to their net small business income by the 2026–27 tax year. For the 2016–17 to 2023–24 tax years, the tax offset is to increase to 8% (up from 5%).

Families and Social Security

10. New thresholds for HELP debt repayments
Proposed effective date: 1 July 2018
Income thresholds for the repayment of HELP debts will be revised, along with repayment rates and the indexation of repayment thresholds.

What this could mean for you
A new minimum threshold of $42,000 will apply, with a 1% repayment rate. A maximum threshold of $119,882 will apply, with a 10% repayment rate. Currently, the maximum repayment threshold for the 2017–18 financial year is $103,766 with a repayment rate of 8%.

11. Reinstatement of Pensioner Concession Card entitlements
Proposed effective date: 2017 -18
Pensioners who lost their Pensioner Concession Card entitlement due to the assets test changes on 1 January 2017 will have their card reinstated. Those who lost their entitlement were instead issued with both a Health Care Card and a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. However these cards provided access to fewer concessions than the Pensioner Concession Card.

What this could mean for you
If your Pensioner Concession Card entitlement is reinstated, you’ll have access to a wider range of concessions than those available with the Health Care Card, such as subsidised hearing services. Your Pensioner Concession Card will be automatically reissued over time with an ongoing income and assets test exemption.

You’ll also retain the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, ensuring you continue to receive the Energy Supplement.

12. Increased pension residence requirements
Proposed effective date: 1 July 2018
An individual currently needs to have at least 10 years’ residence in Australia (at least 5 of which are continuous) to qualify for the age pension or disability support pension. From 1 July 2018, applicants will require one of the following to be met instead:

  • 15 years of continuous Australian residency
  • 10 years’ continuous residence including 5 years during their working life (age 16 to 65), or
  • 10 years’ continuous residence and not in receipt of an activity-tested income support payment for a cumulative period greater than 5 years.
    • What this could mean for you
      This measure may impact you if you have less than 15 years’ residence in Australia or less than 5 years’ residence between age 16 and age pension age. However, existing exemptions will be maintained for humanitarian reasons or if you became unable to work while you were an Australian resident.

      13. Other proposals
      Proposed effective date: Various

    • A new Jobseeker Payment will replace 7 existing working age payments from 20 March 2020
    • Job seekers and parents who receive working age income support will have increased activity test requirements from 20 September 2018
    • The maximum length of the Liquid Assets Waiting Period will increase from 13 weeks to 26 weeks from 20 September 2018
    • A one-off Energy Assistance Payment of $75 for single recipients and $125 for couples will be paid for those who qualify on 20 June 2017
    • Family Tax Benefit rates will not be indexed for 2 years from 1 July 2017
    • A new upper income threshold of $350,000 pa will apply to the child care subsidy from 1 July 2018.
      • Note: What you need to know
        Any advice in this document is general in nature and is provided by Halle Yilmaz, as a financial adviser at HQ Financial Solutions, an Authorised Representative of Lifespan Financial Planning Pty Ltd ABN 23 065 921 735, AFSL No. 229892. Halle is authorised to advice on super, pension and investment products. The advice here does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Therefore, before acting on this advice, you should consider the appropriateness of this advice having regard to those matters, products, and consider talking to a financial adviser before making an investment decision. Your Lifespan adviser or other professional advisers should be consulted prior to acting on this information. Taxation considerations are general and based on present taxation laws and may be subject to change. You should seek independent, professional tax advice before making any decision based on this information. This disclaimer is intended to exclude any liability for loss as a result of acting on the information or opinions expressed.
        Source of the information on this newsletter: AMP, Colonial First State, and Challenger.

        Halle Yilmaz is a financial adviser and business consultant. As a financial adviser, she gives solid advice that can create rapid and lasting results for her clients. Sign up for her free E-Book and download “7 Steps to Healthy Wealth Management.” Follow Halle on Twitter @halleyilmaz

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