Showing posts with label taxation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label taxation. Show all posts

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Things you might have missed in the daily news

Financial Review, 3 August 2020:

Taiwanese lender Yuanta Securities Investment Trust has sold $27 million worth of bonds in Adani's Abbot Point coal terminal in Queensland, joining a rapidly expanding list of Asian and global lenders that have shunned the controversial project.

Yuanta was once the second-biggest investor in one of the project's bond issuances, holding more than 5 per cent of a $US500 million issuance due to expire at the end of 2022….


According to an ABC News artilce published on 31 July 2020, a senior federal Border Force officer allowed 2,700 people to disembark the Ruby Princess cruise ship mistakenly believing passengers had tested negative to COVID-19, when they had instead tested negative for the common flu. 

Border Force command only realised the mistake more than 30 hours after passengers — including 13 who had been isolated in their cabins with fever — had left the ship.

The Ruby Princess COVID-19 cluster resulted in at least 662 infections and 21 deaths, the single biggest arrival of coronavirus on Australian shores.


The Market Herald, 23 July 2020:
  • The Chinese navy has confronted Australian warships in the South China Sea en route to a military exercise with Japan and the U.S.
  • Five ships, lead by HMA Canberra, were travelling through disputed waterways when they encountered the Chinese military
  • The Joint Task Force was heading to the Philippine Sea at the time, where it planned to conduct military movements ahead of the biennial RIMPAC conference
  • The exercise aimed to increase interoperability between the Australian, American, and Japnese navies, but came amid increasing tensions between the U.S. and China over territory in the South China Sea
  • Speaking to the encounter, the Department of Defence said all "unplanned interactions with foreign warships throughout the deployment were conducted in a safe and professional manner"….
Next month, all three navies will head to the biannual Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) in Hawaii — the biggest global maritime warfare activity.
However, in 2018, China invitation to RIMPAC was withdrawn based on its 'aggressive' territorial claims in the South China Sea.
It's understood China won't participate in this year's RIMPAC event either.


The Daily Telegraph, 1 August 2020, p.27:

The crowd pleaser
With world-famous surf breaks, natural springs and coastal charm, Yamba is the beach break you never knew you needed.


According to recently released Australian Taxation Office data, in the 2017-18 financial year the amount of tax paid in main urban areas went as followed in the NSW Northern Rivers region:
  • Grafton postcode 2460 – 14,500 individuals paid $117.32 million.
  • Kyogle postcode 2474 – 3,336 individuals paid $24.66 million
  • Ballina postcode 2478 – 15,690 individuals paid $186.06 million
  • Lismore postcode 2480 – 24,989 individuals paid $207.96 million
  • Byron Bay postcode 2481 – 9,050 individuals paid $114.50 million
  • Tweed Heads postcode 2485 – 7,709 individuals paid $66.43million
  • Tweed Heads postcode 2486 – 17,127 individuals paid $150.65 million.


ABC News, 4 August 2020:

A growing group of anti-maskers have been "baiting" and antagonising Victorian police, and in one instance smashed the head of a female officer into concrete until she was concussed, authorities say. 

Police said two female police officers approached a 38-year-old woman, who was not wearing a face covering, in the Frankston area last night. 

After questioning the woman about why she was not wearing one, police allege she pushed one officer and struck the other in the head. "After a confrontation and being assaulted by that woman, those police officers went to ground and there was a scuffle," 

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said. "During that scuffle, this 38-year-old woman smashed the head of the [26-year-old] policewoman several times into a concrete area on the ground." 

Police said the constable was taken to Frankston Hospital with "significant head injuries". 

The woman's alleged assault left the young police officer with a concussion and a missing clump of hair, Police Association of Victoria secretary Wayne Gatt said. 

"The offender had a clump of our member's hair in her hands and said to our member 'what's it like to have your hair in my hands' or words to that effect," he said. "That's just horrible conduct — it's not human-like to be quite honest." 

Police have charged the alleged attacker with nine offences, including two counts of assaulting an emergency worker and one count of recklessly causing injury. 

She had no previous criminal history and was granted bail to appear before the Frankston Magistrates' Court on March 31, 2021.... 

Chief Commissioner Patton said in the past week police had seen a trend of people calling themselves "sovereign citizens" who "don't think the law applies to them". 

"We've seen them at checkpoints baiting police, not providing a name and address," he said. 

"On at least four occasions in the last week, we've had to smash the windows of cars and pull people out to provide details because they weren't adhering to the Chief Health Officer's guidelines, they weren't providing their name and address."


Thursday, 28 May 2020

Morrison Government's political backers have spoken and plans for biosecurity levy are abandoned

ABC News, 20 May 2020:

After more than a year of lobbying by cement, minerals and freight industry groups, the Federal Government has abandoned a promise that would raise hundreds of millions of dollars to protect Australian farmers from pests and diseases.

In 2018, Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud announced the Government would raise $325 million over three years through a biosecurity levy.

The Budget outlined a proposed $10.02 biosecurity charge per 20-foot container, and a $1 per tonne levy on bulk imports coming via the sea to be imposed from July 1, 2019, with the funds raised used to detect and screen for exotic pests and diseases.

The 2019 Budget saw that deadline postponed until September 2019, but legislation for the levy was never introduced.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Department of Agriculture Water and Environment said the levy could not be implemented without significant impacts on industry and proposed levy payers.

"A levy will not be progressed and this decision will not impact on the overall biosecurity budget," it said.

The statement thanked the industry working group that consulted on the levy, and said the decision had been made "in consideration of the impact of drought, bushfires and COVID-19 on the economy"….

The Cement Industry Federation was part of a consortium of industry groups including the Minerals Council of Australia, Australasian Railway Association, Australian Chamber of Commerce, Manufacturing Australia, the Australian Logistics Council, and Gas Energy Australia that rejected the proposed levy....

The levy on freight was first proposed by a review of Australia's biosecurity services in 2017, which found widespread agreement that biosecurity was underfunded in Australia.

The decision not to introduce the levy comes as Australian farmers face uncertain trading conditions following years of drought and recent pest incursions, which could cost industry hundreds of millions of dollars.

This year alone, Australian farmers have found new worrying detections of the fall armyworm and banana-destroying Panama disease, while Queensland prawn farmers expected to lose millions to an outbreak of white spot disease.

Meanwhile, the pork industry still fears it could experience an outbreak of the pig-killing African Swine Fever.

The disease spread through Asia, wiped out a quarter of the world's pig population and was recently detected in Papua New Guinea.

If it were to reach Australia, the pork industry estimates it could cost the Australian economy $2 billion.

National Farmers' Federation chief executive Tony Mahar said the decision to axe the levy was a "blow to Australia's farmers".

"The uncertainty this levy proposal has created — particularly given the current circumstances — is a poor look for government," Mr Mahar said.

The Department of Agriculture Water and Environment did not make a spokesperson available, but said Australia's biosecurity systems underpinned $60 billion in agricultural production, $49 billion in agricultural exports and $42 billion in inbound tourism.

Mr Littleproud's office has been contacted for comment.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Google to pay $481.5m in win for Australian Tax Office bringing total collected from IT giants to $1.25 billion

The Guardian, 18 December 2019:

The search engine giant Google has agreed to pay $481.5m to the Australian Tax Office in a major win for the agency in its battle to force big technology companies to pay tax in Australia.
The settlement, which covers a decade’s worth of tax between 2008 and 2018, will also help bolster a federal budget surplus that has been undermined by weak economic growth and the collapse of the Morrison government’s robodebt scheme.
It follows a lengthy campaign to get multinationals, especially technology and resources giants, to pay tax in Australia that was launched in 2015 by the then treasurer, Joe Hockey, and spearheaded by the tax commissioner, Chris Jordan.
Moves included more audits of tech and resources companies through a special ATO taskforce and introducing a suite of laws designed to force tech companies to book sales made in Australia locally, rather than running them through a tax haven such as Singapore or Ireland.
Deputy commissioner Mark Konza, who has overseen much of the ATO’s work dealing with tax-shy multinationals, said the settlement was “another great outcome for the Australian tax system”.

The ATO said Google’s settlement, together with others made by companies including Microsoft, Apple and Facebook, brought the total extra amount of cash collected from ecommerce industry players to $1.25bn.....

Unfortunately as Australia's federal budget blackhole is currently $2.1 billion and will reach a cumulative total of at least $7 billion by June 2021, the back taxes paid to date by these multinational corporations will be only a slight, passing relief for the national economy.

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

State of the Australian economy as it enters 2020

On 16 December 2019 Australian Treasurer and Liberal MP for Kooyong, Josh Frydenberg, put out a glowing media release concerning the health of the national economy which bears little resemblance to data his own department released on that same day.

Treasury on behalf of the Morrison Coalition Government informed Australia that it now has less income than was anticipated just prior to the 2019 federal election and, that economic growth is now slower.

Total receipts have been revised down by about $3.0 billion in 2019-20 and $32.6 billion over the four years to 2022-23.

These falls are due to less money coming into Treasury from individuals taxes, company tax and superannuation tax, as well as less dollars being collected through the tax on goods & services (GST) and lower non-tax income.

Federal government net debt is expected to be $392.3 billion in 2019-20 (19.5 per cent of GDP). Gross debt now stands at over $560.8 billion.

Slower economic growth is explained as due in part to decreased production and lower export levels in the farming sector, a decline in iron ore prices, softer wages growth, diminished business confidence & investment uncertainty.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) nominal growth is 3.25 per cent but is expected to fall to 2.25 per cent in the coming financial year.

Wages growth is still under performing at 2.5 per cent and, there is no guarantee that the revised projection of 3 per cent wage growth by 2022-23 is achievable.

Unemployment is beginning to rise.

The number of people who had jobs fell by 19,700 individuals between the May federal election and October 2019. Employment numbers are projected to fall over the next 5 years in Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing, Manufacturing and Information, Media & Technology.

Cost of living (CPI) is not coming down. CPI rose 1.7 per cent through the year to the September 2019 quarter. This followed a through the year rise of 1.6 per cent to the June 2019 quarter. Retail prices, particularly for clothing, footwear, meat, dairy, bread and cereal products, have risen.

As for the much lauded budget surplus for 2019-20, it has shrunk from $7.1 billion to $5 billion. While the rubbery figures in forward estimates see the expected surplus for 2020-2021 reduced from $11 billion to $6.1 billion, then from $17.8 billion down to $8.2 billion in 2021-22, with the fiscal year after that supposed to bring in a surplus of only $4 billion instead of the projected $9.2 billion.

One can almost hear Morrison ordering a funding red pen through even more health, disability and welfare services/programs in a vain attempt to avoid intensifying the economic squeeze his flawed political ideology is imposing on the nation.


* Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg 16 December 2019 media release at 

* Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) December 2019 at

* Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Outlook (PEFO) April 2019 at

* Australian Office of Financial Management (AOFM) federal government debt updates at

Labour Market Information Portal, “Industry Projections – 5 years to 2024” (Excel) at

Yet another indicator that tax minimisation is out of control in Australia

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) as part of its transparency commitments released the latest corporate tax transparency report on 12 December 2019 covering 2,214 of the highest income companies trading in Australia in 2017-18.

These 2,214 companies reported annual incomes ranging from $66.87 billion down to $100.01 million.

Contained in the total number of companies were,1,791 with annual incomes over $100 millionAmongst this group were 1,197 foreign-owned entities.

The 32 per cent companies with tax payable in 2017-18 had tax liabilities ranging from $4.3 billion on an income of $42.37 billion down to $1,600 on an income of $125.36 million.

Additionally, 710 companies on the ATO list did not pay any tax that financial year.

ABC News, 12 December 2019:

The reasons why 710 companies did not pay any tax in 2017-18 included:
  • 269 entities that reported a taxable income but prior-year losses were available to deduct against that profit, so no tax was payable
  • 242 entities reported an accounting loss
  • 146 entities reported an accounting profit but reconciliation items (such as tax deductions allowed at higher rates than accounting permits) resulted in a tax loss
  • 53 entities reported a taxable income but were also entitled to offsets (such as the research and development tax incentive) at least equal to the tax otherwise payable
THE TOP 20 NON-TAXPAYING COMPANIES IN 2017-18 (going from highest annual income of $10.51 billion to lowest annual income of $3.03 billion) are:


* Image 

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

ATO grants two month deferral for bushfire victims in New South Wales and Queensland

Australian Taxation Office, media release, 18 November 2019:

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) today announced that it will grant a two month lodgment and payment deferral to taxpayers impacted by the recent catastrophic bushfires in New South Wales and Queensland.
Acting Deputy Commissioner Andrew Watson said that people affected by the fires should focus on getting their other affairs in order and not worry about their tax obligations at this time.
“We have applied automatic lodgment and payment deferrals to postcodes impacted by the fires, meaning if you’ve been impacted by the fires you don’t need to contact the ATO or your tax professional – we’ve already done it for you,” Mr Watson said.
The quarterly Business Activity Statement (BAS) that would normally have been due on 11 November or 28 November for businesses using a tax professional will now be due on 28 January 2020.
Monthly BAS lodgers also have an extra two months to lodge and pay, with the ATO automatically extending the due date until 21 January 2020 for the form which would normally have been due on 21 November.
Aside from businesses, individuals in impacted areas who have lodged their 2018–19 income tax returns and have received a bill that would normally be due on 21 November 2019 now have until 21 January 2020 to pay.
Mr Watson added that if taxpayers are concerned about their tax obligations, they should feel free to contact the ATO on 1800 806 218 to discuss how the office can support them.
“You can also discuss your options with your registered tax professional, if you have one”.
The ATO will continue to monitor the ongoing situation and make further decisions to include additional areas and/or provide further deferrals as needed.
Automatic deferrals have been put in place for the following 16 local government areas impacted by the bushfires:

New South Wales

  • Bellingen
  • Clarence Valley
  • Coffs Harbour
  • Glen Innes
  • Severn
  • Kempsey
  • Inverell
  • Mid Coast
  • Nambucca
  • Port Macquarie-Hastings
  • Richmond Valley
  • Tenterfield
  • Uralla
  • Walcha


  • Noosa
  • Livingstone
Employers are reminded that they still need to meet their ongoing super guarantee obligations for their employees.
Automatic deferrals do not apply to large pay as you go withholders.
The ATO is also reminding business owners at this time that it is critical to keep their Australian business number (ABN) information up to date, as it is:
  • used by Emergency Services and other government agencies during times of natural disaster
  • used by the Government to identify where financial disaster relief is needed to help businesses recover in disaster affected areas, and
  • likely to be checked if they are applying for a grant or loan for their business.
Business owners can access, change or cancel their ABN details online at changes made to their ABN online will take effect immediately.
The ATO has more information about help and support options on its website:

Sunday, 6 October 2019

NSW Norther Rivers "cult' back in the news again

The Daily Examiner, 3 October 2019, p.8:

Almost $600,000 was clawed back from the charity founded by a Northern Rivers “cult” leader after the Australia Taxation Office found it was not entitled to receive tax deductible gifts.
Universal Medicine founder Serge Benhayon, who a Supreme Court jury found was “the leader of a socially harmful cult”, founded the College of Universal Medicine (CoUM) in August 2011.
Mr Benhayon started his “esoteric healing” business in 1999 after what he claims was an “energetic impress”.
Mr Benhayon sued blogger Esther Rockett for defamation but the jury ruled against him, finding most imputations made against him to be “substantially true”.....
ABC News, 13 September 2019:

A Brisbane multi-millionaire who donated $300,000 to a charity associated with a group later found in court to be a "exploitative cult" has said he gave the money freely as a reward for treating his chronic pain.

But software business owner Stephen Ninnes got his cash back, after an Australian Tax Office (ATO) crackdown forced the College of Universal Medicine (COUM) to relinquish almost $600,000 in donations.

The COUM promotes the teachings of Universal Medicine's (UM) multi-millionaire founder Serge Benhayon — a former bankrupt tennis coach who claims to be Leonardo Da Vinci reincarnated.

Mr Ninnes said in hindsight, after damning findings by a New South Wales Supreme Court jury last year in a defamation case brought by Mr Benhayon, "without any shadow of a doubt, I would have nothing to do with it".

The COUM remains a registered charity, despite being stripped of tax-deductable gift registration by the ATO, which found it was not operating a "college" for tax purposes…..

In his failed Supreme Court defamation claim against anti-cult activist Esther Rockett, Mr Benhayon gave evidence that UM followers had given $269,525 towards paying the mortgage.

The court heard UM was a $2 million-a-year business for Mr Benhayon, who had accumulated other multi-million-dollar properties and paid wages to his entire extended family.

It heard Mr Benhayon flies business class for annual retreats in Vietnam and twice-yearly vacations on a British country estate…..

The jury found Mr Benhayon was a "charlatan" who "swindles cancer patients", was "engaged in a healing fraud that harms people" and was "sexually manipulative of his cult followers".

It also found Mr Benhayon had "an indecent interest in girls as young as 10 whom he causes to stay at his house unaccompanied"…..

Documents filed in the defamation case detail the tax office action against COUM, which took $581,775 in donations for its "school building fund" between 2011 and 2015.

But then an ATO investigation found COUM was "not operating a school" because the courses it offered, such as "Being a woman in the world today", did not qualify as "knowledge-based teaching" for tax purposes.

It noted that COUM was fundraising to renovate a building to the "potential capital benefit" of its owner, Mr Benhayon, who would also earn $80,000 a year in rent.

Although there was no indication money was misspent, the ATO found most of the donations to the building fund were not maintained separately to COUM's money, meaning it could potentially use the cash "for other purposes" and "the safeguard of public money is threatened".

In February 2015, the ATO retrospectively stripped COUM's deductible gift recipient (DGR) status and COUM returned $563,282 to donors in October 2015…..

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) continues to endorse COUM as a registered charity.

An ACNC spokesman said it could not comment on individual charities but "all registered charities must remain not-for-profit [and] have solely charitable purposes".

"The ACNC takes all concerns seriously and will investigate where there is evidence that a charity has failed to comply with its obligations," he said.

Lismore MP Janelle Saffin denounced UM in NSW Parliament last month and called for a judicial inquiry into its "infiltration" of government departments.

"It is a cult that has caused the separation of families, is a wealthy commercial enterprise … and has targeted those who speak out," Ms Saffin said.

"Those who have escaped its clutches, or had their loved ones snared in its web of commerce and bizarre beliefs, have told me of its practices and harm."

UM devotees include medical practitioners, academics, child protection workers, and a police officer.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Scott Morrison delivers - but it is not good economic news

This was then Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison in 2016 with blunt warning about a future recession and dip in living standards..... 

The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 August 2016: 

A generation of Australians has never known a recession or high unemployment but unless hard decisions are taken soon, there is a "terrible risk" complacency could end Australia's 25 consecutive years of economic growth, Treasurer Scott Morrison has warned. 

In the first of three "economic headland" speeches the Treasurer will deliver in the coming weeks, designed to set out the budgetary challenges facing the nation - and the government's vision for how to tackle them - Mr Morrison will argue that it should not take an economic crisis to trigger a wake-up call, or restart the economic reform process, so that Australia enjoys a prosperous future. 

In extracts of the speech seen by Fairfax Media, which will be delivered in Sydney on Thursday, Mr Morrison made a simple plea. 

"I do not want my kids to know what a recession is and everything that goes along with that," he will say. 

"I recognise that in the absence of a 'recession we have to have', or the threat of 'becoming a banana republic', achieving necessary change will be more frustrating and more difficult. 

But it is no less necessary, and achieving it this way is far better than the alternative."  

In addition, Mr Morrison will say that on the current settings, a generation of Australians are likely to never pay tax, setting up a new divide - the "taxed and taxed-nots", prompting the Treasurer to ask: "Are we still up to the challenge of doing what we need to do to ensure another 25 years of consecutive economic growth? 

"Do we really appreciate how quickly our economic success can turn, and are we as prepared as we can be to deal with it ... my greatest concern is that we end up answering these questions the hard way." 

This is Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in 2019 delivering 
a fall in living standards and what looks like the beginning of that recession.....

The Australian, 4 September 2019:

The Prime Minister said on Tuesday that the GDP figures would show that Australia is still doing better than many other developed economies.....

“Today’s growth figures will show over the year a softness … what we will see is that in a tough climate we are actually battling away quite well.

The Guardian, 4 September 2019:

Today the government has been madly attempting to spin the GDP figures as good. So let’s cut straight to the point – the figures are terrible and are among the worst we have seen this century. 

But what makes it worse is this government would have us believe they saw them coming. 

How bad are things? Today’s figures show the worst annual economic growth for 18 years. GDP per capita is now lower than it was a year ago, productivity is plunging and the economy is pretty much staying above water purely because of government spending and a drop in imports due to weak investment and household spending. 

And yet these are the figures the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, would have us believe are evidence of the “resilience of the Australian economy” and which the prime minister, Scott Morrison, said would “come as no surprise to me”. 

If this is how bad things get when the government says it is not being surprised, God help us if they ever get a shock. 

 That trend growth figure is the worst since March 2001. 

We have now had four consecutive quarters of trend growth below 0.5% – that hasn’t happened since the 1990s recession nearly 30 years ago. It is also the first time since the GFC that GDP per capita is lower than it was a year ago.... 

It was little wonder, in his press conference announcing the figures, that the treasurer quickly turned to talking about employment growth compared with the rest of the OECD, because there is not much to boast about on the whole economy side of things. 

Current growth has us in the bottom half of the OECD..... 

The figures also showed, despite the treasurer’s protestations, that living standards are continuing to decline. 

The treasurer suggested that “living standards continue to increase with real net national disposable income per capita rising 1% to be 2.7% higher through the year”. 

But that figure includes all income – both profits and wages. As such, when profits grow strongly due to big increases in export prices, then national income rises. But unless that flows through to households via wages growth, it is pretty meaningless to use it when talking about living standards. 

And we know that the big increase in income is coming from profits – primarily from the mining sector – and it is not flowing through to households. 

When we look at household disposable income we see that it fell not just in the June quarter but over the past year – down more than 1%. Household incomes per capita are currently at the same level they were in real terms in 2010. 

Today’s figures released by the ABS show the economy grew by 0.5% in the June quarter in seasonally adjusted terms and 0.4% in trend terms. Through the year the growth was a truly pathetic 1.4% seasonally adjusted and 1.5% in trend terms. 

Households of course know their living standards are falling, because they are showing it in how they spend their money. In the past year household consumption grew just 1.5% – again the worst result since the GFC..... 

But the treasurer, despite his talking up the figures, knows just how bad they actually are. He even noted that while profits in the mining sector rose 10.6% in the June quarter, in the non-mining sector they “actually fell 0.6%”. 

Because profits in the mining sector have grown so strongly and compensation to employees is growing so weakly, the share of national income going to workers has plunged. 

The last time the share of national income going to workers was this low, the Beatles had just toured Australia.....

Read the full article here.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 September 2019: 

“The crisis,” the [Reserve Bank] governor announced at a conference in 2017, “is really in real wage growth.”......

Instead of wages rising at more than 3 per cent a year, as they had in the five years to 2013, the average pay rise since has fallen to 2.2 per cent annually. 

After inflation, the average pay rise has been a scant 0.5 per cent.....

...without higher wages to pay for people’s groceries, medical care, homes and holidays, spending is weak and the economy enfeebled. 

Lowe has urged governments, state and federal, to lead the way, breaking their 2.5 per cent annual limits and paying workers more.

Then there is this headline demonstrating the folly of Liberal-National ideology......

Former failed advertising executive and Institute of Public Affairs adherent Scott Morrison clearly missing the point entirely.

Morrison, McCormack, Frydenberg & Co are hugging their projected budget surplus so tightly they are strangling the national economy.