Business Taxation 2021 Budget Measures
Temporary full expensing: extended to 30 June 2023
The Government will extend the temporary full expensing measure until 30 June 2023. It was due to finish on 30 June 2022.
Other than extending the end date, all other elements of temporary full expensing will remain unchanged.
Currently, temporary full expensing allows eligible businesses to deduct the full cost of eligible depreciating assets, as well as the full amount of the second element of cost. A business qualifies for temporary full expensing if it is a small business (annual aggregated turnover under $10 million) or has an annual aggregated turnover under $5 billion. Annual aggregated turnover is generally worked out on the same basis as for small businesses, except that the threshold is $5 billion instead of $10 million.
There is an alternative test, so a corporate tax entity qualifies for temporary full expensing if:
- its total ordinary and statutory income, other than non-assessable non-exempt income, is less than $5 billion for either the 2018–2019 or the 2019–2020 income year (some additional conditions apply for entities with substituted accounting periods); and
- the total cost of certain depreciating assets first held and used, or first installed ready for use, for a taxable purpose in the 2016–2017, 2017–2018 and 2018–2019 income years (combined) exceeds $100 million.
If temporary full expensing applies to work out the decline in value of a depreciating asset, no other method of working out that decline in value applies.
Assets must be acquired from 7:30pm AEDT on 6 October 2020 and first used or installed ready for use by 30 June 2023.
Loss carry-back extended by one year to 30 June 2023
Under the temporary, COVID-driven restoration of the loss carry-back provisions announced in the previous Budget, an eligible company (aggregated annual turnover of up to $5 billion) could carry back a tax loss for the 2019–2020, 2020–2021 or 2021–2022 income years to offset tax paid in the 2018–2019 or later income years.
The Government has announced it will extend this to include the 2022–2023 income year. Tax refunds resulting from loss carry-back will be available to companies when they lodge their 2020–2021, 2021–2022 and now 2022–2023 tax returns.
This is intended to help increase cash flow for businesses in future years and support companies that were profitable and paying tax but find themselves in a loss position as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Temporary loss carry-back also complements the temporary full expensing measure by allowing more companies to take advantage of expensing while it is available.
Employee share schemes: cessation of employment removed as a taxing point
The Government will remove the cessation of employment as a taxing point for tax-deferred employee share schemes (ESSs). There are also other changes designed to cut “red tape” for certain employers.
Cessation of employment change
Currently, under a tax-deferred ESS and where certain criteria are met, employees may defer tax until a later tax year (the deferred taxing point). In such cases, the deferred taxing point is the earliest of:
- cessation of employment;
- in the case of shares, when there is no risk of forfeiture and no restrictions on disposal;
- in the case of options, when the employee exercises the option and there is no risk of forfeiting the resulting share and no restriction on disposal; and
- the maximum period of deferral of 15 years.
The change announced in the latest Budget will result in tax being deferred until the earliest of the remaining taxing points.
Other regulatory changes
The Government will also:
- remove disclosure requirements and exempt an offer from the licensing, anti-hawking and advertising prohibitions for ESS where employers do not charge or lend to the employees to whom they offer the ESS; and
- increase the value of shares that can be issued to an employee utilising the simplified disclosure requirements (and exemptions from licensing, anti-hawking and advertising requirements) from $5,000 to $30,000 per employee per year (leaving unchanged the absence of such a value cap for listed companies) – this will apply to employers who do charge or lend for issuing employees shares in an unlisted company.
Allowing small businesses to pause disputed ATO debt recovery action
The Government will introduce legislation to allow small businesses to pause or modify ATO debt recovery action where the debt is being disputed in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). Treasurer Josh Frydenberg had earlier announced this measure on 8 May 2021.
Specifically, the changes will allow the Small Business Taxation Division of the AAT to pause or modify any ATO debt recovery actions – such as garnishee notices and the recovery of general interest charge (GIC) or related penalties – until the underlying dispute is resolved by the AAT. This measure is intended to provide an avenue for small businesses to ensure they are not required to start paying a disputed debt until the matter has been determined by the AAT.
Small business entities (including individuals carrying on a business) with an aggregated turnover of less than $10 million per year will be eligible to use the option. The AAT will be required to “have regard to the integrity of the tax system” in deciding whether to pause or modify the ATO’s debt recovery actions.