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Residential rental loss ring-fencing

Many of you will have heard about the ring-fencing of losses made from residential rental properties which applies from 1 April 2019.

Deductions for residential properties are now ring-fenced so they can only be used against income from that property, or sometimes a portfolio of properties.

Deductions that exceed the income from that property/portfolio of properties will need to be carried forward, to offset future income from that property/portfolio of properties.

This means that losses from a rental property, that you in the past would have used to offset against your other income, is no longer available for that purpose. They can only be used to offset future profits from that property/portfolio of properties.  

The rules apply to all entity structures, ie sole traders, partnerships, trusts, LTCs and ordinary companies.

Family homes, farms, commercial rental and business premises are excluded.

We will send some detailed information including going over different scenarios, to those of our clients who have residential properties in the new year.

Inland Revenue to probe hospitality sector for businesses hiding cash sales

First published in Stuff 4th October 2019

This serves as a word of warning to anyone who owns a business where cash is regularly received as payment for goods and services

Four members of the Thai restaurant family have been sentenced to prison or home detention after a $2.3 million tax evasion case brought by Inland Revenue, and another was convicted but discharged.

They were also been ordered to pay more than $2.2 million in reparations by the High Court in Wellington over tax evasion carried out through 21 “Thai House Express” restaurants around the country.

The five – Boonrouen Thongskul, Sirirat Kampeng, Anchalee Minwong, Chanaratt Thongskul and Anuchit Tongskul – originally denied the charges but entered guilty please five weeks into the trial that had been expected to last ten weeks.

They were accused of having been part of co-ordinated tax evasion effort over a seven-year period which involved not reporting cash sales to the taxman, and distributing the cash directly to family members.

The charges related to the filing of 366 false income tax, GST and personal tax returns evasion relating to their own tax affairs and those of their 11 companies.

“Once they’d heard much of the Crown evidence against them, these five entered guilty pleas in relation to the GST and income tax returns of the businesses for which they were responsible, and their own income tax return,” said Inland Revenue spokesperson Richard Philp.

“By their guilty pleas the brothers and sisters acknowledged they knew their returns were false and were a deliberate ploy to evade tax. Cash sales were deliberately suppressed to pay less tax.

“An aggravating feature of the offending for Chanaratt Thongskul and Anuchit Tongskul was that their declared income was low enough to qualify for Working for Families Tax Credits in some of the years charged.

“The case followed an extensive investigation into the family group with searches of private properties disclosing business records, luxury goods and cash in some instances.

“The general allegation was that the family distributed the cash amongst themselves, as part of a deliberate practice of not reporting or recording cash sales and diverting the cash to private use.

“This is not trivial tax evasion. At one point in the trial the cash deposited in personal bank accounts was said to be more than $9 million. For these five defendants the sum is more than $5.2 million.”

At the High Court in Wellington today Chanaratt Thongskul was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison and ordered to pay $900,000 in reparation.

Sirirat Kampeng was sentenced to 12 months home detention and ordered to pay $600,000 in reparation.

Anchalee Minwong was sentenced to 10 months home detention with $400,000 in reparations.

Anuchit Tongskul was sentenced to nine months home detention and must pay $300,000 in reparations.

Boonruen Thongskul was convicted and discharged with $5000 in reparation to pay.

Moving on from cheques

IRD recently announced their decision to no longer accept cheque payments for any form of tax from 1st March 2020. We will be in touch with those who for one reason or another (ie no rural broadband) can’t pay online to help you identify other payment methods.

Here’s what IRD had to say in their news release:

Cheque usage continues to decline every year. Last year cheques only accounted for 5% of payments to Inland Revenue and some people who used cheques also used other payment methods.
From 1 March 2020, Inland Revenue will no longer be accepting cheques if customers have an alternative payment option available. This includes post-dated cheques (cheques dated after 1 March 2020).

Around 90% of the cheques we receive come from clients of tax agents. If you or your clients use cheques you will be instrumental in the transition to alternative payment methods. There’s plenty of time before next March for people to explore their options and find a convenient and secure way that works for them.

There are many different ways to pay – electronically or in person.

Ways to pay

Here’s a summary of payment options:

  • myIR: You can pay by direct debit and make debit card and credit card payments securely through myIR online services. Visit our website (ird.govt.nz) and login or register for myIR.
  • Online banking: You may be able to make payments using online banking. Contact your bank for more information.
  • Credit or debit card via our website: Use your credit or debit card to make online payments through our website. Visit ird.govt.nz/pay.
  • In person at Westpac: Pay by EFTPOS or cash at a Westpac branch or Smart ATM.
  • Money transfer: If you are overseas you can pay us using a money transfer service. Search for “make a payment” on our website for more information.

Charges may apply for some payment options.

We are soon going to start contacting cheque payers (and their tax agents) to let them know about this change and alternative ways to pay.

In the meantime, if you would like more information visit our website at ird.govt.nz/pay.

International Automatic Exchange of Information

New Zealand has signed up to the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) – a global OECD initiative to combat tax evasion.

Inland Revenue has been running an AEOI awareness campaign since 9th June 2018 with a primary focus of this campaign being to generate awareness among New Zealand tax residents most likely to have offshore accounts or financial interests, so they can take steps to determine if their tax affairs are in order and disclose if they identify issues. New Zealand tax residents with complex international tax affairs should contact us for support or advice.

This awareness campaign has included online advertising on relevant websites and via Facebook. These ads include a link to IRD’s campaign landing page.

As part of AEOI financial institutions will provide Inland Revenue with information about foreign tax residents with financial accounts in New Zealand, in line with the Common Reporting Standard (CRS).

IRD are now exchanging information with many other countries so it is vital you tell us about any income or assets you may have in other countries, if you don’t then chances are IRD will find out about it and that may cause you a few problems, something no one likes happening with IRD

The requirement of New Zealand Tax Residents to report world-wide income hasn’t changed, but IRD are now more likely to find out about it even if you don’t declare it. Please make sure information regarding ALL overseas income, bank accounts or assets is provided to us for your tax return preparation, even if you think it’s non-taxable income!

AIM Method of Calculating Provisional Tax

Many of our clients may have seen or received information from IRD about the AIM method of Provisional Tax calculation

This method will become available for use on 1st April 2018. We are not recommending it to our clients for the following reasons:

  1. Most SMEs (Small Medium Enterprises) qualify to use Standard Provisional Payments without any Use of Money Interest
  2. Depending on your business you may have to do things such as a physical stock take every two months
  3. While IRD are promoting that this is an easy method to use in fact, in our opinion, it is not and also the option is not available through Xero and MYOB for clients to use – it is only available to firms such as ours to use.

If you want to discuss the AIM option please give Sari or Anna a call.

Get the IRD payment dates right

We would like to remind everyone to make sure that when you are making tax payments to IRD they check that you have selected the correct tax type (e.g. INC for Income Tax, GST for Goods & Service Tax, DED for employer Deductions that include Kiwisaver contributions as well as PAYE etc).

Also, it’s very important that you select the correct period and year that the payment is going to. Most banks have a ‘Pay Tax’ or ‘Pay IRD’ tab in their on-line banking facilities so we suggest you follow the steps using this rather than setting IRD up as a regular payee.

Potential consequences of getting it wrong:

For example, if you are a company and you accidentally pay 2018 provisional tax to the 2017 year, and your 2017 annual accounts have not yet been completed, IRD will not allow this payment to be transferred to the 2018 year unless we fill out additional paper work, it will be applied to the 2017 year and that means it will show as overdue in your 2018 income tax account.  So please chose the year carefully.

Paying contractors or working as a contractor

IRD’s latest update to tax agents includes some clarification around contractors and withholding tax.

There is a misunderstanding that all contractors are now subject to withholding tax. This is not the case. The change is only for contractors hired by a labour hire business.

From 1 April 2017, contractors working for a labour hire business under a labour hire arrangement must have withholding tax deducted from their income.

Activities and examples of a labour hire business
One of the main activities of a labour hire business is arranging for a person to perform work or services directly for:

  • its clients, or
  • clients of another person.

Examples of labour hire businesses are:

  • an on-hire business
  • an employment agency
  • contract management, or
  • recruitment services.

Withholding tax rate
The standard withholding tax rate for this category is 20%. However, a contractor may choose a lower rate (the lowest rate is 10%) when they fill in their Tax rate notification for contractors (IR330C) form.

They can also apply to us for a 0% special tax rate by filling in a Special tax code application (IR23BS) form. We review their tax compliance history before deciding if we’ll issue a 0% rate certificate.

Sub-contractors

Businesses (eg an engineering business) hiring sub-contractors don’t come under the new legislation. The sub-contractors wouldn’t be paid schedular payments so withholding tax isn’t taken out of their payments.

See some examples of what is and is not a labour hire business

Tax Refund Companies – First published on Stuff website 13.06.17

The matter of how Tax Agents, particularly tax refund companies has been raised in the media again and the most recent article comes with a warning about how your refund could be paid into their bank account even if you do your own tax return online.

At Savage & Savage we never receive client tax refunds into our account, not even our Trust Account. All client refunds go directly to the client and that is why we ask for your bank account details in our client questionnaire each year. And we most certainly do not take fees from your refund.

It is important you fill in your bank account details on the Client Questionnaire Forms each year as we never assume you haven’t changed bank accounts.

To see the original article as posted by Fairfax Media on their Stuff website click here

The article is copied here;

You might still have to pay a tax refund company a fee – even if you do your return yourself.

Casey Kaumatule thought she was being sensible and saving money when she decided to take matters into her own hands and do her partner’s tax return herself, online.

She opted to do it via the Inland Revenue website rather than paying a tax refund company to handle it.

“We got a good amount that was owed to us. But when I checked, I noticed it was paid to a different bank account. I rang IRD and the tax return money had been sent to Savvy Tax Agents. They did my partner’s tax return before and their account wasn’t removed.”

She spoke to the firm, which agreed to waive the fee it would normally charge to release the money that had been sent to it. Kaumatule said it was her mistake not to have checked the details, but it was still frustrating.

Another woman, Samantha Dallas, was also caught out. She said she was not sure when she had signed up with the tax refund firm, but discovered after she had processed her personal tax statement that they were listed as her tax agents.

“I think all tax should just be done through IRD. We already get taxed and private tax agents make it feel like you are getting taxed on your tax.”

People who sign up to have a tax refund company prepare their tax returns usually agree to have those firms act as their tax agents from then on, with their bank accounts set up to process future refund payments.

That means, even if they do their return themselves in future, the agent can end up with the refund.

Consumer NZ spokeswoman Jessica Wilson said it was something her organisation had received complaints about.

Many companies charge a fee to release tax refunds that have been put in their banks accounts in error.

“Problems arise when people aren’t aware they’re giving the company the authority to act as their tax agent – and it remains so until the arrangement is cancelled,” she said.

“There’s an onus on tax refund companies to keep their customers informed the arrangement is still in place. If a company hasn’t done so and receives the refund as a result of a return the customer has filed, we think it shouldn’t deduct a handling fee.”

NZ Tax Refunds, or WooHoo, charges a $25 handling fee in these circumstances.

Managing director Gabrielle Purchas said her firm would automatically push money back to Inland Revenue when a client had not completed the return within its system.

She said it was an administrative burden for her organisation to have to deal with and was something that could be overlooked. “We send it straight back to IRD if we can see it hasn’t been requested.”

Savvy Tax Agents said it would do the same but would not charge.

An Inland Revenue spokesman said it was clear on its MyIR online service whether a person’s account was linked to a tax agent.

“The best advice would be that if you have used a tax refund company in the past then you should check all your details are correct on MyIR before you start applying for a refund yourself.

“Once the customer has reached the My Tax Agent tab on MyIR, they can see who their tax agent is but to de-link they would need to give us this instruction by phone or through secure mail in MyIR.”

 – Stuff

IRD Website

IRD have developed a new website called ‘Changing for You’ which outlines IRD’s ideas on how managing your tax may become simpler for small businesses in the future

Please visit www.changingforyou.ird.govt.nz to have a look as IRD would appreciate your feedback on the site

Changes to Property Rules & Bright-Line Test

From the 1st October 2015 new rules come in to force surrounding the buying and selling of property in New Zealand, including a new test designed to catch and tax individuals making profits from the sale of properties that they have owned for only a short period of time.

From October 1 all NZ residents and citizens must supply their IRD number when they buy or sell any NZ property that is not their main home.

For non-NZ residents or citizens, they must supply their IRD number and taxpayer identification number (if they have one) when purchasing any property in NZ, regardless of whether or not it will be their main home.

There is also a “Bright Line Test” (which is currently awaiting its second reading in Parliament) which has been designed to help IRD identify residential property speculators and tax them accordingly.

This proposed test will require taxpayers to pay tax on any capital gain made from the sale of a residential property that has been purchased and sold within two years, unless that property was the taxpayer’s main home, inherited or transferred as part of relationship property.

If you are in the process of purchasing a property or plan to in the future and would like advice regarding the new rules please contact our office.