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  • What's new for individuals

    Before you complete your tax return for 2019–20, there are some changes you should be aware of in case they affect you.

    2019–20 has been difficult, but your tax return doesn’t need to be. We have a range of different approaches to help you through this tax time with specific measures and support available for individuals.

    On this page:

    JobKeeper

    Employees

    JobKeeper payments will be included on your income statement as salary and wages or an allowance, and needs to be included in your tax return. This information will automatically be included (pre-filled) in your tax return as your employer finalises your income statement. Tax agents also have access to this information.

    Sole traders

    Sole traders who received JobKeeper payments on behalf of their business will need to include the payments as assessable income for the business in their tax return.

    See also:

    JobSeeker

    From 20 March 2020, the new JobSeeker Payment replaced certain Centrelink payments you may receive from Services Australia.

    As a result of these changes, your Centrelink payment summary for 2019–20 may detail two types of payments, for both the earlier payments and new JobSeeker payments.

    If you received JobSeeker payments (and any earlier payments), we will pre-fill this information into the relevant labels in your tax return when it has been reported to us by Services Australia. This information is usually available by the end of the first week in July each year.

    See also:

    Working from home

    The ATO recognises that as a result of COVID-19, a significant number of employees and business owners started working from home from 1 March and incurring additional running expenses in relation to their income producing activities.

    In addition to the existing fixed rate and actual cost methods, we introduced a temporary ‘shortcut method’ of 80 cents per hour worked from home between 1 March and 30 June 2020. This method is an all-inclusive rate that requires simple record keeping and a single calculation step. We encourage you to use the method best suited to your circumstances.

    Claims for working from home expenses prior to 1 March 2020 cannot be calculated using the shortcut method, but you can use either of the existing working from home fixed rate or actual expenses methods.

    See also:

    Early release of superannuation

    Eligible individuals economically affected by COVID-19 can access some of their superannuation (super) early. The application is available through ATO online services in myGov.

    If eligible, you are able to access up to $10,000 of super before 30 June 2020 and a further $10,000 from 1 July 2020 until 24 September 2020.

    You do not need to pay tax on amounts of super released as a result of COVID-19 and will not need to include it in your tax return.

    See also:

    Reducing superannuation minimum drawdown rates

    To support retirees with account-based pensions and similar products from having to sell investment assets in their self-managed super funds (SMSF) to fund minimum drawdown requirements, minimum drawdown requirements have been reduced by 50% for 2019–20 and 2020–21 income years.

    For SMSF trustees who have paid their member the minimum drawdown amount, payments can be stopped for the remainder of the year, if the member chooses to do so.

    For those who have paid more than the minimum drawdown amount, their member can only recontribute these amounts if they are eligible to make super contributions, subject to other rules or limits such as contributions caps.

    There is no maximum amount other than the balance of your super account, unless it is a transition to retirement pension which is not in the retirement phase. In this case, the maximum amount is 10% of the account balance. 

    See also:

    Changes to payment summaries

    You may not receive a payment summary from your employer this year.

    Most employers are now required to report their employees’ income, tax and super information directly to us each payday, so you can find all your information in one place when you need it.

    If you use a registered tax agent to prepare your income tax return, you don’t need to do anything. We provide agents with a direct link to this information, so they are fully equipped to lodge your tax return as usual.

    If you lodge your own tax return, you can access your payment summary information – now called an income statement – at any time by going to ATO online services in myGov. If you don't have a myGov account, creating one is easy. Just visit my.gov.au.

    If you can't access your information through myGov, you can contact us for a copy of your income statement.

    Your employers must finalise your income statement by the end of July, and you or your tax agent will be notified when this happens. It's important to wait until your income statements are finalised, and until all other pre-filled information is in your return before you lodge. By waiting for us to pre-fill your information, it will be easier to complete your tax return and you are more likely to get it right the first time and not need to make changes later.

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    Low and middle income tax offset

    The Low and middle income tax offset (LMITO) announced in the 2018–19 Federal Budget continues to be available for 2019–20.

    An offset is not a refund and can only reduce the amount of tax you need to pay. The amount of the offset you may be entitled to will vary depending on your individual circumstances, such as your income level and how much tax you have paid throughout the year. The maximum offset amount is $1,080 per year.

    You don't need to complete a section in your tax return to get this tax offset. We work out your tax offset for you once you lodge your tax return. If using myTax, the amount will be displayed in the estimate calculation.

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    Genuine redundancy and early retirement scheme payments – alignment with the Age Pension age

    From 1 July 2019 the concessional tax treatment of genuine redundancy and early retirement scheme payments has been extended so that those 65 years or over but below Age Pension age can still access the concessional tax treatment.

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    Capital gains tax changes for foreign investors

    Foreign residents can no longer claim the CGT main residence exemption when they dispose of their residential property in Australia, subject to certain exceptions as noted below.

    Existing foreign resident residential property owners can access the CGT main residence exemption under the pre-existing rules for property they both:

    • held before 7:30pm (AEST) on 9 May 2017
    • disposed of on or before 30 June 2020.

    Existing foreign resident residential property owners who have been foreign residents for a period of six years or less may be able to access the CGT main residence exemption under pre-existing rules if, during that period of that foreign residency, certain prescribed life events occur.

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    Net medical expenses for disability aids, attendant care or aged care

    From 1 July 2019, the tax offset for net medical expenses for disability aids, attendant care or aged care is no longer available.

    Limiting deductions for vacant land

    New legislation limiting deductions for the costs incurred in holding vacant land applies to costs incurred on or after 1 July 2019, even if the land was held before that date.

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    Amounts you do and do not need to include in your tax return

    There have been a range of new assistance and support payments made available to individuals in response to the natural disasters and other circumstances that have impacted us during the 2019–20 financial year.

    If you're experiencing financial hardship as a result of a disaster, you may receive a relief payment from:

    • local, state or federal government agencies
    • a charity or community group
    • your employer.

    If you receive a Disaster Recovery Payment (DRP), it will be treated as exempt income. You don't pay tax on the DRP amount, but you need to include it in your tax return when you work out your tax loss.

    Disaster Recovery Allowance (DRA) and Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) payments are generally taxable. However, the government may declare that, for some natural disasters, DRA and NDRRA payments are exempt income. You don't pay tax on exempt income but you need to include the amount in your tax return when you work out your tax loss.

    You are not required to pay tax on the following payments made in relation to the 2019–20 bushfires (these amounts do not need to be included in your tax return):

    • a payment made on or after 1 January 2020 by a State or Territory for loss of income as a result of you performing volunteer work with a fire service of a State or Territory during 2019–20
    • Disaster Recovery Allowance
    • Ex-gratia disaster income support allowance for special category visa (subclass 444) holders
    • payments by a State or Territory under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements 2018External Link.

    Emergency assistance in the form of gifts from family and friends is not taxable.

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    New to tax and super

    We have developed a new product to help individuals new to the tax and superannuation (super) system. In one location, individuals will be able to find everything they need to get started on their tax and super journey. Information includes:

    • why we have a tax system
    • getting paid and paying tax
    • if you need to lodge a tax return
    • how to lodge
    • what super is.

    For more information go to ato.gov.au/newtotax

    Last modified: 01 Jul 2020QC 32093