• What's new for individuals

    Before you complete your tax return for 2016, there are some changes you should be aware of in case they affect you:

    MyTax replaces e-tax

    MyTax replaces e-tax this year. MyTax is the quick, easy, safe and secure way to prepare and lodge your tax return online. It has been upgraded to do everything e-tax could do, plus more.

    You can use myTax even if you have investments, rental properties or capital gains, or if you run a small business.

    MyTax is a more streamlined, efficient and personalised service that’s easy to use and will save you time when lodging online.

    It's web-based, so you don't need to download anything and you can lodge on a range of devices – computer, phone or tablet.

    MyTax pre-fills information provided to us by employers, banks and other government agencies – making it easier to complete your tax return.

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    Changes to gender identifiers

    The Attorney General’s guidelines on the recognition of gender acknowledges individuals may identify and be recognised within the community as either:

    • a gender other than the sex (male or female) they were assigned at birth/infancy
    • an indeterminate sex/gender.

    The guidelines standardise the way the Australian government collects and uses sex/gender information. We no longer ask for the taxpayer's sex on page 1 of the form. The spouse details section now asks for gender and provides three options to select from. This item has been retained for administrative purposes.

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    Employee share schemes

    The changes to the tax treatment of employee share schemes took effect on 1 July 2015 and apply to ESS interests issued on or after that date. From 1 July 2015, some existing rules have changed and some new concessions apply to employees of start-up companies. The changes include:

    • when options are taxed
    • increasing the maximum ownership limit to 10% of the total shares (up from 5%)
    • increasing the deferral period to 15 years (up from seven years) for tax deferred schemes.

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    Exploration development incentive

    From 1 July 2015, if you have received exploration credits directly or indirectly from your shareholdings in a greenfields minerals explorer, you can claim your tax offset by completing item T9.

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    Work-related car expenses

    Under changes announced in the 2015 Budget, the four methods of car expense deduction have been reduced to two. This change is effective from 1 July 2015. The 'cents per kilometre' and 'logbook' methods are now the only available methods.

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    • Changes announced in the 2015 Budget 

    Temporary budget repair levy

    As part of the 2014–15 Budget, the government introduced a Temporary Budget Repair Levy. Individual taxpayers with a taxable income of more than $180,000 per year will have had additional tax withheld by their employer, starting from 1 July 2014.

    The levy is payable at a rate of 2% of each dollar of a taxpayer’s taxable income over $180,000. It applies to both residents and non-residents from 1 July 2014 and applies to the 2014–15, 2015–16 and 2016–17 income years.

    In some cases, the levy is payable even if you have a taxable income of $180,000 or less.

    If the levy applies to your income, it will generally appear on your Notice of Assessment you receive after you lodge your 2016 tax return.

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    Repaying your HELP or TSL loan from overseas

    If you live overseas and have a Higher Education (HELP) or Trade Support Loan (TSL) debt, you now have the same repayment obligations as those who live in Australia. This applies if you already live or intend to move overseas for a total of more than six months in any 12-month period.

    From 1 January 2016, you will need to notify us within seven days of leaving Australia by logging into your myGov account, accessing your ATO online services and selecting ‘Update contact details’. If you already reside overseas, you will need to update your details no later than 1 July 2017.

    From 1 July 2017, if you are living overseas and earning an income that exceeds the minimum repayment threshold, you will be required to make compulsory repayments towards your debt.

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    Private health insurance

    From 1 July 2015, the income thresholds used to calculate the Medicare levy surcharge (MLS) and the Private health insurance (PHI) rebate will be frozen for three years. The thresholds will remain at the 2014–15 levels. This change was part of the 2014–15 federal Budget.

    Freezing the thresholds may result in individuals whose incomes are just below each threshold, moving into a higher threshold sooner if their income increases. This means, if you:

    • have PHI, your PHI rebate percentage entitlement may decrease
    • do not have the appropriate level of private patient hospital cover, you may have to pay the MLS
    • paid the MLS in the previous year, your MLS rate may increase.

    If you have a pay increase, you may wish to contact your insurer to nominate a different rebate tier to ensure that the correct rebate tier is applied.

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    Net medical expenses tax offset phase-out

    From 1 July 2015, the offset is available to taxpayers with net expenses for disability aids, attendant care or aged care. Claims for the offset are limited to these types of expenses. The income testing of the offset will remain.

    The offset will be abolished from 1 July 2019.

    Find out about:

    • Net medical expenses tax offset phase out 

    Zone tax offset

    Eligibility for the zone tax offset has changed. From 1 July 2015, eligibility is based on your usual place of residence. If your usual place of residence was not in a zone, you are not eligible for the zone tax offset. Certain types of workers are likely to be affected, for example, fly-in-fly-out workers.

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    The sharing economy

    The sharing economy is a way of connecting buyers and sellers, usually via an app or website.

    If you earn money from odd jobs, such as transporting passengers or renting out a room or house, that money is assessable income and you need to declare it on your tax return.

    No matter what you are doing in the sharing economy it's important to consider your tax obligations.

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    Accelerated depreciation for primary producers

    Primary producers can:

    • immediately deduct the cost of fencing assets and water facilities
    • depreciate the cost of fodder storage assets over three years.

    This measure applies to eligible assets and expenditure incurred from 7:30pm (AEST) 12 May 2015. It replaces the previous law which allowed primary producers to claim a deduction for the decline in value of:

    • fences over a period up to 30 years
    • water facilities over three years
    • fodder storage assets over a period up to 50 years.

    See also:

    Instant asset write-off

    The instant asset write-off threshold for the simplified depreciation rules increased to $20,000 from 7.30pm 12 May 2015 to 30 June 2017.

    If you use the simplified depreciation rules:

    • when you buy assets that cost less than $20,000 each, immediately deduct the cost in the year you buy and use the assets, or install them ready for use
    • place assets costing $20,000 or more into your small business pool
    • immediately deduct the balance of your small business pool if it is less than $20,000 (before applying any depreciation deductions).

    The ‘lock-out’ rules have been suspended until 30 June 2017, so small businesses can opt-in and take advantage of the simplified depreciation rules.

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    Immediate deductibility for start-up costs

    From 1 July 2015, you can immediately and fully deduct certain expenses associated with starting up a new small business. This applies to the following expenses you may have had when setting up your business:

    • professional, legal or accounting advice
    • Australian government fees and charges.

    See also:

    Small business income tax offset

    The small business income tax offset can reduce the tax you pay by up to $1,000 each year. It applies for income years commencing from 1 July 2015 and is worked out on your:

    • net small business income from sole trading activities
    • share of net small business income from a partnership or trust.

    From 1 July 2016, you can use our Small business income tax offset calculator to work out the amounts you need to include in your tax return. We will work out your tax offset based on the total net small business income you provide in your income tax return.

    Find out about:

    Last modified: 24 Aug 2016QC 32093