Australian Budget 2021 – The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

As was already highlighted, this year’s Australian Federal Budget was always set to be a ‘cash splash’ to secure Australia’s economic recovery as we plan ahead to a post-Covid period. From the simplification of tax residency tests (great news for Australian expats), to tax cuts for SMEs, there have certainly been some positive steps announced in this year’s Budget.

This week, our team at Ally Wealth Management analyses each of the key announcements and how they could impact both Australian residents and expats across the globe. Outlined below are the good, the bad, and the ugly as we see it from this year’s Federal Budget.

The Good

  • Individuals – Tax Offset Extension: The Low and Middle-Income Tax Offset (LMITO) has been extended for an additional 12 months, which will cover the 2021/22 financial year. This provides up to $1,080 for those who meet the criteria.
  • Individuals – First Homer Super Saver Scheme Boost: The First Home Super Saver Scheme allows people who are seeking to buy their first home to contribute up to $30,000 in voluntary contributions to their super fund, which can be withdrawn to fund the deposit on their property. This is set to increase to $50,000.
  • Individuals – Single Parents Family Home Guarantee: In order to help single parents, the Treasury have announced that the Government will provide 10,000 guarantees, which will be available over 4 years, allowing single parents to purchase a property with a deposit as low as 2% regardless of if they’re a first home buyer or not.
  • Individuals – Simplification of the Tax Residency Test: The current Australian tax residency tests are currently a complex web and can be costly for many Australian expats across the globe. These tests will be simplified with a primary test for any person who is physically present in Australia for more than 183 days of the financial year. If this primary test doesn’t apply, then secondary tests will apply, which will be based on physical presence and other measurable criteria.
  • Superannuation – Downsizer Contributions Age Reduced: Currently, those who are aged 65 and above are able to contribute excess proceeds of up to $300,000 to their superannuation if they’re downsizing their home. This age will be reduced to 60 providing greater flexibility for those planning their retirement.
  • Superannuation – Work Test to be Repealed: Currently, those aged between 65 – 74 years must satisfy the work test to be eligible to make superannuation contributions. This will be repealed for both concessional and non-concessional contributions, allowing older Australians to boost their superannuation balances.
  • Superannuation – Minimum Income Threshold for Super Removed: Currently, a minimum income of $450 per month is required for the Superannuation Guarantee (SG) payments to be paid by their employer, however, this will be removed. While some may view this as unfair by reducing their take-home pay, it will ensure an enforced retirement saving mechanism for a greater number of Australians.
  • Business – Full Asset Expensing Extended: Announced in the previous Budget was the ability for businesses to fully expense the cost of any eligible asset that they purchase for the business. This has been extended for a further 12 months until 30 June 2023, which gives businesses greater time to plan ahead.
  • Business – Loss Carry Back Extension: Australian companies with a turnover of less than $5 billion will be allowed to carry back tax losses for a further 12 months, which will include 2019/20, 2020/21, 2021/22, and 2022/23 financial years.
  • Business – Tax Cuts: The corporate tax rate for Australian SMEs will be reduced from 27.5% to 25% from 1 July 2021.
  • Business – Tax Residency Test Simplification: The corporate tax residency test is currently quite complex, and stipulates that if a company is incorporated offshore, then they would be considered an Australian tax residency in the event that it carries on business in Australia, and has either central management and control in the country or voting power is controlled by Australian resident shareholders. This is proposed to be amended to being treated as an Australian tax resident only if it has a ‘significant economic connection to Australia’, meaning that the core commercial activities and central management and control are both within Australia.

The Bad

  • Individuals – No quarantine improvements: Unfortunately, while we were optimistically hopeful that there would be an allocation of funding to improving Australia’s quarantine measures to bring people home, this was not the case, and looks unlikely at this stage to see any meaningful improvements.
  • Individual – Paid parental leave continues to attract no superannuation: While we were hopeful that we would see a change here, paid parental leave continues to be the only form of leave to attract no superannuation payments. This highlights the importance, particularly for women, to plan for their superannuation and retirement accordingly.
  • Business – Tourism sector receives little support: In the last Budget, there was a small amount of support, however, there is no meaningful increase this year despite the slow vaccine rollout delaying the re-opening of borders.
  • Business – Education sector to remain soft: One of Australia’s key exports is education tourism, with a significant number of our universities heavily reliant on international students from China, India, and Singapore. There has been no meaningful support announced here, which is particularly worrisome given borders look unlikely to open in the near term.

The Ugly

  • Individuals – No new plans to allow stranded Australians to return: It is estimated that there are approximately 40,000 Australians trying to get back home to Australia and are unable to do so. This is due to a myriad of reasons including flight cancellations, caps on entrants into each State, and a lack of quarantine capacity in Australia. There has been no additional funding announced here.
  • Individual – Deficit to be repaid at some point: As we’ve outlined, this year’s Australian Federal Budget has been a cash-splash, which will result in the Budget hitting $161 billion this year, which will eventually need to be repaid. This could mean higher tax rates and/or inflation in the future.
  • Business – Little new funding for renewables: There has been no new direct spending announced for investment in renewable and zero-emission energy projects.

Where to next for the Australian economy

Australia’s Treasury has outlined that they expect the economy to continue to recover over the next two years, which is in line with our expectations as we transition into a post-Covid environment. While the Government has announced a number of measures to support job growth, and some sectors are certainly facing the challenges of finding employees with the immigration taps turned off, the expectation is for lackluster wage growth over the short to medium term.

Specifically, in relation to Covid, while there were no positive announcements regarding spending on improved quarantine facilities to bring back the tens of thousands of Australians stuck overseas, the expectation is that the country will slowly open its borders throughout 2022 and that while there will likely be small outbreaks, there are unlikely to be any major shutdowns in the country.

We do not see the announcements significantly shifting our investment thesis for the medium term, but we will continue to monitor the announcements, particularly as they pertain to corporate Australia.

 

Ally Wealth Management is the trusted ally in finance for Australians at home and across the globe. As both Australian expats and residents, the founders of Ally have a unique understanding of the common personal financial challenges faced.

Book your complimentary appointment with our team at Ally Wealth Management to discuss how we can help you to achieve your financial goals.

Ally Wealth Management Pty Ltd is a Corporate Authorised Representative of Sentry Advice Pty Ltd ABN 77 103 642 888. Sentry Advice holds an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) No. 227 748.

General Advice Warning: The information contained herein is of a general nature only and does not constitute personal advice. You should not act on any recommendation without considering your personal needs, circumstances, and objectives. We recommend you obtain professional financial advice specific to your circumstances.