Better access for small businesses to resolve tax disputes.

The government announced that it will make tax dispute resolution between small businesses and the ATO cheaper, easier and quicker. The government is establishing a Small Business Concierge Service within the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman’s office to provide support and advice about the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) process before an application is made.

The Government will also create a dedicated Small Business Taxation Division within the AAT, with key features including:

• a case manager to provide support • a standard application fee of $500

• fast-tracked decisions to be made within 28 days of a hearing, and

• if the ATO appeals the AAT decision to the Federal Court it will pay the reasonable costs of the small business.

Source: Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert MP and Senator Michaelia Cash’s media release, 29 November 2019.

Board of Taxation to review “granny flat” tax issue

The government has requested the Board of Taxation to undertake a review of the tax treatment of granny flat arrangements and recommend potential changes (Assistant Treasurer’s media release, 29 November 2018).

This review is in response to the 2017 Australian Law Reform Commission’s Report: Elder Abuse — a National Legal Response, which identified the development of formal and legally enforceable family agreements as a measure to prevent elder abuse.

The concern is that under current tax laws, a homeowner may have to pay capital gains tax where there is a formal agreement for a family member to reside in their home, eg, when an older parent lives with their child either in the same dwelling or a separately constructed dwelling.

The review will consider and make recommendations on the appropriate tax treatment of these arrangements, while considering the interactions between the current tax laws and treatment of “granny flat interests” under the social security rules. The Board is expected to commence the review early in 2019, with a final report to government before the end of 2019.

Decision impact statement on Sandini case The ATO has issued a decision impact statement on the decision of the Full Federal Court in Ellison & Anor v Sandini Pty Ltd & Ors; FC of T v Sandini Pty Ltd & Ors 2018 ATC . The ATO is in broad agreement with the findings of the Full Federal Court concerning whether orders made by the Family Court of Australia caused the happening of certain CGT events. In that case, the Full Federal Court held that a taxpayer was not entitled to CGT marriage breakdown rollover relief for the transfer of shares made at the instance of the husband, allegedly in accordance with directions given by his former wife and pursuant to orders of the Family Court of Western Australia. The ATO has identified a number of public rulings that may be affected by the decision.