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SG amnesty tension mounting for virus-affected businesses

SG amnesty tension
Adrian Flores
09 April 2020 — 1 minute read

The superannuation guarantee amnesty window has left many businesses with a potential dilemma on their hands as a result of the economic effects of COVID-19, according to a law firm.

The SG amnesty window opened on 6 March and will close on 7 September.

But according to a blog by CGW Lawyers, the main risk with the SG amnesty is making a disclosure but not being able to pay the superannuation guarantee charge (SGC), meaning the benefits of the amnesty will not apply.

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With many businesses dealing with the negative impacts from the coronavirus, the law firm said this creates a potential tension between:

  1. Employers taking advantage of the SG amnesty and making a disclosure of any historical shortfalls.
  2. The risk that employers who do make disclosure may not be able to pay the resulting SGC.

CGW Lawyers highlighted a range of incentives for employers to capitalise on the SG amnesty (table below). However, those incentives will not apply if an employer is not able to pay the SGC.

Advantages of the SG amnesty

Factor

Amnesty conditions

Normal conditions

SGC shortfall

Deductible*

Not deductible

Contributions offset against SG charge

Deductible*

Not deductible

Admin component

Waived

$20/per employee/per quarter

Nominal interest

Still applies

Still applies

Part 7 penalties

Waived

Maximum penalty is 200 per cent of the SGC.

The amnesty will result in the commissioner losing the ability to remit the penalty below 100 per cent for historical quarters in all but “exceptional” circumstances.

Payment plan

Amnesty conditions fail if:
• payment is not made by the end of the amnesty period; or
• a payment arrangement is not in place by the end of the amnesty period.

Subject to the usual ATO debt policies

Source: Cooper Grace Ward Lawyers

“The ATO has recognised that employers may wish to apply for the SG amnesty, but be concerned about having to pay the liability because their financial circumstances have changed, or may change, because of the coronavirus,” the law firm said.

“Recognising that tension, the ATO has said that it will work with employers to ensure that any payment plan is flexible to help them to continue making payments.”

CGW Lawyers said payment plans may extend beyond 7 September 2020, but any payments made after 7 September 2020 will not be deductible.

Further, it said the ATO doesn’t have the power to change the SG amnesty if employers cannot repay the SGC. However, the law firm noted the ATO’s remarks that:

  • Employers will only be disqualified from the SG amnesty for the unpaid quarters.
  • It will advise employers which quarters are unpaid and re-apply the administration component of $20 per employee for those quarters
  • It will take into account the employer’s circumstances when deciding whether the Part 7 penalties (maximum penalty of 200 per cent of the SGC) should be applied, which may result in the Part 7 penalties being reduced to nil.
Adrian Flores

Adrian Flores

Adrian Flores is the deputy editor of SMSF Adviser. Before that, he was the features editor for ifa (Independent Financial Adviser), InvestorDaily, Risk Adviser, Fintech Business and Adviser Innovation.

You can email Adrian at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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