‘Ace in the Hole’ Budget 2023-24

May 10, 2023

The ‘ace in the hole’ of the 2023-24 Federal Budget was the $4.2bn surplus; the first in 15 years.

The surplus was driven by a surge in the corporate and individual tax take. High commodity prices, inflation, and high employment have all pushed up corporate and individual tax receipts. But the gains can’t be relied on long term. The Budget is expected to deliver a deficit of $13.9 billion in 2023-24, and a $35.1bn deficit in 2024-25.

Social initiatives dominated the Budget:

  • Energy bill relief for some households and small business
  • Encouraging doctors to offer bulk billing by tripling the incentive for children under 16, pensioners and other Commonwealth card holders
  • Increases to commonwealth rent assistance
  • Increases to JobKeeper and other income support payments
  • Expanding access to the single parenting payment

The legislated stage 3 tax cuts legislated to take effect on 1 July 2024 remain in place. Stage 3 radically simplifies the tax brackets by collapsing the 32.5% and 37% rates into a single 30% rate for those earning between $45,001 and $200,000.

For small business, the instant asset write-off will enable multiple assets of up to $20,000 to be written-off in the year of purchase.

What wasn’t in the Budget?

There was no mention of the loss carry back rules for companies, suggesting that these rules will expire on 30 June 2023, along with the temporary full expensing rules. The loss carry back rules allow eligible companies to apply tax losses against taxable profits made in certain previous income years, rather than carrying them forward to future years.

There is no mention of the simplification of Division 7A – Division 7A captures situations where shareholders access company profits in the form of loans, payments or the forgiveness of debts. The 2016-17 Federal Budget proposed changes to reduce the compliance burden of Division 7A. These changes were initially meant to apply from 1 July 2018 but were deferred a number of times, before the Government announced that any changes would commence from the start of the income year following the date on which the changes receive Royal Assent. Aside from a Treasury discussion paper released back in October 2018, this issue remains in limbo.

The Budget also doesn’t refer to either the Skills and Training Boost or the Technology Investment Boost. These measures, announced by the previous Government, would provide a bonus deduction equal to 20% of qualifying expenditure if the legislation containing these measures is passed in its current form (Treasury Laws Amendment (2022 Measures No. 4) Bill 2022). The Technology Investment Boost is aimed at expenditure incurred between 7:30pm (ACT) on 29 March 2022 and 30 June 2023. The Skills and Training Boost is aimed at expenditure incurred between 7:30pm (ACT) on 29 March 2022 and 30 June 2024.

If we can assist you to take advantage of any of the Budget measures, or to risk protect your position, please let us know.

As always, we’re here if you need us!

Daniel Allison and Associates


Superannuation & investors

Clarifying the non-arms length income rules for super funds

The non-arms length income (NALI) rules prevent superannuation trustees artificially increasing the balance of the fund, and accessing preferential tax treatment on the higher amount, by failing to recognise expenses incurred by the fund provided by a related party at a reduced rate.  For example, your brother is a qualified accountant and does all of your SMSF’s accounting work for free (that he would normally charge $5k for).

Currently, where expenses incurred by the fund are not at arm’s length and below market rates, any income derived could be deemed to be non-arm’s length income and taxed at the top marginal tax rate. Expenses are divided into two categories, general and specific. General expenses relate to all of the income of the fund, for example accounting and audit fees. Specific expenses relate to a specific asset such as maintenance expenses on a property owned by an SMSF.

A Treasury consultation paper released in  January 2023 recommended amendments to the way NALI is dealt with. The consultation recommended capping the amount of fund income taxable as NALI to 5 times the amount of the breach. The Budget confirms this cap to twice the level of a general expense.

In addition, fund income taxable as NALI will exclude contributions.

Expenditure that occurred prior to the 2018-19 income year will be exempt.

And, as per the consultation, large APRA regulated funds will be exempted from the NALI provisions for both general and specific expenses of the fund.

Confirmed 30% tax on super earnings above $3m

An additional tax of 15% on earnings will apply to individuals with a total superannuation balance over $3 million at the end of a financial year from 1 July 2025. The definition of total superannuation balance (TSB) for the new tax uses the current definition and includes amounts in retirement phase pensions.

The calculation for the tax aims to capture growth in TSB over the financial year allowing for contributions (including insurance proceeds) and withdrawals. This method captures both realised and unrealised gains, enabling negative earnings to be carried forward and offset against future years.

Interests in defined benefit schemes will be appropriately valued and will have earnings taxed under this measure in a similar way to other interests.

Individuals will have the choice of paying the tax personally or from their superannuation fund and those with multiple accounts can nominate which fund will pay the tax.

This measure is estimated to increase tax receipts by $950m and increase payments by $47.6m over the 5 years from 2022-23.


Business & employers

$20,000 small business instant asset write-off

Small businesses, with an aggregated turnover of less than $10 million, will be able to immediately deduct the full cost of eligible depreciating assets costing less than $20,000 that are first used or installed ready for use between 1 July 2023 and 30 June 2024.

“Immediately deductible” means a tax deduction for the asset can be claimed in the same income year that the asset was purchased and used (or installed ready for use).

If the business is registered for GST, the cost of the asset needs to be less than $20,000 after subtracting the GST credits that can be claimed for the asset.  If the business is not registered for GST, it is $20,000 including GST.

The write-off applies per asset, so a small business can deduct the cost of multiple assets.

The rules only apply to assets that fall within the scope of the depreciation provisions. Expenditure on capital improvements to buildings that falls within the scope of the capital works rules is not expected to qualify.

Assets valued at $20,000 or more (which cannot be immediately deducted) can continue to be placed into the small business simplified depreciation pool and depreciated at 15% in the first income year and 30% each income year thereafter.

The provisions that prevent small businesses from re-entering the simplified depreciation regime for 5 years if they opt-out will continue to be suspended until 30 June 2024. This will be particularly relevant to small business entities that chose to leave the simplified depreciation system in order to opt-out of applying the temporary full expensing rules to one or more specific assets.

This announcement effectively confirms that the temporary full expensing rules, which have provided an immediate deduction for the full cost of assets acquired from 6 October 2020, will come to an end on 30 June 2023. Small business entities that are considering acquiring depreciating assets with a cost of $20,000 or more and business entities with aggregated turnover of $10 million or more should keep this cut-off date in mind as 30 June 2023 approaches.

$20,000 small business incentives for energy efficiency

As previously announced, the Small Business Energy Incentive provides an additional deduction of 20% of the cost of eligible depreciating assets that support electrification and more efficient use of energy.

Up to $100,000 of total expenditure will be eligible, with a maximum bonus deduction of $20,000.

The incentive is available to small and medium businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $50 million.

While the full detail of what qualifies for the incentive is not yet available, it is expected to apply to a range of depreciating assets and upgrades to existing assets such as electrifying heating and cooling systems, upgrading to more efficient fridges and induction cooktops, and installing batteries and heat pumps.

Some exclusions will apply including electric vehicles, renewable electricity generation assets, capital works, and assets that are not connected to the electricity grid and use fossil fuels.

Eligible assets or upgrades will need to be first used or installed ready for use between 1 July 2023 and 30 June 2024 to qualify for the bonus deduction.

Lowering tax instalments for small business

Normally, GST and PAYG instalment amounts are adjusted using a GDP adjustment or uplift.

In 2022-23, the Government reduced this uplift factor to 2% instead of the 10% rate that would have applied. And now for 2023-24, the Government has set the uplift factor to 6% instead of the 12% rate that would have applied.

The 6% uplift rate will apply to small to medium enterprises eligible to use the relevant instalment methods for instalments for the 2023-24 income year and are due after the amending legislation comes into effect:

  • Up to $10 million annual aggregated turnover for GST instalments, and
  • $50 million annual aggregated turnover for PAYG instalments.

‘Payday’ super – Increasing payment frequency of employee super

As previously announced, from 1 July 2026, employers will be required to pay their employees’ super guarantee entitlements on the same day that they pay salary and wages.

Currently, SG is paid quarterly.

The Government will undertake a consultation process with the aim of providing details of the final design of the measure in the 2024-25 Federal Budget.

Hybrid cars excluded from FBT exemption for electric cars

As previously announced, plug-in hybrid electric cars will be excluded from the fringe benefits tax (FBT) exemption for eligible electric cars from 1 April 2025.

Arrangements entered into between 1 July 2022 and 31 March 2025 can remain eligible for the FBT exemption as long as the exemption applied to the car before 1 April 2025 and the employer has a financially binding commitment to continue providing private use of the car on and after this date.

Franked distributions funded by capital raisings start date

In 2016-17, the Government announced that it would seek to prevent shareholders from taking advantage of franking credits attached to dividends that are funded by capital raisings. The Budget confirms the Government’s intention to pursue this measure with a revised start date of 15 September 2022.

Under the measure, a distribution (dividend) paid by an entity will be treated as being funded by capital raising if:

  • The distribution is not consistent with an established practice of the entity of making distributions of that kind on a regular basis;
  • There is an issue of equity interests in the entity; and
  • It is reasonable to conclude, having regard to all relevant circumstances, that either:
    • The principal effect of the issue of any of the equity interests was to directly or indirectly fund all or part of the distribution; or
    • An entity that issued or facilitated the issue of the interests did so for a purpose of funding all or part of the distribution.

The proposed changes seek to prevent the use of artificial arrangements where capital is raised to fund the payment of franked dividends to shareholders and therefore enable the distribution of franking credits. The Government is concerned that these arrangements can involve a manipulation of the system to allow existing shareholders to obtain the benefit of both the franking credits and the profits that generated those credits being retained in the company.

The effect of the proposed amendments is that direct or indirect recipients of affected dividends are not entitled to a tax offset, and the amount of the franking credit is not included in the assessable income of the recipient. The dividends are also not exempt from non-resident withholding tax.

The application date of the original measure was to be 19 December 2016. It has now shifted to 15 September 2022.

This measure is contained in Treasury Laws Amendment (2023 Measures No. 1) Bill 2023, which was introduced to Parliament on 16 February 2023.

Tax breaks for build-to-rent developments

As previously announced, the Government is actively sweetening the deal for build-to-rent developments.

For eligible new build-to-rent projects where construction commences after 7:30pm AEST on 9 May 2023, the Government will:

  • Increase the rate for the capital works tax deduction (depreciation) from 2.5% to 4% p.a.
  • Reduce the final withholding tax rate on eligible fund payments from managed investment trust (MIT) investments from 30% to 15%.

The measure applies to build-to-rent projects where 50 or more apartments are made available to rent to the general public. The dwellings must be retained under single ownership for at least 10 years before being able to be sold and landlords must offer a lease term of at least 3 years for each dwelling.

The reduced MIT withholding tax rate for residential build-to-rent will apply from 1 July 2024. The Government will work through a consultation process to determine implementation details, including any minimum proportion of dwellings being offered as affordable tenancies and the length of time dwellings must be retained under single ownership.

15% multi-national global and domestic minimum tax

The Government will implement key aspects of the OECD’s Two Pillar Solution introducing:

  • A 15% global minimum tax for large multinational enterprises with the Income Inclusion Rule applying to income years starting on or after 1 January 2024 and the Undertaxed Profits Rule applying to income years starting on or after 1 January 2025.
  • A 15% domestic minimum tax applying to income years starting on or after 1 January 2024.

The tax is based on the OECD Global Anti-Base Erosion Model Rules, which are designed to ensure large multinationals pay an effective minimum level of tax on the income arising in each jurisdiction where they operate.

The global minimum tax rules would allow Australia to apply a top up tax on a resident multinational parent or subsidiary company where the group’s income is taxed below 15%.

The global minimum tax and domestic minimum tax will apply to large multinationals with annual global revenue of EUR750 million (approximately $1.2 billion) or more.

Heavy vehicle user charge increase

The Heavy Vehicle Road User Charge rate from 27.2 cents per litre of diesel by 6% per year over 3 years from 2023-24 to 32.4 cents per litre in 2025-26.

Tax law changes for general insurers

The introduction of the new accounting standard, AASB17 Insurance Contracts, by the Australian Accounting Standards Board, has meant that the tax law is no longer aligned with accounting standards. A legislative amendment will be made to enable general insurers to continue to use audited financial reporting information, which is calculated according to the new standard, as the basis for their tax returns.

Clean building MIT withholding tax concession extended

The clean building managed investment trust (MIT) withholding tax concession will be extended to eligible data centres and warehouses that meet the relevant energy efficiency standard, where construction commences after 7:30pm AEST on 9 May 2023.

This measure will also raise the minimum energy efficiency requirements for existing and new clean buildings to a 6-star rating from the Green Building Council Australia or a 6-star rating under the National Australian Built Environment Rating System. The Government will consult on transitional arrangements for existing buildings.

Tax treatment of exploration and mining, quarrying and prospecting rights

As previously announced, the Government will amend the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax (PRRT) to clarify that ‘exploration for petroleum’ is limited to the ‘discovery and identification of the existence, extent and nature of the petroleum resource’ and does not extend to ‘activities and feasibility studies directed at evaluating whether the resource is commercially recoverable’.

The tax treatment of depreciation deductions for mining, quarrying and prospecting rights will also be clarified to ensure that deductions will only commence when they are used (not merely held).

Picking winners: Hydrogen industry

Over $2bn has been committed to accelerate the development of Australia’s hydrogen industry, catalyse clean energy industries, and help Australia connect to new global hydrogen supply chains.

The Hydrogen Headstart program will provide revenue support for investment in renewable hydrogen production through competitive production contracts, including funding for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water to support the development and operation of the program.

In a separate program, $38.2m has been provided for a Guarantee of Origin scheme, which will certify renewable energy and track and verify emissions from clean energy products – in particular hydrogen from 2023-24.

Scrapped ‘Patent Box’ regime

The Patent Box regime was to provide a concessional effective corporate tax rate of 17% on income derived from patents, to the extent that the taxpayer undertakes the R&D of that patent in Australia. The patent box tax regime was originally announced for the medical and biotech industries, and later extended to agriculture and emissions.

All ‘patent box’ measures have now been scrapped.

Delayed Streamlining excise administration for fuel and alcohol

The start date for the 2022-23 March Budget measure to streamline fuel and alcohol excise compliance has been pushed back to 1 July 2024.


Government & regulators

Extending Part IVA anti-avoidance rules

Part IVA is the general anti-avoidance provision that the ATO can use to attack arrangements that are entered into in order to obtain tax benefits.

The scope of Part IVA will be extended so that it can apply to:

  • Schemes that reduce tax paid in Australia by accessing a lower withholding tax rate on income paid to foreign residents
  • Schemes that achieve an Australian income tax benefit, even where the dominant purpose was to reduce foreign income tax.

This measure will apply to income years commencing on or after 1 July 2024, regardless of whether the scheme was entered into before that date.

Small business ATO compliance

Among the programs to reduce the compliance burden on small business is a series of initiatives to cut paperwork. These include:

  • From 1 July 2024, small businesses will be permitted to authorise their tax agent to lodge multiple Single Touch Payroll forms on their behalf.
  • From 1 July 2024, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will reduce the use of cheques for income tax refunds.
  • From 1 July 2025, small businesses will be permitted up to 4 years to amend their income tax returns (generally 2 years).

Personal income tax compliance and rental property owners under scrutiny

The ATO will receive $89.6m and Treasury $1.2m over two years to extend the personal income tax compliance program for two years and to expand it to target emerging issues such as deductions relating to short-term rental properties to ensure they are genuinely available to rent.

Lowering tax and super liabilities

The ATO and Treasury will be funded to address the growth in tax and superannuation liabilities. The focus is on:

  • High-value debts over $100,000
  • Aged debts older than two years where those taxpayers are either:
    • Public and multinational groups with an aggregated turnover of greater than $10 million, or
    • Privately owned groups or individuals controlling over $5 million of net wealth.

Small business lodgment penalty amnesty

Small businesses with an aggregated turnover of less than $10m, will be able to access a lodgment penalty amnesty program.  The amnesty will remit failure-to-lodge penalties for outstanding tax statements lodged in the period from 1 June 2023 to 31 December 2023 that were originally due during the period from 1 December 2019 to 29 February 2022.

GST compliance program extended

The ATO will receive over $588m over 4 years to continue its work to improve GST compliance. The funding is also intended to help the ATO develop more sophisticated analytical tools to combat emerging risks.

The measure is estimated to increase receipts by $7.6bn and increase payments by $3.8bn over the 5 years from 2022-23.

Serious Financial Crime Taskforce and Serious Organised Crime program extended and merged

The Government will extend funding for the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT) and Serious Organised Crime program (SOC) over 4 years to 30 June 2027 and merge the programs, with a merged SFCT to commence from 1 July 2023.



Support for SMEs and start-ups

An Industry Growth Program will support SMEs and start-ups to commercialise their ideas and grow their operations (businesses operating in the National Reconstruction Fund are a priority). The program has $392.4 million over 4 years.

An additional $39.6m over 4 years will support the Single Business Service to help SMEs engage with Government


Timeline of initiatives