Author Archive for: Greg Clough

Don’t Kill Competition

Don’t Kill Competition

No doubt you haven’t missed the news about the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in Banking.

The Royal Commission has resulted in the banks being slapped with a wet lettuce despite all the corruption uncovered meanwhile every Australian home loan borrower will pay more if the recommendations relating to “fee for service” are legislated.

Watch my video for my take on what the ramifications of these flawed recommendations are.

Please feel free to call me if you have any questions or if I can assist you in any way.

Industry Defence Campaign

The Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia has launched a defence of the mortgage broking industry, with a national campaign – Don’t Kill Competition – designed to show consumers and politicians what a world without mortgage brokers would look like.

The campaign comprises advertising across newspapers, radio, outdoor (billboards), television and digital platforms and is designed to demonstrate that banning commissions would be a great outcome for large lenders with branch networks, but a terrible outcome for everyday Australians.

The campaign kicks off with full-page advertisements in national newspapers (the Australian Financial Review and The Australian), before leading into television and the other outlets over the weekend. It also features a microsite at which has the relevant facts and content for you to share and promote, including pre-populated letters for both brokers and consumers to send to their local MP to show their support – the website will automatically populate an email to your local Federal MP, based on your postcode.

What can you do?

I’m calling on you to support the cause by making your voice heard as a current or future home loan borrower.

1. Take action with your local politician: Contact your Federal MP and let them know how you feel, by going to, clicking the link and sending the pre-populated letter to your local MP. This will take you less than one minute and has a significant impact.

2. Get others involved: Talk to your family, friends and your customers and ask them to go to the site and contact their Federal MP as well – there is a separate letter of support designed for consumers to send.

3. Sign and share the petition: There is a petition available at – please sign and share the petition to ensure policy makers understand the weight of support behind the channel.

4. Share the campaign: Additional campaign advertising collateral will be made available on the website for you to share and promote on your social media platforms daily over the next week and beyond.

Now, more than ever, we must unite as an industry and remind our politicians and policy makers that mortgage brokers are vital for healthy competition in the home lending market, are highly valued by their customers and are out there, every day, driving great outcomes for Australians.

… and for a lighter take on the situation …

Impacts of Labor’s proposed negative gearing and CGT changes

Impacts of Labor’s proposed negative gearing and CGT changes

With a federal election expected to be called within the next 12 months, and Labor proposing some controversial reforms to negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount, a new report has assessed the risks of taking a blanket approach to their implementation across Australia.

RiskWise Property Research and WargentAdvisory co-authored the Impact Analysis: Negative Gearing, CGT & Australia’s Residential Property Markets report assessing the impacts of the proposed reforms.

RiskWise CEO Doron Peleg said with the federal election looming, government policies and their implications were being thoroughly assessed by policymakers, lenders, fund managers and property developers.

The ALP has proposed reforms to negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount to level the playing field for first home buyers competing with investors, improve housing affordability and strengthen the Commonwealth Budget position through limiting these subsidies.

However, Mr Peleg said one of the most important aspects of the proposed changes was that their blanket introduction across the country would have unintended consequences, and some geographical areas (SA4s), especially those with weak or fragile property markets, would be adversely impacted more than others.

The report identifies the Top 10 SA4s that would be most impacted if the changes went ahead as currently proposed. These include Darwin, Mackay, inner-city Perth and Townsville.

“Another unintended consequence would occur in the Sydney unit market where the proposed changes would be the equivalent to a sudden 1.15% increase in interest rates.”

Report co-author and WargentAdvisory director Pete Wargent said for years property commentators had been talking about a two-speed economy driven by the resources construction boom, but this dynamic had reversed, and those once prosperous areas were now struggling.

“The last thing they need is a further dampening of demand. An introduction of Labor’s proposed changes to negative gearing needs a more nuanced response with some mitigating processes and policies that could be implemented so there are no unintended consequences.”

He identified other impacts of the proposed changes, including declining dwelling prices (or price deceleration in some regions), a reduction in dwelling commencements and deteriorating rental affordability in some locations.

“While there would be some positive initial impacts on housing affordability, these would only be sustained in the largest capital cities if appropriate policies encourage the supply of owner-occupier suitable housing in addition to investment units” he said:

“There will also be distortions in the investor market, with the creation of primary and secondary markets for investor stock if subsidies are limited to new housing prospectively.”

Mr Peleg said from the second half of 2017, the risks associated with the residential property market had increased significantly and the proposed changes needed to be assessed thoroughly across all SA4s to ensure they did not unduly impact weaker housing markets.

“Credit restrictions have had a direct impact on investors in the Australian housing market. As a result, dwelling prices in Sydney and Melbourne showed a decelerating growth rate, followed by price reductions in Sydney and, to a lesser extent, Melbourne,” he said.

“In a relatively short period of time, the landscape for residential property in Australia has changed significantly and this necessitates thorough modelling and impact analysis of Labor’s proposed tax reform package.

“The bottom line is that the proposed reforms will achieve some of the ALP’s stated objectives, including tackling the fiscal challenge and Budget repair, but not the others.

“The Impact Analysis: Negative Gearing, CGT & Australia’s Residential Property Markets report covers our key findings. These are the principles that need to be looked at before any changes are made along with the consequences, and recommendations, if they are applied across Australia.

“As an independent company we wanted to assess the objectives, impacts and key findings when the proposed reforms are not supported by any mitigating measures, and also to add additional information to enable policymakers to take steps to improve housing and rental affordability, which is high on the political agenda.”

Having a Productive Conversation About Getting into Property Early

Having a Productive Conversation About Getting into Property Early

Onyx CEO Greg Clough writes about his experience of helping his daughter and other young clients get into property early. 

You can understand why many GenYs and Millennials are despondent about buying a home, but in my view their pessimism is misguided, having been fuelled by journalists with limited understanding of how the property and finance markets work.  There are many pathways to home ownership, but most people haven’t been shown all the options.

Have your property with smashed avocado

Writers on this issue typically launch into a discussion on not buying that daily coffee or ordering smashed avocados so you can save for a deposit.  Frankly I think that launching into this approach is simply demotivating for most young people.  While not walking away from the need to budget I think there are more productive conversations about partnerships, entrepreneurship and investment which are going to be a far more empowering.

Conversations with my daughter

Ten years ago I had a conversation with my then early 20s daughter who had a modest income and very little money in the bank.  I explained that if she just walked into her bank branch she would certainly be rejected for a loan, but I outlined a number of alternative ways to go about it.

Now in her mid-30s she has equity in a property thanks to its capital growth over the last ten years.  This will provide a platform for her to buy her family home.  The pathway to property ownership will be different for each person but for her it was to partner up with a cousin who was around the same age.

Beyond inter-generational battles

Contrary to popular journalism the property marketing is not an inter-generational battle but more an opportunity for intergenerational collaboration.  In all honesty, it always has been.  Many of my friends back-in-the-day got a start with a deposit on their home with help from their parents.

For those of us who are parents of 20-somethings we have a role to give them a leg up into property as soon as possible.  This could involve the bank of Mum and Dad but more importantly it will involve encouragement and education.  Remember, as good as our education system might be they still don’t teach the life skills like buying your first home.

Why 20-somethings should buy sooner than later

There are some really good reasons why a 20-something should be interested in buying a property before they or you think they might be ready.

Firstly standing still is going backwards.  Property prices continue to increase – especially in popular locations – so the longer you wait the higher the purchase price becomes.

Doing something in your 20s will set you up for later when your lifestyle is more expensive.  Your 20s provide an opportunity to build equity in a property which can be used for a deposit on a future family home.

Buying an investment property is a great option in your 20s.  You can buy to invest wherever is best financially rather than where you want to live.  Rent your lifestyle, or even better stay at home with the parents to keep costs low.

The important thing to remember here is that there isn’t one single property market, there are lots of them.  Buying to invest gives you more choices and remember it’s a logic decision not an emotional one about where you want to live.

So how would you approach an early entry into property?

Well going straight to your bank is probably not going to be the best option.  The home loan market is constantly changing because banks are adjusting to market conditions and their own risk profiles.  This means that today one bank might be offering great deals to investors but next month they might decide they have too many investors want to attract other types of borrowers.  You need to know which lender is offering the best deal to suit your circumstances and that may not be the one your banking with right now.

You don’t need to go it alone.  Partnering with someone else to get into a property is a great option especially before you start having a family.  What one person lacks on their own – say for example a deposit – the other person may be able to cover. These partnerships might be with parents, another family member, a friend or even someone on a purely commercial relationship.

I’ve also seen situations where parents have purchased a property for their adult children to live in and eventually own.  The kids pay the mortgage and the parents provide the deposit and borrowing capability.  Given rising property prices this might be a better form of inheritance.

Importantly if you are entering into a “property relationship” with anyone, getting the right advice before you buy on the ownership structure and an agreed approach to exiting is vitally important to your financial success.

Being entrepreneurial in the property market

These are just a few approaches that you could consider but everyone’s situation is unique and there are many more ways to go about being entrepreneurial in the property market.  I understand that the price tags on property these days in suburban Melbourne and Sydney can be pretty off putting but we also live in a more flexible and fast-moving world that offers many more opportunities for innovative young adults and their parents.

The best place to start is a conversation with a mentor who has plenty of practical on-the-ground experience.  Feel free to call me for a chat anytime on 0409 029922.

Warms Regards

Greg Clough 


Borrowing Keeps Getting Tougher

Borrowing Keeps Getting Tougher

Unless you’ve been on a deserted island chatting with Wilson for the last couple of months you will have heard all the noise about the Royal Commission into the Financial Services Industry.

There is a lot of information to digest, if you are interested, but one thing you can definitely “take to the bank” is that it is going to get increasingly harder to borrow in the short and medium term.

One area that is being scrutinised closely is the actual Cost of Living used in the loan application.

Until recently the lender’s calculators used what was known as a HEM (Household Expenditure Measure), which as an example allowed $32,400 for a family of four (not including rent or mortgage repayments).

Interestingly the same figure was being used whether your household income was $70k or $170k.

Now lenders are tightening up in this area and are insisting on a closer analysis of household expenditure, case by case, rather than a formula, much like the old days when you used to visit the bank manager “cap in hand”

ANZ Chief Executive Shayne Elliott says the inquiry would make the home loan approval process longer and more onerous.

The take-away from all this is that it’s best to review your loan portfolio as a matter of urgency, while you are at choice and before it is too late to do so.

If you don’t take positive action now you may find yourself stuck in your current loans.

The “Catch 22” is going to be that some borrowers who may wish to move to a lower rate or more suitable structure may not be able to do so because the new lender policy says “NO”.

We are here to assist you with a no obligation finance review which will take 30 minutes of your time and a response from us with our recommendations within 24 hours.  Please feel free to call.

Interest Only Mortgage Changes: “Forewarned is Forearmed”

Interest Only Mortgage Changes: “Forewarned is Forearmed”

The phrase “Forewarned is Forearmed” is as relevant today as it was when first used in the late 16th century, especially when it comes to matters of borrowing money.

If you have an interest only mortgage, or you’re intending to obtain one, then consider yourself forewarned. I hope this two-minute read will leave you forearmed and that it motivates you to take action before it’s too late.

So here is the forewarning!

If you choose to re-finance your Interest Only loan and remain on Interest Only it will no longer be a “fait accompli” that your new loan will be automatically approved as Interest Only without a lender’s inquisition.

Not considering refinancing anytime soon? Remember that most Interest Only loans revert to P&I after 5 years unless refinanced. Suddenly you’ll find that your monthly repayment takes a big hike because you’ll now be paying principle as well as the interest.

To clarify my point here is an extract from an industry magazine explaining ANZ’s recent policy change.

As of 5 March 2018, ANZ will regard interest-only (IO) loan renewals as “credit critical events” which require full income verification as part of its measures to streamline the credit critical process.

The requirements are set to apply to loan applications that involve changing from principal and interest (P&I) to IO, or extending an IO term.

Further, if serviceability is not evident, the loan will remain or revert to P&I.

ANZ will update process guides and renewal checklists to include the changes.

Moreover, customers will be notified by ANZ six months prior to the expiry of the IO period, and they will be informed of refinancing options available to them.

The bank noted that it is making the changes to further enhance its lending practices.

“We are making this change as part of our continual enhancements to our lending practices,” the bank said.

“Converting to or extending an interest-only period is a material change to original loan conditions, which could increase the total repayments over the life of the loan.”

Last year, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) imposed restrictions requiring banks to limit interest-only lending to 30 per cent of new loans.

In simple terms this change from ANZ means, and the others will probably follow, that you may need to find more of your hard-earned dollars every month to meet a P&I commitment.

On a positive note, lenders are encouraging P&I loans at the behest of APRA, by offering lower interest rates but even this will not stop the repayment hike you’re facing.

Here is an example to explain based on a $500,000 loan for Owner-Occupied borrowers.

Principal and Interest over 30 years @ 3.69% p.a. $2,299.00 pcm

Interest Only for 5 years @ 4.29% p.a. $1,787.50 pcm

Most Interest Only loans revert to P&I after 5 years unless refinanced.

As you can see even though the rate for P&I is lower the repayment, rather than a payment of interest only is over $500 more per month.

This is not an insignificant amount just for one loan so for borrowers with multiple loans the impact will obviously be even greater.

With the Royal Commission underway there is a strong chance lending policies and guidelines will become even tougher.

So be forearmed.

I strongly suggest you plan well ahead so that you do not receive a nasty shock when you come to refinance your loans.

If you would like us to crunch some numbers for you please call me on 0409 02 99 22 or email

‘Praemonitus, Praemunitus’



67% of Australians aren’t aware of this!!

67% of Australians aren’t aware of this!!

I have just read that 67% of Australians are not aware of this important legislation that will affect all borrowers in the future.

Scott Morrison claims it will help borrowers with a positive report get better interest rates. I have a feeling it may work the other way and borrowers with poor credit with be penalised with higher interest rates.

Furthermore, it is imperative that when you are providing information, like we you do with our Fact Find, that you include all of your debts so the information provided to the lender matches your credit report.

This includes all the little Zip Money type accounts and also those G.E. Store Cards even if they are currently interest-free.

Remember you can get a copy of your credit file for free at

Australia moves to comprehensive credit reporting (CCR)

After lagging behind other major developed economies such as the US and the UK for many years, the Federal Government legislated that Australia would finally move to a positive comprehensive credit reporting (CCR) system over the course of this year with final completion mid-way through 2019.

While this is welcome news for consumers and businesses who may want or need to get finance from time to time, the detail about CCR for many people can be hard to grasp.

What is positive comprehensive credit reporting (CCR)?

Quite simply, it means that lenders can use more detailed information on your financial background including your good credit history to work out the benefits and risks in lending money to you.

For example, unlike the current system that focuses on negative details such as payment defaults, court judgements and the number of credit application enquiries which “hurts” your credit profile and sees your credit score go down, positive CCR looks at how good you have been with credit overall.

Credit providers will, in future, be able to see:

  • When a credit account has been opened or closed (the start of an existing or past loan and when it was repaid);
  • The type of credit facility (mortgage, credit card, personal loan, car loan etc) and the available limit;
  • Your last 24 months repayment history.

Together, this information will help credit providers to assess how good a customer or potential customer has been in managing their finances, whether the risk of lending to someone fits their credit criteria and how much and for how long they will lend them money.

For borrowers, it may mean that they will get rewarded for having a good credit history, not be penalised for one or two missed payments if a small glitch happens in their life and allows them to shop around for a better deal that suits them without that being held against them.

And for those consumers who, at the moment, might not be able to get finance because their credit history doesn’t come up to scratch, positive CCR will allow them to improve their financial position over a period of time through better budgeting, repayment and spending decisions.

How will that information be shared and will it be safe and secure?

This data already exists but the vast majority of it is held by the large banks and lenders and is not shared among themselves or smaller financial institutions.

What the Federal Government has announced is that the previous voluntary system which was introduced in March 2014 will now be made mandatory, initially focusing on the big four banks who hold most of this data given their 80% share of the lending market.

The major banks will have to make available half of their credit data for sharing by 1 July this year and increase that to 100% of their information by 1 July 2019.

At present, that sharing figure is less than one per cent.

What does the Government say about positive CCR?

In his announcement the Treasurer said that CCR will give lenders access to more and richer data, encouraging competition between them including new providers to help consumers and small businesses looking for finance. It will also improve the capacity of credit providers to meet their responsible lending obligations as set by the regulators. Those regulations require us to ensure a customer is able to repay their loans based on their income and spending needs.

The Treasurer described the changes as a “game changer for both consumers and lenders, resulting not only in greater lending competition but also better access to finance for Australian households and small businesses”.


As always we’re here to help in any way we can so please feel free to call me for a chat at any time 0409 02 99 22 or email

Productivity Commission’s Errors a Tragedy for Home Loan Borrowers.

Productivity Commission’s Errors a Tragedy for Home Loan Borrowers.

I nearly choked on my brekky this morning when I read this article, “Why you can’t get a good deal on your home loan” on

The article has a crack at mortgage brokers using the Australian Government Productivity Commission (AGPC) report into the finance industry released today.  It’s a tragedy for home loan borrowers that AGPC has got critical issues so wrong.

Mortgage Brokers are Licensed

This line really got my hackles up – “Unlike in wealth management, mortgage brokers are not obliged by law to act in the best interests of the customer,”

This is just plain wrong. Mortgage Brokers are licensed by the Government through ASIC and one of the requirements of our license is that brokers “must complete an assessment as to whether a loan is ‘not unsuitable’ for a consumer”. The compliance is very strict.

Furthermore, I would happily line up the performance of mortgage brokers against the wealth management industry.  For 16 years we have provided quality advice to our clients always putting them first.

Banks Taking Advantage of Loyal Customers

I do agree with the statement that banks offer a better deal for new customers rather than established. I’ve been commenting on that for over a year now.  However, the report somehow puts the blame for this on mortgage brokers not doing their job.

The reality is that the clear majority of customers who switch banks do so through a mortgage broker arranging a home loan for them with another lender.

Instead of deriding brokers the AGPC should be encouraging more consumers to talk to a broker.

Why Criticise Choice? 

The report claims there are 4000 different home loans and that somehow this is a bad thing.  Home loan choice combined with professional mortgage broker advice is absolutely the best option for borrowers.

Don’t Forget the Non-Bank Sector 

The article also does not mention the “non-bank lending” sector. We have always been a strong advocate for non-banks. They play a key role in innovation and providing solutions for niche markets that would normally be unable to obtain finance.  Mortgage brokers are the main way borrowers find out about non-bank lenders because they don’t have the marketing spending power of the major banks nor a branch network.

Word of Mouth Speaks Volumes 

Like most brokers, we rely heavily on “word of mouth” referrals so it is in our best interests to deliver the very best outcome for our valued clients and if we don’t they are less likely to refer.  Furthermore creating a win, win environment is what makes the world go around. The commission system used to remunerate brokers only rewards us when we get the job done for the client and for making sure they are happy over the long term.

It’s a Tragedy

I’m surprised and disappointed that Australian Government Productivity Commission, an institution we rely on for knowledgeable advice, could get this so wrong.  If the Government acts on these views, its only going to lead to tragic consequences for home owners and investors. It will also in fact decrease competition as borrower’s access to alternate lenders will be become more difficult.

The Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia (MFAA) is disappointed by the report saying “The Report’s authors have failed to understand the reasons why consumers engage brokers to act on their behalf“.

 I’d Love to Hear from You

As always if you would like to chat about how we might be able to assist you or if you would like to discuss the content of this article I’m always up for a chat, so please feel free to call me direct on 0409 02 99 22.




Stats show 29% of homeowners and 67% of renters don’t have home and contents insurance, and as many as 40% of households with insurance are still underinsured. Make sure you’re covered.

What is underinsurance? Are you underinsured?

Underinsurance is when someone does not have adequate insurance to cover the cost of loss or damage to the things they own, or is not insured at all for those belongings.

As far as material goods go, your home or property is likely to be your most valuable asset. Insuring it for less than what it would cost you to rebuild makes about as much sense as insuring a Porsche at a Hyundai price. You might get away with it, but at some stage the gap in cover is going to come back to haunt you.

How many people do not have home and contents insurance?

The David Murray Financial System Inquiry’s Final Report showed that 29% of homeowners and 67% of renters in Australia do not have any form of contents insurance.

How many people have home and contents insurance but are still underinsured?

Underinsured home insurance is surprisingly common, it would seem. The Insurance Council of Australia estimates that more than 40% of households fail to correctly assess the value of their home and contents, so there’s a real chance you could be under-insured.

Underinsured home insurance hurts homeowners at claim time

Cheap insurance may not be so cheap when you make a claim. Apart from not receiving enough home insurance money to cover the cost of your loss, there’s an added risk that can be far greater. If you have significantly under-insured your home or contents, your insurer may have the right to pay only part of any loss because you’ve insured for only part of what it’s worth.


Case Study:

Let’s say you insure your home for $150,000, but it’s really worth $250,000. A bushfire sweeps through the area and does $80,000 damage to your home. Your insurer may have the right to reduce the payout in proportion to the level of under-insurance.

In this case, there might be a payment of only $48,000. Sadly, that is nowhere near enough to repair or replace a $250,000 home.
When it comes to contents insurance, or even personal effects insurance, doing a household inventory of everything you own in your home is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your items. An inventory can help you keep track of everything, from your electronics and appliances to your jewellery and DVD collections. This can be invaluable when deciding how much contents insurance coverage you need and also at time of claim. We have also identified 10 ways you can cut the cost of your home and contents insurance.

Prevent underinsurance: Get your complimentary review today.

1300 1400 15


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A Steady Roadmap for Growth



As is custom, there were a number of official announcements and an abundance of rumours and unofficial ‘leaks’ in the lead up to the release of the 2016-17 federal budget. As widely anticipated, there was very little in terms of budget measures specifically aimed at housing. However, the significance of the tax reform contained within this budget was arguably underestimated, particularly if you consider the changes projected for the out-years. In the near term, small businesses are the main beneficiaries of the announced reforms.

The key areas addressed in the budget:

  • the Government has held firm on their commitment not to make any changes to capital gains tax or negative gearing provisions. Furthermore, comments within the Treasurer’s budget speech suggest the coalition have solidified this position ahead of the upcoming election;
  • the plan to lower the company tax rate to 25 per cent through a staged implementation over the next decade, with a number of changes for small businesses to take effect in this budget period;
  • a modest change to the personal income threshold for the second highest marginal income tax rate which was increased from $80,000 to $87,000 (slightly higher than expected) in order to ameliorate concern about bracket creep;
  • Commitment to the Smart Cities Plan;
  • A Youth Employment Package
  • significant reforms to the superannuation system;
  • the ATO has been provided with additional resources to bolster enforcement activity, primarily aimed at addressing multi-national tax avoidance.

In the sections below we discuss the overall economic and fiscal outlook presented in the 2016/17 Budget along with some of the key forecasts. This is followed by additional explanatory detail regarding the key announcements most relevant to the residential building industry.

Economic Backdrop & Fiscal Position

The Budget presents a “steady as she goes” outlook for economic growth over its forecast horizon. The key economic assumptions on which the Budget was developed are summarised in the table below.

Key Treasury Forecasts underlying Budget 2016-17:

federal budget graph

In terms of the economic assumptions underlying the Budget projections, the Treasury foresees the rate of economic growth returning to 3.0 in 2017/18 and remaining at this level over the forecast horizon. The acceleration of economic growth will help drive a reduction in the unemployment rate to 5.5 per cent by the end of the forecast horizon, a little lower than the 5.75 average rate expected for 2015-16. Against this backdrop, inflation is expected to pick up a little but remain in the relatively comfortable 2 per cent to 3 per cent range. Stronger GDP growth, and the decline in the cash value of the budget deficit over time means that the relative size of the deficit is expected to fall from 2.4 per cent of GDP in 2015/16 to 1.4 per cent of GDP in 2017/18.

Of note are the estimates of the contribution that dwelling investment will make to economic growth in the years ahead. HIA’s projections are for dwelling investment to fall by 5.4 per cent next financial year and by 6.7 per cent in 2017/18. The HIA’s forecasts are based on the assumption that new home commencements will decline from about 214,300 in 2014/15 to 160,100 in 2017/18, while renovations activity is projected to recover modestly over the same period. Realising the outcomes expected by Treasury will require a continuation of the current record levels of new housing activity and strong growth in the renovation market.

While the changes to superannuation and the lowering of the Official Cash Rate will encourage more investment in other avenues like rental investment, it is unlikely that this will be sufficient to deliver the continued growth in residential investment that Treasury is anticipating.

In terms of the projections contained in yesterday’s budget, the size of expected future deficits has increased since the forecasts in December 2015’s Mid-Year Economic & Financial Outlook. In 2015/16, the underlying cash balance is expected to reach $39.9 billion followed by $37.1 billion in 2016/17. Thereafter, the deficit is projected to decline significantly, falling to just $6.0 billion by 2019/20, the latest year for which Treasury forecasts have been prepared.

federal budget forecasts

Key Budget Measures

‘Ten Year enterprise Tax Plan’:

  • The tax rate applicable to small businesses has been lowered by 1 per cent to 27.5 per cent, which follows on from the 1.5 per cent cut in the previous year.
  • The definition of small business has been expanded from those with revenue of less than $2 million to those with revenue of less than $10 million.
  • Extension of the provision enabling small businesses to immediately depreciate assets valued up to $20,000 to the end of June 2017, and making this provision accessible to businesses with revenue up to $10 million.
  • A ‘Ten Year enterprise Tax Plan’ aims to incrementally lower the company tax rate to achieve a 25 per cent rate for all companies by 2026/27. Over time, the size of companies eligible for the 27.5 per cent tax rate will be lifted each year until all companies are taxed at this rate in 2023/24. The rate for all companies will then be incrementally lowered over the ensuing four years to reach 25 per cent by 2026/27.
  • The government will extend the unincorporated small business tax discount. From 2016-17, the discount will be available to businesses with annual turnover of less than $5 million, up from the current threshold of $2 million, and will be increased to 8 per cent. The maximum discount available will remain at $1,000. Over the next decade, the discount will be further expanded in phases, to a final discount of 16 per cent.

The Youth Employment Package

  • This program, Youth Jobs PaTH (Prepare, Trial, Hire), has three components: the first provides pre-employment skills training for young job seekers; the second provides a $1,000 inducement to businesses to provide a 4-12 week internship for program participants along with an income supplement for the participant; and the third is $6,500 ‘Youth Bonus’ wage subsidy payment for employers who take on a young worker who has been in employment services for longer than six months.

Reforms to superannuation

  • The purpose of the superannuation system is to be enshrined in legislation in line with a recommendation of the Murray Review. This will define the purpose as: providing an income in retirement to substitute or supplement the Age Pension. This provides legislative basis the government of the day to target the superannuation tax concessions at those who would otherwise be likely to be remain dependent on the Age Pension, this is likely to come at the expense of tax concessions currently available to those likely to be self-funded in retirement.
  • Those with combined incomes and superannuation contributions greater than $250,000 will pay 30 per cent tax on their concessional contributions, up from 15 per cent. This represents a lowering of the previous income threshold of $300,000.
  • The superannuation concessional contributions (ie pre-tax contributions or contributions where a deduction is claimed) cap has been lowered to $25,000 per annum, down from $30,000 for those under 50 and $35,000 for those over 50.
  • This has been partially balanced by enabling unused concessional contribution caps to be carried forward on a rolling basis for up to five years for those with account balances of $500,000 or less.
  • The government have introduced a $500,000 lifetime cap for non-concessional contributions (ie contributions made from savings for which no deduction is claimed).
  • The Government will introduce the Low Income Superannuation Tax Offset to replace the Low Income Superannuation Contribution when it expires on 30 June 2017.
  • From 1 July 2017, the Government will lift current restrictions and allow individuals under the age of 75 to claim tax deductions for personal superannuation contributions to eligible superannuation funds.
  • The current spouse tax offset has been broadened. The income threshold for the receiving spouse (whether married or de facto) will be lifted from $10,800 to $37,000

Tax Integrity Package’ – additional resources for the ATO

  • The government have provided additional resources to the Australian Tax Office to establish the Tax Avoidance Taskforce. The key focus will be pursuing tax avoidance by multinationals and high wealth individuals.
  • The government will introduce a new ‘Diverted Profits Tax’ targeting multi-nationals shifting profits earned in Australia to lower taxing jurisdictions.

Source: HIA Economics Research Note – May 2016

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