Students will pay loans back sooner

Posted on 16 August 2018
Students will pay loans back sooner

Karen Sweeney
(Australian Associated Press)

Graduates and students will have to start forking out for student loan repayments when their earnings hit $45,000 when changes begin next July.

As part of the Turnbull government's push to cut tertiary education spending, the loan repayment threshold will be reduce from $55,000.

The borrowing limit will also be capped at $104,440, or $150,000 for medicine, dentistry and vet sciences students, under the new legislation.

It passed the Senate on Monday night and amendments to introduce the new start date of July 1, 2019, were passed by the lower house on Tuesday.

Labor education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek says the changes will hit people in lower paid jobs hard, while women will be hit disproportionately.

"Investment in education doesn't just benefit the individuals who receive the education, it benefits our nation," she said.

Amendments to remove loan fees were also approved.
Posted in: News  

Beware investment wolves knocking at the door

Posted on 24 July 2018

Published by Scamwatch, ACCC this article covers the rise of investment scams and the warning signs you are dealing with an investment scammer.


Posted in: News  

Income tax continues to do heavy lifting

Posted on 19 July 2018
Income tax continues to do heavy lifting

Paul Osborne
(Australian Associated Press)

The federal budget will become more reliant on personal income tax revenue as other sources dwindle and no action is taken on reaping more from gas and mining firms, a new report says.

The Parliamentary Budget Office on Wednesday released an analysis of the tax system since 2001 and some of the risks ahead.

The main changes since 2001 had been a drop in fuel excise due to fuel efficiency and a previous freeze in indexation, a fall in customs receipts due to free trade deals, and a drop in company tax receipts as losses are carried forward.

Based on recent trends, the report found the future would see a drop in company tax receipts, an increase in personal income tax receipts and drops in consumer tax receipts driven by consumer behaviour and technological change.

"If these risks to tax receipts eventuate, and in the absence of other taxation reforms, maintaining Commonwealth Government revenue at recent levels as a share of GDP will lead to an increasing reliance on taxes on labour income through the personal income tax system," the report concluded.

The study found personal income tax already accounted for 53.7 per cent of commonwealth receipts.

In comparison, the report showed resource rent taxes made up 0.4 per cent of receipts.

Petroleum Resource Rent Tax had fallen as a share of GDP since 2001 despite the increase in petroleum production and exports and strong price growth through much of the period.

The report warns that although Australia is set to become a leading producer and exporter of liquefied natural gas, there is a "significant likelihood that this will not translate into higher PRRT revenue".

Labor's mining tax was abolished by the coalition in 2014.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said the tax base clearly needed to be broadened, as the government continued to rely on income tax to fund basic services.

"The PBO's key finding is premised on no tax reform occurring and the only major party going to the next election with a tax reform agenda which broadens Australia's tax base is the Labor party," Mr Bowen said.

Labor has announced reform of the taxation of trusts, tax affairs, negative gearing and capital gains tax, as well as removing dividend imputation refundability.

It's also outlined plans for a "bigger, better and fairer income tax cut" for low and middle income earners than the government had proposed.

Greens spokesman Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said generous deductions for resources companies and rampant tax avoidance meant workers carried the heavier burden.

"Future budgets will still rely on bracket creep because the government's income tax plan did not fix bracket creep it just gave lots of money to wealthy people," Senator Whish-Wilson said.

He said the government needed to abolish capital gains tax concessions, overhaul petroleum taxes, introduce a mining super profits tax and treat multinational tax avoidance more seriously.
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Bitcoin unlikely to take off in Aust: RBA

Posted on 28 June 2018
Bitcoin unlikely to take off in Aust: RBA

Stuart Condie
(Australian Associated Press)

The stability of the Aussie dollar means bitcoin is unlikely to be widely adopted Down Under, a senior Reserve Bank official says.

RBA head of payments policy Tony Richards, who has owned "a small amount of bitcoin" since 2014, says digital currencies outside the control of traditional institutions could have practical applications but probably not in Australia.

Local usage is currently so limited that the RBA does not see it having any impact on monetary policy or the stability of the financial system, Dr Richards said on Tuesday.

"When a country doesn't have a credible currency, then people might look for other ones," Dr Richards told an Australian Business Economists event in Sydney.

"Whether those are cryptocurrencies or something like the US dollar is another issue, but we in Australia have a perfectly credible currency called the Australian dollar; we've had low and stable inflation for at least 25 years; and the likelihood that we'd have significant adoption of an alternative currency seems to be pretty low."

The volatile price of bitcoin a digital asset not backed by any government or physical unit is also reason to doubt its worth as a store of value in a country that has a safe and stable banking system, Dr Richards said.

The price of bitcoin fell from about $US1,000 to $US250 in 2014, the year in which Dr Richards bought it.

It was worth about $US6,250 on Tuesday, but that's down nearly 70 per cent from its all-time high of nearly $US20,000 in December.

"There is also a lot more risk in bitcoin intermediaries than there is in the supervised banks and financial institutions in which households can hold their Australian dollars," Dr Richards said.

While Sweden's central bank is mulling the merits of issuing its own digital currency, Dr Richards said the RBA is not yet actively looking at an e-dollar to operate alongside the traditional dollar.

Similarly, Reserve Bank of New Zealand deputy governor Geoff Bascand said on Tuesday it was too early to say whether a central digital currency would bring benefits.

Nonetheless, the RBA is keen to speak with experts in the blockchain technology that underpins bitcoin to see what applications it could have.

The blockchain is an immutable record of transactions distributed across a network, rather than located at a single point that could be vulnerable to fraud, damage or loss.

"Even if one is quite sceptical of whether bitcoin will have a significant role in the economy in the future, I think it is hard to avoid some admiration for its design," Dr Richards said.

Posted in: News  

One log-in for government services access

Posted on 14 June 2018
One log-in for government services access

Matt Coughlan
(Australian Associated Press)

Australians will be able to access government services with a single log-in under a plan to create a "single digital identity" by 2025.

Michael Keenan, the federal minister in charge of digital services, said face-to-face interactions with government services would be greatly reduced.

"Think of it as a 100-point digital ID check that will unlock access to almost any government agency through a single portal such as a myGov account," Mr Keenan said.

The minister wants Australia to be a world leader in digital government, with almost all services to be available online by 2025.

Mr Keenan said having 30 different log-ins for government services is not good enough.

"The old ways of doing things, like forcing our customers to do business with us over the counter, must be re-imagined and refined," he said.

People will need to establish their digital identity once before being able to use it across services.

The first of several pilot programs using a "beta" version of what will be known as myGovID will begin in October.

The initial pilot will enable 100,000 participants to apply for a tax file number online, which Mr Keenan says will reduce processing time to a day from up to a month currently.

In a pilot starting from March next year, services including student identification and Centrelink will be connected to the digital identity.

Also from March 2019, 100,000 people will be able to use their digital identity to create their My Health Record online.

Mr Keenan says one face-to-face or over-the-counter transaction costs on average about $17 to process, while an online transaction can cost less than 40 cents.

The Human Services department will operate as the gateway between service providers and people.

"This is key to protecting privacy, as the exchange will act as a double-blind service providers will not see any of the user's ID information and identity providers will not know what services each user is accessing," Mr Keenan said.

Labor digital economy spokesman Ed Husic said the Turnbull government was responsible for a "dirty dozen" of failed digital transformation failures, including the census and tax office website crashes.

"The biggest challenge confronting the Turnbull government is to quit its addiction to glitzy digital announcements and get stuck into properly delivering these multimillion-dollar projects," Mr Husic said.

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