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Australians need to save more for the economy to avoid a more rapid run-up in inflation, triggered by nation’s rising terms of trade, the Reserve Bank said today.

“In putting together the Reserve Bank’s forecasts it has been assumed that more of this boost to income is saved than was the case in the earlier boom in the terms of trade,” RBA assistant governor Phillip Lowe.

“This reflects two factors. The first is the different position of the federal budget and the second is the more cautious approach to spending currently being displayed by the household sector.”

The federal budget, handed down this week, contained no major increases in public spending and is expected the return to a surplus by 2012-13.

In that time, the RBA forecasts Chinese steel production will continue to drive demand for Australian iron ore and coal strong, boosting the nation’s terms of trade.

Terms of trade are the prices of a nation’s exports relative to its imports.

“If this lift in saving does not occur, then demand in the economy could well be stronger than forecast, and this would put additional pressure on capacity,” he said.

A lack of spare capacity in the economy has pushed the year-to-March inflation figure to 2.9 per cent from 2.5 per cent in the year to December, which surprised the RBA, Mr Lowe said.

“Disinflationary forces in the economy are not quite as strong as previously expected, largely because the economy has performed better than previously expected,” Mr Lowe said, in the speech delivered to Colonial First State Investment Forum in Sydney.

The RBA expects inflation to fall only to 2.75 per cent later this year, less than originally anticipated after the release of the March data.

Retail sales have remained lacklustre since the middle of last year, after the end of the government’s cash stimulus grants to households during the financial crisis. Six interest rate rises since October have also cut into demand at retailers, with a number of businesses including Fantastic Furniture, Clive Peeters and Woolworth’s flagging weaker sales ahead.

The RBA lifted interest rates to 4.5 per cent his month, creating more headwinds for shoppers. The latest rate rise added another $46 to the average monthly repayment cost on a $300,000, 25-year mortgage.

Investors currently foresee no chance of an interest rate rise in June, but predict the official cash rate will be at 5 per cent within a year, according to Credit Suisse data.

The central bank predicts 3.25 per cent economic growth this year accelerating to 3.75-4 per cent growth in the next couple of years, amid rising prices for commodities exports.

Source  :  www.watoday.com.au

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FURTHER official interest rate rises could choke off consumer spending and grind the economy to a halt, economists warn.

Herston Economics chief economist Clifford Bennett says if the Reserve Bank raises the cash rate to five per cent by year’s end, the economy would “grind to a standstill”.

The current cash rate is 4.25 per cent, after the RBA lifted the rate by a quarter of a percentage point on Tuesday in an effort to further rein in expansionary pressures.

It was the fifth monthly interest rate rise by the central bank since October last year.

“If the cash rate gets to 5 per cent … the domestic economy will grind to a standstill,” Mr Bennett said.

“We’re seeing in the Sydney press examples of them having to choose between buying groceries and paying their electricity bill and the added burden from the RBA is completely unwarranted, unnecessary and unwanted.”

RBA governor Glenn Stevens said it was appropriate to raise the cash rate towards its long-run average given that “the risk of serious economic contraction

Most economists say the average long-run cash rate is around 5 per cent.

Nomura Australia economist Stephen Roberts said rising interest rates meant consumers were paying a greater proportion of their income in servicing debt.

Data compiled by the central bank showed that when the cash rate was 3.75 per cent at the and of the December quarter of 2009, the average household was paying more than 10 per cent of its income, minus taxes and some other regular payments, on interest payments.

When the cash rate topped 18 per cent in December 1989, the average household was spending just under nine per cent of its income on interest payments.

The figures also show that in December quarter of 1989, household debt was slightly less than half household yearly income.

Twenty years later it was equal to one and a half times an average household’s yearly income.

“That data is from fourth quarter (2009) and you have to remember we’ve had two more interest rate rises already,” Mr Roberts said.

He said a lower interest rate of 3.75 per cent to 4 per cent would be more appropriate given the current difference between the cash rate and the interest rates of major lenders.

Official economic data now points to a slowing economy, with building approvals, employment and retail sales data for March all coming in under market expectations.

Mr Bennett said the data suggested Australia’s economic performance post the global financial crisis was weaker than first thought.

“When you look at the domestic economy, there are patchy elements,” he said.

“There are storm clouds on the horizon.”

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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The Australian tax year ended on 30th June, 2009.

With its knowledge of migrant tax matters and the impact of visa status on how income and capital gains are taxed Go Matilda Accounting and Tax is here to help. It is particularly important for temporary visaholders (eg subclass 457, 410, provisional business skills subclasses 160 to 165) who are residing in Australia to be aware that income and capital gains arising from outside Australia are not subject to Australian tax – only Australian source income is taxable.

This is to be contrasted with the generality of Australian taxpayers (Australian citizens and permanent residents) who are resident in Australia, for whom worldwide income and capital gains are assessable in Australia. Go Matilda Accounting and Tax is managed by Alan Collett and Jane Cooper, both of whom are tax qualified in the UK and Australia.

They will be pleased to discuss your situation, how we might help – and to confirm our fees if we are instructed to assist.

Contact Alan Collett on Geelong number 03 5222 6288, or Jane Cooper on Perth number 08 9261 7762.

Source  :  www.gomatilda.com

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For travellers who are REALLY on a budget and are looking for a way to skim a few bucks off their travel expenses, why not consider sleeping in an airport?singapore02_std 

Why spend money on a night in the airport hotel when an inflatable raft on the airport floor is free? Sure, it may sound a little cheap and degrading at first, but read-on and you’ll soon discover a travel community, that for 13 years has been sharing their airport sleeping experiences and travel advice with fellow airport sleepers around the world. Airport sleeping is no longer just for the poor young backpacker. Nowadays, you’ll find travellers of all ages and income brackets stretched out on airport floors around the world.

So now, sit back….get out your travel itinerary and read the latest airport reviews.  You are about to discover which airports you can sleep in safely and comfortably and those which you should avoid altogether on your next trip.  Your friends and family may look at you funny when you return with your airport stories, but as you’ll read here and on our blog, that’s only part of the adventure.  

Whether you sleep in an airport overnight by choice or get stuck in the airport due to an airline problem or weather delay, let sleepinginairports.net help you make your stay more tolerable.  Together with a hearty dose of your sense of adventure, unnecessary airport hotels are about to become a travel expense of your past!

Visit  :  www.sleepinginairports.net

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STAMP duty on housing loans could be abolished after the Henry tax review, which is likely to recommend states be given a share of income tax to make up the difference.

The most likely path to do this would be for the Commonwealth to give the states the ability to impose their own surcharge on income tax, which would be collected for them by the Australian Tax Office.

 The Henry review has been inundated with submissions calling for the end of stamp duty.

Tax economists argue that the tax on moving house, although easy to collect, leads to poor use of the housing stock and poor labour mobility, The Australian reports.Having to pay stamp duty not only discourages elderly people from moving to more appropriate accommodation, it also deters people from moving house to a better jobs market. 

At a conference conducted by the Henry tax review at the Melbourne Institute last week, both international and Australian tax economists said stamp duty should go, with Melbourne University professor John Freebairn describing the tax as “a piece of garbage”.

The review panel is being influenced by state submissions arguing that replacing stamp duty by extending other state taxes, such as payroll tax or land tax, would be too difficult to implement nationally.

Tasmanian Treasury secretary Don Challen, who is close to the inquiry’s head, federal Treasury secretary Ken Henry, told last week’s conference that reform of state taxes would succeed only with leadership from the national government.                                                                                                                                                      stamp duty

“If you want to achieve a difficult reform, you’ve got to make it a national one,” Mr Challen said.

He said it would be too hard to win political consensus to extend land or payroll taxes.

“It requires eight lots of political commitment and eight lots of legislation and that path is doomed to failure,” he said.

However, he said he believed states would be willing to act on stamp duty if the commonwealth provided an avenue for alternative revenue.

The idea of giving states a cut of income tax was pressed two years ago by the OECD, which suggested the states “piggy-back” on income tax. The OECD also urged states to drop stamp duty.

One of the world’s leading experts on federal taxes, Canada’s Richard Bird, said the states were heading for a financial crisis because they did not have a sufficient tax base to support their burgeoning health and education costs, which were all rising much faster than the consumer price index.

One of the problems with stamp duty for the states is that it is vulnerable to the state of property markets.

Stamp duty usually raises about $14 billion a year for the states, but the recent state budgets showed big falls of more than $1bn each in NSW and Queensland, in 2008-09, for example.

“In Australia, it should certainly be feasible to permit states to impose a surcharge on the federal personal income tax base,” Professor Bird said.

He said that, ideally, Australia would follow the Scandinavian practice of allowing states to have a flat tax surcharge on income, rather than mirroring the commonwealth’s progressive taxation.

The states would be allowed to set their own level, making states more responsible for their own finances.

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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From 1 July 2009, there will be changes to how certain types of income affect eligibility for the CSHC. Depending on your circumstances, these changes may impact on your eligibility for a CSHC and you may be required to provide additional information about your income to Centrelink.

The adjusted taxable income test for CSHC will include:

  • assessment of total net investment losses. Total net investment losses are the sum of net losses from rental property income and net losses from financial investment income, and
  • subject to the passage of legislation, reportable superannuation contributions may be included in the adjusted taxable income test for CSHC. Reportable superannuation contributions are discretionary or voluntary contributions, for example salary sacrifice contribution and personal deductible contributions. 

Note: losses from rental properties are already included in assessable income for CSHC. From 1 July 2009, the adjustable taxable income test will also include losses from.

Source  :  http://www.centrelink.com.au/internet/internet.nsf/payments/conc_cards_cshc.htm

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The Australian Tax Office has issued a warning to self-managed super funds (SMSFs) about people offering to set up agreements between funds and related parties to purchase assets, particularly properties.

Tax Commissioner Michael D’Ascenzo says he’s concerned some of the arrangements on offer breach the in-house asset rules.

“These arrangements use a paid third party to set up an agreement, sometimes referred to as ‘a joint venture agreement’, between the fund and a related trust to purchase an asset that provides income for the trust and the fund,” D’Ascenzo says.

“This is clearly an attempt to circumvent the in-house asset rules as the transaction is really an investment by the SMSF in the related trust.”

“This alert serves as a timely reminder to trustees that we’re looking closely at SMSFs to ensure they’re meeting their obligations in relation to loans, in-house assets, borrowings and non-arm’s length transactions.”

The Taxpayer Alert (2009/16) on this issue is available from the Tax Office website at www.ato.gov.au/atp.

Source  :  www.apimagazine.com.au

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