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The Tax Office today reminded Australia’s 11.8 million taxpayers to start getting ready to lodge their tax returns.                                                                                                

Tax Commissioner Michael D’Ascenzo said the Tax Office has a range of information and assistance available to help people meet the 31 October 2009 deadline.

“From 1 July, people can prepare and lodge their return online using e-tax, which is free, secure and easy to use software which in most cases processes your return within 14 days.

“As well as calculators, help screens and links to rulings, you can also download information from third parties directly into your tax return, including payment summaries, government payments such as pensions and allowances, bank interest and private health insurance details.

E-tax can be accessed free of charge 24 hours a day, seven days a week from our website at www.ato.gov.au,” Mr D’Ascenzo said.

Government and third party information will be available to download progressively from 1 July. You can subscribe to an alert service within e-tax which will let you know when the information becomes available.                                                                                                                                                                                         ato

People can still lodge using TaxPack 2009 or the short tax return for individuals 2009.

TaxPack 2009 is available from most newsagents, Tax Office shopfronts or the Tax Office website from 1 July.

If you used the short tax return last year you’ll receive a copy in the mail shortly.

Mr D’Ascenzo also reminded people to contact their tax agent as soon as possible.

“If you’re using a tax agent for the first time or using a different one from last year you need to contact them by 31 October 2009,” he said.

“Only registered tax agents can charge a fee to prepare and lodge a tax return.

“However some people present themselves as tax agents when they are not.

“Registered tax agents are regulated by the Tax Agents’ Board and have the qualifications and experience to handle your tax affairs.”

Visit the Tax Agents’ Board website http://www.tabd.gov.au or call 1300 362 829 to check if your agent is registered.

Compliance focus

We cross-check tax returns against a wide range of data including financial institution data, state and territory revenue and property sales information and Australian stock exchange data.

Help and assistance

If people have questions or need assistance they should visit the Tax Office website www.ato.gov.au or phone the Tax Office on 13 28 61 between 8.00am and 6.00pm weekdays.

The Tax Office can provide you a more personalised service if you provide your tax file number when you call.

source  :  www.ato.gov.au

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lending moneyTHE Rudd Government will give the $21 billion margin lending industry three weeks to digest a proposed overhaul of the regulatory and legislative regime.
The Minister for Corporate Law Nick Sherry will today release a draft copy of the legislation with a view to introducing it into parliament next month.

The legislation includes new national laws to regulate margin lending under a standard national regime, reports The Australian.

Margin lending is not currently regulated in Australia and is considered to have been one of the main destroyers of investor wealth as the stockmarket collapsed last year.

It cost some investors their homes as their margin lending accounts blew up, triggering margin calls many couldn’t afford to pay.

Mr Sherry said yesterday taking out equity on a family home was a key area of interest to the Government.

“One area where we have had a high level of concern has been where people have been advised to take equity out of their family home and then to use this debt to leverage into buying shares through a margin loan.

“This double-debt trap, with a home as security, is of serious concern,” he said.

“Under our new responsible margin lending laws the lender will be required to assess a person’s true loan-to-value ratio

“This means the lender can no longer assume the money brought to the table is not itself debt, a major new improvement” that would reduce the risk of people losing their homes.

Properly geared margin lending, backed by full disclosure, had a place, but the Rudd Government would not tolerate ordinary Australians being misled into grossly inappropriate margin loans that could cost a family everything they owned, including their home, he said.

Under the new laws, lenders will be regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and be required to hold an Australian Financial Services Licence, be members of low-cost external dispute bodies, clearly disclose fees and commissions before lending, and lend under a tailored margin-lending-specific set of responsible lending obligations.

Between June last year and December 30, the number of margin calls received by 205,000 Australians with margin loans increased 458 per cent, as the share market dropped 40 per cent.

http://www.news.com.au/perthnow/money/story/0,26926,25441887-5015860,00.html

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