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The Australian Federal Government delivered its COVID-19 delayed 2020 Budget yesterday. It contains a mix of spending and immediate tax reductions to stimulate economic growth.

The headline tax measures in the Australian Budget include:

  • Bringing forward, and backdating to 1 July 2020, personal tax cuts for those on incomes below A$120,000.

For business:

  •  Allowing immediate write-offs for the cost of new assets. This will apply to businesses with a turnover of less than A$5 billion for new assets first used or installed by 30 June 2022.
  • A temporary tax loss carry-back rule, for businesses with less than A$5 billion turnover, to allow losses incurred in the 2020, 2021 or 2022 years to be carried back to 2019 or later years.
  • Withdrawal of previously proposed reductions to R&D tax incentives and increasing the incentive from 1 July 2021.

Brief observations

Like New Zealand, the Australian Budget contains a sea of red ink. A comparison of key economic and fiscal forecasts suggests a broadly similar economic and fiscal trajectory.

 

2019-20

2020-21

2021-22

2022-23

GDP

Australia

NZ

 

-0.2%

-3.1%

 

-1.5%

-0.5%

 

4.75%

3.6%

 

2.75%

3.9%

Unemployment rate

Australia

NZ

 

7%

4%

 

7.25%

7.7%

 

6.5%

7.6%

 

6%

6.6%

Budget (% of GDP)

Australia

NZ

 

-4.3%

-7.7%

 

-11%

-10.5%

 

-5.6%

-6.9%

 

-4.2%

-4.2%

Net Debt (% of GDP)

Australia

NZ

 

24.8%

27.6%

 

36.1%

43%

 

40.4%

49.9%

 

42.8%

53.5%


Given the importance of trade and open borders to New Zealand’s economic recovery, Australia’s fortunes are inextricably tied to our own.

The Australian Government’s Budget response includes measures New Zealand has already adopted (such as implementing a tax loss carry back) and some policies (or variations thereof) on offer in parties’ election manifestos (see our 2020 election policies Taxmail for more detail).

A minor, but welcome, announcement is a legislative clarification to Australia’s corporate tax residency test to confirm that a company incorporated outside Australia will only be treated as Australian tax resident if its core commercial activities are undertaken there and its central management and control is in Australia. This follows an ATO ruling in 2017, which created considerable uncertainty, including for New Zealand subsidiaries of Australian businesses. Once enacted, it will be able to be applied retroactively to the date of the ATO ruling.

For more on the Australia Budget, click here to read KPMG Australia’s detailed analysis