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Income Averaging: a means of helping to manage the impacts of industry cyclicity?

There is an interesting discussion running on the AIG Linkedin group currently regarding the professions able to access income averaging in Australia.

Australian tax legislation recognises that certain taxpayers, due to the nature of their work, can make inconsistent levels of income from year to year. In light of this, there is a concessionary tax treatment available that allows for a reduction of the otherwise unreasonable tax rates that would apply in higher income years, in effect smoothing out these income spikes to come to a fair level of tax overall.

The concession comes in the form of special tax rates applied, broadly, to a four year rolling average taxable income. It is available only to certain specified categories of income earners, known as “special professionals”.  These are:

  • sportspeople
  • authors (literary, dramatic, musical, but also other artistic works and in some cases computer programmers)
  • inventors
  • performing artists, and
  • production associates (those who provide artistic support to performing artists).

There has recently been discussion about the extension of income averaging to primary producers, such as farmers and fishermen, whose income is affected by seasonal fluctuations in their employment and returns from primary production.  Income averaging is available to primary producers and fishermen in the United States.

Should self-employed geoscientists be able to access these provisions in Australia given the highly variable and cyclical nature of the exploration and mining industry?  Is this an issue that AIG should be pursuing on behalf of members, utilising data provided by AIG’s employment surveys?

Have your say by joining the discussion on the AIG Linkedin group.

Latest Australian Geoscientist Employment Survey Open for Contributions

The latest instalment in AIG’s Australian Geoscientist Employment Survey series is open for contributions by following this link.

In the first quarter of 2014 the AIG Australian Geoscientist Employment survey recorded the highest levels of unemployment and underemployment since the surveys commenced in 2008. The September quarter survey showed the first signs of improvement in employment conditions after a protracted downturn. The December 2014 survey showed the improvement observed in the September 2014 to be short lived, potentially setting the scene for another difficult year in 2015.

This survey is designed to collect data for the first half of 2015.

Thanks to the support of many regular contributors, these surveys are now widely considered to be a trusted indicator of geoscientist employment specifically, and an indicator of the health of Australia’s exploration and mining sector more generally.

A decision was made to reduce the frequency of these surveys from quarterly to six-monthly to help foster contributions from the geoscience profession while maintaining their timeliness and relevance.  We need your repeated, continued support, for a few minutes every six months, to maintain the value of this series of surveys. 

The surveys provide a snapshot of employment opportunities for Australian geoscientists based on “hard data” from a representative sample that is used in representations to government, and for use in a range of other areas by both AIG and industry representative bodies with which AIG shares the survey results.

The few minutes of your time spent completing the survey really helps to make a difference to the standing and knowledge of our profession.

The survey will remain open for contributions until 31st July, 2015 but please take a few minutes to complete the survey now.