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Plans to limit cash transactions over $10,000

The move towards a cashless society. Photo: MTL

The Australian government has released draft legislation to implement an economy-wide cash payment limit of $10,000 from 1 January 2020.

Treasury officials have announced the laws will be “encouraging the transition to a digital society”.

LEGISLATION RELEASED

A new public consultation has revealed that large cash transactions may be coming to an end.

According to a draft of the Currency (Restrictions of the Use of Cash) Act 2019, cash payments made to businesses for goods and services will be banned under a radical change to currency laws.

From 1 January 2020, it will become a criminal offence to make or accept a payment from businesses in excess of $10,000 cash, or for a cash donation equal to or in excess of $10,000:

New changes are set to shake up Australia. Photo: Treasury.gov

The maximum penalty is up to two years imprisonment and/or $25,200 in fines.

Transactions equal or in excess of this amount would need to be made using the electronic payment or by cheque.

The cash payment limit will apply to the total price of a single supply of good or service, regardless of whether the price is split into a series of payments over time. 

Current exemptions will include the acceptance of deposits by approved banking institutions, payments withdrawn from bank accounts and certain foreign currency exchange transactions. 

Following the 2018-19 Budget, the recently formed ‘Black Economy Standing Taskforce’ provided a number of recommendations on necessary actions needed to regulate the cash economy. 

The government said it supported the majority of the recommendations, including potentially requiring wages to be paid into bank accounts, effectively outlawing cash-in-hand payments.

Workers in the ‘gig economy’ and other forms of niche industries will also face greater scrutiny.

Moving forward, the Black Economy Standing Taskforce will also be beefed up to detect people making sneaky cash transactions through a rigorous identification system and “mobile strike teams”.

The moves are another step in a list of announcements made by the Australian government relating to large structural changes for avenues such as tax and payment industries.

CURRENCY CRACKDOWN

For those who have submitted a 2018-2019 Tax Return, you may have noticed changes to both how you receive your Group Certificate (Pay Summary) and the path for ATO reporting moving forward.

As part of new changes to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), about 9 million workers who for years received annual payment summaries to lodge their tax returns have instead had their income statements pre-filled into online lodgement systems this year.

In future years, a new “Single Touch Payroll” system will require all businesses to report income and taxes on behalf of employees each pay cycle, elimating the need for pay summaries.

The ATO will now be able to track activities regularly, and will be visiting 700 businesses in Western Australia alone which aren’t registered for GST or pay as you go (PAYG) withholding — alongside those with “lifestyle assets far exceeding reported business income”.

Furthermore, this transition can also be found in the federal banking industry, with Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) governor Philip Lowe announcing cash is becoming a “niche payment”.

According to the RBA website, Lowe said that “it looks like a turning point has been reached” and that we can now “conceive of a world in which banknotes are used for relatively few payments”:

The RBA are behind the transition. Photo: RBA

The RBA were initially behind the push for cash restrictions in society, being one of the first entities in Australia to consider and support imposing tougher penalties on cash economy activity.

Many citizens are concerned these moves are part of a larger shift towards a cashless society.

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CASHLESS SOCIETY

Now valued at an estimated $79 billion per year, the digital payments industry — including payless, instant transactions — has become the new phenomenon of the sweeping impact of the internet.

We are now the first generation to have no physical object that represents value: no identification, no bag of potatoes, no coins, no paper — no tangible representations. 

New reports released by payment industry bodies have revealed Australia’s shift to a digital economy is accelerating, with increasing cashless payments outperforming continuing declines of cash and cheque at an unprecedented rate.

According to a report by the Australian Payments Network, a regulatory body, the amount of people paying with cash dropped from 69 per cent of Australians in 2007 to only 37 per cent in 2016.

RELATED:
Australia’s move towards a cashless society

This growing preference for digital payments is also reflected in a rapid decline in cheque use and ATM withdrawals, which together accounted for fewer than two million transactions a day in 2017.

This is compared with almost 23 million each day in 2018 via the digital economy.

It is also important to note that the digital economy is still far from functional:

NAB’s system has experienced crashes, Commonwealth Bank suffered a 25-hour outage earlier last year, ANZ also experienced a crash that left millions of customers without access to online and phone banking and a technical glitch recently forced Woolworths stores to close.

Despite this, new moves to restrict cash payments in the economy will certainly allow for an accelerated path towards a digital economy to become a reality with each passing day in Australia.


Concerned citizens can submit responses to this consultation up until 12 August 2019 at: blackeconomy@treasury.gov.au 

 Interested parties are invited to comment on this consultation. More information on the legislation, including memorandums, can be found by clicking here.


RELATED LINKS

Currency (Restrictions on the Use of Cash) Bill 2019 | Treasury.gov

Exposure draft legislation for an economy-wide cash payment limit of $10,000 | Treasury.gov

EXPOSURE DRAFT EXPLANATORY MATERIALS | Treasury.gov

Cash payments over $10,000 to be banned as government targets $50 billion ‘black economy’ | News.com.au

A Journey Towards a Near Cashless Payments System | Reserve Bank of Australia

Regulators are pushing us into a cashless world as RBA declares ‘a turning point has been reached’ | ABC

Australia’s move towards a cashless society | TOTT News



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