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All the laws that are changing on 1 July: Here’s what it means for you

Here's a sweep of the changes that are kicking in on 1 July 2019. (Photos: Getty, AAP)

Australia is going to look a little different from 1 July 2019.

There is a whole spate of changes that are rolling out Monday, and it’s going to affect your superannuation, your hospital cover, your tax return, your banking, your pay, your energy bills, your HECS debt, and more.

Here’s a rundown of everything that’s changing:

If you get superannuation…

The government’s ‘Protect your Superannuation’ package rolls out today, which will primarily benefit young people and low-income earners. Here’s an outline of the changes:

  • For superannuation accounts with balances below $6,000, there’ll be a 3 per cent cap on admin and investment fees.

  • Exit fees will be banned.

  • Accounts with balances under $6,000 that have been inactive for 16 months will be transferred to the Australian Taxation Office.

  • Regardless of balance, inactive accounts that have default life insurance, which will be lost if you don’t ‘reactivate’ your account by getting in touch with your super fund or making a contribution.

So if you’ve worked multiple jobs over the last year or two, or you’ve been on maternity leave and no super has been paid into your super account, you could be at extra risk of waking up on 1 July and no longer being covered by the insurance cover you once had.

If you have private health insurance...

You’ll see private hospital insurance products be categorised into ‘tiers’ of gold, silver, bronze and basic. The point of this is to set minimum standards for each tier, so you know that, for example, all silver products will cover a certain set of things.

The Department of Health has a handy infographic that shows you exactly what’s covered under the basic, bronze, silver, and gold tiers.

This reform is designed to make it easier for you to understand hospital insurance products, which Australians – understandably – find confusing, and to more easily shop around for a better deal.

If you’re a taxpayer...

If you normally get a payment summary directly from your employer, you might not get one this year: this summary is now called an income statement and will be pre-filled into your tax return or provided to your tax agent.

If you use a tax agent for your tax return, don’t do anything; if you lodge it through myTax, the information will be pre-filled.

Most employers have until the end of July to finalise employees’ income statements, so the ATO is encouraging taxpayers to wait a few weeks before lodging their tax return.

Hitting pause before you lodge also gives time for information from banks, health funds and government agencies to be pre-filled in your return, too.

“If you lodge your tax return before your income statement is tax ready, your employer might make changes, and you may need to lodge an amendment. In some cases, additional tax and interest may be payable,” said ATO assistant commissioner Karen Foat.

“We know from previous years that the early birds who lodge in the first weeks of July are far more likely to make mistakes or submit incomplete data. That’s why we suggest waiting and letting the ATO do most of the work pre-filling your tax return.”

Now where are those tax cuts that Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg promised at the 2019-20 federal budget? That’s on hold as the Coalition continues to negotiate to pass the tax cut plan with crossbenchers.

If you need to tip off the ATO…

The ‘new and improved’ Tax Integrity Centre is launching 1 July, to be your new single point of contact for all anonymous reports of tax evasion, employers demanding to pay cash-in-hand to avoid tax obligations, over-claiming of deductions, or illegal phoenixing.

The Tax Integrity Centre aims to be the “taxation equivalent of Crime Stoppers for tax,” said ATO assistant commissioner Peter Holt.

You can ring up and provide your tip-offs at 1800 060 062.

If you have a bank account...

The Big Four banks are kicking off something called ‘open banking’. In the works for years, open banking is a new financial system that gives the consumer control of the data that banks and other financial institutions have on you.

At the moment, banks do not ‘send’ your full financial data to other companies.

“This makes it costly, difficult and time-consuming to find the best product or service for you and also to switch to the product or service,” explained Finder.com.au.

“Open banking will allow you to direct your data to be sent to other banks, financial institutions and authorised organisations when you want to.”

Concerned about your privacy? Don’t worry – open banking has been years in the making and the conversations about consumer data privacy have been had. You’ll have full control of who holds your data and how it’s used.

Having greater access to your data will help you make better and more informed decisions about the products and service that are right for you – and it’ll also drive up competition in the financial services sector, which will see better and cheaper products.

Still confused? Finder has a nifty timeline infographic about open banking.

If you’re on the minimum wage...

The new minimum wage of $19.49 per hour will kick in from 1 July, so employees and employers should take note of the new rate. Here’s everything you need to know about the minimum wage (and how it differs from the living wage).

If you get paid penalty rates...

You’ll be paid less this Sunday than you were last Sunday. About 700,000 low-paid workers in the retail, pharmacy, fast food and hospitality industries will see their Sunday, public holiday and late night shift rates cut for the third time in three years.

Here’s a neat chart with all the new penalty rate cuts slated so far and until 2020.

If you have a financial complaint...

...that goes as far back as 1 January 2008, you can make your case to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA). Previously, they were only able to consider matters that happened within the last six years, or only two years if the complaint has already gone through a financial firm’s internal dispute resolution process.

AFCA opened for business on 1 November 2018 and replaced the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), the Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO) and the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (CST) to be the one-stop shop for financial dispute resolution.

If your bank is pestering you...

They’ll have to stop, because a new bank rulebook – called the Banking Code of Practice – sets some guidelines for customer service that all the Big Four Aussie banks (and a bunch of others) have agreed to meet.

They’re now no longer to do things like offer unsolicited increases to your credit card limit, charge commissions on Lender Mortgage Insurance, or sell insurance with credit cards and personal loans at the point of sale.

From today, banks have to offer low-fee or no-fee accounts to customers on low incomes, provide loan contracts to small businesses in plain English, make it easier for customers to switch banks, and a number of other things.

Plus dead people won’t be slugged with fees for services they’re obviously not getting anymore, an issue that made national headlines during the Banking Royal Commission in 2018.

If you pay energy bills...

...and you’re on a standing offer living in NSW, South Australia, or south-east Queensland, you’ll see hundreds shaved off your power bill as the new lowered default market offer prices come into effect on 1 July 2019.

The prices have been lowered to cap how much energy providers can charge to residents and businesses for electricity.

Here’s how much you’ll typically save, depending on where you live:

  • NSW: between $129 and $181

  • South-east QLD: $118

  • $171 for South Australia

“On top of that, more than 3.9 million Aussies could receive one-off payments of $75 (for singles) and $125 (for couples) to help pay their energy bills, with the extra money deposited before 1 July,” stated comparison website comparethemarket.com.au.

If you pay a HECS debt...

You might pay your debt sooner than expected: the HELP minimum repayment threshold will be lowered from $51,957 to $45,881 starting 1 July. Here’s a neat chart of how much HECS debt you’ll have to pay depending on your income.

“Considering that a 2nd year assisting nurse/midwife in NSW could earn as little as $46,274 annually, that’s $462 a year in student loan repayments,” comparethemarket.com.au said.

If you’re an NDIS participant…

You may see better quality care as service providers get a $850 million budget boost in 2019-20.

“Therapists will get paid almost $11 per hour more, while price limits for physiotherapy services in NSW, QLD, VIC and the ACT will increase to $190 per hour and $210 per hour for psychology services,” said comparethemarket.com.au.

“Over a quarter of a million Australians with disabilities are expected to get access to more innovative support services.”

Here’s an updated NDIS Price Guide and Support Catalogue for 2019-20.

If you’re a small business owner…

There are a bunch of things you should be on top of, including changes to Single Touch Payroll, the minimum wage, open banking, the instant asset write-off increase, and the revoking of cash-in-hand payment tax deductions.

Here’s Yahoo Finance’s guide to the 2019 EOFY for small business owners.

If you’re pretending to be a doctor...

Watch out: from 1 July 2019, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority is imposing tougher penalties on those pretending to be a registered medical practitioner, including jail time of three years and fines doubled to $60,000 from $30,000.

Did we miss anything? Email your tips to jessica.yun@yahoofinance.com.

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