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Avoiding Scams

The ATO is warning Australian taxpayers to be careful with their personal information.

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The crime of identity theft can create a number of issues for a victim, such as a poor credit rating, money stolen and bank accounts emptied, and serious crimes committed under their name, such as fraud.

The ATO offers five strategies for protecting yourself from identity crimes:

1) Understand what you need to protect
There are a number of personal details scammers can use to carry out an identity crime that the average person may not consider. Details such as your full name, date of birth, driver’s licence, passport details, etc., can all be used to steal your identity.

2)Keep personal information safe and secure
Once personal information is captured by someone deceptive, in many cases it is impossible to get back. For instance, once someone knows your tax file number or address, you can’t take this knowledge back from them. If financial details are shared or stored online, they are there permanently. Carefully consider the safest place to store details like passwords and bank details to avoid fraud.

3) Avoid oversharing
Professional identity thieves are just that, professionals. They are extremely savvy and can discover a great deal about a person from piecing together who they are based on what they share online, particularly on social media platforms. Something as innocent as sharing a photo of yourself in front of your house can provide a thief with enough information to find out where you live.

4) Being vigilant when divulging personal information
Treat requests for personal information with caution. If you are unsure about the legitimacy of a call from either a company, organisation or government agency, call their phone number directly to check if it is really them calling.

5) Use legitimate channels to make payments
Many scammers will request payment methods such as pre-paid gift cards or for money to be sent to bank accounts. To avoid falling into these scams, don’t send money or provide personal, credit or banking details to anyone unless you made the call and are sure that the phone number is genuine.

Thank you for reading – if you have any questions feel free to contact our office.

Many thanks,

TAS Tailored Accounting Solutions
(03) 9728 1448

 

 

 

ATO offers leniency to small business owners

Small business owners deal with many issues on a daily basis. Between managing staff, suppliers and customers, running a business can be quite stressful.

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Around 45 per cent of Australians aged 16-85 will experience a common mental health-related condition in their lifetime. Many of the signs and symptoms of common mental illnesses can be hard to differentiate between general stresses in your professional life and experiencing a mental health condition. For example, feeling irritable, stressed or teary, changes in appetite, the inability to switch off from work even during personal time and troubles with sleeping may be ‘red flags.’

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has recognised that general stresses combined with mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression or a substance use disorder, can severely impact on a small business owner’s ability to run their business efficiently and enjoy a high quality of life.

The ATO offers support and assistance for any small business owners who are having difficulty meeting their tax and super obligations due to experiencing a mental health condition. The Tax Office provides the following options:

Tailored payment plans
Those struggling to pay their tax bill on time can opt for a payment plan. This option allows business owners to pay back their debt by instalments to cater to their circumstances. In some cases, the ATO can offer interest-free payment arrangements for small businesses with an activity statement debt.

Lodgment and payment deferral
Business owners can apply for a deferral of lodgment and/or payment of their reports and returns in certain circumstances. If you would like to apply for a deferral, contact our office and one of our accountants can apply on your behalf.

Please note, information in this article should not be a substitute for professional advice, seek help if you or someone you know is experiencing issues.

Have any questions? Contact our office on (03) 9728 1448.

Have a great day,

TAS Tailored Accounting Solutions

(03) 9728 1448

 

 

Tax compliance and the sharing economy

The ATO is reminding those who work in the sharing economy to be aware of their tax obligations.

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The sharing economy connects buyers (users) and sellers (providers) through a facilitator who usually operates an app or a website. Some popular examples include Airbnb, Stayz, Uber, Deliveroo, Airtasker and so on. It is often overlooked by providers of these services that money earned as a result of using them is taxable income. Different rules apply, depending on what type of sharing economy activities are undertaken by an individual.

Tax responsibilities will vary depending on the services taxpayers engage with. Those who rent out part or all of their home are reminded to:

• declare what they earn in their tax return;

• apportion related expenses as appropriate before claiming deductions and

• understand it may affect their capital gains tax if they sell their home in the future.

Individuals who participate in ride-sourcing activities need an ABN, to register for GST from the day they start, to pay GST on the full amount of every fare and to keep records of income and expenses for both GST and income tax purposes. GST credits associated with your ride-sourcing enterprise are deductible.

Those providing other goods and services through the sharing economy need to remember to declare what they earn and apportion related expenses.

While there are a number of compliance issues to consider, there are also a number of deductions users and providers of the sharing economy can claim, but rarely do. According to the ATO, to be eligible to claim a deduction:

• Appropriate records must be kept

• You must not have been reimbursed for the money spent

• Cost must relate to the job/service and not a private expense

• Accurately calculate how much of the total expense is business related and only claim from this portion.

If you have any queries please contact our office on (03) 9728 1448

Have a great day,

The team at TAS Tailored Accounting Solutions 

This publication is for guidance only, and professional advice should be obtained before acting on any information contained herein. Neither the publishers nor the distributors can accept any responsibility for loss occasioned to any person as a result of action taken or refrained from in consequence of the contents of this publication.

Turning negative customer feedback around

In a perfect world, every customer your business works with will be pleased with how the transaction went and will want to return to you for future business.

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In reality, this isn’t always the case. It is human nature that people make mistakes and there will always be circumstances outside of your control that can result in a customer not feeling satisfied with your products and services. Consider the following tips for handling negative customer feedback:

Be responsive
When people feel they have received poor or inadequate service, they can be quick to complain. One thing that can be extremely damaging and can make that person feel even more negatively towards your business is to ignore them. Being unresponsive can come across as arrogant and seriously tarnish the reputation of your business. Once a customer has complained, the best thing you can do is to work to rectify and resolve their issue. Doing nothing and failing to respond casts a negative light on the business, particularly in the social media environment where there is a large audience.

Apologise and offer a solution
One of the worst actions you can take is to respond aggressively and take no responsibility for the way in which you have made the customer feel. The best approach is to acknowledge they are unhappy, apologise and assure them that you will contact them, through calling or emailing, or encourage them to come back into the business so that you can resolve the issue for them in person.

Implement changes
Once you have spoken to the unhappy customer and worked out how you can resolve the issue, it is important that you implement the appropriate changes to resolve the issue. Saying you are going to take action and then not doing anything will only make the issue bigger. One common mistake that occurs is when one employee says they will follow up and take appropriate action to resolve the issue, but then fails to do so, and then when the customers calls back, they deal with a different employee who has no knowledge of the situation.

Learn from it
To prevent the same issue occurring again in the future, analyse how the negative feedback was dealt with and if it was dealt with efficiently. Evaluate what could be done better or what could be approved upon. Maybe you dealt with and resolved the issue in the end but the procedure in place for following up with and responding to negative feedback could be improved. Every negative aspect of business should be analysed and improved upon; that is how your business model will continue to develop and strengthen.

Thank you for reading – please do not hesitate to contact our office on (03) 9728 1448 with any queries.

Many thanks,

Isabella

 

Legislation passed to protect vulnerable workers.

Vulnerable workers are set to receive better protection after the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill 2017.

The Bill contains measures such as an increase in the maximum penalties for employers who deliberately flaunt the minimum wage and other entitlements under the Fair Work Act 2009.The new laws will apply from the day after the Bill receives royal assent, except for the new franchisor and holding company liability which will start six weeks later.

Franchisors and holding companies will be held responsible for underpayments by their franchisees where they know, or reasonably should have known, about the contraventions and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent them.

The new laws will:

• Apply to franchisors that have a significant degree of influence or control over the franchisee’s affairs.

• Apply new, higher financial penalties to ‘serious contraventions’ which are 10 times the current maximum penalties. A court could impose these higher penalties where an employer knew they were breaching their obligations and this conduct is part of a systematic pattern of behaviour. Maximum penalties of $630,000 and $126,000 per contravention could apply to corporations and individuals respectively.

• Double the maximum penalties for record-keeping and pay slip breaches, to $12,600 per contravention for individuals and $63,000 for companies, and triple existing penalties where employers give false or misleading pay slips to workers, or provide the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) with false information or documents.

Furthermore, where an employer has not met their record-keeping or pay slip obligations, the employer will have to disprove a wage claim put before a Court unless the employer has a reasonable excuse for not keeping records or issuing pay slips. The Fair Work Ombudsman will be given new evidence gathering powers to require a person to provide information or documents to the FWO or to attend before senior FWO officials to answer questions on oath or affirmation relating to underpayment of workers.

Individuals will have stronger protections with the strengthening of the FWO’s new evidence powers including rules preventing the evidence a person gives from being used against them personally, the right to have a lawyer present if they attend to answer questions, the right to claim reimbursement of reasonable expenses and supervision by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

While the FWO acknowledges most employers work with the FWO to address concerns about an employee’s entitlements, those engaging in deliberate breaches of the law often do not cooperate. The new powers will help address serious cases of non-compliance and exploitation, especially in protecting the most vulnerable community members.

Have any questions? Contact our office on (03) 9728 1448.

 

Are you ready to expand your business?

When business is going well, many owners look to expand their business. Consider the following advice before doing so:

Regular customers

A sound indicator of whether or not your business is ready for expansion is to consider your customer base. To feel comfortable in expanding, you should have regular and loyal customers that return to your business. Regular customers that appreciate and value your business can be more helpful than you may realise; they can bring in more customers by speaking positively about the business. When you begin thinking about expanding, it would be worthwhile to create a survey or questionnaire, asking what could be done to improve the service your business provides. Any feasible suggestions should be implemented before expanding.

Financially ready

There are a lot of expenses associated with expanding your business. Hiring and training new staff, paying for new hardware and software, and any other technology needed to facilitate growth all costs money. Additional rent on another office space and bills can add up to a sizeable figure. While you may be able to afford all of these expenses that come with expanding your business, consider whether the profit you will make from implementing all these changes will be fruitful and worthwhile for the business, or whether it will be a loss in the long-run.

Resources

Money is not the only resource you need to expand successfully. You will need adequate space. To gain more space consider whether you will open a second or third office or whether you will allow for more flexible working conditions, such as allowing staff to work remotely. Evaluate whether you have enough staff to handle a larger business; this includes answering phones, responding to emails, assisting customers in store, etc. If your business is one that makes deliveries, you will need to organise additional resources such as another delivery truck and potentially more delivery staff.

Develop a strategy

It is naive to assume that expanding will be a straightforward process. Regardless of how many loyal customers you have or how much money you have, without a sound business strategy, the likelihood of achieving success is slim. Plan how you will manage the expansion through completing a SWOT analysis. You should prepare a budget that will enable you to expand successfully; you will need to submit a financial application and analyse how current cash flow will enable or hinder the process. When you put your business plan into action and start expanding, regular and thorough reviews should be undertaken to stay on top of how well the process is going.

Have any queries in respect of looking to expand your business? Call our office on (03) 9728 1448 to set up a meeting.

Have a great day,

Isabella

 

 

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Changes to workplace laws

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The start of the new financial year has seen some important changes to Australia’s employment laws.

Not only do employers need to remain up to date and aware of amendments but they must also ensure they continue to meet their obligations to remain compliant. Employers must check their payroll systems and staff are implementing changes, and that pay slips and records are updated appropriately.

Below are some of the changes that took effect from 1 July 2017:

Penalty rates

Changes to the penalty rates in some
awards for the hospitality, restaurant and
retail industries started from 1 July 2017.
The changes to public holiday penalty rates
commenced in full from 1 July 2017. In the Restaurant and Fast Food Awards, changes to the evening work and after midnight penalties also started on 1 July 2017.

The changes to Sunday penalty rates are being phased in over three or four years from 1 July 2017, depending on the award and the employment type. Sunday rates in the Restaurant Award will remain unaffected by the changes.

Increase to the National Minimum Wage

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) announced a 3.3 per cent increase to minimum wages, raising the National Minimum Wage to $694.60
per week or $18.29 per hour. The 3.3 per cent increase applies to employees that get their pay rates from the national minimum wage and
a modern award. The increase only applies to some registered agreements.

Employers must ensure the new minimum wages are applied from the first full pay period on or after 1 July 2017. So if your business pay
week is Thursday to Wednesday, then you will need to pay your employees the new rates for all the hours they work from Thursday 6 July.

High-income threshold for unfair dismissals

From 1 July 2017, the high income threshold increased from $138,900 to $142,000 per annum. The high income threshold refers to
the maximum earnings an employee can be paid and still be allowed to make an unfair dismissal claim (unless they are covered by an
award or enterprise agreement).

The Fair Work Act 2009 deems an employee’s annual rate of earnings as employee wages, any amounts applied or dealt with on the
employee’s behalf, such as salary sacrificing, and the agreed value of any non-monetary benefits, i.e., a car, mobile phone, laptop, etc. The high-income threshold excludes reimbursements such as meal allowances or living away from home allowances, statutory super contributions, commissions, overtime (unless it is guaranteed) or incentive-based payments and bonuses.

The maximum financial compensation limit is now $71,000. Employers should exercise caution when calculating whether their employees are earning above or below the high income threshold and whether a modern award or enterprise agreement applies to an employee.

Hope you enjoyed our article – follow our facebook to keep up to date with our articles.

The team at TAS Tailored Accounting Solutions

ATO targeting fringe benefits tax

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The ATO has fringe benefits tax (FBT) in its sights this tax time with a crackdown on employers that are deliberately avoiding or minimising their tax payable.

The specific areas of focus include:

Motor vehicles
Situations where an employer-provided motor vehicle is used, or available, for private travel of employees. This constitutes a fringe benefit and needs to be declared in the fringe benefits tax return (if lodgment is required). There are circumstances where this may be exempt,
i.e., where the entity was tax exempt of  the private use of the vehicle was exempt. Some employers fail to identify or report these fringe benefits or incorrectly apply exemption provisions.

Employee contributions

The Tax Office is focusing on situations where employee contributions that have been paid by an employee to an employer are declared in both the fringe benefits tax return (if lodgment is required) and the employer’s income tax return. Focusing on this issue helps to ensure that the employer does not fail to report these contributions as income in their income tax return and that the employer does not incorrectly overstate employee contributions in their fringe benefits tax return to reduce the taxable value of benefits provided.

Non-lodgment

Employers who provide fringe benefits must lodge a fringe benefits tax return unless the taxable value of all benefits has been reduced to nil. Common errors include failure to identify fringe benefits provided and incorrect calculation of benefit values or reduction amounts.

Employer rebate

The ATO is cracking down on employers that apply for a fringe benefits tax rebate when they are not eligible. Rebatable employers are certain non-government, non-profit organisations.

Car parking valuation

The validity of valuations provided in relation to car parking fringe benefits is also under ATO scrutiny. Errors that attract the Tax Office’s attention include:

  • market valuations that are significantly less than the fees charged for parking within a one kilometre radius of the premises on which the car is parked
  • the use of rates paid where the parking facility is not readily identifiable as a commercial parking station
  • rates charged for monthly parking on properties purchased for future development that do not have any car park infrastructure
  • insufficient evidence to support the rates as the lowest fee charged for all day parking by a commercial parking station.

Feel free to contact our office on (03) 9728 1448 with any queries.

Thank you,

The team at TAS Tailored Accounting Solutions

Checklist for new workers

Employers need to be aware of their responsibilities when hiring new staff to ensure they are complying with workplace laws and for their business to continue to succeed.

Here are three things to consider before hiring new workers:

1) Understand your legal obligations

Employers must familiarise themselves with the National Employment Standards that cover the maximum weekly hours, flexible working, leave (annual, parent’s/ carer’s, compassionate, community service, parental, long service), public holidays, notice of termination and redundancy pay and the Fair Work Information Statement.

Determine whether the worker will be covered by a modern award or enterprise agreement and be sure to pay the right pay rates and entitlements. Employers are also responsible for providing a healthy and safe working environment for staff and must adhere to anti-discrimination and equal employment opportunity legislation.

2) Pay slip and record keeping

One of the first steps of hiring a new worker is determining whether they are an employee or contractor, as this will affect super and
tax treatment. Employers need to register for Pay As You Go (PAYG) straightaway to withhold tax and should check if they need
to register for payroll tax in their state or territory. If you are providing fringe benefits for the employee, you will need to register for FBT. You will also need to check if the worker is eligible for superannuation.

3) Offer of employment

Writing a letter of offer is usually the best way of offering employment after the initial verbal offer. Be sure to include a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement, company policies (i.e., code of conduct, social media, uniform policies), and forms that need to be completed such as a tax file declaration and super choice form.

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This publication is for guidance only, and professional advice should be obtained before acting on any information contained herein. Neither the publishers nor the distributors can accept any
responsibility for loss occasioned to any person as a result of action taken or refrained from in consequence of the contents of this publication.

Improving internal communication

Internal communication can mean the difference between having a team that thrives or plummets.

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Businesses with effective internal communication experience higher levels of productivity, have stronger working relationships and a positive workplace culture. Here are a few ways to ensure effective internal communication in your workplace:

- Regular check-ins

Regular communication processes, such as a daily huddle or weekly conference call are effective in planning ahead, discussing progress on projects and problem-solving. Making communication habitual ensures all employees are kept aware of what is happening in the business
and are on the same page. Providing regular updates to employees also helps to save time searching for information and allows them to get involved in discussions about business changes and future plans.

- Flat organisational structure

Hierarchies can be detrimental to effective communication. A flatter organisational structure means there are reduced layers of management between staff and senior management. Flat structures can result in faster communication and lower misunderstandings. Another big advantage is that rules and regulations are less complicated which can lead to fewer conflicts.

- Team activities

An essential element of successful teams is a strong sense of community. Creating opportunities for employees to get to know each other by incorporating team based activities and activities outside of work, i.e., business events and celebrating birthdays can help to foster closer team.

Feel free to contact our office with any queries on (03) 9728 1448.

Many thanks,

The team at TAS Tailored Accounting Solutions

This publication is for guidance only, and professional advice should be obtained before acting on any information contained herein. Neither the publishers nor the distributors can accept any
responsibility for loss occasioned to any person as a result of action taken or refrained from in consequence of the contents of this publication.

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