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Firm Journal

What You Need To Check Before Purchasing Life Insurance

Posted on 18 June '21, under money.

If something unexpected or untoward happens to you or your loved ones, life insurance is financial protection that you don’t want to skimp on. It’s crucial to find the right insurance to suit your needs, as the cost of life insurance can become a costly amount in your budget.

Different life insurance products are designed to protect you and your loved ones from various events that can occur. Some of the products that may be covered under life insurance (depending on the provider) include:

  • Life Cover pays out a lump sum if you die.
  • Total and permanent disability (TPD) insurance pays a lump sum to help you with rehabilitation and living costs.
  • Trauma insurance covers you if you’re diagnosed with a major illness.
  • Income protection insurance pays some of your income if you can’t work due to illness or injury.

Before making a purchase, you should read the life insurance provider’s product disclosure statement (which legally must be provided to you before purchase). Check the product disclosure statement for:

  • What’s covered and excluded under the policy
  • What information you will need to give to an insurer
  • Information on premiums and how they change over time
  • Waiting periods before you make a claim
  • How to make a claim
  • How to make a complaint about the claims process or decision

As it is a significant financial decision, shop around before making the final decision to ensure that you are getting the product that best suits your needs.

You should also check whether or not you already have life insurance through your super to make sure that you are not paying for your insurance twice. If you’re not sure about whether or not your super provider already covers your life insurance, it’s best to speak with them directly to be certain.

It is also important to know that only licensed financial advisers can give you advice about what life insurance you should hold.

High School Students, It’s Time To Get Creative About Tax & Super

Posted on 16 June '21, under super.

The ATO’s Tax, Super + You competition is a fun and engaging way for Australian high school students to learn about tax and super, unleash their creativity and potentially win some great prizes.

Working as a part of a team or individually, students are invited to write, make or film an entry for their topic:

* Junior (Year 7–9) are asked to highlight the value of tax or super (or both) in the community

* Senior (Year 10–12) must discuss your first job and what you need to know about tax and super.

Shortlisted entries in 2019 included raps, songs, animations, video skits and even a board game. If you’re a high school student interested in competing this year or are the parent of one, this resource is a great way to see how people have gotten involved previously (and that you can draw inspiration from as well).

The competition opened on 24 May, but entries will be accepted until 13 August. The winners will be decided by a judging panel, including guest judge Effie Zahos who is one of Australia’s leading personal finance commentators. The public can also vote for their favourite entry in the People’s Choice Awards.

Tax Office Assistant Commissioner Sally Bektas said she was thrilled to be back on the judging panel.

“Our Tax, Super + You competition has really shown that building financial literacy can be fun and bring out the best in students. I’m so excited to see the entries for 2021,” Sally said.

You can watch Sally explain how to get involved on ATOtv.

Winners of the 2021 Tax, Super + You competition will be announced in September.

Looking for more information about the 2021 Tax, Super + You competition? Visit www.taxsuperandyou.gov.au/competition to find out more details.

Your First Tax Return: What You Need To Know

Posted on 15 June '21, under tax.

Tax return season is quickly approaching for individuals. You may need to begin thinking about the process sooner rather than later to ensure that you have everything ready for your accountant. If you’ve never had to complete a tax return before (and it’s your first time) or are still uncertain about what you need to do, this process can feel a bit like a Mount Everest you need to climb.

Putting it simply, if you are earning or will earn more than $20,542 this year, you will need to lodge a tax return. However, if you haven’t made that amount but your employer has taken tax out of your pay, you should lodge a return anyway to receive some (if not most) of that money back.

How much money you receive back from the tax return will be affected by how much income you have earned. Some debts (such as HECS or HELP) will begin to take money out of your return after reaching a certain income threshold level (currently set at $46,620).

A tax return is where you report all of your income earned over the past financial year. It should include ATO-reported income (which you generally won’t have to worry about as we have access to it automatically) such as salary or non-ATO reported income. This income may be income that has not been sent to the ATO and could include tips, any income you’ve earned while working under an ABN or payments from a family trust. You need to work out all of the income that you have earned and report it to remain compliant with the ATO.

In a tax return, you will also be entitled to make tax deductions on certain items if they apply to your situation. This means that you may receive a greater amount in your tax refund.

You will be entitled to tax deductions on items such as:

  • Uniforms and protective clothing
  • Certain travel expenses between workplaces, e.g. travel between sites (but not travel expenses from home to work)
  • If an apprentice or trainee, if you have had to buy any of your tools or equipment out of pocket, you can claim them as a tax deduction (but cannot do so if your employer purchased them for you)
  • Union fees
  • Any donations that you have made
  • Costs that may have been incurred in the process of educating yourself (e.g. course, seminars, training)

If you want to make sure that you understand precisely what you need to do to lodge your tax return, keep this in mind:

  • If you earned money, you need to report it.
  • If you can’t prove an expense, you can’t claim it.
  • If you want to make extra sure that you’ve got it right, see a tax agent

For assistance during the lodgement of your tax return, you can seek advice from us. We’re here to help ensure you meet your tax obligations by reporting your income correctly for this financial year.


What Can Engaging A Business Adviser Do For You?

Posted on 14 June '21, under business.

Feel like your business is stuck in a rut? Unable to solve a problem that you know is going to cost you in the long run?  It might not be financially tanking, and it’s highly likely that your revenue stream isn’t down, but if you’re not sure what direction to take, it could also mean that you need a fresh pair of eyes to take a look at particular issues that your business is facing to deal with them.

Business advisers can be engaged across many fields with specially focused advice or strategies to a specific area (such as accountants, business bankers or commercial lawyers) or be a business adviser who is dedicated to considering the overall goals and long-term ramifications of your business’s strategies.

A business adviser can be hired on either a one-time basis (to deal with one-off problems your business is set to face) or on an ongoing basis to provide continued support.

Suppose you’re only looking for a particular solution to a problem. In that case, one-time advice from a business adviser can be an easy and cost-effective solution to solve that particular problem. However, suppose you’re looking for long-term ongoing support that’s backed by years of experience and a perspective that’s looking to preempt these issues. In that case, ongoing advice may be more appropriate for your needs.

Engaging a business adviser can provide your business with fresh ideas based on an objective analysis of your business’s current performance and situation.

As an example, contracting an accountant in a business adviser role means that you are looking for strategic and financial advice like profitability improvement, tax planning and advice regarding business performance.

An adviser who can offer timely and relevant advice to your financial situation can make a huge difference to your business in the long run.

If you’re looking for assistance in plotting out the financial future of your business, you can come and speak with us. We’re well-equipped to assist you in mapping out your business’s plan for the future, so start a conversation with us today to see how we can help.

Planning For Your Business’s Future For Next Financial Year

Posted on 9 June '21, under business.

With the end of the 2020 financial year rapidly approaching this month, many businesses will be reflecting on how they managed to navigate and meet the challenges of a turbulent time (namely, the COVID-19 pandemic).

By taking what they have learned, what worked and what failed, businesses should be able to plan for their future for the next financial year and understand how to take their learnings from the previous year forward with them to create preventative strategies and coping measures.

A good business plan recognises these periods of change as opportunities to innovate, challenge the business and engineer a plan that allows them to take chances but remain safe at the same time.

Planning For Your Business’s Financial Future This Financial Year

  • Ensure that you are legally compliant with your approach to your employees by conducting an audit of all employment contracts.
  • Plan out and undertake a risk-management plan to identify vulnerable areas and what strategies you can employ to mitigate their effect. Include potential exit strategies for the business and a succession plan for worst-case scenarios.
  • If there were any excellent habits or innovations developed throughout the pandemic, retaining them should be a priority
  • Manage financial obligations, such as commitments to leases, staff, debt etc., and see how those can be managed in the event of volatility or turbulence. Revisit grants and support packages and see if these are still available/useful to you
  • Plot out guaranteed, likely and potential projects or income and your expenses, taxes, overheads, wages and subsidies that should be accounted for ahead of time.
  • Surplus cash generated can be used to pay down debt or take advantage of opportunities through reinvestment in areas such as hiring new staff or purchasing equipment (especially with the instant asset write off scheme being extended for another year)
  • Consider implementing reliable financial software (such as e-invoicing) to ensure everything from expenses and invoices to taxes and analytics are meticulously organised.

We are here to help you plan out your business’s future for the next financial year, including how to prepare financially for any eventualities, what might be the best path forward to deal with potential or existing debts, and what schemes or grants your business could be helpful to your business. Contact us for an appointment today.

Crypto Tax Crackdown Announced By ATO

Posted on 8 June '21, under tax.

Cryptocurrency investments are on the ATO’s radar this tax return season, with 100,000 taxpayers to be alerted by the ATO of their tax obligations from their cryptocurrency investments this financial year.

It’s an outcome that has resulted from a growing concern that many taxpayers who invest in cryptocurrency believe their gains to be tax-free, or only taxable when their holdings are cashed into Australian dollars.

This proactive prompt to taxpayers is a repeat of the ATO’s 2020 attempt, which resulted (after contacting 100,000 taxpayers) in the lodgement of 140,000 returns.

Cryptocurrency’s current popularity as an investment solution for many taxpayers, due to the fairly consistent returns, is causing the ATO to evaluate the digital asset’s tax implications further.

Currently, those who invest in cryptocurrency need to be aware of the capital gains tax implications that may eventuate from selling or buying and any losses or gains that may come about due to investing, particularly in how it impacts their reportable income tax.

The ATO will also be heading into tax time with access to more data and the ability to track those investing in crypto-assets and ensure they are meeting their tax obligations.

The best way to ensure that your tax returns are lodged correctly when it comes to cryptocurrency reporting is to keep immaculate records. You should ensure that you have records of:

  • Dates of transactions
  • The value of the cryptocurrency in Australian dollars at the time of the transaction
  • What the transactions were for
  • Who the other party was (even if it’s just their wallet address)

Be sure that you are meeting your tax obligations this tax return season (especially to avoid the harsh penalties resulting from incorrect reporting or lodgements) by speaking with us. We can advise you further about your particular situation and give you the advice you need to suit your circumstances.


Getting a Double Deduction for your Super Contributions?

Posted on 7 June '21, under super.

Each year we are entitled to a tax deduction for a certain amount of superannuation contributions. The tax deduction is available to your employer if they contribute on your behalf but it can also be available to you personally when you make extra contributions to super.

The amount that you can claim as a tax deduction is limited to what is known as your Concessional Contributions Cap.  There is a standard Cap of $25,000, though that is increasing to $27,500 on 1st July 2021. There are certain people that can add amounts that haven’t been used in previous years to this cap amount.

If you go over your Concessional Contributions Cap, the excess contributions are merely added to your taxable income so you don’t get any tax benefits out of the contribution.

For example, let’s say your Concessional Contributions Cap is $25,000 but you make $35,000 in concessional contributions.  The extra $10,000 will be added to your taxable income but you will receive a credit for the $1,500 in contributions tax paid by the super fund.

But there is a little known trick to allow you to “bring forward” a tax deduction for your concessional contributions.  This “hack” is commonly known as a Contributions Reserving Strategy and it has been approved by the Tax Office.  If done correctly it allows you to take some of next year’s Concessional Contributions Cap and bring it into this financial year.  But it must be done correctly and if you take advantage of it, you need to lodge a specific form with the Tax Office to let them know. The ATO will almost certainly audit what you have done.

It is also important to note that it is really only achievable to do this strategy with a Self Managed Superannuation Fund.  It is also important to note that you are merely bringing forward your contribution (using it this year) and that you won’t be able to use that amount next year, so careful planning is also needed.

This type of strategy is used by people who will have an unusually higher taxable income this year than they will next year.  So, for example, you might have a large capital gain this year or you might be retiring and have no taxable income next year.

Leaving it until the new year to discuss this strategy is way too late and it absolutely cannot be done after late June so it is essential that you talk to us if you feel next year’s taxable income will be a lot lower than this year.


Downsizer Contributions – What Are They?

Posted on 3 June '21, under super.

If you are aged 65 years or older, you are currently able to make downsizer contributions of up to $300,000 into your superannuation fund from the sale of your main residence (as of 1 July 2018).
The Federal Budget recently announced that the age limit for downsizer contribution payments will be reduced from 65 to 60 once the relevant legislation has been passed.

This means that you can increase your super fund’s balance without impacting on your contribution caps (as it is not a non-concessional contribution), and this contribution can still be made even if your superannuation balance exceeds $1.6 million. It does however count towards your transfer balance cap, which is currently set at $1.6 million (increasing to $1.7 million for most people on 1 July 2021).

The downsizer contributions scheme can only be accessed once, so it can only apply when you sell or dispose of one home, including selling a part interest in a home. It is a one-time deal essentially and is not a tax-deductible amount.

You can however make multiple downsizer contributions from the proceeds of a single sale, but the total of the contributions cannot exceed $300,000 less than any other downsizer contributions that you have made.

You and your spouse can (in certain circumstances) both make downsizer contributions from the sale of the home even if the house was only owned by one of you, provided you both meet all the requirements.

These contributions will also come into account for determining whether or not you are eligible to receive the age pension.

If you would like more information on how to proceed with downsizer contributions, are looking to sell your home and wanting to continue with downsizer contributions from the sale, or just looking for guidance, we can help. Come speak with us.

Taking Advantage of Free Marketing With Blogging

Posted on 1 June '21, under business.

To gain a foothold in the online community, it is becoming more and more important that small businesses take advantage of and develop a web presence that they can use to engage and communicate with their customers.

Blogs are among the primary three forms of media used in most content strategies today. By consistently using blogging as a tool for building your business’s online brand and raising awareness, you’re using a cost-effective method of content creation and directing more traffic towards your website. Doing so also enables you to provide your target audience with relevant content that they might find helpful and establish yourself in a niche as an authority.

Reportedly, 89% of content marketers used blog posts in their content creation strategy in 2020. It’s a marketing strategy that over 86% of companies are employing as their primary form of online marketing distribution.

Here are some reasons why you should consider employing blogging as your next marketing move.

Search Engine Optimisation Boost

Blogging allows you to provide search engines with fresh, relevant content straightforwardly and cost-effectively. When you create content through a blog post for your business, you’re providing major search engines with new content to refer back to in search results. You can also insert keywords that pertain to your business into your content that you know your customers use to search for what you’re offering them, and which will then flag your blog in their search results.

Strengthen Relationships With Customer Base (Old And New)

Engaging with your customers is an element of online marketing that you do not want to neglect, as they have the power to make or break your business. Blogging allows you to engage and connect with your customer base informally and builds up trust between you and them as a reliable source of high-quality and particularly relevant information.

Make Your Business The Industry Leader In Information

By providing your customer base with trusted, high-quality information that you know they’ll find relevant, you can establish credibility for your business and yourself as a “knowledge expert” in the field or niche you’ve carved out for yourself. Writing regularly about helpful and informative topics will make you the point of call within the industry, leading to more inquiries and higher conversion rates (clickthroughs, purchases, etc.).

Connect People To Your Brand

Blog posting allows you a more informal, conversational platform to create a dialogue with your customers and show them a more personal side to your business. You can establish a brand message and voice, engage existing and prospective customers, and show them a sense of your business’s corporate standard, character, vision, and personality.

Create Opportunities For Sharing

Sharing the link to your blog is something that your customers who engage with your content can do, which creates the potential for viral traffic and exponential growth in the market. It’s free and as easy as a simple click.

Blogging is essentially a must for any small business looking to increase its outreach into the digital landscape. Suppose you don’t have the time, resources or necessary expertise to write blog content. In that case, you can outsource the posts to a digital marketing agency and have them begin your company’s blogging journey.

Don’t Copy/Paste Your Tax Return From Last Year

Posted on 31 May '21, under tax.

Due to the impacts of COVID-19, how Australians claim work-related expenses on their tax returns every other year is sure to be different this year. The ATO is warning Australians that they will be watching what is claimed and how the impacts of COVID-19 are reflected in tax returns.

During the 2020 tax return season, up to 8.5 million Australians claimed nearly $19.4 billion in work-related expenses, with new trends and figures of claims reflected in their returns.

Expenses in the 2021 tax return season are expected to reflect the changing nature of how Australians work, given the ongoing impact of COVID-19 is still being felt by workers.

In 2020, the value of car and travel-related expenses decreased by nearly 5.5% (as a result of lockdowns, office closures and the pandemic). There was a slight increase of up to 2.6% in terms of clothing expenses (in part a result of frontline workers’ first time needs for items such as hand sanitiser and face masks so that they could continue doing their jobs.

As an example, though working from home claims are expected to rise in this year’s tax returns, the ATO would not expect to see a marked increase in claims for travelling between worksites, laundering uniforms or business trips in those same returns for someone who was predominantly based at home, and not working out and about.

Though some work-related expenses may still be the same this year, the ATO is warning against simply copy-pasting tax returns from previous years, as without significant evidence or record of the claim, you may find yourself in legal difficulties.

So how can you ensure that you’re doing the right thing when making claims on your tax return? Knowing exactly how COVID-19 may have affected what exactly you can claim on your tax return is a good starting point.

As a result of COVID-19, the ATO introduced the temporary shortcut method to quickly calculate the expenses of working from home at an all-inclusive rate of 80 cents per hour for every hour that you work from home. All you need to do is multiply the hours worked at home by 80 cents, keeping a record such as a timesheet, roster, or diary entry showing the hours you worked.

Personal protective equipment that you may have purchased for use at work, paid for by you and not reimbursed by your work, can be claimed as a work-related expense on your tax return. These items could include gloves, face masks, sanitiser or anti-bacterial spray but must be linked back to use at your workplace. You must have a record to support the claim, but this can be done simply with a purchase receipt.

Similarly, with the marked decrease in the value of work-related expenses for cars, travel, non-PPE clothing, and self-education due to the introduction of travel restrictions and limits on the number of people who could gather in groups, tax returns are expected to reflect your claims regarding these amounts. If you are working from home due to COVID-19 but need to travel to the regular office sometimes, you will not be allowed to claim the cost of travel from home to work in this instance as these are private expenses.

If you are unsure about any of the expenses that you are looking to claim on your tax return this year or are concerned about claiming for the wrong expenses, you can come and speak with us for clarification on what you can and cannot claim on your tax return this year.