10 July 2018

Happy New Financial Year

By Joe Smith
A few people have wished me a Happy New Financial Year and while there are things that we have to look forward to in this financial year, there are quite a few things to look out for to ensure it is a Happy New Financial Year!
As usual the ATO have advised us of the areas that they will be targeting in individual tax returns lodged this year.  These include claims for work related travel, uniform and clothing expenses as well as home office expense claims, just to name just a few.  The most important piece of advice that I can give you in relation to these claims is to have detailed records to substantiate claims for any amounts spent.  Further to this, if you lodge your tax return through a reputable tax agent then they should keep detailed records to substantiate claims being made.
Small business owners are also in the crosshairs of the ATO with a focus on unexplained wealth which they have mentioned. They are using social media to monitor displays of wealth that do not match income on the business owner’s tax return!  The ATO are really getting tech savvy these days and the cash economy is one area where they see they can gather a significant amount of unpaid tax with not too much effort.
There are also quite a few Bills that have not passed through parliament before the winter break that may affect tax returns being lodged in the next month or two.  Some of the major Bills are the Superannuation Guarantee Amnesty, the extension of the $20,000 instant asset write off and changes to the passive income test regarding the 27.5% tax rate to determine the franking rate for distributions to shareholders.
In particular, if you plan to take advantage of the Superannuation Guarantee Amnesty we suggest that you consider the timing of making disclosures to the ATO before the Bill becomes law as if this does not pass the Senate then fines and penalties may apply and will be non-deductible.
If you would like a no obligations chat with us regarding any of these issues, please call or email us at UHY Haines Norton Gladstone on 4972 1300 or email sothertons@sothertonsgld.com.au

05 July 2018

What's in a Name?

By Tina Zawila

So 30 June has come and gone, and it’s the perfect opportunity to start a new financial year in a positive way. At Sothertons Gladstone, we launched ourselves into the new year with a new name, logo and fresh new look!

The merger of our National Sothertons Group with another group of independent accounting firms “UHY Haines Norton” on 1 July 2018, has given us the opportunity to expand our ability to provide dedicated local service, with access to the resources of 320 firms worldwide.  As a result of the merger, we have changed our name to “UHY Haines Norton Gladstone Central Queensland”.

Of course with this kind of change, there is a lot to do.  Whilst our team is the same, with the same dedication to serving our clients and community, our name has changed and therefore we need to change almost everything!  Signage, letterhead, email addresses, business cards and even how we answer the phone. So we have embarked on a big project!

One of the first steps was to communicate with our valued clients.  To let them know that from 1 July, we’ll be different, but the same. 

What a rewarding and wonderful experience it has been to talk to our clients about this change!  Most were curious at first about the name and the merger, but all of them, within moments, said something like “so you and your team are still going to be there?” and “I’ll still be dealing with you – so really nothing will change?” As soon as they were reassured with a positive response to these questions, they were happy to move on to other more interesting topics like tax planning, business improvement strategies and advice!

Simon Sinek said it perfectly when he said:  “Companies don’t do business with companies.  People do business with people.”  People do business with people that they know, like and trust, that make them feel valued and special.  Sure your brand, your name, and of course your products and services are all important components of your business that you want to get right, but ultimately, it is your relationship with your clients and customers that is key to the success of your business and to your personal satisfaction as a business owner.

Nurture those relationships and you may be blessed with clients and customers for life!

At UHY Haines Norton Gladstone, our name may be new, but our service to the Gladstone community spans over 40 years.  If you need business, taxation or financial planning advice, call us today on 49721300, we’d love to help.

26 June 2018

MUST HAVE'S for Starting a Business

By Joe Smith
As we approach the beginning of a new financial year you may be thinking of starting a new business.  There are lots of things to consider when starting a business and sometimes this can be a daunting process.  However my first tip would be to seek professional advice as an expert will be able to explain what is required in a simple and methodical manner.
One of my favourite quotes is ‘To fail to plan is to plan to fail’.  The preparation of a Business Plan is a definite MUST HAVE and you could have a go at preparing this yourself in the first instance and then have it reviewed by your adviser or you could invest in having your business advisor prepare this for you. 
Part of the planning process will include the structure that you intend to operate the business from.  I would strongly advise that you seek advice from a reputable accountant as the structure will affect the tax to be paid, protection of assets and many other issues.  This is another MUST HAVE.
The next MUST HAVE is a budget and cash flow projection for the business.  This can also form part of the Business Plan and again it would be beneficial to have this prepared by your accountant to ensure that the figures are accurate and achievable.  Your accountant should also have access to industry benchmarks that will assist in preparing your budgets.  These budgets may also be required by the bank if you are applying for a business loan.
One other MUST HAVE is your exit strategy - whether you plan to start the business and sell it in 5 to 10 years time or if you plan on being in business for a longer duration you need to consider how you will sell the business and what will make it attractive to a potential buyer.  Or you could be looking for a family member to take over in future and continue your legacy!
If you would like a no obligations chat with us regarding starting your business, please call or email us at Sothertons Gladstone on 4972 1300 or email sothertons@sothertonsgld.com.au

19 June 2018

Self Managed Super Fund Trustees – careful of the TBAR!

By Steve Marsten
Just when we thought the SMSF red tape was clearing up after the budget announcements - the ATO reminds us that it requires SMSF trustees to use the superannuation transfer balance account report (TBAR) to advise it when a transfer balance account event occurs. It uses this information to adjust a superfund member’s transfer balance account so it can correctly apply the transfer balance cap provisions. Don’t you just love helping the ATO with THEIR paperwork?
SMSF trustees are required to report the following events:
  • super income streams such as pensions - in existence just before 1 July 2017
  • any of the following events that occur on or after 1 July 2017
  • super income streams that have commenced in retirement phase;
  • Limited recourse borrowing arrangement payments – do you have a loan in your SMSF?
  • member removals or changes;
  • compliance with a commutation authority issued by the Commissioner;
  • personal injury (structured settlement) contributions;
  • super income streams such as pensions, that stop being in the retirement phase, for example because the trustee failed to meet the minimum pension payment standards for an income stream.
The ATO will now only require the member’s 30 June 2017 accumulation phase value (APV) to be reported on the fund’s transfer balance account report (TBAR) when the member is also in receipt of a capped defined benefit pension or a flexi pension from the fund (more below).While the TBAR for pre-existing pension phase pensions as at 30 June 2017 is still due by 1 July 2018, the ATO will not be using the APV information to calculate a member’s total super balance until mid-September 2018. This date is likely to sneak up on many Trustees.
This is the reason accumulation phase value (APV) reporting for 30 June 2017 is not due until 8 September 2018. So, for affected members, if their SMSF has already lodged a TBAR to report their pension value, they need to lodge a further TBAR (by 8 September 2018) to report their APV as at 30 June 2017.
Clearly some key dates are coming up fast and Trustees – not their accountants, will be held responsible for such lodgements. If you need further information feel free to contact the team at Sothertons for more information on TBAR and the key dates for your superfund. Ring us on 4972 1300.

12 June 2018

Are you Digitally Secure?

By Tina Zawila

We don’t think twice about locking our home and our car, or protecting our wallet, but what about our digital identity?  How do you even know if it’s “locked”? 

In May 2017 the US Federal Trade Commission leaked a database of 100 fake customers and found it only took nine minutes for criminals to attempt to access the information and use it to commit fraud.  

This is a problem that is only intensifying as our digital usage increases.

Recently, a client shared their experience of internet banking fraud with us, where they had $20,000 stolen from their accounts through no fault of their own.  They were using the bank’s recommended security protocols, however their mobile phones were hacked and access gained to their internet banking.   While they were compensated for their financial loss via the bank, they also lost access to their accounts for several days, spent hours on the telephone trying to sort things out, and received a $4,000 telephone bill!

So what can you do to protect yourself?  While there are a host of security measures that you can implement, let’s start with your passwords.  Unfortunately over the years we have successfully trained everyone to use passwords that are hard for humans to remember, but easy for computers to guess.  Instead of the common eight characters including uppercase, lowercase, numbers and special characters, it is now recommended that we use four random common words such as “correct horse battery staple” as a password.  It has been estimated that modern technology can hack the eight character password in 3 days, whereas it could take 550 years to crack the four word password.

I encourage you to take some time to consider your personal digital security and implement measures to protect yourself.  Think before you sign up for that new app or log on to that new website.  Cyber criminals are knocking on doors constantly looking for one that is unlocked or ajar – make sure it’s not yours.

At Sothertons we are passionate about improving and protecting your financial future.  Call us on 4972 1300.

05 June 2018

Are you getting your return on Life?

By Steve Marsten

Financial planning can be a paper chase for many advisors and together with our clients; we are always looking at the return on the investment. Generating money and wealth for our clients occupies a significant amount of our time.

Sometimes good advice is not always acted on by investors and hence such decisions don’t translate into the lives they really want. Often there is not enough cash to do what they would like and this in part comes about from a delayed focus on life planning. Dreams are often over the horizon and hence only ever remain as dreams.  When planning is delayed or is late in life or does not actually happen, it can create some unhappy retirees. We call this a poor “return on life”.

As hard as it is to perceive, younger people need to open their minds to their future as early as possible and have some sound principles applied to their planning and savings. Let’s face it many financials plans are hampered by a lack of cashflow for example.

There are several challenges that investors should consider to maximise their returns and contribute to achieving a return on life that we all aspire to. These are – for example:

1.    Being able to introduce order and organisation into your financial life is a vital key. 
2.    Being able to deliver on financial commitments is only possible if you can work with         your planner and prioritise financial goals and take the necessary action. Monitoring     progress is essential;
3.    Avoid emotionally driven decisions; Planners need to provide available research and   ensure you have all necessary information for a logical decision-making process.
4.   Understand the risks and options available for each of your financial decisions;
5.   Always treat the arrangement with your planner as a partnership aimed at facilitating    the best life possible. This entails ensuring your planner has full understanding of          your background, philosophy, needs and objectives.
While these terms are not complicated, they are all focused on understanding how to see the relationship as something more then just interpreting numbers and devising your financial plan.
For more information about getting your return on your investments and life, call the team at Sothertons on 4972 1300.

29 May 2018

Let’s Celebrate Small Business!

By Joe Smith
From Monday 28th May to Friday 1st June it is Queensland Small Business week.  So if you are a small business owner I would like to congratulate you for taking the risk (and hopefully the rewards) of operating your own business!
There are over 400,000 small businesses in Queensland compared to just over 10,000 medium businesses and 611 large businesses.  This represents a huge number of people putting some ‘skin in the game’ as well as employing Queenslanders.  The stats show that small businesses employ 44% of the workforce compared to 23% in medium businesses and 33% in large businesses.
In Gladstone, these small businesses are mostly locally owned and put a lot back in to our local community through employment, sponsorship and donations as well as volunteering in local clubs and organisations.  With this in mind, I would urge everyone in Gladstone to Buy Local as your support of small local businesses is essential in getting the local economy back to where it used to be.
The Buy Local campaign is an initiative of Gladstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry.  It is supported by the Gladstone Observer and Gladstone Regional Council as well as all of the members of the Chamber. You should keep your eyes open for our Buy Local video which is being launched during Queensland Small Business Week and should be on TV screens not long after!
One other item that the Gladstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry have recently launched is the Boom, Bust, Recharge report which is the third study to be carried out for the Gladstone Region.  The results from the study are very detailed however one key point to take from the report is that 71% of businesses expect the operations of their business to remain similar or increase over the next 12 months. 
With the support of locals I would hope these businesses can grow which will generate further employment of locals which in turn will put more money back into the local economy.  A detailed copy of the report is available at www.gcci.com.au
If you would like a no obligations chat with us regarding your business, please call or email us at Sothertons Gladstone on 4972 1300 or email sothertons@sothertonsgld.com.au.
We will hopefully be able to work with you to ensure you can celebrate future business success!