29 June 2016

Last Minute Superstream Reprieve for Small Business By Tina Zawila

In a last minute move by the ATO, small businesses have been granted a short reprieve from implementing SuperStream, with the compliance deadline extended from 30 June to 28th October 2016.

So what is SuperStream Compliance?

As an employer, you must pay superannuation contributions and send employee information electronically.  This means you can no longer write a cheque to pay super, you must use EFT or BPAY and submit contribution information electronically.  

How do I ensure I am SuperStream Compliant?

You can choose from one of the following options:
  •  If you are using payroll software it may be SuperStream ready.  Payroll in Xero online accounting software is SuperStream Compliant.
  •    Large Superannuation Funds offer online payment services you may be able to use.  You will need to check with the fund/s.
  •  A Super Clearing House pays super to your employees’ funds for you.  You send a single electronic payment to the clearing house together with the contribution data for your employees, and the clearing house does the rest.  The ATO offers a free Small Business Super Clearing House if you have 19 or fewer employees and a turnover of less than $2million.
  •  A Messaging Portal can convert contribution data for your employees to a SuperStream compliant format and send it to the relevant funds for you, and you make one electronic payment.

If you are an employer and you have not yet selected one of the above options, we recommend you take action and seek advice from your accountant or tax advisor as soon as possible.  Although, you now have a little more time to implement the process without the fear of compliance action from the ATO, we strongly recommend you allow yourself sufficient time to choose and implement a SuperStream compliant option.

By the way, if the only contributions you make are personal contributions for yourself or contributions to a related self-managed super fund (SMSF), you don't need to use SuperStream as these are exempt contributions

If you need advice or assistance with SuperStream or any other payroll or business matter, please call our professional team at Sothertons Gladstone on 4972 1300.  We would be happy to help.

22 June 2016

What' s the price of good advice? By Steve Marsten

We love talking to young business entrepreneurs who are working on new ideas and or bringing a product or service to market, especially here in Gladstone. Right now it is an exciting time to start business. For one thing – it’s never been cheaper to set up a business. Rents are cheaper, property is good value, and skilled labour is available at reasonable prices again. Throw in to the mix that the local council seems to be supporting new enterprise as well. These are often the key ingredients to a start up business and if there is one thing we know – if business can survive during a slow down then it can usually survive anytime.
We recently assisted a new enterprise commence his business. He didn’t want to seek any advice because “it cost too much!” However he came along to an obligation free meeting with us to identify if there were any areas we could add value to his business.
He identified a niche in his local market and after the initial meet and greet - we had a consultation before he opened up for business. He asked whether it's possible to manage all aspects of the business by himself?  Generally the answer is “of course you can.” It just depends on how fast you want to fly or how gradual you want the start to happen.
We went through the key aspects such as:
  1. His Value proposition
  2. Who his customers were going to be
  3. How he was going to get in touch with those customers;
  4. How he was going to create demand for his service;
  5. How he was going to charge for his services;
  6. Identifying the key services he was offering;
  7. What additional resources he required;
  8. Who his partners and structures were going to be  – both strategic and consultative;
  9. Looking at his revenue streams and profit levels and cashflows.
Now his initial thought was that all he required was an initial consultation and he would be up and running. What we identified in reviewing the various aspects of a business start up, were numerous issues to be carefully addressed without the need to delay a start up. What he gained was ways and means of saving money; increasing revenue and maintaining a lean business. The value in terms of revenue generated and funds saved was 3-4 times the investment of his consultations.
He wrote to us recently and wanted to know why we don’t tell clients that financial advice is cheap? To which we replied – “good financial advice is good value and it is never cheap.”
Therein lies the problem. Non-finance professionals often don't understand how difficult the field really is. They don't know what they don't know. Managing business may seem simple, but it is not easy. We believe that paying a good financial adviser is worth it – that’s provided that they can show you how your investment can be recovered quickly.

At Sothertons, our goal is to articulate your return on your investment. Call us on 49721300.

15 June 2016

Who are you spending time with? By Tina Zawila

I just re-read this quote “You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with”, and it reminded me just how important it is to surround yourself with people who you respect, admire and who want the same things in life as you do!

In Gladstone lately, we have noted an increase in the number of opportunities available to business owners to network and learn from each other.  Whether it is via established organisations such as the Chamber of Commerce and Industry or more informal groups of small business owners coming together to share and support each other.

At Sothertons we encourage this interaction, and in fact offer our own eClub as an opportunity for business owners to come together to obtain professional advice in a group setting, and as a by-product, the opportunity to network with other business owners.

Recently, Steve and I have held a couple of our eClub meetings for small groups of business owners, and we were overwhelmed with the positive feedback from attendees.  

In our current economic climate, it is more important than ever to have access to professional advice and to know that there are others out there experiencing the same challenges as you.  Utilising a group setting is an ideal way to leverage professional advice (and share the investment with others) and to network for success.
However, as always, you should also take care when taking advice from others.  At times the information shared during a casual networking function may not necessarily be absolutely correct, or applicable to your individual circumstances, especially if it relates to financial, taxation or legal matters.  For these matters we strongly recommend only taking advice from professionals in the relevant industry.   So if you are unsure about something you have been told, please seek a professional opinion before acting on any general ‘advice’.

Nevertheless, the message is clear - if you are in business, you are not alone! 

Seek out opportunities to network and improve your skills and knowledge as a business owner.   Contact the team at Sothertons on 4972 1300 to register your interest in our next eClub meeting.

07 June 2016

“Tax Office moves to decrease vehicle claims” by Steve Marsten

Tina and I delivered our annual tax and property update seminar recently, pointing out the various risk areas tax payers face in the coming 12 months with deductions and claims. One point that many people weren’t necessarily aware of is the changes to the vehicle claims.
In recent years there has been a surge in motor vehicle expenditure claims as deductions against wages income and small business revenues. Between 2009 and 2014 the increase was over 30%. Now in some cases the ATO seems to think there is something sinister behind this increase, however I suggest that if they investigate a little further they will find that the rise in deductions is a reflection of the changing work patterns and the fact that many small business owners are simply a lot more mobile. Gone are the days of the simple 9 to 5 office hours.
So previously taxpayers had the option of claiming under four different methods. If you travelled over 5,000 kilometres for business or work related travel in your own car, you could choose from the following:
·         The Log Book method
·         One third of costs method
·         12% of the car value method or
·         The statutory (cents/Klm) method up to 5000 kilometres
From the 1st July, 2015 the ATO is scrapping the One Third of cost and the 12% of value methods. This leaves the simple statutory method and the more comprehensive logbook approach.
The other issue that is we feel is a bigger concern, is the changes that are planned for the cents per kilometre method. Previously taxpayers who drove vehicles larger than 1.6 litres could claim 76c or 77c per kilometre. The new rate is just 66c regardless of the size of your vehicle. This change in cents per kilometre will impact on many taxpayers and many have not realised that this issue will have the impact of reducing tax claims by up to 15%.
That said it is our advice that it might be time to consider completing a logbook. Yes it will only be useful if you travel more then 5000 klms for income producing purposes but it only needs to be completed for a 12 week period and it can last for 5 years once it’s finalised. This should be completed before 30th June in order to be useful for your 2016 tax.

At Sothertons we ensure that taxpayers are aware of how best to organise your tax records to minimise your tax legitimately. Give our experienced team a call on 4972 1300.