20 November 2018

Making the most of your Business Conference

By Steve Marsten

Well it’s that time of year when I go to conference. We often look for the best business conference that is available and affordable. These are often overseas – not because we want to go overseas, though a change of scenery is always appreciated but because they tend to offer value for money.

Now clients ask me what value do I really get out of a conference other than the Gala dinners (which I rarely attend) and the beer and wine? Now I take this time away from my business very seriously. I know many people go to conferences because it’s a junket and there’s no real plan to actually assess the value and what the real return is of the investment they’re making.

We have found that there are a number of good Australian business conferences that attract quality speakers. We always have a plan in place based on the agenda and a strategy to identify valuable business lessons.

So here are several reasons why I attend a good business conference.

  1. It helps motivate me to carry out the work I do. Too much time behind a desk can wear you down and I know some have said – just “google it”. There is a lot of information on the net but not all that is written is useful and truthful. It’s important to get out and about and hear from people who are doing what you do but differently or creatively or more innovatively! This is what can reignite your enthusiasm.
  2. Learning industry and business trends and how they’re implemented. Well organised conferences specialise in finding compelling subject matter and top-notch speakers for their sessions. Attending events and learning about the latest trends and how they’re being used in your industry augments your knowledge base and gives you something valuable to bring back, and possible apply, to your own business and share with colleagues.
  3. Evaluate and meet new vendors. Most professional conferences include vendors whose reason for being there is to connect with you. They help educate you on their latest and greatest products and services. You may find new tools you were unaware of, tools that could provide a solution to problems your business, or your customers, are facing.
  4. Develop ideas for content based on sessions. As business communicators, we are often tasked with the job of developing marketing and public relations content for our businesses and clients. In addition to providing educational value, conference sessions can spark new ideas for content.

Take time out straight after the conference to prepare your action sheets and assess the good, the bad and the ugly of your conference. For more information on getting the most out of conferences, call the team at UHY Haines Norton on 07 4972 1300.

13 November 2018

Be Uber Aware of Tax Requirements

By Joe Smith 
Most of you will know by now that Uber is coming to Gladstone – it was only a matter of time before they expanded their operations outside of the major cities!  And while many people will be interested in earning some extra cash, they should also be aware of their requirements for tax purposes.

The ATO classes Uber and any other ride sourcing as taxi travel.  This means that anyone wishing to operate a service through Uber must get an Australian Business Number (ABN) and register for GST regardless of how much income they earn from it.  There is no threshold that applies regarding ride sourcing and the requirements for GST registration.

As with any other business, full records of all income and expenses should be kept.  Then the expenses should be apportioned as only the percentage that relates to your business activity can be claimed as a tax deduction.  As well as this, GST can only be claimed on the portion of expenses that relate to your business activity.

Business Activity Statements (BAS) will also be required to be lodged on a monthly or quarterly basis and payments made to the ATO as required.  And then you will have to declare your business income on your tax return for each financial year that you operate a ride sourcing service.  My advice here would be speak to an accountant before you begin operating.

The key thing with this and any other business is that you put funds aside to cover any amounts due for GST and tax.  Not all of the money that you receive from your business operations is yours to keep.  And with the ATO constantly improving their IT and data matching abilities they may be able to identify exactly how much income that you earn! 

The ATO can also check vehicle and boat registrations which they can use to identify any differences in the income you earn and the lifestyle you lead.  And keep in mind that they can also check Facebook, Instagram and other social media too.

If you are thinking of starting a business and would like our assistance please call UHY Haines Norton on 4972 1300 or email info@uhyhncq.com.au  

06 November 2018

Fighting Fair

By Tina Zawila
Maybe it was just a coincidence that this Halloween, the ATO visited Gladstone?  For many the thought of the ATO showing up on your doorstep may be a little frightening, however, the purpose of their visit was to provide an update on their activities and to gain feedback on how our region was coping with the significant changes in our economy.

In particular, the Chair of the Tax Practitioners Board advised that the ATO will be focusing on several areas this year, but in particular he noted work related expenses claimed by salary and wage earners and the black economy.

Now you may think that the black economy has nothing to do with you, as we typically associate the black economy with the big end of town – the giant corporations who don’t pay their fair share of tax.  However, the facts are, that the black economy represents 3% of our economy at A$50billion, of which corporate tax losses from multinationals is only A$3billion.  You may also think of drugs, illicit tobacco, counterfeit goods, unregulated offshore gambling etc, however, it is actually understated business income that represents a significant portion of the black economy (A$10-$20billion). 

We are all aware of the cash economy and unconsciously many of us participate – how many of you ask a tradie or a retailer “how much if I pay cash?”, expecting a lower price?  The problem with this common practice is that it promotes an unfair playing field where the businesses who do the right thing are at a commercial disadvantage.

The Black Economy Taskforce gathered evidence from many sources including contractors who are outbid on contracts in various industries because they don’t make cash payments to their workers and contractors.  Many of them are completely frustrated that their ability to earn their income was being undermined by people who were just aggressively under-pricing and cheating. 

The Taskforce final report argued for a “near non-cash world”, however the government didn’t quite embrace that concept.  They did accept many of the report’s recommendations including things like an economy-wide cash payment limit of $10,000, a ban on electronic sales suppression tools, making businesses report payments to contactors in high-risk industries, and extending ATO audit and compliance programs.

So we can expect to see an increase in ATO audit activity regarding cash transactions, contractor payments and “sham” ABN’s used by people who are engaged as contractors when they should be employees. 

If you need further advice or assistance with tax compliance or reporting obligations contact the professional team at UHY Haines Norton on 49721300.

24 October 2018

A Positive Outlook for Local Businesses

By Joe Smith 
I was recently involved in the judging process for the 2018 Best in Business Awards.  Over a couple of days around 50 local business owners and managers were interviewed and asked about their businesses covering several areas as part of the judging processes.

I have to say that after this process I see a bright future for businesses in Gladstone as some of the stories the businesses owners had to tell were very inspiring!  Most business owners would agree that recently business conditions have been very challenging.  However, in these challenging conditions there are lots of businesses who growing and employing more staff which is a great thing for our local economy. 

These businesses have been adapting to the environment in many different ways and have been coming up with some great ideas on how they can run a better business.  Whether it being diversifying their business and offering new products or services, or by changing their business operations so that they can work more efficiently and win more work, these business owners are making changes that have worked for them and made them more successful and sustainable.

There were also some young and new to business people interviewed who have taken their ideas and knowledge and turned it into fast growing businesses.  And in some cases they have gone from only employing themselves to employing over 10 locals in just over one year!

While this is all very exciting, we need to ensure as a business community we offer the support required to these businesses whether it be offering the best professional advice available or possibly acting as a mentor to someone new to business so that we can help work with them through the ups and downs as well as the sometimes crazy growth periods that a new business can go through.

If you are new to business or have an existing business and would like our assistance please call UHY Haines Norton on 4972 1300 or email info@uhyhncq.com.au  

16 October 2018

Are you playing with real money?

By Tina Zawila

I came across the term “Financial Abstraction” recently which refers to the theory that our relationship with money changes depending on whether we are dealing with cash (notes and coins) or digital currency – credit cards, debit cards, pay pal, or any other electronic payment method.

Did you know that according to a recent study by Dunn and Bradstreet people spend 12-18% more when using credit cards? 

Think about the last time you carried cash in your wallet, did you pay more attention to how you spent that cash compared to when you tap and go with your debit or credit card?  I know that I am more conscious of where and how I hand over cash to pay for even small purchases, compared to when I am using my card. 

When we pay for something electronically, we do not have the physical transaction and loss of something tangible from our possession, therefore, our mind is tricked into thinking it was harmless, even though we are still spending our cash even if we can’t see it.  The pain of spending is minimised when we transact digitally.

Research indicates that our financial habits are changing as we move towards virtual transactions where money is more of an idea and less of a physical reality. An interesting statistic is that it is estimated that there are trillions of dollars in the global economy every day, yet only 4% of money is in coins and currency, the rest is all digital. 

Electronic payments are referred to as “frictionless” – making it easy for you to (mindlessly) spend the money you can’t see.

Now I’m not saying we all need to cut up our cards, close our pay pal accounts, or cancel Apple Pay, but I am saying that maybe we need to pay a bit more attention to those impulse, non-essential purchases to avoid the traps of personal debt.

Maybe you could experiment and withdraw your “play” money in cash at the start of the week and limit your spending to the cash in your wallet?  I wonder if you would spend less than the week before when you were tapping your card?  Could you save an extra 12-18% on those discretionary expenses and re-direct these savings to something you really want?

If you need advice with managing your money or personal budgeting, call the professional team at UHY Haines Norton on 4972 1300, we have tips and tools to help you achieve your financial goals.

11 October 2018

Never burn the bridge with your departing customer

By Steve Marsten
It continues to amaze me how some people in business get so upset when they receive news that their customer or client is changing suppliers. No matter how long a business relationship has lasted, there are always issues that crop up that will demand its termination. While some issues may be resolved amicably, others may not. Regardless of how each of your business relationships turn out, there is no reason to burn your bridges with your vendor or supply partner.
Your ex-customer is still valuable to you. Besides paying for your product or services, customers also play a very important role in word of mouth referrals. So while you may not be monetising a customer who no longer does business with you, they may still play a critical role in influencing opinions of new prospects who are looking to buy from you. By treating your ex-customers with honour and respect, you are likely to retain their goodwill which goes a long way in bringing new customers to your business.
The other important thing is ex-customers can always return. There are several reasons why a customer chooses to end a relationship. A customer or client may no longer have a need for your product or service. Other times, they may be lured by cheaper quotes from your competitors. None of these indicate a permanent departure and it is always a chance for them to come back. By keeping your door open to these ex-customers and not burning bridges, you keep the option of their return open.
So how do you not burn your bridges with a customer? A lot of times, businesses fail to realise that the bridge is being burnt through the process of business termination.
Always try and make your termination process as simple as your sign up process is. For instance, if you have a sales person drive down to your customer’s office to complete formalities during the sign up process, make sure you have an employee do the same for termination as well. Many businesses bend over backwards during customer onboarding but fail to do this during termination. This leaves the customer frustrated and unlikely to return.
Differences over issues like pricing are generally resolved amicably. But what happens when larger issues crop up? Many times, customers may breach the terms of your contract even without realizing it. In such cases, do not be quick to engage lawyers. Instead, try to resolve these differences amicably.  
There are times when you may be required to fire a client either because they are difficult to work with, or they want you to do something unethical. While the instinctual reaction is to call them out on their actions, a better way to do this is by terminating the contract without directly blaming anyone. The best way to fire a client without burning bridges however is by explicitly keeping the door open by ending your email with something non-committal as ‘hope we cross paths again in future’. This provides an opportunity for the client to come back to you in future should your pending differences be resolved by then. For more information on dealing with upset customers or suppliers call the team at UHY Haines Norton on 4972 1300.

02 October 2018

How Can You Help Boost Our Economy?

By Joe Smith
I have recently taken on the role of President of the Gladstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry and one of our key goals this year is to help boost or stimulate the local economy.  And while the Chamber will come up with our strategies there are also things that you can do as business owners and consumers to help our economy.

The first obvious thing that you can do is Buy Local whether it is for goods and services relating to your business or for personal use.  If you currently source goods or services from outside Gladstone then please, where possible, consider giving one of our local businesses the opportunity to quote or tender on these for you.  And then if you receive a competitive quote and do purchase from a local supplier you have kept money in our local economy which the flow on benefits when compounded are huge in terms of jobs and spending in other local businesses.

If your business is showing some signs of improvement then you may consider taking on an additional employee or apprentice to help service the increase in demand.  And with the government incentives that are available, for employing an individual who has been out of work for a minimum of 4 weeks as well as incentives for taking on an apprentice, the cost of employing someone may be significantly offset over the term of the funding available.  In addition to this you could also use a local group training organisation to hire an apprentice and assist another local organisation!

One additional thing to consider is the impact of cash flow on local businesses.  If we could get all local businesses, large internationals through to small sole traders, to agree and adhere to paying invoices to other local businesses within their credit terms, the flow on effect could be substantial.  And further to this the interest that could be saved on overdrafts and credit cards could be substantial and again these savings will go back into the local community.  And finally the stress levels and not staying awake at night worrying about cash flow could be an added bonus!

If you would like more information on dealing with any of the issues above please call UHY Haines Norton on 4972 1300 or email info@uhyhncq.com.au  

25 September 2018

Focus, Discipline and Distractions?

Most business owners will tell you that no two days in business are ever the same.  Every day brings
a new challenge, and hopefully every day takes you one step closer to achieving a goal. 

As a business owner you need to value every minute of every day.  You need to be able to respond quickly to your clients and customers and solve new problems as they arise.

However, it is easy to become distracted.  When a business strays from its core business, loses sight of what customers want, or the owner takes their eye off their cash flow and profitability, it can be a slippery slope to disaster.

So how do you protect yourself from becoming distracted?

1.    Have a Plan!  Too many small businesses do not take time to plan.  And I’m not just talking about an overall business plan, I’m talking about a financial plan (aka a Budget), monthly/weekly/daily sales targets, a plan for capital investment and human resources, a marketing plan, and the list goes on.  However, these plans do not need to be lengthy documents!  A tool we use with our clients is a “Plan on a Page” – everything you need to know about your business on a sheet of A3 paper!

2.    Take Control of your Attention.  The key to taking control of distractions is to know what they are.  Plan (yes, there’s that word again) your day, and then monitor how closely you stick to that plan.  What tasks did you choose to prioritise? Do these tasks serve your clients/customers and/or improve your business performance or position?  Were there unplanned tasks during the day?  Did you take longer on some tasks than expected?  What distracted you? 

Technology can push information into our lives whether we want it or not, and at a time that may not be convenient – and the list of things that demand our attention is long – social media alerts, emails, phone calls, text messages.  While technology is an important tool, today’s “always on/always available” digital culture means that we end up working in a reactive mode, allowing others to dictate our work.  To overcome this, we must be strategic and plan how/when we use technology to our advantage. 

Making changes to how we work to be more focused, disciplined and less distracted takes time and effort, however, the rewards are worth it.  If you need help planning and prioritising call the professional business advisors at UHY Haines Norton on 4972 1300. 

19 September 2018

What to watch out for when working from Home. By Steve Marsten.

Image result for work from home
More Australians then ever before are making work-from-home claims this tax year, and the ATO is gearing up to catch common blunders like phone and internet deductions. The Tax Office believes that a high proportion of mistakes, errors and “questionable claims” is prompting them to increase scrutiny on work-from-home expenses.

They don’t necessarily take into account the fact that more and more small businesses are allowing staff to work from home and more business owners are establishing businesses from home.

Where applicable - taxpayer’s can claim costs incurred as a direct result of working from home, but the ATO is watching for those who blur the line between private use and work use expenses.

While there is a rising trend of employees working from home, and while extra costs related to working from home are usually deductible, the ATO believes they are seeing some taxpayers either over-claiming or claiming private costs. This is according to assistant commissioner Kath Anderson.

In many cases there is mounting evidence that taxpayers don’t know what they can and cannot claim. Hence, often taxpayers who chance their arm by undertaking the preparation and lodgement of their own tax returns risk not understanding how the law applies to their deductions and the level of risk that they exposing themselves to where they have not sort professional advice or assistance.

We often see some taxpayers claiming expenses they never paid for; expenses their employer reimbursed; private expenses and expenses with no supporting records.

It’s important to realise that the ATO is carefully monitoring various claims. It’s near impossible, for example, to claim ones entire amount of expenses like their internet or mobile phone, not just the work-related component. Claims for the work-related portion of expenses like phone, internet, and depreciation of your computer, printing and stationary are all allowable though it’s important to understand that supporting documentation and diaries can be useful to galvanise the claim.

Additional costs of running expenses like electricity for heating, cooling and lighting can also be deductible, but you need to be able to demonstrate that there were additional costs incurred by working from home.

You see, you cannot work from home and sit in front of the TV or at the kitchen bench doing some emails; it’s unlikely that you are incurring any additional expenses. However, if you have a separate work area, then you have an arguable position that allows you to claim the work-related portion of running expenses for that space. For more information feel free to call the team from UHY Haines Norton CQ on 4972 1300.

11 September 2018

Will Technology Save or Ruin your Business?

By Joe Smith

There have been reports over the past few years of how technological advances will result in some jobs becoming extinct and things such as robots will take over tasks that are normally undertaken by humans.  And an extension of this could be that some businesses could be facing threats if the services that they provide can be delivered by some type of technology.

While I believe that this may be true to a certain extent, I also believe that businesses who keep their finger on the pulse with advances in technology in their industry will be better situated to maintain and grow their business as opposed to businesses who do not keep up with technological advances.  This is in line with a quote I read recently saying “technology won’t replace businesses but businesses who use technology will probably replace businesses that do not”.

I have recently been working with a client implementing the use of Deputy Software in their business.  This is employee rostering management software that is cloud based and has replaced a manual rostering process and employee database.  I was delighted to hear recently that after using Deputy for a couple of months the savings in e
fficiencies as well as staff hours far outweighs the investment in using the Deputy software.

So business owners should ask themselves the question – is it worth investing a few dollars in new technology where the potential is that I could save two, three or maybe ten times as much in costs or make my business significantly more efficient and attractive to potential new customers.

Further to this, software such as Deputy also directly feeds into Xero which in this case can streamline the payroll process for your business potentially saving yourself or your team a significant amount of time and stress! 

So I would suggest that business owners have a look at Xero and their add on partners to see if any of the software available there could be used in your business.

If you would like more information on how you use software to make your business more successful and sustainable please call UHY Haines Norton on 4972 1300 or email info@uhyhncq.com.au  

04 September 2018

Do your assets belong to the bank?

By Tina Zawila

I spoke to an excited young couple this week who are about to buy a property, with the help of the bank of course.  I have also been helping an established business owner divest a property to pay down debt and simplify their portfolio. 

So what do both of these cases have in common? 

The impact of the bank’s security over their properties.

In the first case, the young couple have been offered finance to purchase the property, and they’ve even been told to ‘keep’ their cash deposit for property improvements, and instead the bank will simply take security over their other two existing properties (one of which is unencumbered) for this new debt.  This means that their three properties will now be inextricably linked.  Now this might all seem OK today – after all, it helps the couple get the property without having to use their savings, and it really doesn’t matter to them that the bank has linked the security over all of their properties… or does it?

Let’s move onto the second case, which ironically has similarities to the first case, just fast forward a decade or two. The client decides to sell a property which only has a small loan over it and plans to use the net proceeds (after paying out the loan) for other purposes.  However, when the bank finds out that there is a contract to sell, they put everything on hold, while they decide if the property can be sold, and what will happen with the proceeds.  You see, this property is also held as security over other properties (similar to the case I described above), and if it is sold, the proceeds must be used to extinguish bank debt on the other properties.  Leaving the client without any say in how the proceeds can be applied.  Essentially, the owner of the property does not have control over the asset.

Now I’m not saying that the bank in either of these cases is not acting in the client’s best interests, or within their rights, terms and conditions.  I’m just saying that the client should be acutely aware of their financial structure and the control (or lack thereof) that they have over their assets.  If possible, think ahead, plan for the unexpected, what if you need/want to sell a property in the future?  Most importantly seek independent advice, particularly if you are not sure of the implications of a finance offer.

The team at UHY Haines Norton can assist you in understanding and improving your financial position, call us today on 4972 1300 if you need advice.  

28 August 2018

How secure are your business funds?

By Joe Smith
The days are gone now for business owners who thought that the biggest security risk in their business was in the cash takings and ensuring all amounts were correctly accounted for then deposited into the business bank account in full.

These days, there are so many different scams going around as well as cyber security risks to businesses that cash will be the least of the worries for a business owner.

One scam to be mindful of is when a ‘supplier’ calls or emails to update their bank account details for your payments.  It is always a good idea to check this by calling you supplier to confirm that it was a legitimate employee calling and that the bank details are correct.  Otherwise you may find yourself paying funds to the new bank account and then getting a call from your supplier asking why the bills haven’t been paid.  Further to this, if you receive notice from a large organisation, you should call a publically available number from their website or yellow pages to confirm the details and change is correct.

Another risk to the funds in your business account is when you are relying on an employee or third party to prepare files to be uploaded to internet banking.  If you are in this position I would strongly advise that you go through and confirm the bank account details are the legitimate bank accounts of the supplier as it is possible for supplier account numbers to be edited so that the funds are paid elsewhere.  I am sure most people working for you are honest however it is always a good idea to do checks.

One of the things that can also be done to reduce your risks is to use software like Xero for your business as this software keeps a detailed history of all transactions as well as when details have been edited or deleted for suppliers or employees.  And there is even a report that can be generated to identify if several suppliers have been edited so that the bank account numbers are identical.

If you would like more information on how you can set up processes or use software to make your business more secure please call UHY Haines Norton on 4972 1300 or email info@uhyhncq.com.au  

22 August 2018

When the Tax Office calls

By Steve Marsten
Many Australian taxpayers are likely to receive some ominous-looking letters this year as the Tax Commissioner cracks down on incorrect claims. If you receive one - what ever you do - do not ignore it!
The Australian Office (ATO) has the power to remove deductions and change details that it thinks appear suspicious. They tend to take the approach that “taxpayers are guilty until proven innocent”.
Often we don’t realise that the ATO could audit your return anytime from one month to even several years after it is lodged. They then give you between two to three weeks to respond to an ATO letter, so it’s important to take action as soon as a letter is received. Don’t hesitate to obtain good professional advice on what to do next.
The ATO has access to vast data matching technology to scrutinise suspicious claims and will send data matching letters to the taxpayers in question, querying suspicious entries and outlining the changes it plans to consider.
The fact that more Aussies are receiving these letters says more about the ATO’s improved technology than the number of people doing the wrong thing.
However, the ATO does get it wrong from time to time. Hence for taxpayers who disagree with the ATO’s concerns, there are some steps that can be taken. Often talking to your tax Agent will assist formulating an action sheet to rectify or provide necessary evidence to fix the problem.
Evidenced offered to the ATO can be like a PAYG statement summary, private health statement or bank statement, and deductions can be proven through receipts or supporting records like logbooks.
Once the ATO has the evidence, it will decide whether to alter the return and taxpayers will receive another notice of assessment if the office decides to follow through with the changes.
However, if the taxpayer can’t back up their income or deduction claim, the ATO will consider whether the taxpayer took reasonable care when completing their return when deciding on the penalty.
Often there won’t be a penalty when an innocent mistake is made however, if the mistake resulted in a larger tax refund than the taxpayer is entitled to, then the ATO will expect you to repay the surplus amount, and potentially interest too.
In situations where the ATO determines that the taxpayer did not take reasonable care, was reckless in completing their return, or intentionally disregarded tax rules, a penalty might be issued in addition to repaying any overpayment and interest. It important to take particular note of what your tax professional is advising you.
For more information on the ATO and your rightful claims call the team at UHY Haines Norton on 4972 1300.

14 August 2018

The Chicken or the Egg?

By Tina Zawila

Many retailers in Gladstone are finding it tough at the moment.  Frankly, business is slow.  Despite their best efforts to attract customers, offer quality products at fair prices, and contain their overhead costs, many of them are struggling.

At the same time, how often do we hear Gladstone locals (or even visitors) comment that our retail shopping is limited?  We all want more options; more choice, better value, and we want it now! 

So how can this disconnect be?   Is it the chicken or the egg? 

Does an increase in customer demand drive the retail industry, or does an increase in retailers (supply) drive an increase in customer demand?

As customers we need to support our local retailers so that they can continue to operate and offer us local products and services.  If we support our local businesses, these businesses are more likely to expand their offerings, or even open new enterprises.  So reacquaint yourself with our local retailers!

As business owners we need to continually monitor our products and services to ensure we are offering high quality and good value to our customers, whilst maintaining our overhead expenses.  And remember – you can’t sell a secret!  You need to market and advertise your business to your target market.  

Here’s a couple of other tips if you are a business owner:

Connect with your Customer – excellent customer service is the key to increasing sales.  Ask your customer what they need and want and listen!  Then educate them about your products and services.  Remember to let the customer know you appreciate their business. 

 Be Social – One of the easiest, most cost-effective forms of advertising is via social media.  Be consistent with a steady stream of online activity; show your personality to stand out online.

Manage your Money – There are several aspects to managing your financials as a retailer, and if you take your eye off the ball, things can get tight very quickly.  A couple of key items to manage carefully include; your pricing strategy, the effect of discounts/sales, and your stock levels.

If you need further information or advice on how to drive sales and manage your retail business, call the professional team at UHY Haines Norton on 49721300.

07 August 2018

Is the Australian Tax System broke?

By Steve Marsten
We have just received the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) report into Australia’s future tax base and it paints a picture of declining revenues and increasing demands on the public purse.
The problem is we are an ageing population and trends such as more fuel-efficient vehicles, the decline of smoking and the popularity of wine over beer are all eroding collections from consumption-based taxes that businesses collect on behalf of the Tax Office.
The report shows that income tax from workers has increased from 8.6 per cent of GDP in 1971-1972 to 12.6 per cent by 2015-2016, while the contribution from taxes on consumption (the GST and various excise duties) has only moved from 5.3 per cent to 5.7 per cent over the same period.
Company taxes have declined as a percentage of GDP from 3.3 per cent to 3.2 per cent. This is mainly due to a falling profitability levels.
The report shows that Australia’s future tax revenues cannot be sustained by an ever-decreasing workforce. It’s predicted by 2045, there will only be 2 workers for every 5 retirees.
The point is - that as people age and retire they not only stop paying income tax but increasingly direct their spending to categories which do not attract GST, such as health and medicines. At the age of 65, a large percentage of the demographic are entitled to a tax-free age pension.
The problem with the GST system in Australia is that since the introduction of GST Australian households have spent progressively more of their income on products that are exempt from the GST. It’s always been a flaw in our system compared to New Zealand’s version.
The Australian problem is not about whether we reduce company tax rates to make our companies globally competitive and hence keep jobs in Australia, its whether we have the political will to realise we have a problem and the best means is to address it is the consumption tax.
Both political parties know this has to happen at some stage. They would just prefer the other side deal with it first. We don’t have a Howard or a Keating on the political radar to make these hard decisions. Our leaders of today need grow some together and address this issue for the good of Australia.
For more information contact the team at UHY Haines Norton Gladstone on 4972 1300.

31 July 2018

Not for Profits Can Make a Surplus

By Joe Smith
As well as us being in tax season it is also time for incorporated associations and limited by guarantee companies to be audited. In our community there are a vast number of people involved in these organisations as volunteers or as committee members.

I volunteer as Treasurer for the Gladstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry and when I hear it called a not for profit I do not like it. These types of organisations should budget to make a surplus if possible as this will help build a sustainable organisation that will benefit the community for a long time.
While it may not able to be possible to generate a surplus every year, either due to the timing of funding received or expenses for projects spanning over more than one financial year, having a budget in place and monitoring it on a regular basis it essential.

The value of the time put into the organisations by committee members and volunteers is difficult to put a figure on however if it were wages in a business then that business would no doubt be running at a loss. So when thinking about attending the next event run by a Chamber of Commerce or sporting club it should be  taken into account that the cost to you would be significantly higher if it were not for the time and effort put in by committee members and volunteers!

In conclusion, I take my hat off to all of the volunteers and committee members in our community. And if you do join a committee please keep it in mind that it is ok to make a surplus from activities and that a surplus is required to buy equipment or other items that the organisation could not operate or continue to operate with in the long term.

If you are on a committee and would like help setting up budgets or having an audit done please call UHY Haines Norton on 4972 1300 or email info@uhyhncq.com.au  

24 July 2018

By Tina Zawila

I spoke to three different business owners this week and they all made the following comment during the meetings, “It’s lonely in business sometimes”, it’s a sentiment I’ve heard many times. 

Many business owners are sole-traders,  husband and wife partnerships or small companies and often their closest family and friends are not business owners, or even if they are, ‘business’ is simply not a topic of conversation around the barbeque.  

Business can be tough – financially and emotionally, yet it’s one of those taboo subjects that people just don’t talk about.   However, we should talk about it with people who can relate and help, your business advisor/accountant should be your first port of call.

The common themes that were mentioned this week (that you might relate to) include:
  •            Difficult customers and clients.  Unfortunately not every client/customer is easy to deal with and some can be quite difficult.  Think about the recent treatment of the Woolworths employees around the plastic bag decision!  As a business owner, you want to protect your team members from these difficult situations, so you usually take this upon yourself.  Your employee can vent and receive support from you, but who are you talking to, and who’s supporting you?
  •            Making big decisions.  Often in business there are complex decisions to be made around business strategy, finances, legal, resourcing and the list goes on.  These decisions can be difficult to make on your own, and there may be alternatives that you haven’t even thought of.  Who can you share ideas with?
  •             Passion and Momentum.  Sometimes it can be hard to find people that think and feel about your business and your client’s the way you do.   And sometimes you feel like you are solely responsible for the passion, energy and positive vibe in your business.  Who helps keep you passionate, focused and motivated?

The key message I want you to take away from this is that you are not alone, and it’s important to seek help if you need it.  As business advisors we are here to listen and help.  We understand the challenges you face and can help you formulate strategies for success.
Give the professional team at UHY Haines Norton a call today on 49721300, we’d be happy to be your sounding board.

19 July 2018

Make your new business a success

By Steve Marsten
Here at the UHY Haines Norton Gladstone office – we get excited when we hear about someone looking at jumping on the entrepreneurship wagon and opening new businesses. Their journey though - comes with its gains and losses. The numerous problems that a business faces in its infancy are big enough to make it fail.
However, the hardships shouldn’t stop you from building your dream business and to providing the best possible service or product on the market.
Starting a business venture is easy, considering you know and understand the processes that you need to go through. What makes a good businessman, however, is figuring out a way to budget when money is tight and how you will compete against big enterprises. It’s inevitable to face challenges while running any type of business, but small business owners seem to have it the toughest in Australia.
Small business ventures face considerable obstacles, some of which are easy to deal with, others harder to tackle, but all of them demand time and resources. Preparing is important and if you have a glimpse of what the most common issues are, you may be able to prepare beforehand for the messes that you and your business might face one day.
Often overlooked by first-time business owners, a good business plan can make a crucial difference. The majority of businesses in Australia are small, meaning they don’t have employees or employ fewer than 20 people. Making up to 97% of all businesses, last year small businesses contributed more than 19% of the Gross National Product. Yet still we have a massive failure rate. It’s a fair bet that it’s because most of them lack mid- and long-term business planning.

Not everyone is good at managing money. The problem is that this is an area you have to be GREAT at! Small businesses often operate with tight budgets, which demands perfect cash flow management. Of course, if you have a good cash flow plan, you will be able to notice any potential cash pits and make sure you don’t waste the majority of your budget.
If cash flow is one of the things that is hurting your business, then you can invest in a good software product or a good professional in the field if you can afford it.
There are other areas which we will touch on in the near future as well including Marketing, Setting targets, people and fatigue. We are keen on helping small business power up so if you have any queries call the UHY Haines Norton team on 0749 721300.

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