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Firm Journal

24 September 2020

Types of business structures and which is best for you

An important decision to make before you start a business is what structure your business will run under. This will reflect into all facets of your business, so you should spend time understanding the implications of each structure.

Sole Proprietorship

Partnership

Company

Trust

Amnesty means that 24,000 businesses own up to underpaying Aussies superannuation

An amnesty scheme which ended earlier this month has caused around 24,000 businesses to admit to underpayment of their worker’s super. A total of 588 million dollars will be distributed to almost 400,00 individuals.

The scheme, which covered payments from the introduction of super in 1992, gave employers the opportunity to come clean without any consequences as long as they paid the unpaid super as well as 10% interest for every year the money was overdue.

The ATO will be directing its attention at any businesses that did not admit fault and these businesses will face severe penalties.

Many individuals are looking to access their superannuation early in order to have support during these times. Although there is criticism of early access to super, this facility has been helpful to many families to keep afloat.

Income Tax cuts in Federal Budget Benefiting high-income earners

In its efforts to boost the economy, the Federal Government is considering bringing the planned income tax cuts forward. The intention behind these cuts is to boost the economy by boosting consumption.

Initially, income tax cuts were to take place in three stages, the first of which has already been rolled out. The following stages aim to facilitate a reduction in tax for individuals earning from $90,000 to $200,000 over the next 4 years at the cost of billions of dollars to the Parliamentary Budget.

There has been criticism of the government’s suggestion that these stages be moved forward because they are unlikely to have the desired effect. Rather than boosting consumption, beneficiaries of this plan are likely to keep the additional money in the bank. This is because these plans are directed at high-income earners who will not need to spend the money on necessities, that low-income earners would.

Additionally, the uncertainty of the current climate which the government is relying on to justify this change may be the very reason that people save their money rather than spend it.

Critics of this change are suggesting that focus should be placed on ‘Social Spending’. An example of this could be an increase in pension – which pensioners are a lot more likely to reinvest into the economy.

27 August 2020

Avoiding mortgage default

As individuals struggle with cash flow through the coronavirus, the Australian Bankers Association records that repayments on almost 500,000 mortgages have been deferred for six months. While repayments can be delayed, they cannot be avoided altogether.

Lenders can send you a default notice the day your repayment is overdue. However, they could also wait until your repayment is overdue by 90 or more days. When you receive a default notice, you are given 30 days to repay the amounts you have missed in addition to the regular repayment on your loan. Individuals who are struggling with their home loan repayments can avoid mortgage default by considering the following.

Contact your lender
Lenders are generally willing to work with you through financial hardship. Don’t be afraid to contact your lender to discuss your situation and find out what options are available for you. Lenders are often willing to negotiate short-term variations to repayment schedules that both parties can agree to. However, make sure that you do not agree to unrealistic repayment conditions that cannot be met.

Many Australian banks are offering a six-month deferral on mortgage repayments (including interest) for customers who are experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19. If this is you, contact your bank to see if this is an option.

Apply for a hardship variation
Mortgage holders may be able to change the terms of their loan or temporarily pause or reduce their repayments under a hardship variation. A hardship variation can still be requested after you receive a mortgage default. To apply for one, contact your lender’s “hardship officer” and tell them that you wish to change your loan repayments due to financial hardship. This will usually require you to explain why you are struggling to make payments and to estimate how long your financial problems will continue to determine how much you can afford to repay.

After submitting a hardship variation request, your lender must contact you within 21 days with the outcome of your request. They may ask you for more details regarding your request; in this case, they must contact you again within 21 days from when you provide the additional information.

Consider selling your home
Selling your home is a tough decision, but in some cases this may be the better option if your circumstances are unlikely to improve. If you get to the point where your lender takes possession of your home and sells it, it’s likely that you won’t make as much as if you sold it yourself. When you sell your house on your own terms, chances are you will get a better price and avoid having to pay the legal fees passed on by your lender. Inform your lender if you decide to sell your home; they may ask for proof, such as a copy of the contract with your real estate agent or property advertisements.

Renting out your home until you can afford to make repayments again may also be an option if you are able to live somewhere else during this period.

Optimising budget for digital marketing campaigns

Maximising returns on investments is the primary goal for every business owner who invests in a marketing campaign for their brand. Learning how to properly test and troubleshoot your budget according to your business needs can help you save a failing campaign from costing you money.

Objectives
The first step to budget optimisation is being clear with the goals you are trying to achieve through this campaign. These can include generating qualified leads, driving content downloads or building awareness of your brand. Understanding your objectives can help you decide what aspect of your campaign needs more finances.

Testing
Deciding how to set a maximum and minimum spend per day on your campaign can be challenging. A two to four week testing period can help in narrowing down the range that works best to deliver the results set in your objective phase. A common strategy is to start with a mix of ad formats including sponsored content, text and message advertisements. This testing method can help in identifying the types of ads and content that provides optimal results for your brand.

Adapting your budget
Budgeting for marketing campaigns may present a range of issues even after the testing phase. It should be noted that constantly changing and adapting parts of your campaign to run smoothly is a part of digital marketing. It may help to start with a daily budget that is higher at the start of the campaign, and use these insights to then optimise your campaign and lower daily limits if required.

If your campaign is exhausting its budget too quickly, consider lowering your daily limit. If your campaign is not spending its budget, then you may need to automate your bidding option or set more competitive bids. Automated bidding aims to deliver the most results while spending your daily budget in full. This can also help to provide fast results, which can be useful if your marketing content is time-sensitive. However, this will also lead to faster spending of your budget.

What to consider when consolidating your super

The ATO reported that 45% of working Australians were not aware that they had multiple super accounts in 2016. Having multiple super accounts is particularly common for individuals who have had more than one job. If this is you, it is important to identify and manage your super accounts because having more than one can be costly as a result of account fees from multiple funds.To combat this, you may want to consolidate your super, which moves all your super into one account. Not only does this save on fees, but it also makes your super easier to manage and keep track of.

Before consolidating your super, it is important to do the following:

Research your funds’ policy
Compare your active super accounts so you can make the right choice about which one you should close. Things to assess include:

Check employer contributions
Changing funds may affect how much your employer contributes, as some employers contribute more to certain funds. Check your current accounts to see if changing funds will affect this. Once you have selected a super fund, regardless of whether you choose a new super fund or one of your existing ones, provide your employer with the details they need to pay super into your selected account.

Gather the relevant information
When consolidating your super, you will need to have the following details ready:

Extending relief with JobKeeper 2.1 changes

The Government has introduced additional changes to JobKeeper to help more businesses qualify for the relief payments.

One of the key changes was moving the relevant date of employment for an eligible employee from 1 March to 1 July 2020, to extend employee eligibility. This allows those who were full time employees on or before 1 July 2020 and employees who became long-term casual workers between 1 March to 1 July 2020 to be eligible for JobKeeper. This will increase the amount of employees that are eligible under the current JobKeeper Scheme, and will also expand the eligibility criteria under JobKeeper 2.1.

Businesses originally needed to show that they have met the decline in turnover test in the June, September and December 2020 quarters to receive JobKeeper payments. To qualify for the first phase of the JobKeeper Extension (28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021) businesses need to show that they have had a decline in turnover only for the September 2020 quarter, in comparison to the previous year.

To qualify for the second phase of JobKeeper Extension (4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021) businesses need to show that they had a decline in turnover for the December 2020 quarter only to be eligible for payments.

This change can be particularly useful to businesses that may not have met the decline in turnover test in the June or September quarter, but suffer significantly in the December quarter.

The improved accessibility to JobKeeper payments comes from the impacts of economic downfalls in Victoria. It is predicted that more than 80 percent of these payments will flow towards assisting Victorian businesses and employees.

20 August 2020

Creating a business contingency plan

When business is going well, it can be easy to procrastinate planning for the bad times. However, preparing for disaster before it strikes by having a contingency plan can be the key to business survival.

A contingency plan can help businesses prepare for possible circumstances such as natural disasters, employee theft, negative publicity or staff injuries. Having a plan for these contingencies can help your business react faster to unexpected events to prevent ongoing damages, recover from disruptive events, and resume regular business operations as quickly and easily as possible. When writing a contingency plan, consider incorporating the following tactics:

Identify the risks
Think about the key risks that your business could face. This could involve researching your business market, competitors, economy trends, security threats or employment issues. It is a good idea to work with members of different departments in your business in order to foresee potential risks in all sectors.

Prioritise
Once you have identified potential risks, prioritise the ones that are most likely to affect your business. This will ensure that the most relevant issues are addressed first to provide you with a plan if they occur. One way to do this is by creating a risk assessment to identify the most pressing risks.

Create a plan
After identifying the key risks to your business, you can start drafting a contingency plan to mitigate their effects. This should include a clear guideline that outlines what to do when a contingency occurs and how to continue operating the business. The plan should also clarify employee responsibilities, key contact details, timelines of when tasks should be done, restoration processes, and existing resources that can be drawn upon to prevent damage, such as insurance coverage.

Resource assessment
Consider the resources you may need in order to resolve a contingency. This could include extra staff, insurance, PPE, or technical support. In order for the resolution process of a contingency to go smoothly, it is important that you have enough equipment and support so that you don’t have added stress and time going towards finding extra resources.

Share the plan
Once you have written a contingency plan, ensure that they are accessible to your employees and stakeholders. Be receptive to any feedback your employees or stakeholders may have about your plan as there may be room for improvement. It is also important to review your plan over time to ensure that it stays up to date.

What is an SMSF auditor and what do they do?

Self-managed super fund (SMSF) trustees are required to appoint an ATO-approved SMSF auditor no later than 45 days before lodging their SMSF annual return. An SMSF auditor is a professional who assesses your fund’s compliance with superannuation law and examines your fund’s financial statements.

SMSF auditor eligible requirements
Your SMSF auditor must be:

What will your SMSF auditor do?
An SMSF auditor provides you with an independent opinion on the existing assets in your SMSF and whether or not your fund complies with the rules outlined in the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993.

When preparing for an audit, an SMSF auditor will issue a Terms of Engagement Letter to the trustee(s) of the fund, which includes the roles and responsibilities for parties involved in the audit as well as the range of the audit. In the case that your SMSF auditor’s primary contact is your accountant, your accountant will be issued a separate Terms of Engagement Letter.

By clearly outlining each parties’ capabilities, a Terms of Engagement Letter helps you, your accountant and your auditor to avoid any misunderstandings and also protects audit evidence provided by your auditor from unintended alterations. In turn, SMSF auditors who fail to follow standards or take shortcuts can be sued or imposed penalties by the Court.

The Terms of Engagement Letter also acts as a contract to keep parties accountable during compliance breaches and prevents cases of ‘opinion shopping’ where trustees look to other auditors for unqualified opinions. Trustees may end up being audited by the ATO in the event that they breach the Terms of Engagement Letter and ‘opinion shop’, as it comprises auditor independence.

CGT rollover when transferring assets in a divorce

Transferring the ownership of assets from one party to another may attract CGT. However, in the event that a change in ownership occurs due to the breakdown of a relationship, you may be eligible for a rollover of the asset.

A rollover allows taxpayers to defer or disregard a capital gain or loss that would normally arise on a CGT event. Specifically, a same asset rollover can occur when an individual transfers assets to their ex-spouse, as the transferee already has an involvement with the asset. The spouse who receives the asset will make the capital gain or loss when they dispose of the asset in future. They will also receive the cost base of the asset (the cost of the asset at the time of its initial purchase), as well as expenses incurred when acquiring, holding and disposing of the asset.

The rollover applies to CGT events that occur as a result of:

Separating couples transferring assets in accordance with a binding financial agreement will not require court intervention, however, for rollover to apply, the following must be true at the time of transfer:

Couples with informal or private agreements related to the transfer of assets will not be eligible for a rollover, and CGT will apply to these ownership transfers. The parties cannot choose whether or not the rollover applies to their situation.

FREE CONFIDENTIAL DISCUSSION
Understanding a person’s financial situation is the first step to resolving their problems and achieving their goals. All new business clients looking to speak face-to-face with an accounting professional are offered an initial consultation at Pluta Accountants with the first hour at no charge. Businesses who wish to take advantage of a confidential discussion are encouraged to call 07 3379 8185 today.

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