How the ‘Protect Your Super’ changes will affect you

A number of changes to superannuation will come into effect from 1 July 2019. The ‘Protect Your Superannuation’ Bill passed through Parliament in February and forms part of the Government’s package of reforms that were announced in the 2018-19 Federal Budget.

The new legislation is designed to protect Australians’ superannuation savings by ensuring that their super balance isn’t negatively affected by unnecessary fees on insurance policies. Changes that may affect you are;

Insurance:
For those who do not act before 1 July, your insurance may be deemed inactive. Under the Protect Your Superannuation Bill, super accounts that have been inactive for 16 months will have their automatic insurance cancelled. Members will be able to ‘opt-in’ to protect their insurance cover and stop their account from being inactive, but this must be done before 30 June.

Ban on exit fees:
The new laws will remove the need to pay exit fees from all superannuation accounts. Trustees that are currently charging exit fees will need to review the current fee structure in order to implement any necessary disclosure and product changes.

All superannuation trustees and members will need to review these changes to ensure they are meeting all necessary obligations. If further help is needed about how the changes will impact you, consult your financial advisor.

Posted on 11 June '19 by , under super. No Comments.

What and when you need to report in your SMSF

The event-based reporting (EBR) framework for self-managed super funds (SMSFs) commenced on 1 July 2018. This system allows the ATO to administer the transfer balance cap. Reporting under the EBR framework commences when your first member begins a retirement phase income stream. The transfer balance account report (TBAR) is then used to report certain events and is separate from the SMSF annual return.

An SMSF must report events that affect a member’s transfer balance, these should include details of:

  • Pre-existing income streams being received on 30 June 2017 that;
    • continued to be paid to them on or after 1 July 2017.
    • were in retirement phase on or after 1 July 2017.
  • New retirement phase and death benefit income streams including value and type.
  • Limited recourse borrowing arrangement (LRBA) payments, including the value and date of each relevant payment, if entered into on or after 1 July 2017.
  • Compliance with a commutation authority issued by the ATO.
  • Personal injury contributions.
  • Commutations of retirement phase income streams that occur on or after 1 July 2017.

All SMSFs must report events that affect their members’ transfer balances. If no event occurs, there is nothing to report.

Timeframes for reporting are determined by the total superannuation balances of an SMSF’s members. In the events affecting members’ transfer balances, reports must be made within 28 days after the end of the quarter in which the event occurs. Unless a member has exceeded their cap and the fund needs to report an event sooner, the first due date for the lodgment of TBARs is 28 October.

Posted on 3 June '19 by , under super. No Comments.

Startup essentials to help your business succeed

Starting your own business can be as daunting as it is exciting. There are many aspects that need to be considered when making the change to becoming your own boss. Here are a few of the essentials to get you moving.

Plan:
Do not go into a business blindly, as a good idea can only get you so far. A business model shows possible investors that you are serious and gives you a blueprint for how to run the business going forward. Look at elements such as start-up costs, risk assessment, hiring and outsourcing when making your strategic, operational and financial plans.

Be in the know:
Having an idea is all well and good but if you do not have the industry knowledge to back it up, your dream may be over sooner than you think. Experiencing an industry firsthand will assist with practical knowledge whilst research can help on a technical side. When you’re creating your business plan, you need to honestly assess your own skills and expertise so you can identify where you could use assistance.

Protect yourself:
Insurance and trademarks are essential to protecting your property, both physical and intellectual. Though this may not be an exciting step when creating a new business, it is your responsibility as a new business owner to manage the risks associated with your business. Implementing the proper insurance ensures your company is protected in the event of disaster or litigation.

Posted on 3 June '19 by , under business. No Comments.

Changes to the ABN application process

The ATO has made recent changes to the application process for an Australian Business Number (ABN). The changes have been made as a measure to protect the process’ integrity and identify those who are attempting to misuse it.

An ABN is a unique 11 digit number that identifies your business to the government and the wider community. The recent changes focus on:

  • Ensuring that those who are entitled to an ABN are the only ones who will receive one.
  • Identifying people going through the application process multiple times.
  • Confirming entitlement and helping people to understand their obligations.

You are only entitled to an ABN when carrying on or starting an enterprise in Australia. An enterprise includes activities done in the form of a business, including operating a charity, renting or leasing property, or acting as the trustee of a superannuation fund. It is compulsory for businesses with a GST turnover of $75,000 or more to have an ABN and be registered for GST.

There is no single test to determine cases where you are carrying on a business. However, features of a functioning business include:

  • An intention to make a profit from the activity that is demonstrated by a business plan (unlike a hobby).
  • The activity is a significant commercial activity that is a reasonable size and scale, involving the sale of goods or services.
  • The activity is organised, systemic and is carried on in a business-like manner with records kept.

The ATO’s changes better define who is eligible for an ABN, helping business owners to understand their obligations in cases where there may be doubt. Consider consulting your professional advisor if further help is required.

Posted on 3 June '19 by , under tax. No Comments.

How to get the most out of business meetings

Conducting meetings is a regular way of communicating what needs to be done around the office, but if nothing gets accomplished it can be discouraging. When organised properly, however, business meetings can be effective and efficient.

Plan ahead:
Meetings need purpose. If they are not planned well then topics needed to be addressed may get missed. Before starting ask questions like, ‘is this meeting necessary?’, ‘What is the purpose of the meeting?’, or, ‘who needs to attend?’ This can give you a solid direction for the meeting. Topics that need discussing could be listed on the agenda. Try itemising each issue to give everyone a firm guideline of what is expected to be discussed.

Timing is everything:
Starting a meeting on time reinforces the idea that others will fall behind if they are late. Punctuality can help to ensure that adequate time is spent discussing each item properly. Timing also applies to the practicality of the items you wish to discuss. Having specific deadlines for your objectives to get accomplished can assist in keeping everyone on the same page.

Encourage participation:
Do not let a meeting be dominated by only a few people. Instead, create a friendly atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable, this can help others to speak up and express their opinions. Exploring the views of other people can give you valuable insights into who can handle certain responsibilities or whose ideas are worth implementing.

Posted on 27 May '19 by , under business. No Comments.

Reducing errors when claiming business expenses

The ATO has identified particular areas relating to business expenses that are commonly entered incorrectly in tax returns. Owners should take the time to carefully review tax returns to ensure all information is correct.

Individuals who use a motor vehicle entirely for their business can claim a deduction for the whole amount. However, if they use the vehicle for a mix of business and private use, they will need to divide the expense amount and only claim the business portion.

Business expenses must be kept separate from an individual’s private expenses, such as personal rent, fines, travel, food and renovations of a private residence. Those who operate their small business as a company or trust need to be aware that paying private expenses from these accounts may have other tax implications such as fringe benefits tax and shareholder loans.

In the event a business is upgrading its accounting software, remember to check that business and private expense codes are correct. The business expenses must be claimed at the GST exclusive rate if they are registered for GST, not the GST inclusive rate.

Small businesses should note that falsely or incorrectly claiming expenses is not something the ATO takes lightly. Penalties can apply based on the extent of the misinformation.

Posted on 27 May '19 by , under tax. No Comments.

In’s and out’s of the super downsizer scheme

Under the super downsizer scheme, eligible individuals that are 65 years and older may be able to make a contribution into their superannuation of up to $300,000 from the proceeds of selling their family home. This scheme came into effect on 1 July 2018 as one of several measures announced in the May 2017 Federal Budget.

Benefits to downsizer contributions:

  • It can provide a way to boost your super balance. For those who may not have saved enough to fund their retirement, tax-free downsizer contributions can be a good opportunity to top up their already existing savings.
  • No work test applies. This test requires that taxpayers aged 65-74 who wish to make voluntary contributions must be employed for at least 40 hours within a 30-day period. By removing this requirement, older Australians who no longer work significant hours will still be able to add large sums to their super.
  • There are no contribution caps, as concessional and non-concessional contribution caps do not apply.
  • Downsizer contributions aren’t subject to the $1.6 million total super balance restriction.
  • For couples, both spouses are able to take advantage of downsizer contribution. This means that up to $600,000 per couple may be contributed towards their super.

Other considerations to be aware of include:

  • Contributions must be made within 90 days of receiving the proceeds of a sale.
  • The sold property must have been owned for at least 10 years and must have been your main place of residence at some point in time.
  • The property must be in Australia and excludes houseboats, caravans and mobile homes.
  • Downsizer contributions are not tax-deductible.

Posted on 27 May '19 by , under super. No Comments.

Risk management strategies for investors

When it comes to investing your money, there is the possibility that it may not perform as well as expected, possibly losing you some or all of the original investment amount. While no investment is free of risk, some carry more risk than others. These are a few strategies that can help minimise the risk of investments without sacrificing your returns, and not be left out of pocket in volatile and fluctuating markets.

Diversification:
Investment diversification involves buying asset classes or sectors that are not correlated. Diversified portfolios give you the advantage of being less exposed to particular economic events. It can be an effective way to limit your risk, as the fall in the value of one asset class may be offset by an increase in the value of another.

Keep goals:
When buying growth investment assets, you may expect to see some short-term volatility. It would be helpful to separate your short-term and long-term goals and determine how much will be needed for each. Consider investing for the long term in growth assets, while setting aside funds for the short term in a cash investment or another similar defensive asset, ensuring short term funds are available and longer term growth investments are not affected.

Track your investments:
The balance of your assets may change as they gain or lose value, reducing the diversity of your portfolio. Tracking investments is useful in these circumstances as you may need to rebalance your portfolio. Doing this will make sure your investments still align with your strategy to mitigate risk.

Posted on 27 May '19 by , under money. No Comments.

What disqualifies you from an SMSF

SMSF’s are regulated by the ATO and have specific eligibility criteria that members and trustees must follow. While anyone 18 years old or over can be a trustee or director of an SMSF, they mustn’t be under a legal disability, such as mental incapacity, or a disqualified person.

The ATO can render an SMSF trustee as a disqualified person if they see the need, particularly in relation to illegal early access breaches. There are other ways a person may become disqualified and some may not even realise they have been. Continuing to act as an SMSF trustee or director of the corporate trustee while disqualified is an offence, further penalties may apply.

A person is disqualified if they:

  • Have been convicted of an offence involving dishonesty.
  • Are or have been subject to a civil penalty order under the super laws.
  • Are insolvent under administration (including being an undischarged bankrupt).
  • Have been disqualified by a court or regulator (for example, by the ATO or APRA).

The ATO has a Disqualified trustees register to see if an individual has previously been disqualified. The register provides information and easy search options to help determine whether a potential trustee has been disqualified. It is updated quarterly and includes all individuals who have been disqualified since 2012 (when the information was first published electronically).

Posted on 20 May '19 by , under super. No Comments.

Choosing the right business location

When setting up your business, choosing a location can be a critical factor in its success. Each organisation has varying requirements, so it is necessary to consider your needs and priorities when deciding on a business premises that will best suit you.

Know your business:
The types of premises will depend on your business. Businesses that offer professional services may consider choosing long or short-term leasing options that will allow you to conduct customer and business meetings from a central location. If you run a retail or hospitality organisation it will involve deciding on the best location to sell your products while also being accessible to customers. For those that involve manufacturing, wholesaling or selling over the internet, then selecting a business location will not impact on attracting customers.

Identify customers:
Identifying who your customers are and how you can best meet their needs can also assist in choosing a location. Researching relevant information, such as where they live and work, and how far they will potentially travel to buy your products or services, can help you decide on a location that is practical for existing customers and attractive to new ones.

Assess the location:
Consider the external elements that can affect your business. Look at the traffic in the area and work out how it can support or hinder you and what services are in the area in which you choose to locate. You may consider asking other local business in your desired location for some advice on the best providers for services such as gas or electricity, water, phone and internet.

Posted on 20 May '19 by , under business. No Comments.