ARCHIVES CATEGORIES

Firm Journal

Blunders to avoid when naming your business

The name you choose to give your small business is an important, yet challenging decision. These few words must represent the branding image you wish to present to the public and in particular, your target market.

To help you make the best decision, here are four things to avoid when choosing your business’ name:

1. A long name
Always pick a name that is short and simple. Preferably something that rolls right off the tongue. A long and confusing name that is hard to pronounce will also be one that is difficult for customers to remember.

2. A ‘plain Jane’ name
While it is essential to pick a name that is easy to say, it is wise not choose a name so general that it will not convey any of the branding personality of your business.

3. Choosing a name too similar to your competitors
It will ensure you do not stand out from the crowd and is likely to confuse your customers.

4. Does not speak to your story
Find a name that speaks to your business’ origin story. In this way, you will create the brand in the name.

Posted on 7 August '18 by , under business. No Comments.

Launching a business: mistakes to avoid

Launching a new business for the first time is an exciting phase for every entrepreneur. However, it is important to increase your chances for success by being aware of and avoiding common mistakes that can occur when beginning a business.

Take a look at these five common errors.

Being unprepared
Starting a business is incredibly challenging, and will take a lot of hard work, time and effort. You must mentally and physically prepare yourself and develop a realistic self-care plan to avoid burning out halfway through.

Bypassing market research
You may think you have a great idea, but to ensure it will translate to a profitable business always involves market research.

Sticking with a lousy business idea
Research tells you it is likely to be a flop, but you refuse to let your business idea go.

Refusing to delegate
Trying to do everything yourself is both impossible and inefficient. It also leads to a toxic workplace. To foster a healthy and productive work environment, you must trust your team, and work together to move the business forward.

Running out of capital
Nothing sinks a business quite so quick as running out of money. It is important to plan and budget in the beginning for the amount of capital you will require to keep your business afloat.

Posted on 7 August '18 by , under business. No Comments.

Protect yourself from early super release scams

When it comes to protecting your nest egg, avoid getting caught out by a promoter of an illegal early release super scheme.

Early release super scheme scams will involve a promoter contacting you and offering to help you access your super early. They usually target individuals under significant financial pressure or those who are not knowledgeable about super laws and the repercussions and penalties involved in illegally accessing your super.

You can only access your super when you meet a condition of release.

Generally, when you:
– Are 65 years old (even if you have not yet retired).
– Reach your preservation age and retire.
– Reach your preservation age and begin a transition to retirement income stream while still working.

There are special circumstances where you may be able to access your super early.

These special circumstances include:
– Severe financial hardship
– Temporary or permanent incapacity
– Compassionate grounds
– Temporary residents leaving Australia
– Super death benefits (inheriting super)
– Super less than $200
– Terminal medical condition

To avoid falling for an illegal early super release scam, be wary if the promoter:
– charges high fees and commissions;
– requests identity documents;
– claims you can access your super and put the funds towards whatever you wish;
– and tries to persuade you to transfer or rollover your super from your existing fund to a self-managed super fund (SMSF) in order to access your super before you are legally entitled.

Posted on 7 August '18 by , under super. No Comments.

Avoid these top tax misconceptions

As tax time continues, the ATO has announced the top misconceptions many individuals make when completing their claims for tax deductions.

Four popular tax misunderstandings include:

1. Individuals can give credit card statements as proof of claim

Debunked: When making a claim, individuals must be able to show they spent the money, what the money was spent on, the supplier and the date the purchase was made unless record-keeping exceptions apply.

2. Individuals can automatically claim $150 for clothing and laundry, under $300 for work-related expenses or 5000 kilometres for car-related expenses

Debunked: While taxpayers are not required to provide receipts relating to the above in certain circumstances, these are not ‘standard deductions’ everyone can just claim. An individual can only claim if they have spent the money, and the expense relates to earning their income. They must also be able to explain how they calculated the amount.

3. Individuals can claim home-to-work travel

Debunked: Individuals can only claim home-to-work travel in limited situations, i.e., in some circumstances where they must transport bulky equipment.

4. Individuals can claim work clothes when required to wear a particular colour

Debunked: Individuals can only claim a deduction for work clothes if they are required to purchase a uniform that is unique and distinct to their employer or because they are required to buy occupation-specific or protective clothing to earn their income.

Posted on 7 August '18 by , under tax. No Comments.

Cash-only business? Consider making the switch

The Tax Office has released further findings that reveal cash-only businesses could be missing out on a significant chunk of revenue simply by not offering customers the option of electronic payment.

An ‘inconvenience’ was the most popular word consumers surveyed in the study used to describe when a business does not provide the option to pay via card.

Cash-only may also be having a direct effect on the business’s reputation. The results determined that Australian customers are twice as likely to perceive ‘cash-only’ as negative rather than positive – with many respondents questioning whether the business is honest and paying less tax (regardless of whether this may be fact or fiction).

While change may be difficult, cash-only businesses might like to consider the benefits that exist with no longer operating in cash. For instance, electronic tap-and-go payments take less time and cost around 9 cents less than payments made in cash.

By providing electronic payment only, a business can find it easier to keep more accurate record-keeping as well as help them to meet their tax and super obligations.

Posted on 3 August '18 by , under business. No Comments.

Hiring temporary residents: employer super obligations

Employers are being reminded by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) not to forget that along with permanent residents; temporary residents are also entitled to super guarantee (SG).

In most cases, an employer will be required to pay SG on top of their employee’s wages (temporary residents included) if they pay them $450.00 or more before tax in a calendar month.

Providing the temporary resident has met all the requirements, they can submit their claim for the super that their employer has paid as a ‘department Australian superannuation payment’ (DASP) once they have left Australia.

The ATO is encouraging employers to notify their temporary resident workers of the DASP application as it will be easier for these individuals to get the required supporting documents certified in Australia and then lodge once they have left the country.

Posted on 3 August '18 by , under super. No Comments.

Cents per kilometre rate rises for work-related car expenses

The Tax Office has confirmed the rate for work-related car expenses will rise to 68 cents per kilometre for the income year beginning 1 July 2018.

The new rate will affect those eligible individuals who elect the cents per kilometre method when calculating the income tax deductions for their work-related car expenses for the 2018-19 income year. This rate also applies to the following income years until the Commissioner of Taxation deems it should be varied (these rates are reviewed each year).

Taxpayers working out their car expenses for the 2015-16 year, 2016-17 year and the 2017-18 year should remember that the previous rate of 66 cents per kilometre still applies to their calculations.

When selecting the cents per kilometre method, eligible individuals:
– are not required to supply the ATO with written evidence of how many kilometres they have travelled;
– may need to show how they worked out their business kilometres calculations;
– cannot claim more than 5,000 business kilometres per car;
– and cannot make a separate claim for depreciation of the car’s value.

It is also important to note that the amount will take into account all the vehicle running expenses.

Posted on 3 August '18 by , under tax. No Comments.

Engaging in effective negotiation

The key to success is remembering that everything is negotiable, and that to get a deal you must ask for one. Many people stop right there because negotiating makes them uncomfortable. They view the process as a contest of wills in which power determines outcome, each party seeks to best the other, and the little guy doesn’t stand a chance.

That kind of positional bargaining may produce some short-term results, but it is a distasteful, win-lose process that can leave both sides exhausted, resentful and dissatisfied with the outcome.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Effective, principled negotiation will efficiently produce an agreement that meets the needs of both sides while improving or at least maintaining personal relationships. In negotiation the key is to focus on these three areas:

People
Separate the people from the issues to avoid personalising them. Make sure each party understands the others perception of what is involved. Identify the underlying emotions on both sides and acknowledge them. Listen actively and speak to be understood, not to argue a position. Don’t debate – cooperate.

Interests
Focus on interests instead of positions. Behind each position lie compatible interests as well as conflicting ones. To identify the interests, put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Why would they take such a position? Does any aspect of your proposal conflict with those interests?

Options
Work with the other party to generate a variety of options. Separate the brainstorming from the decision-making process. Look for areas of agreement by identifying shared interests. Look for ways to dovetail differing interests by exploring options that are of low cost to you and high benefit to the other party and vice versa.

Posted on 27 July '18 by , under business. No Comments.

Superannuation Guarantee Amnesty

The Superannuation Guarantee Amnesty was introduced on 24 May 2018 by the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services in a bid to tackle non-payment of employee super.

The Amnesty provides a one-off opportunity for employers to self-correct any past super guarantee (SG) non-compliance without incurring a penalty. However, there is a lot of ambiguity around which employees are entitled to compulsory super payments.

Small business employers need to pay special attention to these particular areas:

Ordinary time earnings
An understanding of ordinary time earnings (OTE) is essential as it is used to calculate tan eligible employees minimum SG contributions. OTE is generally what your employees earn for their ordinary hours of work. It includes things like commissions, shift loadings and allowances, but not overtime payments. The SG is 9.5 per cent of an eligible employees ordinary time earnings (OTE).

If you make super contributions under an award, check that they are enough to satisfy both the award and the SG. Issues can occur where an agreement prevails over an award, no ordinary hours of work are stipulated, where an employee gets reimbursed, there is no award or agreements and where overtime is paid the same as ordinary hours.

Contractors
So you think you do not need to pay contractors super? Think again. Some contractors may be entitled to super.

The ATO also sees cases where employers classify employees as contractors, and consequently, forgo paying their super. If you are unsure of whether a worker is a contractor or employee, or if you unsure if your contractors are entitled to super, seek professional advice.

Posted on 27 July '18 by , under super. No Comments.

Income tax gap results

The ATO has released its latest findings on the tax gap for Australian individuals. The estimated gap in 2014-15 is approximately $8.7 billion or 6.4 per cent.

The income gap is an estimate of the difference between the tax the ATO collects and the amount that would have been collected if each taxpayer was fully complaint.

Over 93 per cent of income tax received from individuals not in business is paid voluntarily or with little intervention from the ATO. There are around 9.6 million individuals who are not in business and lodge tax returns. These taxpayers earn their income from salary and wages and investments.

The tax gap is primarily driven by incorrectly claimed work-related expenses. The ATO says the most common mistakes include:
– Claiming deductions where there is no connection to income
– Claims for private expenses
– No records to show that an expense was incurred.

Other areas of concern include high rates of incorrect claims for rental property expenses and non-reporting of cash wages.

The ATO is warning taxpayers to take care with that they claim, because all of those little amounts add up.

The Tax Office uses data and technology to identify outliers, as well as tailoring advice and guidance products, auto-correct mistakes, streamline reporting and substantiation processes, access third party data to verify claims and provide pre-fill information in tax returns.

Posted on 27 July '18 by , under tax. No Comments.