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Reducing your winter bills

When the winter season commences, you might notice a spike in your bills. Although, it is no surprise that additional heating and hot water adds up, you may be surprised at how you can reduce these costs with minimal effort.

Consider the following tips to reduce your winter bills and lessen your environmental impact:

Heating and electricity
Instead of turning up the dial on your heating, look to other ways of heating up without using gas or electricity. Simple changes such as dressing warmly, closing the doors of the rooms you are not using and using a door snake can help to avoid the use of unnecessary heating.

Water
You don’t need to make big changes to make a difference. Some small changes you can easily implement include taking shorter showers, turning off the tap when brushing your teeth and installing a dual flush for your toilet. Fixing your dripping taps and leaking toilets will also lower your water bill.

Appliances
Before purchasing new appliances, be sure to check the energy efficiency rating. Switching to energy efficient light bulbs can also reduce your electricity bills. Installing a water efficient shower head and only using the dishwasher and washing machine when full can help to save water. Switching off and unplugging appliances when they are not in use is a good habit to form.

Posted on 15 June '18 by , under money. No Comments.

Why failing can be good for your career

Failure is often considered a sign of weakness or defeat. However, it is also known to be a natural stage in an entrepreneur’s career and a stepping-stone to success in the world of business.

Embracing the failures that arise in your career will help you to pinpoint ideas, strategies, etc, that were not working and learn from these past errors. It is often through analysing what did not work in the past that allows us to evolve and find the right strategy for success in the future.

Facing these challenges also builds life experience and diminishes the fear of failure. If you have failed and picked yourself back up again, what is there left to be afraid of? This idea helps us to build qualities like tenacity and persistence, essential characteristics needed to be a successful entrepreneur.

Consider adopting these ideals should you ever face failure during your career:

  • embrace the reality that at some point, whether big or small, you are likely to experience failure;
  • failing can help you pause and figure out what went wrong;
  • and it can be a natural step on the road to success.

Remember, it is often through making mistakes that new opportunities pop up and take us forward.

Posted on 15 June '18 by , under business. No Comments.

Changes to SMSF 2017-18 annual return

There is a number of changes to the 2017-18 Self-managed super fund annual return (SAR) thanks to the super changes which came into effect on 1 July 2017.

Transition to retirement income stream (TRIS) account
The ATO has included a new label for the number of TRIS accounts an SMSF member has in accumulation phase.

A TRIS account is in accumulation phase unless the SMSF member has reached 65 years of age or has met another ‘nil’ cashing restriction condition of release (i.e., permanent incapacity, retirement or a terminal medical condition) and has advised their fund.

Limited recourse borrowing arrangements (LRBA)
New questions focused on the use of LRBAs and extra borrowings have been added to section H, items 15e and 16. SMSFs that hold assets under LRBAs will be required to complete these questions.

Correct calculation of a member’s total superannuation balance (TSB)
New labels to allow the make-up of the ‘closing account balance’ to be reported to support a more efficient calculation of a member’s TSB have been added.

The member’s TSB may affect their non-concessional contributions cap as well as other super caps from 30 June 2017.

Cessation of the temporary budget repair levy
Certain tax rates for superannuation entities have been reduced in line with the cessation of the temporary budget repair levy (payable by some individuals for 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17).

These rates affected those individuals that applied to the taxable income of non-complying superannuation funds (47 per cent to 45 per cent) as well as the non-arm’s length component of the taxable income of a super fund (47 per cent to 45 per cent).

CGT relief
A new label has been added to the capital gains tax (CGT) schedule for the purpose of reporting deferred notional gains where the gain has been realised.

Early stage venture capital limited partnership tax offset
The ATO has added a new label to enable SMSFs to report the amount of unused early stage venture capital tax offset carried forward from the previous year.

Posted on 15 June '18 by , under super. No Comments.

Importing goods worth $1,000 or less?

Overseas businesses that meet the GST registration threshold (A$75,000) will be required to charge GST on goods purchased from the 1 July 2018.

Specifically, GST will be charged on goods that are:

  • less than A$1,000 (low-value);
  • not GST-free (i.e., alcohol or tobacco products);
  • and imported into Australia.

Individuals who purchase low-value goods (which they import) will be required to pay GST if they are not registered for GST or importing goods for personal use (even if they are GST registered).

However, individuals can avoid paying GST if they are:

  • registered for GST;
  • import low-value goods for business use in Australia;
  • and provide their ABN to the supplier and a statement that they are GST registered.

Individuals charged GST incorrectly will need to contact the supplier to advise them they are registered for GST, and need to request a refund.

Posted on 15 June '18 by , under tax. No Comments.

Social media marketing trends

Social media platforms continually introduce new features and functions that change the way digital marketers create and distribute content. Maintaining awareness of popular social media trends helps to stay competitive and utilise trends to your business’ advantage.

Here are three social media trends to watch out for:

Influencer marketing
Influencers are taking over the social media landscape, particularly on Instagram. Influencers are generally bloggers or celebrities that have the power to influence their target audiences. The benefit of using influencers is that they can deliver a message to a large amount of people. This can help to increase awareness and reach new audiences. Influencers are also credible and trustworthy in their follower’s eyes, making their message more impressionable on their audience.

Instagram Stories
The growth in the use of Instagram Stories is hard to ignore. Over 200 million users use Stories each month, which has overtaken Snapchat. Instagram Stories allow a user to upload a photo or video for their followers to view which expires after 24 hours. Businesses can use Stories to highlight their products/services without having to upload them to stay on their permanent profile. Stories can be useful for competitions, blog posts or advertising a product as a link to your website can be added.

Rise of artificial intelligence
Special filters on Snapchat and Instagram are just one example of the rise in artificial intelligence. Many brands are tapping into special filters with their own branded custom filters. Artificial intelligence is also assisting businesses with managing their communication, i.e., chatbots on Messenger or websites designed to answer all sorts of queries.

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

Superannuation Guarantee Amnesty

In a bid to tackle non-payment of employee superannuation, the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services announced the beginning of a 12-month Superannuation Guarantee Amnesty (the Amnesty) on 24 May 2018.

The Amnesty provides employers with a one-off chance to self-correct past super guarantee (SG) non-compliance without incurring a penalty and is available until 23 May 2019 (subject to the passage of legislation).

Employers who take advantage of the Amnesty will avoid:

  • penalties and charges that may apply to late payments;
  • and are entitled to deductions for catch-up payments made during the Amnesty period to the employee’s regulated super fund or to the ATO (should employers require a payment plan).

To make use of the Amnesty, employers must:

  • voluntarily admit the amounts of prior SG shortfalls including nominal interest during the Amnesty period;
  • and not be the subject of an audit for SG for the relevant periods.

The ATO is encouraging employers to pay their SG shortfall amounts in full, including the nominal interest straight into the employee’s super fund.

Failure to either remain current with SG payment duties or declare SG shortfalls in this period could result in higher penalties later on.

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

Preparing for tax time

With the end of the financial year fast approaching, preparing ahead will help to take off the pressure of running your business and organising your tax affairs this tax season.

Business owners can benefit from gathering and sorting their records now, including cash, EFTPOS, bank statements, credit or debit card transactions that relate to sales and other business income.

Records of expenses that can be claimed as business deductions, such as operating expenses, business travel, staff wages and contractor expenses should also be compiled.

For those who have changed over their record keeping software in the past year, now is a good time to check all the information has transferred over correctly.

Sole traders are reminded to lodge an annual return even if their income is below the tax-free threshold. Those that lodge PAYG instalments would benefit from lodging activity statements and paying all PAYG instalments before lodging their return so their income tax assessment takes into account the instalments paid through the year.

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

First Home Super Saver Scheme

The First Home Super Saver (FHSS) is a scheme that enables Australians to save for their first home inside their superannuation fund. The plan allows for faster saving with the before tax (concessional) treatment within super.

The 2017-18 Budget allowed individuals to make voluntary concessional and non-concessional payments into their super to save for their first home as of 1 July 2017. From 1 July 2018, individuals can apply to release their voluntary payments and associated earnings, to buy their first home.

To apply for the release of these funds, individuals must be at least 18 years old and:
– Never owned property in Australia (i.e., commercial or investment property, vacant land, a lease of land in Australia or a company title interest in land in Australia).
– Never requested the Commissioner to grant a FHSS release authority in relation to the scheme in the past.

An individual who has previously owned property in Australia may still be eligible if the Commissioner of Taxation finds they have suffered a financial hardship which resulted in losing ownership of a property.

When the Commissioner determines that an individual has suffered a financial hardship, they must also satisfy additional criteria at the same time they requested a FHSS determination.

Prior to saving, individuals should first:
– make sure their nominated fund will release the money, and;
– query their fund about any charges, fees or insurance considerations that may apply.

Any FHSS amounts received will also affect an individual’s tax for the year they request to release the funds. These individuals will receive payment summaries, where they will be required to include the assessable and tax-withheld amounts in their tax returns.

Individuals can also check their balances with their funds whenever they wish to see how much they have saved up. This will assist individuals to keep track of the maximum FHSS amounts they can request to be released.

Those individuals wanting a release of funds can apply to the Commissioner of Taxation for a FHSS determination and a release.

Posted on 30 May '18 by , under super. No Comments.

Targeted amendments to Division 7A

The Government is widening the scope of Division 7A to include unpaid present entitlements from 1 July 2019.

This will apply where a related private company is entitled to a share of trust income as a beneficiary but has not been paid that amount (unpaid present entitlement).

Division 7A is an integrity rule that requires benefits provided by private companies to taxpayers to be taxed as dividends unless they are structured as Division 7A complying loans or where another exception applies.

The Government aims to clarify the operation of the Division 7A integrity rule to ensure the unpaid present entitlement is either required to be repaid to the private company over time as a complying loan or subject to tax as a dividend.

Additionally, the targeted amendments announced in the 2016-17 Budget, aimed at improving the operation and administration of Division 7A, have now been delayed to commence from 1 July 2019. This will enable all the Division 7A amendments to be progressed as part of a consolidated package.

From 1 July 2019, the following measures will be introduced:
– A self-correction mechanism to assist taxpayers to rectify inadvertent breaches of Division 7A promptly.
– Appropriate safe harbour rules to provide certainty and simplify compliance for taxpayers.
– Simplified rules regarding complying Division 7A loans, including loan duration and the minimum interest rate.
– A number of technical amendments to improve the integrity and operation of Division 7A and provide increased certainty for taxpayers.

Posted on 30 May '18 by , under tax. No Comments.

Using storytelling to build your brand

Storytelling taps into your customers’ emotions, builds trust and can help form a stronger connection with your audience.

Many businesses are now using their business’ story in their marketing efforts to engage their current customer base and attract new customers to their brand.
Here are three ways to incorporate storytelling into your business’ marketing:

Share your story
Where did your business start? Talk your audience through your beginnings, including where your idea to start the business came from and how the business unfolded over time. Explain your approach to your business, your mission, highlights, and stories where your business made an impact. Your story does not need to follow a chronological timeline, for example, it may only include the challenges your business has faced and how you overcame them.

Provide insight
Stories can be compelling, but only when told effectively. Give your audience insight into your business by being transparent, authentic and even entertaining or humorous. Feature your valued customers in the story and share their experiences, showcase community activities and events you have been a part of, give your audience a behind-the-scenes look at your business, and so forth. The aim is to give your audience insight into your business’ core values and personality.

Inspire your audience
Your story should either invoke inspiration or provide a take-home message for your audience. This is why it is critical to be genuine in your storytelling efforts. Whether you are sharing your personal story or that of your team members’, try to relate it to the audience and avoid unnecessary and dull details. Rather than sharing a story which is self-promoting, focus on the heart of the message and what you’d like your audience to gain from hearing the story.

Posted on 25 May '18 by , under business. No Comments.