Why tax planning is still important in the age of Covid-19

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With everything we have been through in the last few weeks and months, it is hard to believe that the end of the financial year is less than 1 month away.  Like every year, there are important tax planning opportunities and matters to consider in the lead-up to 30 June.  This year, some important Stimulus matters also need to be considered in the context of year-end tax planning.

To find out how these may affect you please click on the link below –

Tax minimisation for small business.

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Coronavirus Stimulus Package

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In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government has announced a $17.6bn economic stimulus package, equivalent to 0.9% of GDP.

The package is ‘front loaded’ to ensure as much money as possible flows into the economy as quickly as possible, with $11bn of the package to be ‘out the door’ by June.

To assist you, our clients, to understand what this all means for your business, Co-Director Tim McCarthy has put together a series of short videos (5 mins) outlining key areas of the package. 

Our first video is on Instant Asset Write Off.

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General advice warning: The advice provided is general advice only as, in preparing it we did not take into account your investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs. Before making an investment decision on the basis of this advice, you should consider how appropriate the advice is to your particular investment needs, and objectives. You should also consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before making any decision relating to a financial product.

Will your Super keep up?

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A healthy super balance is key to being able to live the life you desire in retirement. But for many Aussies, retirement is a long way off, and it is difficult to know whether your super is keeping up.

Figures from The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia’s (ASFA) October 2017 report ‘Superannuation account balances by age and gender’ show that many Gen Xers won’t have enough super savings for an independent life once they cease working, and will need to rely on the government’s age pension.

Although Gen Xers may have been putting money into super for most or all of their working life, the compulsory employer super payments only recently increased to 9.5 per cent in 2014, after a slow start in the 1990s. This means many Gen Xers are behind where they need to be if they want a comfortable retirement.

For example, a 45-year-old should have $211,123 to be on track and a 49-year-old should have $260,676. But the average balance for a 45–49-year-old is actually $114,616.

How to get on top of your super

The good news is that as a Gen Xer, a concerted effort now – in what are likely the highest-paying years of your career – will help to boost your super balance at retirement and ensure you a healthy income stream. Even small changes over the next 15 to 30 years can make a big difference by the time you leave work and you can access your super.

Here are five ways to make your super work for you.

1. Work out how much super you’ll have at retirement

There are several online calculators that can help you estimate your super balance on retirement. Once you understand the gap between your projected balance and what you’ll need to retire comfortably, you can put a plan in place.

2.  Make voluntary contributions

Although your employer is required to make regular SG contributions into your super account, if you make extra super contributions from your pre-tax salary (salary sacrifice contributions) into your super account, you may reduce your annual bill. Concessional (before-tax) contributions are taxed at a rate of 15%, which for many people is less than what they pay on their salary and wages.

3. Consolidate your super funds

If you have more than one super account, consolidating them will help you save on fees, benefit from the investment earnings of a larger pool of money, and make it easier to keep track of your balance.

4. Review the level of risk of your investment choice

Have you assessed the risk level of your super investment options? Many people opt for safer approaches such as ‘balanced’ or ‘conservative’ investment options, but depending on your appetite for risk and general market conditions, you could consider switching your investment strategy from ‘balanced’ to ‘growth’. Speak to your financial adviser first to make sure you select the most appropriate investments for your circumstances.

5. Check your insurance levels

Now is definitely the time to check the insurance cover that comes with your super to ensure it’s appropriate for your personal circumstances.  If you have a big mortgage or a growing family, it’s important to check you have sufficient insurance cover to look after the people that depend on you if your die or cannot work for a long period.

By paying the premiums for death, total and permanent disability (TPD) and income protection insurance from the money in your super account, it can be a cost-effective way to get insurance protection if your family budget is stretched.

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General advice warning: The advice provided is general advice only as, in preparing it we did not take into account your investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs. Before making an investment decision on the basis of this advice, you should consider how appropriate the advice is to your particular investment needs, and objectives. You should also consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before making any decision relating to a financial product.]

Hefty psychological injury bill a warning to employers

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Proactively managing mental health risks in the workplace critical

A recent $435,584 injury damages case, in which a Queensland employer was found vicariously liable for a manager’s harmful treatment of a subordinate, demonstrates the importance of proactively managing mental health risks in the workplace.

In this particular case an administrative assistant for an aged care facility claimed she was forced to resign due to depression and anxiety brought about by the bullying conduct of her new manager and an excessive workload. She alleged the manager consistently belittled her in front of others including saying she “had never met anyone so stupid” and telling her to “get over it” when she complained about working extra hours.

The Court of Appeal ultimately ruled the employer had breached its duty of because the visible deterioration in the employee’s psychological state under her new manager had made the risk of psychological injury “reasonably foreseeable”.

Justice Philip McMurdo added: “Reasonable care required [the manager] not behave towards the appellant in a harassing and belittling fashion.”

In referring to “the culmination of a multiple stressors over time” the court highlighted the need for employers to be vigilant in monitoring the mental health of employees and intervening to minimise workplace stresses while still respecting privacy.

In this case the employee’s shaky and teary demeanour, in contrast with her bright and bubbly demeanour before the commencement of the new manager, was cited as physical evidence of deteriorating health. Employers are also encouraged to pay close attention to medical certificates citing stress or bullying, prolonged or frequent absences, and comments made by employees about their health being affected by work.

Besides the risk of a claim for psychological injury, overlooking employee distress leaves employers open to a subsequent claim for workers’ compensation as well as an application for a stop-bullying order. Not to mention the damage that can be done to your reputation as an employer of choice.

Source: Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Are you confused about your rights and responsibilities as an employer?  Not knowing could cost you thousands. 

Join our panel of experts for a special seminar focusing on workplace relations.  Seating is limited and entry is Free.  Click on the Eventbrite link below to find out more….

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Good money habits can start at any age.

Many young adults have relied on their parents to manage their financial matters for years, and they may struggle when it comes to making important financial decisions.

Unfortunately, financial literacy is rarely taught in schools, and suddenly your child must take the initiative to educate themselves about topics such as budgeting and living within their means, paying bills on time, managing credit and debt, not to mention trying to save for a home.

At Sage Business Group we have seen and heard many reasons for not being financially secure, so we have developed a program to assist people turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones.  It’s called The Financially Well Organised Program and you can find out more here……

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What is a binding death benefit nomination?

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Superannuation is not an estate asset; on death it does not automatically flow to the estate of the deceased. The trustee of the super fund will generally pay a death benefit in accordance with the governing rules of the fund and relevant law. A binding death benefit nomination is a way to override this trustee discretion.

Put simply, a binding death benefit nomination is a legally binding nomination that allows you to advise the trustee who is to receive your superannuation benefit in the event of your death. In order for a nomination to be binding, it must be ‘valid’. One of the requirements of validity is that only ‘dependants’ can be nominated. Depending on your circumstances, however, you can nominate one dependant or a number of dependants. For the purposes of superannuation law, a dependant includes:

  • a spouse (including de facto, opposite and same-sex)
  • children of any age (including adopted or ex-nuptial)
  • any person(s) financially dependent on the member
  • any person(s) in an interdependency relationship with the member (applicable since 1 July 2004)
  • a legal personal representative (LPR)

The role of binding nominations in estate planning

Providing certainty

One of the biggest benefits you receive from having a binding death benefit nomination in place is peace of mind. This is especially the case if you have multiple beneficiaries (eg from previous marriages) who may have a claim on your death benefit.

In this case, you can nominate with reasonable certainty who you wish to receive your death benefit or, if being paid to more than one beneficiary, who receives what proportion.

Ease and speed

Another advantage of a binding death benefit nomination is the ease and speed with which a death benefit can be paid.

If your beneficiary needs quick access to your benefit, a binding death benefit nomination may allow a more timely distribution of your assets and your beneficiary won’t have to wait for the trustee or the deceased estate to determine the distribution.

 

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SMSF Specialist Angela Reissis explains why one of the biggest benefits of having a binding death benefit nomination in place is peace of mind.

Bankruptcy and the ATO

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With an increasing number of people being declared bankrupt (either voluntarily or by a creditor obtaining a court order), it’s important to note that despite being declared bankrupt, certain debts are not extinguished and must be paid during and after your bankruptcy period including;

  • Court imposed penalties and fines.
  • Unliquidated damages you are liable to pay due to accidents (e.g a car accident).
  • Commonwealth student assistance debts (i.e HELP debts to the ATO), including supplement loans.
  • Debts you incur after your bankruptcy commences, and
  • Maintenance, including child support (but only after your bankruptcy ends).

With respect to ATO amounts that you owe:

  • Tax debts for the period before the date of bankruptcy are extinguished when you become bankrupt.
  • If the ATO has not issued and served a notice of assessment at the time of bankruptcy but there is a tax liability that has arisen before the time of bankruptcy, it is a contingent liability and is extinguished when you become bankrupt.
  • ATO debts arising from tax periods after your bankruptcy has commenced will not be extinguished.

Also be mindful that the ATO may keep any tax refund you are due and offset it against any debt you owe them or the Commonwealth (e.g. child support).

Unless you pay your debts in full, bankruptcy last for three years

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Are you having financial difficulty?

Not feeling financially secure?

Don’t leave it until it’s too late!

Most people in today’s society are inundated with commitments from all areas of their lives and feel overwhelmed and stressed.

Generally, we want to make more money so that we can achieve the lifestyle of our choice – but is making more money really the answer?

Co-Director Michael Osborne talks about how our financially well organised program can help you.

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The gold in our failings

Failure is NOT the opposite of success. It is PART of success......

Secretly, humans are conditioned to love a good fail.  While stories of triumph are inspiring, epic fails are generally more relatable, and certainly more entertaining…

However, we generally forget the key reason we should celebrate failure, which is that failure provides us indispensable learning opportunities.  And, if we can shift our perspective to see our stuff ups as valuable progress, failure is lined with gold.

Here are eight ways to help turn fails into future wins:

 

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Let’s get to the core of the problem

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We are firm believers that everyone comes to work to do a great job – initially anyway.  So why do businesses have poor performers?  Likewise, why do team members find it difficult to deal with conflict in the workplace; that difficult client or demanding boss?

To get answers to these questions we need to look beneath the surface.  Go beyond actions and behaviour and look to the drivers of performance: Core Values.

The Identity Iceberg demonstrates the impact our values have on actions and behaviour.  What’s visible above the surface – our Actions and Behaviours – are the tip of the iceberg.  They’re what we see and experience.  They’re driven by what’s beneath the surface.

Immediately beneath the surface are our Habits – good and bad.  Consider how hard it is to change a habit.  These habits are driven by our Beliefs.

For example, we might believe that a certain team member is disengaged in the business because they’re often late, sick or the first to leave the office at night.  As a result of our beliefs, we create habits like overlooking them for new opportunities or ignoring their positive actions to focus on their bad behaviours.  We find it very difficult to change these beliefs.

Read more

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What happens when a business has no business plan?

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A business plan is essential for the success of any business.  An effective business plan gets to the heart and soul of your business, it provides direction, keeps you on track and is a set of guidelines created to reach a specific business goal. Strategies can range from annual budgets to individual marketing strategies for the release of new products. Without a coherent overall strategy, a small business has no road map to follow when pursuing opportunities and running daily operations. The consequences of not having a comprehensive business strategy can be severe.

Lack of Objectives

Without a coherent strategy, your company does not have identifiable business objectives. Your company lacks the focus needed to achieve corporate goals and develop plans that will move the company forward. A lack of objectives means that your company does not have a clear vision for the future. If you don’t know the goals and objectives you’re reaching for, how do you know when you’ve accomplished them? Objectives are used to develop long-term growth and productivity plans that are essential for the sustained success of your organization. 

Business plan introduction session only $99 read more here………

Resources not properly allocated

Business plans and strategies are used to allocate corporate resources into projects and operations that need them. When there is a lack of planning, or planning is not coherent, it’s difficult to create budgets for special projects and understand the personnel and funding resources necessary to launch new products and grow the company. Instead, leaders disperse funds “on the fly,” as managers request them, without a budget to compare against. Dispersing funds this way, a company can then find itself short of funds for critical activities such as payroll and paying vendor invoices. The adage, “failing to plan is planning to fail” – often attributed to Ben Franklin – certainly applies here.

Unclear Organisational Structure

Part of business planning is identifying the people in charge. Some businesses prefer having a highly structured hierarchy, while others are more loosely organized. Whichever method you prefer, make it clear to everyone. This establishes responsibility for the success of each department and helps staff know who to report to for clarification of job duties or questions. Without a coherent business strategy, the company structure is not defined and there is no focused effort for employee and corporate development.

 Communication Flow Not Coherent

The efficient processing and distribution of information is essential for the success and growth of your small business. A business strategy establishes lines of communication and allows employees to understand information priority, the flow of information in and out of the company and how information is distributed internally. Without a strategy, there is no formal structure for communication and important information can get lost. Each employee will naturally focus on what he believes is important, which may or may not align with yours.

Take Action: Identify Your Purpose

You know the purpose of your business. It’s the reason you started the company. Don’t assume, however, that employees and even managers know the purpose. Perhaps you think they certainly should know it because you’ve discussed it many times. Still, it needs to be a clearly written explanation so that everyone can understand it. Some companies create their mission statement as their purpose. It’s the company’s reason for existing.

Develop a Fluid Plan

Through strategic planning, you can map out how your company will achieve its mission or purpose. Be wary, however, of going into too much detail in your plan. The business climate is a fluid one, changing due to many factors, including industry advances and the state of the economy. If your strategic plan is too detailed it will be difficult to adjust course even slightly when you need to. Your plan should indicate to everyone the direction the company is headed towards its mission, but be flexible enough to change course as needed.

 

Are you starting this financial year blindfolded_ If you don't have a business plan then that is exactly what you are doing.