Warning on ATO and Medicare scams

Warning on ATO and Medicare scams

Recently we’ve been contacted by a number of clients who have received suspicious calls and messages from people claiming to be from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and Medicare.  It’s important that you are aware of some recent scams.

Tax scams

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has warned about the emergence of a scam where “…scammers are using an ATO number to send fraudulent SMS messages to taxpayers asking them to click on a link and hand over their personal details in order to obtain a refund.”

The refund scam follows a more sinister four phase scam stating there is a warrant out for your arrest for unpaid taxes in prior years. The scam starts with a text message purportedly from the Australian Federal Police (AFP). Within minutes, your mobile rings and the caller identifies themselves as being from the AFP and working with the ATO. They then ask for your accountant’s details. You then receive a call purportedly from your ‘accounting firm’ asking you to verify the AFP/ATO claims. Finally, you are provided with a way, if you act quickly, to make the AFP go away by paying a fee before your ‘imminent arrest’.

The ATO states that it will not:

  • Send you an email or SMS asking you to click on a link to provide login, personal or financial information, or to download a file or open an attachment.
  • Use aggressive or rude behaviour, or threaten you with arrest, jail or deportation.
  • Request payment of a debt via iTunes or Google Play cards, pre-paid Visa cards, cryptocurrency or direct credit to a personal bank account, or
  • Request a fee in order to release a refund owed to you.

Medicare Scam

A new phishing scam sent text messages purportedly from Medicare advising the recipient that they are owed a $200 rebate from Medicare. Once the person clicks on the reclaim link, they are asked to provide their personal details including bank account details for the ‘rebate.’

If you are uncertain about any suspicious messages please contact the registered office of the “sender” or alternatively speak with your accountant or advisor.

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7 Things To Review For Enhanced Business Performance

7 Things To Review For Enhanced Business Performance

If you are a business owner in Australia, there’s a big chance that you are now back at the desk after a break. The Christmas holiday period is a great time to rest and reflect over the previous year and think about what you want to achieve in 2019.

There’s no better time to review the performance of your business given you should have a team that’s rested and ready to help you achieve your goals and growth targets for 2019.

Here’s our guide for the critical business activities to prioritise reviewing to ensure if you’re on track for a good year.

1. Review your reporting systems
Take some time to understand how you currently measure effectiveness. Particularly sales and employee performance. Do you know what your cost of sale is, whether you are achieving sales at the right costs and what the most effective sales channels are?

2. Review your cash flow requirements
Cash flow constraints can considerably hinder business growth. Effective balance sheet management of accounts receivables, accounts payables and inventory levels help make sure that you have sufficient cash to operate effectively. It’s also critical that adequate cash is being set aside to meet Tax and Super obligations

3. Review your products and services
If you have good reporting, you’ll understand how profitable each of your products and services is. Understanding this means you can plan for the year ahead, focussing on promoting profitable (and eliminating unprofitable) products or services.

4. Review your staff performance
Do you have good systems for understanding what your team members are working on and also for recognising achievements? A strong culture and communication amongst staff will ensure your team is motivated and focussed on the overall company objectives.

5. Review your operating costs
Getting a handle on all your operating costs and then reviewing for improved deals and more competitive suppliers can have a significant impact on profitability. You can even task staff with finding ways to streamline costs and reward them for finding savings.

6. Review your most profitable customer relationships and satisfaction
Understanding which customers are generating the most revenue and or profit should be a top priority. After all, we all know it’s cheaper to retain a customer than to acquire a new one. Customer retention has a considerable impact on growth. Using tools such as Net Promoter to track customer satisfaction and the likelihood of referral can streamline satisfaction monitoring.

7. Review any debt or finance arrangements.
Make sure you have the most cost-effective finance facilities in place, and you are reducing any debt effectively.

Last but not least, make sure that you involve your trusted advisors in helping you review your business. An experienced advisor can help you take an “outside-in” look at your business and also bring valuable experience and therefore suggestions for improved business performance.

PrimeAccounting specialise in working with private business owners, keeping them on track with finance and accounting services. Contact us for an obligation free Business OnTrack consultation on improving your business performance.

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Business Tax Planning Guide FY18

Business Tax Planning Guide FY18

Imagine what you could do with tax saved?

  • Reduce your home loan
  • Top up your super
  • Have a holiday
  • Deposit for an investment property
  • Upgrade your car

Here’s a guide to the strategies you can use to minimise your business tax.

IS YOUR BUSINESS A “SMALL BUSINESS” ENTITY?

Small businesses can access a range of tax concessions from the ATO. To qualify as a “Small Business Entity”, the business must have an aggregated turnover (your annual turnover plus the annual turnover of any business connected / affiliated with you) of less than $10 million and be operating a business for all or part of the 2018 year.

REDUCTION IN COMPANY TAX RATES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

The company tax rate for businesses with less than $10 million turnover is 27.5%.

If you use a Trust structure, one strategy is to allocate profits to a “Bucket Company” and cap your tax at 27.5% for the 2018 year. Note that this company must have business operations to qualify for the reduced company tax rate.

INSTANT DEDUCTION FOR ASSETS LESS THAN $20,000

If your business is a Small Business Entity, the following tax concessions apply:

  • Depreciating assets valued at less than $20,000 will be immediately deductible
  • Depreciating assets valued at more than $20,000 will be depreciated in one pool at a rate of 15% in the first year and 30% in future years
  • If your pool balance at the end of the year is less than $20,000 before applying any other depreciation deduction, the entire pool balance can be written off.

You should buy these assets before 30 June 2018.

If your business is not a Small Business Entity, you will need to depreciate all assets purchased over $300. Any assets purchased for $300 or under can be immediately deducted.

MAXIMISE DEDUCTIBLE SUPER CONTRIBUTIONS

The concessional superannuation cap for 2018 is $25,000 for all individuals. Do not go over this limit or you will pay more tax!

Note that employer super guarantee contributions are included in these caps. Where a concessional contribution is made that exceeds these limits, the excess is included in your assessable income and taxed at your marginal rate, plus an excess concessional contributions charge.

For the contribution to be counted towards the employee’s 2018 contribution cap, it must be received by the fund by 30 June 2018.

TOOLS OF TRADE / FBT EXEMPT ITEMS

The purchase of Tools of Trade and other FBT exempt items for business owners and employees can be an effective way to buy equipment with a tax benefit.

Items that can be packaged include handheld/portable tools of trade, computer software, notebook computers, personal electronic organisers, digital cameras, briefcases, protective clothing, and mobile phones.

If structured correctly, the employer will be entitled to a tax deduction for the reimbursement payment to the employee (for the equipment cost), claim any GST input credit, and the employee’s salary package will only be reduced by the GST-exclusive cost of the items purchased.

You should buy these items before 30 June 2018.

PAY EMPLOYEE SUPERANNUATION NOW

To claim a tax deduction in the 2018 financial year, you need to ensure that your employee superannuation payments are received by the super fund or the Small Business Superannuation Clearing House (SBSCH) by 30 June 2018.

You should avoid making last minute superannuation payments as processing delays may cause them to be received after year-end. If for any reasons you end up having to make last minute payments and you would like to claim them as deductions for the current year, contact us immediately and before you make any payments for possible resolutions.

DEFER INCOME

If possible, defer issuing further invoices and receiving cash/debtor payments until after 30 June 2018.  This strategy pushes tax payable to future years.

BRING FORWARD EXPENSES

Purchase consumable items BEFORE 30 June 2018. These include marketing materials, consumables, stationery, printing, office and computer supplies. Spend the money now and get the deduction this year.

REPAIRS & MAINTENANCE

Make payments for repairs and maintenance (business, rental property, employment) BEFORE 30 June 2018.

DEFER INVESTMENT INCOME & CAPITAL GAINS

If possible, arrange for the receipt of Investment Income (e.g. interest on Term Deposits) and the Contract Date for the sale of Capital Gains assets, to occur AFTER 30 June 2018.

The Contract Date is generally the key date for working out when a sale occurred, not the Settlement Date!

MOTOR VEHICLE LOG BOOK

Ensure that you have kept an accurate and complete Motor Vehicle Log Book for at least a 12-week period. The start date for the 12-week period must be on or before 30 June 2018. You should make a record of your odometer reading as at 30 June 2018 and keep all receipts/invoices for motor vehicle expenses.

An alternative (with no log book needed) is to simply claim up to 5,000 business kilometres (based on a reasonable estimate) using the cents per km method.

INVESTMENT PROPERTY DEPRECIATION

If you own a rental property and haven’t already done so, arrange for the preparation of a Property Depreciation Report to allow you to claim the maximum amount of depreciation and building write-off deductions on your rental property.

PRIVATE COMPANY

(“DIV 7A”) LOANS

Business owners who have borrowed funds from their company in previous years must ensure that the appropriate principal and interest repayments are made by 30 June 2018. Current year loans must be either paid back in full or have a loan agreement entered in before the due date of lodgement for the company return, or risk having it counted as an unfranked dividend in the return of the individual.

YEAR-END STOCKTAKE / WORK IN PROGRESS

If applicable, you need to prepare a detailed Stock Take and/or Work in Progress listing as at 30 June 2018. Review your listing and write-off any obsolete or worthless stock items.

Talk to us about your different options for valuing Stock, and how they affect your tax payable.

 WRITE-OFF BAD DEBTS

Review your Trade Debtors listing and write-off all bad debts BEFORE 30 June 2018. Prepare a management meeting document listing each bad debt, as evidence that these amounts were written off prior to year-end and enter these into your accounting system before 30 June 2018.

SMALL BUSINESS CONCESSIONS – PREPAYMENTS

“Small Business Concession” taxpayers can make prepayments (up to 12 months) on expenses (e.g. loan interest, rent, subscriptions) BEFORE 30 June 2018 and obtain a full tax deduction in the 2018 financial year.

TRUSTEE RESOLUTIONS

Ensure that the Trustee Resolutions are prepared and signed BEFORE 30 June 2018 for all Discretionary (“Family”) Trusts. Please see us for more information about these resolutions.

Talk to your Client Advisor TODAY before the 30 June 2018 deadline for assistance to reduce your tax!

 

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Personal Tax Planning Guide FY18

Personal Tax Planning Guide FY18

Now’s the time to review what strategies you can use to minimise your tax before 30 June 2018.

Imagine what you could do with tax saved?

  • Reduce your home loan
  • Top up your super
  • Have a holiday
  • Deposit for an investment property
  • Upgrade your car

KEY SUPERANNUATION CHANGES

While you might not be flush with cash now and able to put large amounts into superannuation, it’s important that you are aware of what is possible to maximise your super balance and possibly reduce your tax at the same time.

NEW CONCESSIONAL CONTRIBUTION CAP (CC) OF $25,000 FOR EVERYONE

The tax deductible super contribution limit (or “cap”) is $25,000 for all individuals under age 75. Individuals need to pass a work test if over age 65.

Consider making the maximum tax deductible super contribution this year before 30 June 2018.

The advantage of this strategy is that superannuation contributions are taxed at between 15% to 30% compared to typical personal income tax rates of between 34.5% and 47%.

Ordinarily, self-employed individuals and those who earn their income primarily from passive sources make super contributions close to the end of the financial year and claim a tax deduction. However, this is the first financial year that individuals who are employees may also use this strategy.

Individuals who may want to take advantage of this opportunity include those who:

  • work for an employer who doesn’t permit salary sacrifice
  • work for an employer who allows salary sacrifice, but it’s disadvantageous due to a reduction in entitlements, and
  • are salary sacrificing but want to make a top-up contribution to utilise their full CC cap.

SPOUSE SUPER CONTRIBUTIONS

From 1 July 2017, higher income thresholds apply when determining eligibility for the spouse contributions tax offset.

From this date, you may be eligible for a tax offset of up to $540 on super contributions of up to $3,000 that you make on behalf of your spouse if your spouse’s income is $37,000 p.a. or less (previously $10,800 p.a.).

The offset gradually reduces for income above $37,000 p.a. and completely phases out at $40,000 p.a. and above (previously $13,800 p.a.).

ADDITIONAL TAX ON SUPER CONTRIBUTIONS BY HIGH INCOME EARNERS

The income threshold at which the additional 15% (‘Division 293’) tax is payable on super contributions has reduced from $300,000 to $250,000 p.a., effective 1 July 2017. Where you are required to pay this additional tax, making super contributions within the cap is still a tax effective strategy.

With super contributions taxed at a maximum of 30% and investment earnings in super taxed at a maximum of 15%, both these tax points are more favourable when compared to the highest marginal tax rate of 47% (including the Medicare levy).

GOVERNMENT CO-CONTRIBUTION TO YOUR SUPER 

If you are on a lower income and earn at least 10% of your income from employment or carrying on a business and make a “non-concessional contribution” to super, you may be eligible for a Government co-contribution of up to $500.

In 2017/18, the maximum co-contribution is available if you contribute $1,000 and earn $36,813 or less. A lower amount may be received if you contribute less than $1,000 and/or earn between $36,814 and $51,812.

MAXIMISE DEDUCTIBLE SUPER CONTRIBUTIONS

The concessional superannuation cap for 2018 is $25,000 for all individuals. Do not go over this limit or you will pay more tax!

Note that employer super guarantee contributions are included in these caps. Where a concessional contribution is made that exceeds these limits, the excess is included in your assessable income and taxed at your marginal rate, plus an excess concessional contributions charge.

10 ways to reduce your tax

OWNERSHIP OF INVESTMENTS 

A longer-term tax planning strategy can be reviewing the ownership of your investments. Any change of ownership needs to be carefully planned due to capital gains tax and stamp duty implications. Please seek advice from your Accountant prior to making any changes.

Investments may be owned by a Family Trust, which has the key advantage of providing flexibility in distributing income on an annual basis and an ability for up to $416 per year to be distributed to children or grandchildren tax-free.

PROPERTY DEPRECIATION REPORT

If you have an investment property, a Property Depreciation Report (prepared by a Quantity Surveyor) will allow you to claim depreciation and capital works deductions on capital items within the property and on the property itself.

The cost of this report is generally recouped several times over by the tax savings in the first year of property ownership.

MOTOR VEHICLE LOG BOOK

Ensure that you have kept an accurate and complete Motor Vehicle Log Book for at least a 12-week period. The start date for the 12-week period must be on or before 30 June 2018. You should make a record of your odometer reading as at 30 June 2018 and keep all receipts/invoices for your motor vehicle expenses. Once prepared, a log book can generally be used for a 5-year period.

An alternative (with no log book needed) is to simply claim up to 5,000 business kilometres (based on a reasonable estimate) using the cents per km method.

SACRIFICE YOUR SALARY TO SUPER

If your marginal tax rate is 19% or more, salary sacrifice can be a great way to boost your superannuation and pay less tax. By putting pre-tax salary into super rather than having it taxed as normal income at your marginal rate you may save tax. This can be especially beneficial for employees nearing their retirement age.

PREPAY EXPENSES AND INTEREST

Expenses relating to investment activities can be prepaid before 30 June 2018. You can prepay up to 12 months of interest before 30 June on a loan for a property or share investment and claim a tax deduction this financial year. Also, other expenses in relation to your investments can be prepaid before 30 June, including rental property repairs, memberships, subscriptions, and journals.

INSURANCE PREMIUMS

Possibly your greatest financial asset is your ability to earn an income. Income Protection Insurance generally replaces up to 75% of your salary if you are unable to work due to sickness or an accident. The insurance premium is normally tax deductible, plus you get the benefit of protecting your family’s lifestyle if you cannot work due to sickness or an accident. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. Like rental property interest, income protection premiums can also be pre-paid for 12 months to increase your deductions.

WORK RELATED EXPENSES

Don’t forget to keep any receipts for work-related expenses such as uniforms, training courses and learning materials, as these may be tax-deductible.

REALISE CAPITAL LOSSES

Tax is normally payable on any capital gains. You should consider selling any non-performing investments you hold before 30 June to crystallise a capital loss and reduce or even eliminate any potential capital gains tax liability. Unused capital losses can be carried forward to offset future capital gains.

DEFER INVESTMENT INCOME & CAPITAL GAINS

If practical, arrange for the receipt of Investment Income (e.g. interest on term deposits) and the Contract Date for the sale of Capital Gains assets, to occur AFTER 30 June 2018.

The Contract Date (not the Settlement Date) is generally the key date for working out when a sale or purchase occurred.

IS AN SMSF SUITABLE FOR YOU?

Now is a good time to seek specific advice in relation to this question, as it may be appropriate to establish an SMSF in conjunction with other tax planning opportunities, to maximise the benefit of the SMSF in your circumstances.

Talk to your Client Advisor TODAY before the 30 June 2018 deadline for assistance to reduce your tax!

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The realities of the ‘contractor vs employee’ debate: Where do you stand?

The realities of the ‘contractor vs employee’ debate: Where do you stand?

If you ask a worker why they think of themselves as a contractor instead of an employee, you may hear answers such as “I have an ABN”, “I have a special skill” or “Not all my work is for the one guy”.

And what if you asked the business owner or employer why they’re classifying the new person on their team as a contractor rather than an employee? They may tell you “He pays his own superannuation”, “He wants to be a contractor” or even “We always use contractors”.

Now these people may well be acting in good faith rather than deliberately trying to ‘cheat’ the system, but the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) may consider these ‘contractors’ to be employees after all.

And it’s not just the ATO you need to worry about. There are also work cover and payroll tax requirements that you need to keep in mind.

To find out more about the WHY realities in the employee/contractor debate, contact PrimeAdvisory or download the checklist of WHYs you need to address.

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