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Keeping you up to date

Licencing requirements for Accountants to provide SMSF advice

Have you heard about the legislative changes to how accountants can provide advice to you regarding your superannuation? In the past, we have been able to provide certain information regarding superannuation under an accountants’ exemption.  From 1 July 2016, this exemption will be removed and will mean changes to the way we can provide advice to you and your Self-Managed Super Fund (SMSF).

The legislation was introduced in response to a number of failures in the wealth management sector (remember Storm, Opes Prime and Westpoint?) and attempts to protect investors by ensuring Australians have availability, accessibility and affordability to high quality financial advice.

So, what has this got to do with you and your SMSF? 

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Are you a company Director? Do you know what your obligations are?

Rules change over time, so even if you’ve been a company director for ages, it is definitely worth refreshing your knowledge. For example, recent changes may mean that you are personally liable should something go wrong.

ASIC has developed a guide for small business directors which will help you understand your responsibilities – we definitely recommend revisiting this! 

If you have any questions about your company or structure, please contact our office and we will be able to assist you.

ATO Data Matching - a further update

Last month we provided information on some recent data matching by the ATO that led to audits or reviews. We also mentioned some sources the ATO uses to obtain data for the purposes of this data matching. This month we add another one to the list!

The ATO has now advised that it is  working with insurance providers to identify policy owners of assets including marine, aviation, enthusiast motor vehicles, fine art and thoroughbred horses. The information will be used by the ATO to obtain a more accurate estimate of the wealth of individual taxpayers and ensure this correlates with the information they lodge with the ATO.

It seems the list of sources is ever-growing, so if you have any questions about your own position please don’t hesitate to contact our office.

Do you know whether your employer is actually paying your super?

Many of us simply assume that our employer is doing the right thing and paying the correct amount of super – and paying it on time. But how many of us actually check?

Super payments are part of your employment entitlements and it is important to ensure that you are receiving these.  Super guarantee payments are meant to be paid quarterly (but can be paid more regularly)  so if you check your super statement there should be at least 4 contributions made annually. If there isn’t, then you might have a problem. The ATO has provided information on what you can do if you believe that you aren’t being paid the correct super. Click here for further information.

Claiming car expenses

From 1 July 2015 car expense deductions for individuals were simplified by reducing the options for claiming these expenses. From this financial year, the only options able to be used are the log book or cents per kilometre methods.  The 12% of original value and one third of actual expenses options have now been abolished.

Additionally, the cents per kilometre method has been simplified to use a standard rate of 66 cents per kilometre, rather than a rate based on the engine size of the car.

As a result of this change employers who pay their employees a car allowance need to withhold tax on the amount they pay over 66c per kilometre.

Not sure how this affects you? Your accountant can help you determine how to best calculate your car expenses.

ATO Phone scams

We have previously sent out warnings regarding phone scams where people proclaiming to be from the ATO are telephoning and trying to extort money or personal information using threatening means.

Unfortunately, this scam is still doing the rounds.

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One of the benefits of joining a national association such as Bentleys are the additional services we are able to provide to our clients. We have access to a team of experts in specialist fields that can add value to you and your business – and not only that, they are really down-to-earth, great people! Over the next couple of months we will introduce you to some of these key people in our newsletters.

First cab off the rank is Hamish McIntosh. Hamish is the Director of Finance and Lending for Bentleys. Based in Brisbane, Hamish travels the state assisting clients to find the best solutions and opportunities in the commercial, working capital, equipment, motor vehicle and residential finance sectors.

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It's not just politicians that are having their work related expenses scrutinised...

I think we can agree that hiring a helicopter to attend a function will cause a little scrutiny. But for the more ordinary people amongst us, do you know what expenses you can and cannot claim when lodging a tax return? The ATO is focussing on this area at the moment – targeting taxpayers who have especially high work-related expense claims. They are specifically reviewing any expenses which have already been reimbursed by employers and claims made for private expenses such as travel from work to home.

Not sure whether you can claim it? Click here for further information.

If you are still not sure whether you can claim it, contact our office.

Do you (or your children) have a HELP or TSL Debt and are living overseas?

It’s almost an Australian rite of passage – finish your degree and head overseas for some travel and/or to kick-start your career.  Many Australians even decide to live abroad indefinitely. But what happens to your HELP or TSL debt while you are living overseas? Think that because you aren't earning income in Australia that you don't need to start making repayments? Well, the legislation has just changed....

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Remember when you used to have to go to a bank to get a loan?

How times are changing….no longer are financial institutions (or your parents J) the only means of raising capital.

Enter ‘crowdfunding’.  Crowdfunding is basically using social media and the internet to find people to help you raise funds for your business or project. This is becoming so prevalent that the ATO has even issued some information on the tax implications of this ever-growing industry.  The tax and GST implications vary based on what role you play in the crowdfunding (i.e. the promoter, the intermediary or the funder) – as well as what stage of the process you are in.

For further information, or if you are considering crowdfunding, click here or give us a call.

Do you need Audit Insurance?

Following on from our previous article (The ATO, data matching and Audits), the outcomes of the ATO audit/reviews we have recently assisted our clients with were all positive, so there were no additional tax liabilities for these clients. 

However, there is a real cost of having to participate in these ATO investigations, which unfortunately are not optional!

Depending on the complexity of your situation, audits can cost thousands in legal and accounting fees.   With data-matching on the increase, even if you have done the right thing you may still be subjected to an audit.

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The ATO, data matching and Audits....

In previous newsletters we have advised that the ATO is becoming quite sophisticated with data matching.  Over the last couple of months, we have seen three instances where data provided to the ATO from an outside source triggered an ATO red flag that either led to an audit or a “please explain” for our clients.

In all of these instances the ATO was satisfied that both our clients and our Practice had done the right thing, and no further action was taken.

However, it is a timely reminder to ensure that you always declare the correct information – as data is now being freely shared between many sources and the ATO.

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ATO Correspondence update

You may recall from our previous articles that the ATO is beginning to send correspondence directly to clients.

If you have a myGov account and have linked the ATO service to it then you will now receive most ATO correspondence directly to this account. When there are new messages in your myGov account you will receive either an email or SMS notification (depending on what option you chose when you set up your myGov account). 

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Happy New Year!

2015 has come and gone, and no doubt your work Christmas party was fabulous…but how should you account for the costs?

If you are an employer and you threw a Christmas party for your team and showered them with gifts you need to consider whether Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) will apply? The ATO has a guide to FBT and entertainment for small business that is a must read for all employers trying to sort how to account for these costs before you finalise the December BAS.

If you have any questions regarding FBT, or would like to discuss how this applies to your business, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Who loves paperwork and filing? Anyone?

We certainly don’t – and what we are hearing from our clients is that many of you don’t either. Obviously, there are some documents that we still need to keep in the paper version – these are usually original signed legal documents.  However, we are finding more and more, that electronic copies of documents are acceptable – even the ATO agrees!

We will be introducing the PWA Portal over the coming weeks.  This will be a great, secure option for those of you who are happy to send and receive all of your documents and files electronically. 

The really exciting thing is that it will also have functionality for you to electronically sign your documents – no more having to print, sign, scan, return – you will simply ‘sign’ where indicated on the form and upload it back to us. How easy will that be?

Stay tuned for further information.

Do you have an overseas bank account? Does Aunty Maud in Glasgow send you $10,000 each month? Are you declaring your offshore income in your tax return?

As technology advances, so has the ability to trace transfers to and from bank accounts both in Australia and overseas. The ATO has embraced this technology and matches this information with what has been provided in your tax return.

While you think that the “gift” your Aunty Maud sends you each month doesn’t need to be declared, you might be mistaken. While some gifts aren’t necessarily classed as assessable income, they may still need to be reported on your income tax return.  This may not have an impact upon your tax position, but may affect your Centrelink entitlements. If you are receiving regular monetary “gifts” from overseas, we encourage you to contact our office to discuss your position.

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Are you a MYOB user? Now would be a great time to upgrade your software!

MYOB is currently running an awesome promotion whereby you can upgrade your Accountright Files to the latest cloud or hosted version – and receive a 60% discount on any additional file subscriptions you might need.  

We’ve been rabbiting on about the benefits of the latest technology in bookkeeping software for ages – but let us just give you the highlights again:

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Are you an employer? Here's some important information you should know.

Being an employer can sometimes be harder than it sounds – not only do you need to worry about running your business, you also need to ensure that you are across all HR related matters. The ATO recently released some information with updates which affect employers. Click here for further information.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is also a great source of information for employers – it covers areas such as wages, hiring and firing, employee entitlements and leave. It explains things in easy to understand language and provides calculators and other resources to help you ensure that you are meeting your employment obligations.

Still not sure? Please contact our office and we will assist where we are able to – or we will refer you to a professional who will be able to help. 

General Advice

The information provided by Bentleys (Sunshine Coast) Pty Ltd does not constitute financial product advice and is for general information only. It is written without taking into account any individuals personal objectives, situation or needs, and is not intended as professional advice. Any person acting upon such information without receiving specific advice, does so entirely at their own risk. Please contact your Accountant to discuss your personal situation before relying on this information.