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Keeping you up to date

The ATO is issuing Assurance letters

One of the latest ATO initiatives is to issue ‘assurance letters’ to taxpayers. These are issued in an effort to reassure people that they have met their compliance obligations. While most client correspondence from the ATO is sent to our office on your behalf, these letters are being set to clients directly. So what are these letters about?

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When was the last time you reviewed your online security?

It’s an unfortunate sign of the times but scammers and malware are everywhere! We’ve even recently seen our local Council’s targeted – so no one is immune to this. The lesson we can learn from this is to make sure you have great systems in place to limit your vulnerability. Whether at home or in your business some simple steps can help mitigate the risks of security threats. MYOB have recently written a great article about cyber security - 3 online safety tips. It’s well worth a read! 

How's your relationship with your bank?

It might not be a good as you think!

Did you know that every bank gives all clients a rating?  This rating is used to determine the risk you pose to the bank. The higher the risk, the more capital they are required to hold in the event your debt was to ‘go bad’.  Keeping this capital aside costs the bank money, to a point where they often don’t want your business because it is no longer profitable to them.

The problem is that we can’t see this.  We just see how much interest we have paid……which makes us feel like we must be an asset to them! Often we don’t find out that we are a high risk until something goes wrong and the bank seems to be doing everything they can to wind up our loans for what seems like no good reason.

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The Voice isn't just a reality TV show....

One of the benefits of being part of a national network of accounting practices are the resources and research that we can now make available to our clients and our local community. Bentleys Australia undertake regular surveys designed to gain detailed insights into how small and medium size Australian businesses are tracking from an economic, investment, technological and overall confidence perspective.

'The Voice' provides valuable insights into our current business climate and we are very excited to invite you to participate in the latest survey. If you'd like to add your voice to the research, simply click here and you will be directed to the questionnaire. The survey should take about 15 minutes to complete - and all of your responses will be completely confidential. Results will be published later in the year and at the completion of the survey you will be given the option to register to be sent the key results of the survey. 

2016 Federal Budget and Superannuation

It has been a few weeks since budget night, giving everyone a chance to digest the information and work out what needs to be done before 30 June – especially given the significant (proposed) changes to super. 

The good news is not much needs to be done right now.

This is mostly because the government still has to win an election, and then get the budget through parliament, before any of the announcements come into effect. Fortunately, we should know by August/September when parliament next sits.

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Workcover - are you aware of your obligations?

Workcover premiums are due soon - and Workcover Queensland are hosting a webinar to provide business owners essential information regarding their obligations. This webinar is being held next Wednesday (3 August) - so if you're interested in finding out more or you'd like to register please click here.

We're going digital!

We are very pleased to announce that we have a fantastic new way of delivering correspondence to you – introducing the Bentleys Sunshine Coast secure client portal.

Think of it as your own personal filing system. You can use it to upload documents and files to us, we can use it to send documents to you and you can access any of the documents at any time. 

Not only will it reduce the time it takes to send and receive documents, it will also save trees.

But even more exciting is that it has functionality that allows you to digitally sign documents on any device – no more having to sign and scan or post back to us. Your tax returns and BAS’ can be approved simply by a click of a button!

So how does it work?

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How confident are you feeling?

As part of the Bentleys Network we now can provide our clients with real-time information regarding business confidence and emerging trends. The Voice of Australian Business is a biannual survey of small businesses across Australia which provides insight into the challenges businesses are facing.

Click here to read the latest report to see how you compare. 

If you'd like to be part of the next survey, please let us know.

New Year's Resolutions for your business

It’s a new financial year – the perfect opportunity to review your business and plan for the coming year! We’ve put together a list of ‘resolutions’ that you might like to consider.

1.  Most new year’s resolutions involve a ‘health check’ – have you done one on your business?

It’s a great opportunity to consider things like:

  • Do you know how you performed last year?
  • How does that compare to previous years?
  • What’s happening in your industry/region?

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Need to restructure your business?

The government has recently passed new laws that allow concessions for small businesses that want to restructure their business.  If you have not reviewed your structure for a while now might be a good time to consider a review.

It often turns out that the crystal ball used when setting up a business may have been cloudy, and the structure you are operating under today is not the one that would have been chosen had you known where you would end up. 

This could mean you are paying tax at a higher rate than you would like, or that your flexibility to bring in new owners is limited.  Or it could be that the structure is now too complex for your needs.

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They are still at it!

Unfortunately, scammers pretending to be from the ATO and demanding money or threatening that they have a warrant for your arrest and are going to send you to jail are still very active. According to a recent report, 40,500 of these ATO scams occurred between January to May in this year alone – netting the scammers $1.2M! Peta Grenfell even had a threatening message from the ‘ATO’ on her answering machine at home the other day.  So what should you do if you receive one of these calls or emails?

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Are you ready for SuperStream?

Are you an employer? Are you SuperStream ready? If you have less than 19 employees, the deadline is fast approaching – you only have until 30 June 2016 to be compliant.  (If you have 20 or more employees your deadline was 31 October 2015.)

SuperStream is a standard for processing superannuation data and payments electronically so that it can be transmitted consistently between employers, funds, service providers and the ATO. 

So what do you need to do? The ATO has released a raft of information to assist employers with their requirements. Click here to download their step-by-step guide. There are also videos and other information available on their website.

But in practical terms, what should you be doing?

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Buying or selling a property worth more than $2million?

You may (or may not) recall, in the May 2013 Budget, the government announced that it wanted to introduce a 10% non-final withholding tax for foreign residents who sell Australian property above a certain threshold. Well, this legislation was passed in February 2016 and comes into effect from 1 July 2016. But I can hear you thinking ‘what impact will this have on me?’.

From 1 July, if you are an Australian resident who sells a property with a market value of $2 million or more you need to obtain a clearance certificate from the ATO, otherwise the seller is obligated to withhold 10% of the purchase price and pay it to the ATO.

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Accounting software options

Never has it been so exciting to be an accountant or a small business (or Australian, if Mr Turnbull is to be believed!). Technology is rapidly changing and there are a diverse range of software options available to us today. The new features and functionality available are fantastic, and getting better all the time.

The problem now seems to be choosing which one is right for you, especially given the vast number of options.

When deciding on software, the first thing to consider is what platform you will use.  The following is a summary of the options and some of the pro’s and con’s:

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SuperStream deadline has been extended

For those small businesses (i.e. less than 19 employees) who haven’t updated your payroll processes so that you are SuperStream compliant by 30 June, you are in luck! The ATO has extended its deadline for compliance until 28 October 2016. Click here for further information.

The easiest way to become SuperStream compliant is to upgrade to on-line bookkeeping software. While these may incur a monthly fee we can almost guarantee you that once you’ve got a hang of it, you will save that time back – and you will wonder why it took you so long to change!

If you are still not sure what you need to do in your particular situation, please contact our office and we can assist you with finding a solution.

It's FBT time!

It’s that time of year again when businesses that provide benefits to employees need to consider the Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) implications.

If we are aware that FBT may be relevant to your business, you will shortly receive an annual questionnaire to help you consider your situation and whether you need to take any steps now to minimise the FBT.

However, if your business provides any non-cash benefits (think cars, loans, phone etc) to employees, and you don’t receive a letter from us within the next couple of days then please contact our office immediately.  

For those businesses that own cars, it is important to ensure you record your odometer reading on 31 March 2017.  There are instructions in our letter to you to assist with this.

If you are unsure whether FBT applies to you or you need assistance with your FBT please give us a call.

How does your business compare?

Data matching and benchmarking is becoming commonplace within the ATO nowadays. But it’s not all gloom and doom - this information can actually be used to help your business!

The ATO has an app which can compare how your business is performing against others in the same industry. It uses benchmark ratios in key areas such as expenses and turnover and can help you to identify opportunities within your business.

For further information please click here.

Or download the ATO app from Google play, the App Store or the Windows Store.

Super, GST, Negative Gearing....what will the budget hold?

There has been a lot of speculation about the upcoming budget, yet there is still a long time (especially in political terms) before we can all sit in front of our TV screens with a glass of red on that much anticipated and exciting Tuesday evening in May.

Last month the speculation was of a GST increase, this month it’s a tightening on negative gearing and work related deductions. By the time May is here it could include just about anything! However, what most commentators do agree on is that superannuation is likely to see some changes. So we thought we would take a look at a few things you might want to think about before budget night…

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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.