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The pro’s and con’s of using someone else’s money

2019-04-01 10:26:57 admin

Borrowing money to invest, also known as ‘gearing’, can be a risky business. While it can increase your returns when markets rise, losses can be extreme when markets fall. It is important to understand the risks involved when deciding whether borrowing to invest is right for you.

Benefits:
The main benefits of borrowing to invest are:

  • It gives you more money to invest.
  • If you are on a high marginal tax rate then there may be tax benefits as you are usually allowed a tax deduction for interest payments on the loan.

Risks:
Some major risks of borrowing to invest are:

  • The income that you receive from the investment may be lower than expected.
  • Interest rates on the loan could rise.
  • Income risk in circumstances where your income may stop, such as illness or redundancy.

It is vital to understand and have a plan in place to manage these risks. As borrowing to invest is a high-risk investment strategy best suited to experienced investors, you should seek further professional financial advice to make sure that this is a viable option for you.

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Getting your GST at settlement right

2019-04-01 10:26:04 admin

The ATO has seen a number of common errors made on forms submitted by property purchasers since changes were made to the way GST is collected at settlement in July 2018.

Property settlement forms:
In the case of a withholding obligation, those purchasing new residential premises or potential residential land are required to submit both of the two online notification forms:

1. GST property settlement withholding notification.
This form covers various areas including contact details, property details, purchaser details, supplier details and an overall summary. The form can be submitted any time after you have entered into the contract and before the date of the withholding obligation is due.

2. GST property settlement date confirmation.
This form requires you to confirm that the settlement has occurred. It can be submitted at the due date of the withholding obligation. In most instances, this will be at settlement or the next business day.

It is necessary to understand your obligations as a property purchaser. Filling out these forms incorrectly can cause processing and payment delays and failing to submit on time may also result in penalties being imposed by the ATO.

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What employee benefits apply for FBT

2019-04-01 10:23:00 admin

When an employer provides certain benefits for their staff, they are required to pay Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT). Employers pay FBT on the benefits they present to employees and their families or other associates. The benefit may be in addition to, or part of, an employee’s salary or wages package.

FBT is separate from income tax and is calculated on the taxable value of the benefits that have been provided to employees. The type of fringe benefits employers must pay FBT on include:

  • Vehicles for private use: if an employer makes a car they own or lease available for the private use of an employee, they may have to provide a car fringe benefit.
  • Loans: employers may have to provide a loan fringe benefit if they give their employees a loan, possibly at a discount, and charge no interest or a low rate of interest.
  • Entertainment: this refers to situations such as providing entertainment in the form of free tickets to concerts. This provision can include providing food and drink, accommodation or travel in connection with the entertainment.
  • Membership: paying an employee’s membership to a gym.

Businesses will need to assess their own tax liability within each FBT year, from 1 April to 31 March. Returns must be lodged before the due date on 21 May.

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What is your preservation age?

2019-04-01 10:22:13 admin

Superannuation laws can be confusing for everyone. These procedures often make it difficult to work out when you can retire or if there are any special conditions you need to meet before you can claim your funds. Every individual needs to be aware of their preservation age and regulations when accessing their superannuation benefits.

A person’s preservation age differs from the Age Pension. Age Pension is separate to your super and is a scheme which pays out a consistent income to help cope with the costs of living once you have retired. This age in Australia is 65 and not everyone is eligible for this system. Preservation age, however, is the age at which you can retire and access superannuation benefits. This age depends on your birth year.

  • 55 – Before 1 July 1960
  • 56 – 1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961
  • 57 – 1 July 1961 – 30 June 1962
  • 58 – 1 July 1962 – 30 June 1963
  • 59 – 1 July 1963 – 30 June 1964
  • 60 – From 1 July 1964

Normally, accessing super benefits requires an individual to meet two conditions; reaching their preservation age and retiring from the workforce. Those who reach their preservation age but don’t intend to retire must meet other criteria to have access to their benefits

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ATO to monitor high-risk LRBAs and TBARs within SMSFs

2019-03-25 11:16:54 admin

The ATO is focusing on risky Limited Recourse Borrowing Arrangements (LRBAs) and failures in Transfer Balance Account Reporting (TBAR) in SMSFs this year. They have announced plans to contact trustees with high concentration risks in their funds and to crack down on misreporting.

Limited Recourse Borrowing Arrangements:
LRBAs allow a superannuation fund to borrow under strict conditions. The existing population of SMSFs that have entered into LRBAs, potentially on the basis of poor or conflicting advice, is a key area of concern for the ATO and has been rated a medium to high-risk. In 2017, approximately 95% of the LRBAs were for the purpose of purchasing property. Due to this prevalence, the ATO has concerns about the risk of members’ retirement savings in the event of a property decline.

Transfer Balance Account Reporting:
TBAR is used to advise the ATO when a transfer balance account event occurs within an SMSF, enabling an individual’s transfer balance cap and total superannuation balance to be recorded and tracked. One area of TBAR arrangements the ATO will be monitoring is the reporting of capped defined benefit income streams. In 2018, approximately 86% of SMSFs reporting a capped defined benefit stream had failed in their reporting obligations.

Where the ATO identifies these areas of risky LRBAs and inadequate TBARs for SMSF members, they will contact trustees to ensure that they have understood and mitigated these risks. It would benefit trustees to have in place an adequate strategy that deals with the potential risks involved in LRBAs and be aware of their reporting obligations for transfer balance accounts.

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Cashless business

2019-03-25 11:14:02 admin

Advancements in technology continue to digitise our world, including financially. In recent years, more businesses and events are turning to cashless systems. Whilst cash still remains popular in businesses dealing in small purchases, such as cafes, if you run a business that handles larger transactions, changing to a cashless system could benefit you in many ways.

Managing your money through electronic payments helps you keep track of income and expenditure. If you use a digital system, you have extensive logs of where money came from or is going to, how much you have currently and what you are expected to receive or pay. To receive the best security and effectiveness with electronic payments, you could consider investing in technology that transfers money instantly whilst also tracking payments.

Running a cashless business also protects you from theft. Holding large amounts of cash can make you a target, with the time and expenses dedicated to ensuring your cash is secure being better used on more effective financial management systems. Whilst online methods come with their own risks, there are systems you can implement to protect you such as two-factor authentication, third-party data protection and cyber liability insurance packages.

Cashless business models are also time-saving. By cutting out cash handling, you can save time with your client interactions as well as cutting out end of day counts and lengthy trips to the bank to make deposits and changes. Whilst cashless systems are not right for everyone, if this is a viable option for your business you should consider consulting your accountant. If you decide to make the switch, give clients a grace period to be introduced to the new system and explain how it could benefit them.

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Changes to personal income tax

2019-03-25 11:13:18 admin

The Personal Income Tax Plan has gone through recent changes regarding rates, thresholds and offset entitlements. These changes were announced in the 2018-2019 Federal Budget and were implemented at the start of the 2019 financial year. For the upcoming tax season, individuals should review these changes in case they are affected.

The 32.5% tax bracket was increased from $87,000 to $90,000 for the years 2018 to 2022. The following two years will see a further increase to $120,000 and in 2024 it will increase again to $200,000. These changes will apply to residents, foreign-residents and working holiday makers. Pay As You Go (PAYG) withholding rates and schedules will also be updated to include these changes.

Australian residents whose income does not exceed $125,333 could now be entitled to an addition to the low and middle income tax offset. This can be available after an assessment of a person’s individual income tax return. This addition applies to the 2018 to 2022 financial years. The amount you receive will be based on the following income levels:

  • If below $37,000 you are entitled to $200
  • Between $37,000 and $48,000 you are entitled to $200 plus 3% of the amount of the income that exceeds $37,000
  • Between $48,000 and $90,000 you are entitled to $530
  • Between $90,000 and $125,333 you are entitled to $530 plus 1.5% of the amount of the income that exceeds $90,000.

In 2022 and future financial years, the low income tax offset will be amended to include individuals who receive less than $66,667, pending assessment of individual tax return. This offset will be $645, reduced by 6.5% of the amount by which your income exceeds $37,000 but does not exceed $41,000 and a further 1.5% of the amount by which your relevant income exceeds $41,000.

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Income investing: Managed funds vs. ETFs

2019-03-18 11:50:43 admin

There are a number of options when it comes to choosing an income investment scheme. Investments that generate regular income can be useful in a number of various situations, for example funding your retirement lifestyle. Options to consider include managed funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Managed funds are where your money is pooled together with other investors and then bought and sold by an investment manager via shares or other assets on your behalf. ETFs are a type of managed fund that can be bought and sold on a secondary market like a share.

Managed funds:

  • Pricing: When buying and selling managed funds, investors won’t know their exit price until the next day. A sale takes place either at the end-of-the-day price or on the net asset value of the assets. You could have to wait several days to receive your money from the sale.
  • Risk: It is up to the individual fund manager to invest in particular stocks, allowing you to access a diversified portfolio made up of varying asset classes. This can reduce your level of risk by minimising the impact of poor performance by a particular industry or sector.

ETFs:

  • Transparency: ETFs are typically more transparent than actively managed funds. An investment manager’s website can have its underlying investments readily able to be seen, where managed funds provide relatively little information about the holdings of the fund.
  • Buying and selling: Arguably faster and more convenient than the trade of managed funds, ETFs are bought and sold like shares, meaning you will need a sharemarket account and a broker. One option could be online brokers, as there are many of them available and they offer lower rates. On the other hand, a managed fund is bought from the fund manager.
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Raising early stage capital in your business

2019-03-18 11:48:18 admin

Raising capital is a step that every startup faces. When a business is brand new, the question of how to get money must be addressed. If you intend to launch a business that needs significant capital expenditure, such as a retail business or a company that employs several other people, then you won’t get far without initial funding. Every investor has pro’s and con’s, and it is best to know what ways will work best for your business.

Friends or family investors:
Going to friends or family members can be the first point of contact to raise capital for your business. Investments from family and friends usually come in the form of loans, which you can arrange to pay back. It’s important to ensure that documents such as a formal business plan and legal agreements are drawn up professionally and to be transparent about expectations surrounding the investment.

Angel investors:
Angel investors refer to wealthy individuals who enjoy helping entrepreneurs in their business ventures. They can be important to a new startup, investing their money in exchange for small ownership of part of the business in an equity investment. However, they can also provide loan investments in the same way as family and friend investors.

Venture capitalists:
One of the most popular forms of startup funding is through venture capital, who are wealthy investors that support small businesses and startups by providing them with capital to grow and expand. Unlike family or friend investors, venture capitalists are generally equity investors with the expectation of a stake in the business.

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Income stream within an SMSF

2019-03-18 11:47:18 admin

One of the best ways to ensure regular, flexible and tax-effective income as a pensioner is through an income stream from your SMSF. As a member, you can receive an income stream in a reoccurring series of benefit payments from your super fund.

Income streams from an SMSF are usually account-based, which means that the amount allocated to the pension comes directly from a member’s account. Once an account-based pension commences, there is an ongoing requirement for the trustees of the superannuation fund to ensure the pension standards and laws are met.

Standards that must be met in order for SMSFs to pay income stream pensions include:

  • The minimum amount must be paid at least once a year.
  • Once the pension has started, the capital supporting the pension cannot be increased by using contributions or rollover amounts.
  • When a member dies, their pension can only be transferred to a dependent beneficiary if they have any.

SMSF trustees may need to amend fund trust deeds to meet the minimum pension standards. For more information on how to do this, you should consult a legal adviser. Records must be kept of pension value at commencement, taxable elements of the pension at commencement, earnings from assets that support the pension and any pension payments made.

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