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Many businesses may have found that their positions and practices have required a rethink. You might have noticed that your business is now situated in a more digitised environment, or that your employees’ roles and responsibilities have had to change and adapt to accommodate new norms. There’s a growing need for skilled individuals to step into these changed roles, but that doesn’t mean that you should neglect the employees that you already have.
Your employees are your greatest resource, and putting the time and effort into ensuring that they can perform their roles can result in excellent productivity and capabilities. Your focus should be on reskilling or upskilling your employees. No longer is it just a recommendation for your employees to be multiskilled – it’s more of a necessity than ever before.
Reskilling and upskilling can occur through three methods:
- Through formal learning, such as that conducted while at university or TAFE (higher learning, certifications, etc).
- Via non-formal learning (such as learning activities that do not result in a certification, but equip you with skills).
- Informal learning (learning processes and skills to help their tasks from colleagues, supervisors, etc).
This can then result in either viable transitions in employment, or desirable transitions that further their career pathways. Essentially, a viable job transition involves the movement from one job to another that is highly similar (in terms of required knowledge, skills, abilities, work activities, education levels and experience). A desirable transition however results in higher wages in a field of work that is expanding, rather than declining (in the IT or digital-based industries, for example).
There are many schemes available to employees and employers that can assist in upskilling. Employees may look into:
- Fee-free courses (such as those that are TAFE or university endorsed)
- Online workshops
- Short courses
- Certification (such as first aid or RSA)
If you are an employer looking to reskill or upskill your employees, some of the more popular options to boost your employees’ skillsets include computer skills, digital upskilling and learning how to code.
There may also be options for employers to access funding schemes, which can be provided by the government.
Most of the options available for upskilling or reskilling employees, particularly if provided by employers could be a tax deduction that they (the employer) can offset as a tax deduction. If you wish to learn more about how reskilling your employees can be a tax-deductible offset, speak with us. We can also assist you in other business planning enquiries.
Maternity Leave, Unemployment, Single-Income Families – Why Spousal Contributions Might Be On The Cards
Depending on your relationship, you may have discussed with your partner the prospect of marriage. Or you might be more comfortable remaining in a long-term de facto relationship (especially since many de facto relationships have similar rights as those of a marriage).
You might share a lot of things with your partner (such as a mortgage, a family, or a car), but did you know that you might be able to boost their super for them?
Specifically, if you (or your partner) were unable to work for a length of time, such as during maternity/paternity leave, unemployment or are a single income household, the super fund of the non-working part of the pair might not be increasing. As a result, the retirement savings held in super for one member of these households may not be increasing as exponentially fast as the working member.
The good news is that when in a relationship, a spouse can boost their non-working partner’s super fund with their own contributions. The best part? It could be a tax write-off for the working spouse.
Under Australian superannuation law, a spouse can be a legally married partner with whom you live or your de facto partner. That gives additional benefits to those in de facto relationships, who can choose (if one member of the relationship isn’t working or earns less) to boost their partner’s super fund. A spouse must also be younger than 75 years old when you make the contribution.
One of the primary losses of super gains that can occur is a result of maternal or paternal leave. If you and your spouse are thinking about starting a family and may have to take time off work during the pregnancy, spousal contributions can be a great way to continuously inject funds into super so that the gap from the pause in employment can be mitigated.
If you are looking to help your spouse’s super grow, there are two ways that you can go about it.
- Making a Spouse Contribution to their super account
- Arranging for Contribution Splitting (also known as Super Splitting)
Spouse superannuation contributions can now be made for spouses earning up to $40,000 per year. If a spouse earns less than $37,000, the maximum tax offset of $540 can be claimed when contributing a minimum of $3,000 to their super. Anything contributed that is more than $3 000 will not receive the spouse contribution tax offset.
You will not be able to claim the tax offset if:
- A spouse has exceeded their non-concessional contributions cap for the financial year or,
- Their super balance is $1.6 million (for 2020/21) or more on 30 June of the previous financial year in which the contribution was made.
Another way to inject funds into your spouse’s super is to choose to have some of your own super contributions put into their super account. This is fine as long as they have not reached their preservation age yet, or are between their preservation age and 65 years and not retired.
Super contributions can only be split in the financial year immediately after the year in which the contributions were made or in the same financial year as the contributions were made. This is only if your entire benefit is being withdrawn before the end of that financial year as a rollover, transfer, lump sum or benefit.
Contributions can be split in two different ways.
- Employer contributions – the most common form of super contributions to split
- Personal tax-deductible contributions – money that you deposit into your super and claimed a tax deduction.
Spouse contributions are generally treated differently to contributions your spouse splits with you.
If your spouse makes a contribution for you, it counts towards your non-concessional contributions cap – not your spouse’s contribution caps. If you are currently employed by your spouse, any contributions that they may have made in this role are reported as employer contributions (not spouse). They may also include amounts transferred from your spouse’s or ex-spouse’s FHSA under a family law obligation.
If you are looking into spousal contributions into super, it is best to seek the advice of your financial advisor or superannuation provider, to best determine what path you should take.
When it comes to your retirement funds, you want to ensure that you have an amount in your superannuation fund that will allow you to live comfortably. That’s why you may want to examine it closely and make sure that you aren’t losing out on money that could be going towards your retirement. Checking it regularly can help to prevent this – but so can consolidating your super and ensuring that you aren’t paying extra fees on multiple accounts.
If you have ever changed your name, address or job, your fund or the ATO may not have your current details, which can result in your super becoming ‘lost’ or unclaimed. It might also lead to having multiple super accounts, which could result in additional fees being paid for those super funds.
With the introduction of stapled accounts coming into play later this month, this may not be of such concern to those entering the workforce. But for those who may have been in the workforce for a while, superannuation is something that you should be closely examining.
This process does not have to start when you’re about to retire. If anything, keeping track of your super and catching where it might be losing money is far better to do sooner rather than later.
You may find additional superannuation funds in:
- ATO-held super
- “Lost” super
- Unclaimed super
- Unmatched super
- Multiple accounts that you may possess.
One of the reasons for the introduction of stapling of super funds to new entrants to the workforce is to ensure that you are attributed to one super fund and that it follows you throughout your career. This will reduce the likelihood of multiple super accounts being opened in your name, reducing the fees that you may have to pay and generally ensuring that your funds will be in the one place.
Superannuation can be a tricky subject. Make sure that you speak with your superannuation provider about any queries that you may have. You might be able to speak with us if you are looking to plan out your retirement, or for additional financial help.
Deductions, Allowances, Tax Returns And More – Here’s What You Might Need To Know As A Retail Worker
In spite of the many challenges that have faced many industries across the country during COVID-19’s persistence and ongoing effects, the retail industry through their continued, adapted operations has continued to progress.
As a result, retail workers across many stores may find that the taxable income from their work may have been affected by the changed situation. This may be a result of additional income, less income, or stagnation of their taxable income as a result of stand-downs, business closures or a forced pause in their operations.
No matter the situation though, retail workers will still need to ensure that all of their taxable income has been accurately reported and lodged in their tax returns.
If you are a retail worker earning your income or have earned your income in the industry over the course of the previous year, you will need to know:
- What income and allowances you may need to report
- What can and cannot be claimed as a work-related deduction
- What the records are that you may need to keep track of
This information may be applicable to income earned in the 2020-21 financial year, or to income earned over the next year.
Income and Allowances That You May Need To Report
On the 30th of June, you should have received an income statement or payment salary that shows what you have earned as a retail worker throughout the year. This should include your salary, wages or allowances for that income year.
You should include all of the income that you received during the year in your tax return, regardless of when you earn it. This may include:
- Any salary or wages that you may have earned as income.
- Any bonuses that may have been earned during the year.
- Any allowances that you may have received to compensate for an aspect of your work or to help to pay for certain expenses when you have travelled for work.
Allowances can also be if an employer pays you based on an estimated amount of what you might spend (e.g. paying cents per kilometre if you use your car for work). It may also be for the actual amount spent on the expense before or after the expense is incurred.
You may receive allowances
- For work that may be unpleasant, special or dangerous
- In recognition of holding special skills, such as a first-aid certificate or
- To compensate for industry peculiarities, such as work on public holidays.
Your employer may not include some allowances on your income statement or payment summary but may include them on your payslips. These can include travel allowances or overtime meal allowances (as paid per industrial law, award or agreement).
If that allowance isn’t on your income statement or payment summary and you spend the entire amount on deductible expenses, it should not be included in the tax return as income or claimed as a deduction. If you spent more than what was your allowance, you include the allowance as income in your tax return and can claim a deduction for your expense.
If your employer pays for the expenses that you occur exactly, that payment is considered a reimbursement. This is not included or considered to be an allowance, and as such, cannot be included as income in your tax return or claimed for a deduction.
Deductions That You May Be Able To Claim
If you are a retail worker looking for claimable deductions that may specifically apply to your profession, you need to:
- Have spent the money, and were not reimbursed for the work-related expense
- Have proof that the expense directly relates to earning your income
- Have a record that proves the expense was incurred (a receipt is usually acceptable).
You can only claim a deduction for the work-related portion of an expense. You can’t claim a deduction for any part of an expense that is not directly related to earning your income or that is private.
Some of the deductions that may be eligible as deductions for retail workers include:
- Car expenses – if you drive between separate jobs on the same day, or drive to and from an alternate workplace for the same employee on the same day.
- Clothing expenses – the cost of buying, hiring, mending or cleaning certain uniforms that are unique and distinctive to your job, or protective clothing that your employer requires you to wear.
- Meal expenses – the cost of overtime meals on the occasions where you worked overtime and took an overtime meal break and your employer paid you an overtime meal allowance.
- Self-education expenses – if your course relates directly to your current job.
- Seminars and conferences
- Technical or professional publications
- Union and professional association fees
- Phone and internet usage if your employer needs you to use your personal devices for work.
Always keep proof of any expenses that you may have incurred for which you want to claim deductions. This is usually a receipt but can be another form of written evidence (such as an invoice). Those records must show what you purchased, when, where, and how much you spent. They must be in English
There are a few exceptions to the rule. These include small expense receipts, hard to get receipts, overtime meal expense receipts and travel and meal expense receipts. These have special rules and conditions that you need to follow if attempting to claim on these.
If you would like further assistance or information on how you can handle your tax return as a retail worker for this current financial year or for last year’s return, you can speak with us. We can assist you in the process, and make sure that your tax return is lodged correctly.
One of the ways that many Australians may be looking to recoup or maximise their tax refund’s potential is in spending money on assets for themselves or their business that can be ‘written off” as a tax deduction. Doing so might help save you on the tax that you have to pay after lodging your return, but the initial spend on the asset may not be a viable option for your finances.
Spending money on assets in a bid to reduce tax might seem like a great strategy. But, if you ask us, it might be better for you not to be spending your money on assets for that purpose if you do not actually have to.
Some of the assets that you might be considering purchasing as a tax ‘write-off’ may not count as eligible assets in the first place. An eligible asset is usually one that is used for work-related purposes. In this case, a BMW that you bought for personal use probably won’t cut it.
Regardless of whether you’re an individual looking to ramp up your wealth creation activities, or a business owner seeking greater profitability, you should always focus your spending on a primary income-generating purpose – any associated tax benefit should be secondary. It might be better for you if you reinvest that money back into the business or purchase assets that will appreciate and generate an income (such as property or shares).
The Australian government has a number of schemes and tax concessions that may be of use to you if you are considering purchasing an asset as a business or business owner. Some of these schemes and concessions may only be available if you meet certain criteria.
And, if you’re looking for an even simpler way to receive a tax deduction for your return, accounting fees are a tax-deductible expense that we’d be happy to help you out with. Come speak with us about what purchasing an asset could do to your tax, and if it’s a viable option for you to consider.
ABN, Contractors & Sham Contracting – What You Have To Watch Out For As An Independent Contractor Or Employer Of One
Being a contractor offers flexibility, choice and more control over your own schedule. It also means that you have different responsibilities from other employees that you may have to fulfil.
For employers, knowing the difference between a contractor and an employee is a must. It can lead to costly penalties if the two get confused.
An independent contractor is someone who operates under an ABN and is not an employee of the company that they perform work for. They may also provide services to another person or business,
Sometimes an independent contractor may operate their own business and have many clients, in other cases the independent contractor may only do work for one company.
There are a number of factors that determine whether or not you may be classified as a contractor versus an employee. These can include:
- How much control you have over the work you are conducting for the business – the more control you have, the more likely it is an independent contracting relationship.
- If you are allowed to pick when you are working – employees have set hours in their agreement.
- If you are running your own business and can have other clients while doing the work for this particular business.
- If you are able to delegate or subcontract the work to others.
- If you are the one responsible for your work and insurances – employees are covered by their employer, contractors are responsible for organising their own.
- If you are expected to have your own equipment prepared for the work that you will be performing – employees will be provided with the equipment that they need.
- If you bear financial risk for your errors. You might have to redo the work for no pay if you get it wrong
In Australia, independent contractors often use the sole trader business structure when operating and conducting their business. Due to this, there is a legal requirement that you register an ABN for yourself or your business if operating as a contractor/sole trader.
Having an ABN is important. It identities you and your business to the government, and helps with tax and other business-related activities.
Not everyone may be entitled to an ABN (especially if they are considered to be an employee for the work that they are performing),. As a sole trader though, you are as you are considered to be starting or carrying on an enterprise.
For those who wish to contract you for your services, an ABN means that your clients will not be required to deduct tax from you. If you invoice an organisation without being in possession of an ABN, they are required by law to deduct tax at the highest rate that they can, as well as declare the income you receive from them through to the ATO.
If you’re operating as an independent contractor or sole trader, losing a chunk of your income to tax before you even get paid isn’t something that you’re likely to want to happen. That’s why having an ABN is important for you, to ensure that that doesn’t happen.
If your business is looking into creating a working relationship with a contractor, you need to be careful that you do not fall into a sham contracting arrangement.
A sham contractor arrangement is when a business (or individual) tells a worker that they are an independent contractor. It can exist even if the worker is treated like an independent contractor in some ways such as having an ABN and providing invoices like what a genuine independent contractor might have to do.
It’s illegal, and may be done knowingly by an employer to avoid taking fiscal responsibility for paying legal entitlements to employees. It is illegal to:
- tell an employee they are an independent contractor
- say something false to convince an employee to do the same work for the employer but as an independent contractor
- dismiss or threaten to dismiss an employee if they don’t become an independent contractor, or
- dismiss an employee and hire them as an independent contractor to do the same work.
If you are concerned that you may be involved in a sham contracting arrangement, or are an independent contractor looking for assistance in ensuring that you are remaining compliant with your current obligations when it comes to tax, super or business, we can assist. We are also equipped to help you with dealing with an ABN.
Emergency Management Plans Are Critical To Keeping Your Business Operational – Is Yours Ready For Anything?
Emergencies can crop up without any warning, but a business needs to be prepared for any eventuality.
Unexpected disruptions to business operations can be prevented with a well-thought-out emergency management plan and recovery plan to help protect your business before, during and after an emergency.
Natural disasters, such as floods, fire and earthquakes can strike without warning, and throw a spanner into your business.
Your primary aim with an emergency plan is to ensure that your business is able to act and continue to be operational. To do so, you need to have in place specific plans for your business to manage operations in the event of an emergency prior to, during and after its occurrence.
You will want to ensure that you have the following plans developed for your business:
- The continuity plan, which helps you to prepare your business for an emergency by identifying risks to critical areas, and how best to protect them.
- The emergency action plan allows you and your staff to know what to do during an emergency situation
- The recovery plan which guides your business’s recovery after an emergency.
Once you have those in place, you will need to ensure that you have a list and copies of the supporting documentation that you will need, such as detailed emergency procedures, evacuation maps and insurance information. By having these documents in place, you can ensure that your emergency management plans are equipped with comprehensive information to smooth the process.
To keep that information up to date, and to be certain that your emergency management plan stays relevant to changing situations and circumstances, you will need to regularly review the contents. Keeping both the management and recovery plans updated will ensure that you are prepared for any eventuality.
In the event that staff changes occur or locations for business alter, those changes need to be reflected in the plan.
All of your staff should be apprised of the plans and procedures that are in place. Doing so through practice, drills and repeated enforcement of the steps to be taken can help you determine if anything needs to change. This is a key opportunity to understand the efficiency of your emergency procedures and plans for your business, and if anything can be done to improve.
This could be as simple as fire and evacuation drills, through to meetings and safety courses for what to do in the event of an emergency.
This year has seen a lot of amendments and changes to the rules governing superannuation funds and their providers by the Federal Government that may have an impact on how you as an employer deal with super.
Are you aware of the changes to “choice of fund” rules that you might need to be aware of as an employer of new to the workforce employees?
Currently, as an employer, you may be paying contributions to your new employees into a default superannuation fund of your choice if they have failed to provide you with their own choice of superannuation fund details. This may be due to not having a superannuation fund (as in, the employee is new to the workforce), or as a result of other circumstances.
As an employer, you must provide all new employees with a Superannuation standard choice form within 28 days of their start date. They may also be provided with one if:
- They as an employee request one
- You are not able to contribute to their chosen fund, or it is no longer a complying fund
- You change the employer-nominated fund into which you pay the employee’s contributions.
If the employee holds a temporary working visa or their super fund undergoes a merger or acquisition, they will not be able to choose their super fund themselves.
From 1 November 2021, if you have new employees start and they don’t choose a specific super fund, you may need to request their ‘stapled super fund’ details from the Australian Taxation Office.
A stapled super fund is an existing account that is linked, or ‘stapled’ to an individual employee, so it follows them as they change jobs. This change aims to reduce the number of additional super accounts opened each time they start a new job. If a new employee does not have a stapled fund and they do not choose a fund, the employee’s super can be paid into the employer’s default fund.
With fewer superannuation funds being opened, employees are less likely to generate ‘lost super’ as they transition through their employment periods and various careers leading up to their retirement.
As an employer, you’ll be able to request stapled super fund details for new employees using the ATO’s Online services for business.
To get ready for this change, you can check and update the access levels of your business’ authorised representatives (such as your accountant or bookkeeper) in Online services. This will mean you’re ready to request stapled super funds if needed. It will also assist in protecting your employees’ personal information.
As an employer, you legally cannot provide your employees with recommendations or advice about super unless you are licensed by ASIC to provide financial advice. You can give your employees information about choosing a fund however, including:
- Why do they need to choose a super fund?
- The process of choosing a super fund.
- Your obligations as an employer to pay the super guarantee and provide a default fund to pay into
- How they can nominate their chosen fund
Remember, registered tax agents and BAS agents like us can help you with your tax and super queries. Come and speak with us about your options, and to ensure that you are compliant with your super requirements as an employer.
If you are a new employee entering into the workforce, and you’d like to know more about your options when it comes to superannuation, you should have a serious discussion with providers and conduct your own independent research on the funds available.
Your Super Might Provide You With Insurance Options – But Are They Better Than An Actual Provider’s?
Taking out insurance through a super fund can be a great option for some members, but it does also come with some pitfalls.
Super funds typically offer three types of life insurance for their members – life cover, total and permanent disability and income protection insurance.
Most super funds will provide their members with insurance options and an option to increase, decrease or cancel default insurance cover. Typically, most will automatically provide you with life cover and TBD insurance, and some will also automatically provide you with income protection insurance.
There are many benefits of taking out insurance through super, including the ability to purchase policies in bulk, not having to pay for premiums with your take-home income, and the convenience of having your policy managed for you.
Additionally, life insurance inside super is deductible to the fund at 15 per cent annually; whereas life insurance premiums held outside of super are not tax-deductible.
However, there are pitfalls of holding insurance through your super. Generally, there is a limit on the payout that can be received from an insurance policy purchased by a super fund.
For some self-managed super funds, there may not be a limit – depending on what your insurance company is willing to cover. In public funds, it is usually between $100,000 and $200,000. This amount may be more than enough for many people. If you have dependents and a mortgage, it may be an insufficient amount to look after your loved ones, should something happen to you.
Members of super should be aware that life insurance coverage inside super ends when you reach a certain age (usually 65 or 70), whereas policies outside of super may cover you for longer.
Another important note to make for new super account holders is that insurance may not be provided to you if you are aged 25 or under, or have a super account balance under $6,000. In that case, you can contact your fund to request insurance through your super directly, or are employed in a dangerous job where the fund chooses to give you automatic cover.
Anyone using a super fund to provide insurance should ensure that they have an appropriate death benefit nomination in place that specifies who their super will go to in the event of their death. Speaking with a specialist like us can assist you in ensuring that your super fund balance doesn’t become the next big superannuation court case.
If you have disposed of any assets (which can include the loss, destruction or sale of an asset) which are subject to capital gains tax, you need to let us know as soon as possible. These are known as capital gains events, which can affect the way in which a capital gain or loss is calculated, and when it is included in a net capital gain or loss.
The type of CGT event that applies to your situation may affect the time of the CGT event’s occurrence, and exactly how to calculate your capital gain or loss. As mentioned earlier, a CGT event can involve the loss of an asset, the destruction of an asset or the sale of an asset.
The Sale Of An Asset
If there is a contract of sale, the CGT event happens when you enter into the contract.
A common CGT asset involved with contracts of sale that is often sold is the house. The CGT event, in that case, happens on the date of the contract, not on the date of settlement.
If there is no contract of sale, the CGT event is usually when you stop being the asset’s owner.
Your capital gain or loss for the assets is usually the selling price, less the original cost and certain other costs associated with acquiring, holding and disposing of the asset.
Loss Or Destruction Of An Asset
If a CGT asset that you own is lost, stolen or destroyed, then the CGT event happens when you first receive compensation for the loss, theft or destruction. In this way, the capital gain for such an asset is the amount of compensation less the asset’s original cost. If you do not receive compensation for the asset, the CGT event happens when the loss is discovered or the destruction occurred. Replacing the asset may result in being able to defer (or “roll over”) the capital gain until another CGT event occurs (e.g. selling the replacement asset).
The best way to ensure that you are doing the right thing when it comes to CGT tax is to keep your records up to date. This will assist us in ensuring that you are remaining compliant Any CGT events that have occurred need to be recorded (including asset disposals for at least five years after the event occurred. The best way to ensure this is to keep track of:
- receipts of purchase, transfer or sale
- if money was borrowed and details of interest
- receipts for insurance, rates and land taxes
- receipts for the cost of maintenance, repairs and modifications
- any market valuations
- brokerage on shares and cryptocurrency
- digital wallet records and keys.
Keeping accurate and well-maintained records for CGT events is of utmost importance, as it allows us to ensure that you are accurately reporting your transactions and lodging your return correctly. If they incur any net capital losses, this needs to be reflected in the return as they may be able to offset these against capital gains in a later year. Once a loss has been offset against a capital gain, you need to keep the records about that CGT event for two years (for individuals and small businesses) or four years (for other taxpayers).
If you are in the process of disposing of a capital gains asset, you will want to be certain that you are doing the right thing. Capital gains tax can be a tricky issue, with plenty of rigamarole. Come speak with us to ensure that your returns are lodged with the most accurate and correct information needed for submission.