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Introducing a new employee 

Hiring a new employee is a time-consuming process that affects you, the company, and the team. It can often be especially nerve-wracking for the new employee starting a new job and joining a brand new team. It is therefore important to take steps to make the process easier on all parties affected.

One of the most effective ways to announce your new employee to the team is through an email. This ensures that all staff are aware of the new employee whether they are in the workplace that day or not. It is also a great way to have written relevant information that staff can refer back to. The email can also encourage other employees to welcome the new employee and say hello, making them feel welcomed and valued and providing a positive start to staff relationships.

If the team is small, you can also introduce your new employee by organising a meeting for everyone to meet face to face. This can be formal or casual. A meeting through a morning tea or lunch is a great way to gather staff in the same place and provide a positive atmosphere to encourage a warm welcome.

The way you introduce a new employee often depends on the environment of your business. If the workplace is a bit less formal, you can announce the new employee’s commencement on a staff Facebook group if you have one, instant messaging channels such as Slack, or noticeboards.

Posted on 4 December '19 by , under people. No Comments.

Pros and cons of hiring an intern 

With so many eager school-leavers looking for employment opportunities, hiring an intern can seem like a good way to offer work experience to someone without the risks of a long-term commitment of a regular employee. However, you should consider whether hiring an intern would be the best move for your business. Here are some pros and cons you may run into:

Pros:

Potential employment: If you feel that the intern fits into the workplace well, you could offer them employment later on. This is often a smoother introduction to employment as they are already trained and familiar with the business. However, you are not obligated to offer them a job if you don’t feel they are a good fit.

Social media insight: Most interns are young and tech-savvy and could offer important insights into the world of social media for the new generation. They could help you devise relatable, trendy content for your social media that you may not have considered.

Cons:

Inexperienced: If you’re looking for some to take on roles that require knowledge and experience, an intern may not be the right choice as they often have limited work experience in career based roles.

Less flexible: If an intern is still studying, then the hours they can offer you can be limited and variable depending on their timetable. As well as this, when exam periods arrive they could have an exam on a day they would normally work, or may ask for time off to study.

Posted on 4 December '19 by , under business. No Comments.

2019 Updates to the Pension Loan Scheme 

Changes have been made to the Pension Loan Scheme (PLS) under the federal government that came into effect 1 July 2019. The updates aimed to improve the previous scheme and help more retirees boost their retirement income and pay for extra expenses such as home care.

The key features of the new Pension Loan Scheme are:

  • Extended eligibility to all Australians of age pension age, now including those currently received the maximum rate age pension.
  • The maximum PLS income stream will be the difference between your current age pension payment and 150% of the age pension rate.
  • A single person will be able to borrow up to $36,000 a year and a couple could potentially borrow up to $54,000 per year, paid in monthly instalments.
  • PSL loans are not taxable and are not counted in the age pension income test.
  • The interest rate is 5.25% pa compound, which has been the same since 1997.
  • There are no establishment fees or monthly account fees.

To be eligible for the PLS, the following criteria must be met:

  • You or your partner have reached age pension age.
  • You own real estate with enough equity to secure a loan.
  • You have adequate insurance covering the property.
  • You are not bankrupt or subject to a personal insolvency agreement.
  • You qualify for one of the following pensions: age pension, bereavement allowance, carer payment, disability support pension, widow pension, or wife pension.

Posted on 4 December '19 by , under super. No Comments.

Paying tax on term deposits

The interest you earn from term deposits is subject to tax, just like your regular income. You have to declare investment income on your tax return, including interest in the year it was credited or received.

The amount of tax you need to pay depends on the amount of interest you earn on your term deposit as it is part of your overall taxable income and will, therefore, be taxed at the same marginal tax rate that applies to the rest of your income. The ATO’s marginal tax rates for the current financial year are:

  • $0 for an income of $18,200
  • 19c for each $1 over $18,200 for an income of $18,201 – $37,000
  • $3,572 plus 32.5c for each $1 over $37,000 for an income of $37,001 – $90,000
  • $20,797 plus 37c for each $1 over $90,000 for an income of $90,001 – $180,000
  • $54,097 plus 45c for each $1 over $180,000 for an income of $180,001 and over

If you decide to roll over your interest earnings into a new term deposit, you will still need to declare the interest on your tax return if you choose to reinvest the money instead of accessing it.

Term deposits run under a joint account will have the ATO assuming each person has equal ownership to the funds in the account. This means that the interest earned is equally split between you and your account partner(s), where you will have to pay tax on your portion. If the funds in your account are not split equally, you can provide the ATO with documentation proving the amount you each earn and be taxed different amounts accordingly.

Posted on 4 December '19 by , under tax. No Comments.

Should you consider using visual search technology?

Using visual search technology for your business is a great way to increase customer engagement. When presented with a paragraph of black and white text, it is unlikely that customers will remember much of it. However, studies have shown that the average person can recall 65% of the visual content they see up to three days later, meaning that using visual elements in your marketing increase customer retention.

Visual search technology uses images to conduct an internet search rather than keywords. This is particularly useful for businesses dealing with tangible products such as fashion items, decor, food, artworks and furniture. Visual search is expected to significantly impact the eCommerce world, with the rise of the image-based culture evident through social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest. One study found that 69% of young consumers preferred to shop based on visual-oriented searches. This is mainly because visual search allows customers to find what they’re looking for five times faster than text-based searches.

Implementing visual search also makes SEO easier on your part. Visual search technology has an image-to-text feature that tags image automatically, without you having to put individual tags for each post. This way, your images are SEO ready with tags you might not have thought about yourself to be discovered by customers.

Posted on 26 November '19 by , under web. No Comments.

What you need to know about investment bonds

Investment bonds are a practical investment option for those who earn a high income and seek long term tax efficiencies.

Investment bonds, also known as tax-paid, insurance or growth bonds, work similarly to a managed fund, except they are combined with an insurance policy. There is a ten year rule which allows tax free earnings on the bond if no withdrawals are made in the first ten years and contributions do not exceed 125% of the previous year’s contribution. Most investment bonds offer a range of investment options to cater for differing risk levels such as cash, fixed interest, shares, property or a range of diversified investment options.

Investment bonds are particularly suitable for high income earners with a marginal tax rate higher than 30% who want to build wealth without increasing their personal tax liability. They are also useful for estate planning purposes as beneficiaries other than dependants can be nominated and will not incur tax upon receiving proceeds.

Investments held in an investment bond are generally not subject to capital gains tax (CGT). Where an investment does not qualify for a CGT discount, the maximum tax rate of 49% may apply on earnings whereas an investment bond generates a maximum rate of 30%.

However, investment bonds do carry some risk that individuals should consider before making a decision. Common fees such as establishment, contribution, withdrawal, management, switching and adviser service fees may be applicable depending on your provider and the investment options you choose.

Posted on 26 November '19 by , under money. No Comments.

What to include in a business partnership agreement

Entering into a business partnership can come with conflicts and misunderstandings between you and your new associate. This is why having a written agreement that clearly outlines your rights and responsibilities is important for maintaining a healthy business relationship between partners. Here are some key areas to include in your partnership agreement:

  • Name of partnership: agree on a name for your business. This may seem simple but many partners have different ideas for what they think the business should be called.
  • Contributions to the partnership: work out and record how much each person initially contributes to the business, whether it’s cash, property, or services, and decide what percentage each owner will have.
  • Admitting new partners: agree on a procedure for admitting new partners so that you can equally decide on a new person.
  • Distribution of profits/allocation of losses: decide how profits and losses are allocated to partner shares.
  • Death, disability, or withdrawal: if a member of the partnership wants to withdraw from it, or is forced to due to death or disability, then a buy/sell agreement is needed to manage the situation. Consider who you trust to make decisions on your behalf, who would inherit the shares of your company etc.
  • Non-competition clause: if you’re concerned about a partner leaving and then competing with the partnership’s business, you can include a clause that restricts them from doing so within a defined time period.

Posted on 26 November '19 by , under business. No Comments.

Does your SMSF meet the sole purpose test?

If you have a self-managed super fund (SMSF), then you need to meet the sole purpose test to be eligible for the tax concessions that are normally available to super funds. The sole purpose test aims to ensure that SMSFs are maintained for the purpose of providing benefits to members upon retirement or for beneficiaries if a member dies before retirement.

When a sole purpose test is contravened, the fund will lose its concessional tax treatment and be subject to the highest tax rate. Members could also be disqualified as a trustee and face civil and criminal penalties such as fines or imprisonment. The test is divided into core and ancillary purposes, where regulated funds must be maintained for at least one core purpose and can add one or more ancillary purposes but cannot be run only for ancillary purposes.

The core purposes are paying benefits to:

  • Members on or after retirement from gainful employment.
  • Members when they have reached a prescribed age.
  • Dependents if the member dies.

The ancillary purposes are:

  • Termination of a member’s employment where the employee made contributions to the fund on behalf of the member.
  • Cessation of employment due to physical or mental health reasons.
  • Death of the member after retirement where the benefits are paid to the member’s dependants or legal representative.
  • Death of the member after attaining a prescribed age where the benefits are paid to the member’s dependants or legal representative.
  • Other ancillary purposes approved in writing by the regulator (ATO or the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority).

Posted on 26 November '19 by , under super. No Comments.

Making NRAS claims

The national rental affordability scheme (NRAS) started on 1 July 2008, encouraging large-scale investment in affordable housing. It offers tax and cash incentives to providers of new dwellings for 10 years, granted they are rented to low and moderate income households at 20% below market rates.

Though the NRAS is no longer taking new investments, property owners within the scheme will soon be receiving letters from the ATO to remind them of their claim requirements.

The two key elements of the NRAS are;

  • An Australian Government contribution in the form of a refundable tax offset or direct payment to the value of $8,394.10 per dwelling per year in 2018-19. The Australian Government contribution is 75% of the total annual incentive.
  • A state or territory contribution in the form of direct financial support or an in-kind contribution to the value of at least $2,798.03 per dwelling per year in 2018-19. The state or territory contribution is 25% of the total annual incentive.

Owners of NRAS rental property are eligible to claim a refundable tax offset if:

  • The Approved Participant has provided them with advice of their entitlement based on the certificate received from the Housing Secretary, and;
  • The claim is made in the year to which the certificate relates.

Deductions can be claimed for expenses incurred with a NRAS rental property, excluding the contribution amount received from the state or territory. The contribution amount is non-assessable, non-exempt (NANE) income for tax purposes.

Posted on 26 November '19 by , under tax. No Comments.

Icebreaker activities employees will actually enjoy

Icebreaker activities can often be uncomfortable, especially if people are already anxious about meeting a whole new group of people at once or worried about their first day with a new team or at a new job. It is important to have icebreakers that aren’t distracting or too nerve-wracking. For example, the popular ‘tell everyone an interesting fact about yourself’ can often result in someone stressing about what interesting and appropriate to share for the entire time instead of listening to anyone else’s contributions, and feeling self-conscious about their answer. Here are some alternative icebreakers that will help new teams really get to know each other and have a smoother transition into the job.

Quizzes:
A quiz is a great way to ease the team into interacting with each other as it means that a single person doesn’t have all the attention on them at once, which can be stressful, and everyone can break into smaller groups that will make it easy for them to get to know a few people at the same time. This will also demonstrate people’s interests and can get the team bonding over similar hobbies.

Speed networking:
Speed networking is a great way for people to get to know each other one-on-one without the pressure of prolonging a conversation until it gets awkward. Have a different question for each round (e.g. what’s your favourite holiday destination? Do you have any pets? What do you like to do in your spare time?) and give everyone 30 seconds to both answer the question. This will allow people to interact with all team members individually.

Socialise:
It can be beneficial to get out of the office and do something fun. This lets the team relax and have fun and really get to know each other on a social level. Whether it’s having a beach day, going to the local pub, having a picnic, or getting brunch, getting the team to have fun without the pressures of the workplace can be a great way for them to bond with each other.

Posted on 24 November '19 by , under people. No Comments.