Easy ways for your Small Business to Stay ahead at Tax Time.

Posted on 18 March '21, under tax.

As an employee in a business, often there are perks that can come with the job. A company car, fuel money, perhaps some technology to help make things easier. Small business owners however have to be a lot more mindful of how they use the money from their business.

Any money or assets that a business has earned or possesses, is solely the property of that business. That means that there are numerous issues that can arise from dipping into these company funds.

As a business owner, it’s important to keep records and correctly report transactions if using company money or assets (e.g, company car). These can include instances such as

  • taking money out of your company for yourself or your family
  • receiving money from it (for example, as a director, shareholder or an associate)
  • using your company’s assets for private purposes.

For small businesses, this can be easily done through:

  • Salary, wages or director’s fees
  • Repayments of a loan you have previously made to the company
  • A fringe benefit, such as an employee using a company car
  • Dividends (formal distribution of the profits)
  • A loan from the company

If a business does not report correctly or keep appropriate records for transactions, an unfranked deemed dividend could be included in their assessable income (this is a bad thing) during tax time.

Here are some easy ways to avoid being put into this situation:

  • Always ensure that any company money issued is accounted for as per the previous categories.
  • Have a separate bank account for the company to pay for company expenses (not private ones!)
  • Keep proper records of all company transactions
  • Repay any loans from the company before the tax return date to avoid unwanted income tax

https://iorder.com.au/publication/Download.aspx?ProdID=75273-07.2020

Signs of unauthorised and mistaken transactions

Posted on 24 February '21, under money.

When checking through your transactions, you might come across a transaction that doesn’t look right. If this is the case, you should get into contact with your bank as soon as possible. 

An unauthorised transaction: Money transferred from your account without your permission

A mistaken transaction: Paying the wrong person by using the wrong details

Here are the signs to look out for to identify unauthorised or mistaken transactions:

  • Persons or companies whose names you do not know
  • Cash withdrawal from a place you have never been 
  • Transaction date you don’t recognise
  • Payment that has doubled up

But keep in mind:

  • Transactions can take days to show up – they are not always immediate
  • Name of a shop or restaurant might not match the bank statement (they may have a different trading name which you can verify online)

What to do before you buy a business

Posted on 24 February '21, under business.

Buying an existing business can be a great entryway into being a business owner – but it does come with challenges. Following these steps might make it easier for you to make sure that the business you buy is right for you.

  1. Understanding if you are ready for business: This doesn’t just involve the financial aspect of things, but also management more generally. Even though there are procedures in place, you still need to develop management skills to oversee those processes. You will need to be disciplined when it comes to day-to-day operations, especially at the start before you become more familiar with everything. Reflect on your current situation and ensure that you can handle the responsibilities that come with owning a business.
  2. Decide whether you want to buy an independently owned business or a franchise: You will be able to make a lot more decisions and changes if you buy an independent business – but you will also need to come up with a lot more ideas, and conduct marketing and safety strategies by yourself. Franchises on the other hand provide a lot of support when it comes to routine business processes, but there is a lot more rigidity when it comes to handling the business.
  3. Research the business: Look into all the costs involved in buying the business and potential ongoing expenses that you will incur. Make sure you get an insight into the business’ strengths and weaknesses and how it is likely to perform against competitors. 
  4. Carry out due diligence: Examine a business in detail before you sign a legally binding document. This includes various financial aspects such as income statements, tax returns, etc. You should also review the legal aspect of the business such as intellectual property, registered patents, etc.
  5. Value the business: Calculate the net worth of your business by taking the assets and liabilities into consideration. Also calculate the value of the business based on future earnings – what you can gain from the business. 

Employer liability in remote working conditions

Posted on 24 February '21, under legal.

Now that businesses must have a better idea of the working conditions they will be adopting in 2021, it’s ideal to consider how employer liability changes. 

The health and safety of employees in the workplace is the responsibility of the employer. Employers must protect their employees’ well-being, by taking into consideration the risks involved on the premises where employees work.

If there are employees who will be consistently working from home, or who usually work remotely, then there are some things that employers can do: 

  • Ensure that the work expected of employees from home can be done so with safety
  • Consider making changes to the task so that it can be done safely from home
  • Employees are equipped with the tools and equipment necessary to complete the work safely (this could also include ergonomic computer equipment)
  • Arrangements are made to instal heavy company equipment into the employee’s workspace safely rather than be left to the responsibility of the employee. 
  • Employees have been given the relevant information or been trained to operate all equipment provided to the employees with safety. 
  • Reasonable accommodations have been made for employees who might have disabilities in relation to the work employees are expected to perform. 
  • More steps are taken to ensure employees’ mental welfare

Employee welfare is particularly important when remote working is involved. This is because employees might have no contact with their co-workers and have limited scope. Try to find ways through which employees can interact with one another whilst working remotely. Further, ensure that employees can access mental health support easily if they need it.

Keeping these things in mind will not only protect employers from liability but ensure that employees are being productive. 

Pros and cons of home reversion

Posted on 24 February '21, under super.

Super (AU): Pros and cons of home reversion

Home reversion is when you sell a share of the future value of your home whilst still living there. You receive a lump sum payment and continue to own the remaining share of your home equity. 

Pros

  • You are able to continue living in your home after you sell the share
  • You can conduct renovations or maintenance that your home may need with the lump sum payment you receive
  • You can use the lump sum for any urgent needs such as medical treatments
  • The lump sum could help you secure accommodation till your home sells

Cons

  • You will own the lower share of the equity in your home
  • Transactions and costs can get complicated and it may be hard to navigate that
  • Your eligibility for Age Pension might also be influenced
  • Your ability to afford aged care could be affected
  • You might end up eating into money that you need for the future – such as for medicare
  • You might be locked into fewer options if your circumstances change
  • If you are the sole owner and someone else lives with you, they may no longer be able to live in the house if you move out or pass away

What you need to know about luxury car tax

Posted on 24 February '21, under tax.

Luxury car tax or LCT is a 33% tax on cars that have a value (including GST) above the set threshold. However, the tax is only on the value which is above the threshold. 

Businesses and individuals that sell or import luxury cars are required to pay LCT.

You can make LCT payments in instalments or annually. If you choose to report your payments in instalments, they will be included in your GST instalments. If you choose to pay GST annually, then you don’t need to worry about reporting monthly or your quarterly BAS.

You may be able to defer paying LCT by quoting your ABN. You are able to do this if you are only going to be using your car to:

  • Hold it for trading stock (doesn’t include holding it for hire or lease)
  • Carry out research and development for the car’s manufacturer
  • Export it GST-free

If and once you stop using your car for the above purposes, then you will need to start paying LCT. 

Features your website needs

Posted on 17 February '21, under web.

These are features you should make sure you have on your website:

  • Your contact information should be easily accessible. Potential customers should know how to get in touch with you if they want your products or services. 
  • Try to have a blog on your website that you update with articles about your business area. This is great for SEO, producing shareable content that gets your name out there, and a way to demonstrate your knowledge to potential customers.
  • Having testimonials and case studies on your website will make it easier to increase your credibility and demonstrate customer satisfaction. Case studies will also make it easier for customers to understand how you may be useful for them.
  • SEO content throughout the website will bring more customers to you. Make sure you integrate SEO strategising for titles, descriptions and any other content. 
  • The live chat function makes asking questions much easier for potential customers. Live chat functions are easy to install and people regularly use them when making online purchases.
  • An effective search function on the website can save the customer’s time. Research has found that use of the search function correlates with a website visitor’s conversion rate.

Ways you can manage your stress

Posted on 17 February '21, under people.

There are various causes of stress that make it difficult to have just one method of stress management. There are 4 methods you can use in response to stress:

  • Avoid: Sometimes the causes of our stress are avoidable. For example, if being around certain people makes you feel stressed because of the way they behave, then you should avoid being in the same vicinity as them where possible
  • Alter: You may not be able to avoid a situation, but try to find ways of altering it. For example, you might stress during the exam period and having other people around might make it harder for you to focus. Communicate with your roommates or family members to let them know how you feel so that you can schedule your study times better. 
  • Adapt: Certain scenarios are unavoidable so the best response might be to adapt to them. You can reframe the stressor by looking at the big picture perspective. For example, you might be stressed out by the idea of going to an interview, but thinking of it as a small step in the direction towards working in a job you like might make it easier. 
  • Accept: Although this is the last resort, you might have to accept certain things you cannot change. Save yourself the frustration of not being able to change the situation. You can try to talk to the people involved to express to them how you feel so that you have a support system. 

Repairing errors in your credit score

Posted on 17 February '21, under money.

Your credit score can affect loans and credit you apply for. You are able to have errors on your credit report fixed for free. 

The following are typical errors in credit reports, that you are able to get fixed for free.

Errors by the credit reporting agency – there may be instances where the agency that reports your information has done so incorrectly. This can lead to errors about:

  • Your name, date of birth or address
  • Debt listed twice
  • Amount of debt

This type of error can be fixed by contacting the agency directly.

Errors by the credit providers – there may be instances where the credit provider incorrectly reports information. This can lead to errors about:

  • How long your credit is overdue
  • Whether you were notified about an unpaid debt
  • If your debt was defaulted as overdue when it is in dispute
  • Changes in your payment plan that were not appropriately represented 
  • Accounts that were created as a result of credit fraud

These types of errors can be corrected by contacting the credit providers. If they agree that there has been a mistake, then the agency will adjust the details. If there is disagreement, then contact the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) to file a complaint and receive a resolution. 

Business management styles you should avoid

Posted on 17 February '21, under business.

The business management style you adopt will depend on the needs of your business, what motivates your employees, and your style of work. Therefore, you do have some flexibility when it comes to the choices you make and how you manage your business. However, there are some which you should always avoid due to the relationship they foster between employers and employees. 

Autocratic

This style of top-down management leaves all decision-making to managers and expects full cooperation from employees. Any sort of criticism from employees will be received with public disapproval. This management style relies on fear and guilt and seeks to micromanage employees rather than allowing flexibility. 

This sort of strategy limits innovation and inhibits employees’ loyalty and personal motivation to progress as employees do not share the company vision. 

Servant

This type of management values people first and tasks second. Overvaluing emotions and wanting to avoid conflict at all costs is detrimental to effectively completing work. 

This sort of strategy places no focus on success and goal completion. It can damage the business if performance is not to par and employees are not encouraged to do their best at the tasks assigned to them. 

These two management strategies sit on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to valuing employees. You should regularly make an effort to interact with employees and ask them for suggestions to improve company performance as collaboration can be extremely valuable. However, don’t get carried away in developing personal relationships with employees that can be detrimental to business success.