Changes to the super system

Posted on 6 October '20, under tax.

The Budget seeks to address various shortcomings in the superannuation system

Unintended multiple accounts

One of the consequences of changing employers is the creation of multiple accounts. These result in unnecessary fees, and reduce retirement savings. Under the Budget, the proposal is that individual’s super is ‘stapled’ to them. Stapling means that the individual keeps their super fund when they change jobs. The employer will pay super to the attached fund, and only change if the individual selects to.

Paying too much

Super fees are being paid on unused accounts, causing an erosion of retirement savings. ‘YourSuper’ allows comparison between fees and payments across different super funds so that individuals are able to make informed decisions about their super.

Underperforming products

Not all super funds perform equally. This can lead to an inequitable retirement result for individuals.MySuper products will now undergo an annual performance test to level the playing field. Funds will be required to notify their members if they are deemed to be underperforming and if they fail the test twice consecutively, they will not be able to accept new members until their performance improves. This will give members more information and the opportunity to choose what they can do if their fund is underperforming.

Lack of accountability and transparency

Currently, members are not informed about how their money is being invested, and whether it is being invested appropriately. Through this initiative, super trustees will be required to provide members with key information regarding how they manage and spend their money ahead of Annual Members’ Meetings. They are also required to comply with a new duty to act and must demonstrate that there was a reasonable basis to support their actions being consistent with members’ best financial interests. This increase in transparency and accountability will allow members to make decisions regarding their super before it’s too late.

Insolvency reforms to support small business

Posted on 6 October '20, under tax.

The government recognises that despite support to get through the COVID-19 outbreak, not all businesses are going to remain viable.

Many small businesses will have significantly increased levels of debt in order to remain in business during the COVID-19 pandemic. The government is introducing a number of permanent and temporary measures to expand the availability of insolvency practitioners to deal with this expected increase in the number of businesses seeking to restructure or liquidate.

The package of reforms features three key elements:

Debt Restructuring

Currently, requirements around voluntary administration in Australia are more suited to large, complex company insolvencies. The new debt restructuring process will adopt a ‘debtor possession model’ where the business can continue to trade under the control of its owners, while a debt restructuring plan is developed and voted on by creditors.

Liquidation Pathway

The costs of liquidation can consume all or almost all of the remaining value of a small business, leaving little for creditors. Under the government’s new process, regulatory obligations will be simplified, so that they are commensurate to the asset base, complexity and risk profile of an eligible small business.

Temporary Relief Measures Extended

The government announced a further extension of relief measures to 31 December 2020. The

temporary increase in the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company from $2,000 to $20,000; and a temporary increase in the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive from 21 days to 6 months. In addition there is a temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent, with respect to any debts incurred in the ordinary course of the companies business.

The temporary gives businesses needed breathing space to and highlights the importance of working with financial professionals as soon as required, ensuring that your small business has the best chance of success.

Upskilling Australia

Posted on 6 October '20, under tax.

The Budget highlights the government’s commitment to getting people back in jobs and upskilling Australians.

The JobTrainer Fund which falls under the JobMaker Plan will support up to 340,700 free or low-fee training places in areas needed to help upskill and retrain job seekers and young people.

The government will provide exemptions for employer-provided retraining activities from business’ fringe benefits tax and is also consulting on updating the current rules to allow individuals to deduct training costs from their income which relates to their future employment.

The Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements Wage Subsidy will boost the number of new apprenticeships and traineeships. This will support up to 100,000 new apprentices and trainees by paying a 50 per cent wage subsidy. Businesses will receive the subsidy up to a cap of $7,000 per quarter, for commencing apprentices and trainees until 30 September 2021.

Economic security for women is also being prioritised under the Budget. Several initiatives will work to support the increase of women’s workforce participation and improvement of earning potential. They include initiatives to support women’s leadership and development and increasing opportunities for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), business and male-dominated industries.

Lower taxes for businesses and individuals

Posted on 6 October '20, under tax.

The Budget seeks to promote tax reform and simplification in an effort to support business investment and help reduce the personal income tax burden.

Business

Businesses are encouraged to invest with the introduction of temporary full expensing. Businesses with turnover up to $5 billion will be able to deduct the full cost of eligible depreciable assets of any value in the first year they are used or installed ready for use, from now till end of June 2022. Costs of improvements to these eligible depreciable assets can also be deducted. Through the reduction of after-tax costs of eligible expenses, full expensing supports businesses that are investing and helping stimulate the economy. Eligible new or second-hand assets acquired under the enhanced $150,000 instant asset write-off by the end of this year will receive an additional 6 months (30th June 2021) to use or install those assets.

Temporary loss carry-back will provide businesses the opportunity to offset tax losses. Companies with a turnover of up to $5 billion will be able to offset tax losses against previous profits on which tax has been paid to generate a refund. Any losses incurred from 2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22 may be carried back against profits made during, or after 2018-19. To receive this support, applications to receive a tax refund may be lodged during the 2020-21 or 2021-22 tax returns.

Measures have been taken to expand and modernise the tax treaty network. This involves eliminating double taxation in an effort to attract foreign workers, simplify taxing rights between Australia and other countries and boost foreign investment in Australia. The initiative reduces tax barriers to prioritise reinstating Australia’s treaties with important partners to relieve economic burden. The Research and Development Tax Incentive (R&DTI) will ensure businesses of every size are receiving the support they require in these areas.

Changes have been made to recordkeeping provision as the government maintains its efforts to cut down red tape. Businesses will no longer need complete prescribed records, instead they will be able to use existing corporate records to reduce the time and manpower spent on recordkeeping.

Individuals

Both low and middle income earners will also be receiving tax relief in the coming years. The government has brought forward their plans for tax cuts to make sure that families are keeping more of what they earn. Taxpayers will be receiving relief of up to $2.745 for singles and $5,490 for dual income families. The provision of a simpler tax system and lower taxes, which will be implemented in 3 stages, has increased the threshold of the 32.5% tax bracket from $90,000 to $120,000. Tax relief to individuals is expected to encourage spending and stimulate the economy.

JobMaker Hiring Credit

Posted on 6 October '20, under tax.

Job losses have been extensive during the COVID-19 pandemic and the JobMaker Hiring Credit will give businesses incentives to take on additional employees aged between 16 and 35 years old.

Eligible employers will receive $200 a week for each new employee aged between 16 and 29. For new eligible employees aged 30 to 35, they’ll receive $100 a week. Businesses and employees will need to satisfy specific eligibility requirements.

For an employer to be eligible they must have an Australian Business Number and be up to date with their tax lodgement obligations, registered for Pay As You Go (PAYG), and be reporting through Single Touch Payroll. Employers will not be eligible if they are also claiming JobKeeper Payment.

To receive the JobMaker Hiring Credit, employers must also meet additionality criteria, requiring an increase in the:

  • business’ total employee headcount from 30 September 2020; and
  • payroll of the business for the reporting period, as compared to the three months to 30 September 2020.

The JobMaker Hiring Credit will be available to employers for each new job they create over the next 12 months for which they hire an eligible young person. The employee must work at least 20 paid hours per week on average and may be employed on a permanent, casual or fixed term basis. The employee must also have received the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance or Parenting Payment for at least one of the three months preceding the time of hiring.

The JobMaker Hiring Credit will start on 7 October 2020. The Hiring Credit will be claimed quarterly in arrears by the employer from the Australian Tax Office (ATO) from 1 February 2021. Employers will need to report to the ATO quarterly that they meet the eligibility criteria.

Registrations will be open for eligible employers through ATO online services from 7 December 2020.

Making employees feel valued

Posted on 6 October '20, under people.

Statistics have shown that employees who feel valued are more motivated to perform their best. But how can a business make employees feel valued so that they can encourage this behaviour?

Recognition

It can be as simple as letting employees know that they are valued. This can occur one-on-one or in group settings. Vocalising appreciation of an employee’s work, as well as giving raises and bonuses are effective methods.

Feedback

Giving employees positive feedback (more than negative feedback) is a great way not just to show appreciation, but also to foster an environment that allows constructive feedback as opposed to criticism.

Communication

Keep open lines of communication with your employees, and let them know what the plans for the organisation are, when and if, possible. This improves the transparency, and lets employees know that they are trusted members of the business.

Right level of challenge

Designate tasks which show trust in an employee’s capabilities. These tasks can build on employee’s skills and encourage growth and development in areas where needed.

Attending to employee’s and their needs is important in letting them know that they are valuable members. This will not only improve their morale, but in the end generate productivity.

What is Organisational Culture?

Posted on 6 October '20, under business.

Understanding what organisational structure is can help with making decisions about your business in all areas. Organisational culture is multifaceted, it consists of the shared values, beliefs and norms in the workplace, and determines employee interactions as well as customer interactions.

There are four types of organisational cultures.

  • Clan Culture: Focussed on collaboration between teams to form a family-like relationship.
  • Adhocracy Culture: Focussed on creativity and innovation and open to continual change.
  • Market Culture: Focussed on achieving goals through competitive drive amongst employees.
  • Hierarchy Culture: Focussed on formal procedures and guidelines and maintaining power structures.

The organisational culture reflects in all aspects of the business. It can help with determining which potential employees may be more suitable than others and the way that those in leadership positions communicate with employees.

The way a business communicates and interacts with their customers is also influenced by organisational culture. Businesses may desire friendly and informal relationships, or formal and reserved relationships. Communication methods may also change, such as preferring email interaction as opposed to utilising chat functions.

Of course, the culture of an organisation can have overlap of the different types. More important than focussing on one type of culture, is recognising what works best for your business and trying to foster values and norms that embody that.

What to look out for in an employment contract

Posted on 6 October '20, under legal.

Reading any contract before you sign it is essential, but there are some things you should keep a special eye out for when signing an employment contract.

Award Coverage

You should always check that the salary you have agreed upon with your employer is on par with the award rates and no less. Double check what rates are associated with your position and clarify any concerns with your employer.

Restraint of trade

An employer may add a ‘restraint of trade’ clause to your contract. This may impact whether you can work in the same industry later on, so make sure that the employer hasn’t done this without first discussing the details with them first.

Changing terms of contract

Your employer may have added a clause which gives them the sole right to make any changes to the contract (such as duties, pay, seniority or location of work). Although employers should not be changing any terms and conditions in the contract without first notifying you, having this clause in the contract will make it more difficult for you to argue any changes. Check to make sure the employer doesn’t have sole ability.

Carefully read all aspects of the contract to make sure that they reflect national standards and any specific agreements you had made with your employer.

Insurance for your super

Posted on 6 October '20, under super.

Most super funds offer insurance as part of their super plan. It is important to be aware of what types of insurance you are covered by through your super fund to help you determine if you need extra cover outside your super and if you have adequate support in the event that you cannot work. There are three types of insurance that can be available through super funds:

Life insurance (also known as death cover):

This is the most common of all personal super insurances and is part of the benefits your beneficiaries will receive when you die. Life insurance is typically applied to your super account by default. It is not compulsory with your super, however, if you have a self-managed super fund (SMSF), then you are required to consider insurance as part of your investment strategy.

Total and permanent disability (TPD) cover:

This insurance pays a lump sum if you become permanently disabled and are unable to work again, protecting you against the risk that your retirement income is cut unexpectedly short. TPD cover is often automatically joined with life insurance as a default cover.

Income protection (IP) cover:

This pays you an income stream for a period of time that you are not able to work due to temporary disability or illness. It is only available as a default cover in about one-third of super funds. It may be particularly useful if you are self-employed or have debts.

You can check what insurance you have with your super fund on your annual super statement, your online super account or by contacting them. Through these you can see the type and amount of cover you have, and how much you are paying for it.

The money habits that could be costing you

Posted on 1 October '20, under money.

How you spend your money determines how well you can save you money. Spending more than you have or buying unnecessarily can severely impact how efficiently you can save. Sometimes you aren’t even aware of the small habits that are actually limiting your savings capabilities. Here are a few bad money habits that are getting in your way.

Not having a budget:

Spending a substantial amount of money each month on purchases and experiences adds up. Not preparing and sticking to a budget is a common mistake, as many people believe that a budget isn’t necessary for their lifestyle and income. Regardless of how much you earn, individuals need budgets to know where their money goes and what needs to be set aside to achieve their goals.

Eating Out:

Dining in restaurants or grabbing take away most nights in the week is a good way to deplete your finances. Save money by eating out one or two nights and cooking the rest of your meals in bulk at home. Preparation of food will help on those nights when you don’t want to cook and stops you from ordering food.

Impulse Buying:

Purchasing items without a second thought is an easy way to lose money. A good way to avoid this can be to ask yourself if you are buying something because you ‘want’ it, rather than if you ‘need’ it? Learn how to recognise when you do the action and force yourself to wait. You can then consider if you have the extra money to spend on that item, giving you time to properly think about your decision.

Credit Cards:

A credit card is an easy way to spend money you may not have. Living beyond your means is a fast way to fall into debt and is one of the worst things you can do for your finances. Remember, if you don’t pay the card in full each month, every dollar you put on a card will cost you many times more in interest charges. Avoid this problem by thinking of your credit card as an emergency-only option.