Client Alert – September 2019

Warning to watch out for myGov and ATO tax scams

The government’s Stay Smart Online website warns there has been a surge in scammers impersonating myGov and the ATO to trick people into giving them money or personal details. These scams can take the form of emails, text messages and fake myGov login pages.

In June 2019, the ATO received 6,444 reports of tax-time scams impersonating the ATO. Emails with links to fake myGov login pages were the most widespread email scam.

The myGov system will never send texts, emails or attachments with links or web addresses that ask for your login or personal details. Never click on links in emails or text messages claiming to be from myGov.

Always log into your official myGov account to lodge your return and check if you owe a debt or are due a refund. You can do this by typing https://my.gov.au/ into your internet browser’s address bar.

Unfortunately, ATO and other scams continue well beyond the 30 October deadline for tax returns, as scammers know many people are waiting for a refund or information about debts. It’s important to watch out for scams throughout the year.

Tip: More information is available online at www.staysmartonline.gov.au/. If you’re unsure about a tax-related message or phone call, you can phone the ATO’s Scam Hotline on 1800 008 540.

Tax time updates

ATO has refunded $10 billion so far

The ATO says that $10 billion has been refunded to Australian taxpayers so far this tax time, an increase of over $2 billion from the same time last year, with most returns processed in under two weeks. The ATO aims
to process returns as soon as possible, and has announced that over four million refunds have already been sent out, compared to over three million refunds issued this time last year.

TIP: If you haven’t lodged your tax return yet, or you’re waiting on information about a refund or tax debt, we can help – contact us to find out more.

ATO watching for undisclosed foreign income

The ATO has reminded Australians who receive any foreign income from investments, family members or working overseas to make sure they have reported it this tax time.

New international data-sharing agreements allow the ATO to track money across borders and identify people who aren’t meeting their obligations. Under the new Common Reporting Standard (CRS), the ATO has shared data on financial account information with over 65 tax jurisdictions across the globe. This includes information on account holders, balances, interest and dividend payments, proceeds from the sale of assets, and other income.

Tip: If you’re an Australian resident for tax purposes, you are taxed on your worldwide income, so you must declare all of your foreign income no matter how small the amount.

Unusual claims disallowed

The ATO has published information about some of the most unusual claims it has disallowed. Around 700,000 Australians have claimed almost $2 billion of “other” expenses, including non-allowable items such as child care and even Lego sets.

Assistant Commissioner Karen Foat says a systematic review of claims found and disallowed some very unusual expenses. “A couple of taxpayers claimed dental expenses, believing a nice smile was essential to finding a job, and was therefore deductible. It isn’t!”

Tip: The “other” deductions section of your tax return is for expenses incurred in earning income that don’t appear elsewhere on the return – such as income protection and sickness insurance premiums.

ATO contacting small employers about Single Touch Payroll

From 1 July 2018, employers with more than 20 employees have been required to provide real-time reports to the ATO of salary and wage payments, super guarantee contributions, ordinary time earnings of employees and PAYG withholding amounts.

From 1 July 2019, this Single Touch Payroll (STP) reporting system has extended to all employers.

The ATO is now writing to small employers who haven’t yet started reporting or applied for a deferral, to remind them of their STP obligations.

Tip: Small employers have until 30 September 2019 to start reporting or apply for extra time to get ready.

There will be no penalties for mistakes, or missed or late reports, for the first year, and employers experiencing hardship or who are in areas with intermittent or no internet connection will be able to access exemptions.

Disclosing business tax debt information: ATO consultation

In its Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook in 2016–2017, the government announced it would change the law to let the ATO report business tax debt information to credit reporting bureaus (CRBs) where a business consistently avoids engaging with the ATO to manage a tax debt.

Tip: The ATO can’t currently pass on this sort of information because Australian law contains strict confidentiality requirements for ATO-held taxpayer information.

The ATO has said it “recognises the important role businesses play in the Australian economy [but] when an entity avoids paying its tax debts it can have a significant impact on other businesses, employees, contractors and the wider community.” It has released a consultation paper to facilitate consultation between the ATO, businesses and CRBs.

If passed in its current form, the amended law would allow taxation officers to disclose information about business tax debts when certain conditions are met. A business would need to have debts of at least $100,000 overdue by more than 90 days, and have not effectively engaged with the ATO to manage that debt.

Cross-border recovery of tax debts

The ATO has also reissued Practice Statement Law Administration PS LA 2011/13 Cross border recovery of taxation debts. This statement outlines options available for the ATO to recover a tax debt where the debtor is outside Australia, and sets out how the ATO deals with requests from other countries for assistance in recovering tax debts owing to the other country.

ATO superannuation focus areas

Lost super

As at July 2019, the ATO held 5.39 million super accounts worth $3.98 billion. It will aim to reunite $473 million with 485,000 fund members using the new Protecting Your Super measures.

Tip: You can find out about your lost or unclaimed super through ATO Online via myGov.

Pension cap indexation

The pension transfer balance cap (TBC) of $1.6 million could increase on 1 July 2020 or 1 July 2021, depending on movement in the consumer price index (CPI). The general TBC is indexed in increments of $100,000 when the indexation rate reaches prescribed figures (calculated using a formula set out in Australian tax law). Once indexation happens, there will no longer be a single TBC that applies to all super members with a retirement phase income stream. Instead, there could be a personal TBC for each member, depending on their individual situation and arrangements.

Compassionate release of super only available in limited cases

The ATO has recently seen a significant increase in queries about compassionate release of super (CRS). In most cases, the people concerned were ineligible because they were looking to use their super to pay for general expenses.

CRS is an option only for very specific unpaid expenses such as medical treatment and transport costs, palliative care costs, loan payments to prevent the loss of your home, the costs of home or vehicle modifications related to a severe disability and expenses associated a dependant’s death.

Tip: Any amounts released early on compassionate grounds are paid and taxed as normal super lump sums.

Personal services income rules: unrelated clients test

The Federal Court has set aside an Administrative Appeal Tribunal decision that income a business analyst derived through a company was subject to the personal services income (PSI) rules.

According to the Court, simply because an individual or personal services entity is able to provide services through an intermediary, such as a recruitment or similar agency, this does not constitute the making of an offer or invitation for the purposes of the relevant legislation. More than that is required for the purposes of the unrelated clients test.

Scams targeting ASIC customers

Scammers pretending to be from ASIC have been contacting Business Name owners asking them to pay fees and give personal information to renew their business or company name.
These emails often have a link that provides an invoice with fake payment details or infects your computer with malware if you click the link.

Warning signs the email is not from ASIC

An email is probably a scam and is not from ASIC if it asks you:
•    to make a payment over the phone
•    to make a payment to receive a refund
•    for your credit card or bank details directly by email or phone
•    pay fees that are different to the fees on our website
ASIC notifications will come from the email address ASIC.Transaction.No-reply@asic.gov.au.

What should I do if I am unsure?

If you are unsure at all please contact Nicole or Rie at Guests Accounting who will be able to confirm if the email is a scam.

Nicole Bedoya/Rie Tsandilis
info@guests.com.au
03 9509 7033

Client Alert – August 2019

ATO will inform certain tax agent clients their information is “Tax ready”

If tax agent clients’ employers report through Single Touch Payroll (STP) and the clients are linked to ATO online services through myGov, the ATO will send them a myGov Inbox message to let them know that their end of year payment summary (income statement) has been marked by their employer as “Tax ready” and can be used in their tax return and they can access their income statement in ATO online services through myGov, or the tax agent can give them the information.

If tax agent clients do not already have myGov accounts, agents should let them know they do not need one for the agent to lodge their tax return. Tax agents can access their employment data and lodge for them once their information is “Tax ready”.

Top mistakes to avoid this tax time: ATO

The ATO has revealed some of the most common mistakes people make at tax time. Top mistakes include lodging before all prefill data is available or failing to report all income and claiming the wrong thing – work-related expenses is one area where people commonly make mistakes. To help taxpayers work out what they can claim, the ATO has developed 30 occupation guides for specific occupations; forgetting to keep receipts; and claiming for something never paid for.

Pension deeming rates cut from 1 July 2019

The Government has announced that it will lower the social security deeming rate from 1.75% to 1.0% for
financial investments up to $51,800 for single pensioners and $86,200 for pensioner couples. The upper deeming rate of 3.25% will be cut to 3.0% for balances over these amounts.

The Minister for Families and Social Services, Senator Anne Ruston, said the changes would benefit about 630,000 age pensioners and almost 350,000 people receiving other payments. Under the new rates, age pensioners whose income is assessed using deeming will receive up to $40.50 a fortnight for couples, $1053 extra a year, and $31 a fortnight for singles, $804 a year.

The reduced deeming rates have been backdated to 1 July 2019. Any additional pension payment will flow through into pensioners’ bank accounts from the end of September 2019 in line with the regular indexation of the pension.

Personal tax cuts Bill passed without amendment, now law

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Tax Relief So Working Australians Keep More Of Their Money) Bill 2019 fully implements the personal tax cuts measures announced in this year’s 2019-20 Federal Budget. Starting immediately, low and middle income earners with an income up to $126,000 will receive up to $1,080 in low and middle income tax offset (LMITO), or $2,160 for dual income couples, with the increased tax relief to apply from the 2018-19 income year.

As a result of the amendments, the Treasurer said around 94% of Australian taxpayers are projected to face a marginal tax rate of 30% or less in 2024-25.

ATO statement on administration of the low and middle income tax offset (LMITO)

The ATO announced on 5 July 2019 that it is implementing the necessary system changes so taxpayers that have already lodged their 2018-19 tax returns will receive any increase to the low- and middle-income tax offset (LMITO) they are entitled to. Any tax refund will be deposited in the taxpayers nominated bank account.

The amount of the offset taxpayers may be entitled to, and the amount of any refund, will differ for everyone depending on individual circumstances such as income level and how much tax was paid throughout the year.

STP reporting irregularities: ATO contacting businesses

The ATO has advised tax agents that it is currently emailing Single Touch Payroll (STP) enabled employers who have either ceased reporting for over 45 days; or have submitted employees under multiple payroll or BMS IDs. Some of these businesses may be tax agent clients. These reporting irregularities may cause their employees to see incorrect, incomplete or multiple entries in their income statements.

Employees guide for work expenses: ATO

The ATO has released an employees guide for work expenses to help employees decide whether their expenses are deductible, and what records they need to keep to substantiate them. The Guide says that not all expenses associated with employment are deductible and also debunks some myths about work expense deductions.

FBT, taxi travel and ride sourcing – ATO clarifies

For businesses, taxi travel by an employee is an exempt benefit if the travel is a single trip beginning or ending at the employee’s place of work. The ATO says taxi travel can also be an exempt benefit if it is a result of sickness or injury.

For Not-For-Profits, depending on the type of NFP organisation, certain benefits they provide to employees may receive concessional treatment from FBT. However, some benefits may be exempt from FBT altogether.

New ATO data-matching program – overseas movement data and HELP debt

The ATO said it will acquire overseas movement data from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) for
individuals with an existing HELP, VSL or TSL debt. The data matching program will be conducted for the 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 financial years.

Those living and working overseas with a Higher Education Loan Program (HELP), Vocational Education and Training Student Loan (VSL) and/or Trade Support Loans (TSL) are required to update their contact details and submit an overseas travel notification if they have an intention to, or already reside overseas, for 183 days or more in any 12 months; and lodge their worldwide income or a non-lodgment advice.

GST on low value goods – “very successful initiative”, says ATO

The ATO says it has now collected over $250 million in additional GST since the GST on low value goods measure began on 1 July 2018, outstripping forecasts by $180 million.

As businesses do not need to register unless they meet the A$75,000 GST turnover requirements, most small independent operators do not need to register and have not been affected by this measure.

Super downsizer contributions reach $1 billion: Minister

The Assistant Treasurer, Michael Sukkar, has announced that older Australians downsizing from their family homes have contributed $1 billion to their superannuation funds. The downsizer measure, which commenced on 1 July 2018, allows older Australians choosing to sell their home and downsize or move from homes that no longer meet their needs, to contribute the proceeds from the sale of their home into superannuation up to $300,000.

Reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance amounts for 2019-20

Taxation Determination TD 2019/11, issued on 3 July 2019, sets out the amounts the Commissioner treats as reasonable for the 2019-20 income year in relation to employee claims for overtime meal expenses; domestic travel expenses; and overseas travel expenses.

For employee truck drivers who receive a travel allowance and are required to sleep (take their major rest break) away from home, TD 2019/11 provides separate meal expense amounts for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Client Alert – July 2019

Tax planning

With the end of the 2019 income tax year upon us, this issue draws attention to year-end tax planning strategies and compliance matters that you need to consider to ensure good tax health. It focuses on the most important issues for small to medium businesses and individuals to consider.

Tip: This is general information, but we’ll take your particular circumstances into account to help you achieve good tax health. Contact us to find out more.

Deferring derivation of income

If your business recognises income on an accruals basis (when an invoice is raised) and your cash flow allows, you may consider delaying raising some invoices where work is incomplete until after 30 June, meaning the assessable income will be derived after the 2019 income tax year.
For business income derived on a cash basis (interest, royalties, rent and dividends), you may consider deferring the receipt of certain payments until after 30 June 2019. For example, setting term deposits to mature after 30 June 2019 rather than before.

Bringing forward tax-deductible expenses

To qualify for deductions in the 2019 income tax year, you may be able to bring forward upcoming expenses so that you incur them before 30 June 2019. Small businesses and individual non-business taxpayers may prepay some expenses (such as insurances and professional subscriptions) up to 12 months ahead. This should only be done subject to available cash flow and where the prepayment makes commercial sense.

Tax relief for individuals and small businesses

Instant asset write-off

The instant asset write-off threshold for small businesses has been increased to $30,000 and extended to 30 June 2020. And from 2 April 2019, the instant asset write-off has also been expanded to include businesses with a turnover from $10 million to less than $50 million.
If you purchase an asset (new or second-hand) costing less than $30,000 and it is used or installed ready for use from 7:30pm on 2 April 2019, you can claim a deduction for the portion your eligible small business uses. Different thresholds and deduction amounts apply for assets purchased before that date.
You can purchase and claim a deduction for multiple business assets as long as each asset is under the relevant threshold. Assets costing $30,000 or more can’t be immediately deducted. You can continue to deduct them over time using the small business pool.

Low and middle income tax offset

A new low and middle income tax offset (LMITO) will be available for individuals, providing a benefit of up to $255 if you earn under $37,000 and up to $1,080 for if you earn between $48,000 and $90,000. The offset reduces by 3 cents for every dollar in excess of $90,000. There is no offset for individuals who earn more than $126,000.

Individuals

Deduct work-related expenses

People overclaiming deductions for work-related expenses like vehicles, travel, internet and mobile phones and self-education are on the ATO’s hitlist again this year. There are three main rules when it comes to work-related claims:

  • You can only claim a deduction for money you have actually spent (and that your employer hasn’t reimbursed).
  • The expense must be directly related to earning your work income.
  • You must have a record to prove the expense.

Deductions are not allowed for private expenses (eg travel from home to work that’s not required to transport bulky equipment) or reimbursed expenses (eg for the cost of meals, accommodation and travel). And although you don’t need to include records like receipts with your tax return, the ATO can deny your claim – and penalties may apply – if you can’t produce the evidence when asked.

Tip: The ATO now uses real-time data to compare deductions across similar occupations and income brackets, so it can quickly identify higher-than-expected or unusual claims.

Don’t forget sharing economy income

Money that you earn from “gig” jobs through platforms like Uber, Airtasker and Airbnb, such as transporting passengers or renting out a room or house, counts as your assessable income. This means you must declare it on your tax return.
Depending on your gig activities and expenses, you may also be able to claim deductions related to this type of income, but it’s important to keep evidence to support your claims.

Superannuation contributions and changes

Both employees and self-employed individuals can claim a tax deduction annually (maximum $25,000) for personal superannuation contributions, provided the super fund has physically received the contribution by 30 June 2019 and the individual provides their fund with a “notice of intention to claim” document.

Important to note!

New rules mean that insurance coverage will be cancelled on “inactive” superannuation accounts from 1 July 2019, unless the fund member informs the fund in writing that they want to keep the insurance. Also, where an inactive account has a low balance (under $6,000) the fund will have to send that super to the ATO for consolidation and safekeeping.
If you haven’t made contributions or rolled over your super in the past 16 months, no matter what your balance, it’s important to check in with your fund now to keep your account active and maintain the insurance you want.

Tip: The new law also bans super funds from charging exit fees when you want to leave the fund, which should make it easier to change and consolidate your super accounts when you need to.

Businesses

Lower company tax rate

From 1 July 2016, the income tax rate applicable to qualifying companies has reduced to 27.5%. For the year ending 30 June 2019, this lower tax rate now applies for companies with aggregated turnover of up to $50 million, as long as they satisfy the “passive income test”.

Small business restructure rollover relief

Small businesses (<$10 million turnover threshold) have access to the small business restructure relief, which allows eligible taxpayers to transfer assets between related entities, including companies, trusts and individuals, without any income tax or CGT consequences. While this rollover can be very beneficial to a small business, and can lead to substantial tax savings, the eligibility rules can be complex, so care is needed.

Super guarantee contributions

The rate for super contributions paid by employers on behalf of their employees under the super guarantee for the year ended 30 June 2019 is 9.5%.
If you’re an employer, you must make super guarantee contributions for your employees quarterly, within 28 days after the end of each quarter (September, December, March and June).

Tip: Although the June 2019 quarter super guarantee contribution doesn’t have to be paid until 28 July 2018, it’s worth considering an early payment – you can only claim deductions on this year’s return for contributions that employees’ super funds receive by 30 June 2019.

Single touch payroll

From 1 July 2018, employers with 20 or more employees will have to run their payroll and pay their employees through accounting and payroll software that is Single touch payroll (STP) ready. This is a major reporting change, as employers will report payments such as salaries and wages and allowances, PAYG withholding and super information to the ATO directly from their payroll solution at the same time employees are paid.
From 1 July 2019, this system will extend to all employers.

TIP: STP reporting also means changes for employees, who will see year-to-date tax and super information in myGov. Employers no longer have to give employees payment summaries (group certificates) for information reported through STP, because this information will appear on an employee’s employment income statement in myGov at the end of the financial year.

Beware of ATO impersonation scams at tax time

The ATO warns taxpayers to be alert to malicious scammers who are using increasingly sophisticated methods and technology to impersonate the ATO. A new tactic on the rise is “spoofing”, where scammers mimic a legitimate ATO phone number caller ID to call or send SMS messages, or mimic a legitimate email domain to send emails.
SMSs and emails may ask you to click on a link and provide your personal details to get a “refund” from the ATO. Scammers may also say you need to pay a (fake) tax debt. The ATO warns that these scammers may intend to steal not only your money, but also your identity by using your personal information.

TIP: If you’re not sure whether a communication is really from the ATO, don’t respond, don’t click any links and don’t open any attachments. Call the ATO’s scam hotline on 1800 008 540 to check its legitimacy.

Client Alert – June 2019

Requirement registered to lodge 2019 tax and other returns

The Notice of Requirement to Lodge a Return for Income Year Ended 30 June 2019 has been registered. This covers income tax returns and other lodgments for franking account returns, including special rules for late balancing corporate tax entities that elect to use 30 June as a basis for determining their franking deficit tax liability; venture capital deficit tax returns; ancillary fund returns; trustees of SMSFs; and member information statements by superannuation providers.

The Notice also covers use of approved forms for lodgment, lodgment deferrals, lodgment exemptions, and penalties for non-lodgment.

The Notice of Requirement for Parents with a Child Support Assessment to Lodge for the Income Year Ended 30 June 2019 has also been registered.

Payment summaries and STP this tax time – taxpayers may need a myGov account

While it is being reported that many businesses are not ready for Single Touch Payroll (STP), one report suggests that 70% of small and medium-sized entities (SMEs) are not ready, the employees of businesses that are operating STP face some changes.

As a result of the introduction of STP, taxpayers may need a myGov account in order to get the payment summary details they need to complete their 2019 tax returns. How taxpayers receive their payment summary or income statement from their employer depends on how their employer reports their income, tax and super information to the ATO.

Employers need to let employees know if they won’t be giving them a payment summary this year.

Employees with more than one employer may receive both a payment summary and an income statement. In that situation, employees will need to check that income from their payment summaries is included in their tax return.

TIP

This major change for 2019 will see many taxpayers needing to set up a myGov account and link it to the ATO. This is not necessarily a straightforward process. If taxpayers have a myGov account already linked to other services such as Centrelink or Medicare, adding the ATO can be problematic. For example, the name on each account must match exactly – the ATO is likely to have a taxpayer’s full name whereas a Centrelink account may only have first and last name. This may prevent the ATO from being added to a taxpayer’s myGov account. The situation can be rectified but may require a trip to a Centrelink office.

STP exemptions and deferrals – ATO reminders

With reported unpreparedness for Single Touch Payroll (STP), mainly among small businesses, and with employers having less than 19 employees needing to report their employees’ tax and super information through STP from 1 July 2019, the ATO has reminded businesses about the STP exemptions and deferrals that are available.

There are exemptions for reporting through STP for a particular financial year, for certain payments, or for certain employees.

TIP

Where there are extenuating circumstances that impact an employer’s ability to regularly report on or before pay day (eg regular intermittent internet connectivity issues that result in the ATO receiving its report a couple of days after pay day), they can apply for a recurring deferral.

Ombudsman calls on ATO to cease small business recovery action where tax disputes are before AAT

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) has issued a report into the ATO’s enforcement of debt recovery. In a press release, the ASBFEO called for the ATO to immediately cease debt recovery action where tax disputes were before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

The report contains three key conclusions and seven recommendations. The ASBFEO also reminds small business taxpayers in dispute with the ATO of its Small Business Concierge Service, which started on 1 March 2019. This service provides legal assistance for AAT appeals for a limited cost.

The ATO issued a press release outlining its response to the report stating its long standing policy on debt recovery for cases in dispute at the AAT is to only pursue disputed debt in “exceptional circumstances” and that there are only ”very rare cases” (eg in 2017-18, it took garnishee action against small business in just four cases).

The ATO further stated that it will give consideration to the report’s recommendations while it awaits the Australian National Audit Office’s review of how the ATO manages tax debts for small business.

Cryptocurrency: record keeping requirements and data matching program

The Commissioner has published a gazette notice setting out the record keeping requirements for cryptocurrency owners and traders. The ATO advises that it is undertaking a data matching program for 2014-15 to 2019-20 for such entities.

The data obtained from cryptocurrency designated service providers (DSPs) is being (and will continue to be) used to identify the buyers and sellers of crypto-assets and quantify the related transactions. Data will be matched against ATO records to identify individuals who may not be meeting their registration, reporting, lodgment and/or payment obligations.

The ATO will be working with other regulators, in particular, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to ensure that tax law requirements align with a whole of system approach.

Super death benefit for de facto partner upheld

The Federal Court has dismissed an appeal against a decision to pay a superannuation death benefit pension to a fire fighter’s de facto partner instead of a lump sum to his estate in Howard v Batistich [2019] FCA 525.

The trustee of the Crown Employees Superannuation Fund determined that the respondent, Ms Batistich, was a “de facto partner” of the deceased at the date of his death under the Superannuation Act 1916 (NSW) and the Interpretation Act 1987 (NSW). Accordingly, the trustee determined that Ms Batistich was entitled to a fortnightly pension. If there was no spouse (including a de facto), a lump sum death benefit of $350,000 would have been payable to the deceased estate.

The deceased’s parents, as the administrators of his estate, complained to the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal that Ms Batistich did not meet the definition of de facto partner.

In dismissing the appeal, the Court said it was not satisfied that the SCT had misunderstood its task or failed to take into account all the circumstances of the relationship.

Protecting Your Super – how new law may affect SMSFs

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Protecting Your Superannuation Package) Act 2019 introduces a number of reforms to protect individual’s super savings from undue erosion by fees and unnecessary insurance. The ATO says it will now be able to proactively consolidate eligible unclaimed super money into eligible active super accounts, including SMSFs and small APRA funds, if an individual hasn’t requested a direct payment of this money or for it to be rolled over to a fund of their choice. Under the Protecting Your Super package, the ATO says SMSFs may receive a rollover of consolidated unclaimed super money for members.

ATO reminds SMEs about paying super for backpackers

The ATO has reminded businesses that employ backpackers that they may need to pay superannuation guarantee (SG) for them.

Backpackers on working holidays are considered temporary residents, and are entitled to superannuation guarantee if they are paid $450 or more before tax in a calendar month. Once they leave Australia, they can claim the super paid to them as a Departing Australia superannuation payment (DASP) providing all requirements are met.

TIP

Determine if backpackers on working holidays are eligible for super by using the ATO’s Super guarantee eligibility decision tool.

Single Touch Payroll Readiness

 

Client Alert – May 2019

ATO to ramp up ABN investigations and cancellations

As part of the ATO’s work to ensure the integrity of the Australian Business Register, it investigates the business activities of Australian Business Number (ABN) holders when it seems their ABN is no longer being used – for example, if business income isn’t being reported, or where the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) deregisters a company. The ATO may then cancel the ABN where there’s sufficient evidence the business is inactive. An ABN will also be cancelled when the taxpayer themselves advises they’ve stopped their business activities, or when they lodge their final tax return.

The ATO is ramping up its focus on cancelling inactive ABNs over the coming months, saying it’s refined its models to help identify businesses that are no longer active or whose owners have forgotten to cancel their ABN when they ceased business.

If an ABN is cancelled and the holder is still running a business, or an ABN application is refused, the taxpayer can object to the decision within 60 days.

TIP: If your ABN seems to be inactive, the ATO may ask you for evidence that you’re setting up or still running a business. We can help you with putting together this information, or with applying to have your ABN reinstated if it’s incorrectly cancelled.

Fringe benefits tax: rates, thresholds and ATO focus for 2019–2020

The ATO has issued its annual rulings about rates and thresholds that apply for the new FBT year (1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020), including the benchmark interest rate, the cents-per-kilometre amounts for calculating the value of a fringe benefit from private use of a motor vehicle other than a car, the threshold for the FBT record-keeping exemption, state-by-state amounts for valuing housing benefits, and the the weekly amounts the ATO considers reasonable for food and drink expenses incurred by employees who receiving a living-away-from-home allowance.

Tip: We can help you reduce your business’s FBT liability with useful strategies like providing employee benefits that are tax-deductible or FBT-exempt, using employee contributions or providing cash bonuses.

The ATO will focus on monitoring a range of FBT issues this year, including looking for employers who fail to report motor vehicle fringe benefits or incorrectly apply exemptions for vehicles; identifying mismatches between amounts on FBT returns and the income amounts on the employer’s tax return; looking for incorrect classifications of entertainment expenses; monitoring issues around car parking fringe benefits; and following up with taxpayers who don’t lodge FBT returns on time.

Guidance on when a company carries on a business

With reduced company tax rates available for some businesses in recent years, and changes in eligibility for capital gains tax (CGT) small business concessions, it’s become increasingly important for us to understand how the law and the ATO deal with concepts like “small business entity” and “carrying on a business”.

New guidance is now available on the types of factors the ATO considers when deciding whether a company “carries on a business in a general sense”, and how the scope and nature of the business come into play when the ATO determines the tax consequences of a company’s activities and transactions.

The guidance emphasises that it’s not possible to definitively state whether a company is carrying on a business, but it’s a question of fact that the ATO must decide on a case-by-case basis by looking at a range of indicators across the company’s features and activities. One key indicator is whether the company’s activities have the purpose of making a profit. The ATO accepts that where a profit-making purpose exists, it’s likely the other indicators will support a conclusion that the company carries on a business.

Super guarantee amnesty not yet law, but $100 million recovered

The ATO has recovered around $100 million in unpaid superannuation from employers since the 12-month super guarantee amnesty was proposed on 24 May 2018, even though the law hasn’t yet changed to put the amnesty in place.

At a Senate Economics Legislation Committee hearing in April, ATO Deputy Commissioner, Superannuation Mr James O’Halloran estimated that there has been a 10–15% increase in the number of employers coming forward to self-report unpaid super guarantee amounts in response to the announcement of the amnesty, despite it not yet being law. Mr O’Halloran said 19,000 employers have come forward within the normal super guarantee charge process for reporting unpaid contributions.

The Bill to implement the amnesty lapsed on 11 April when the Federal Election was called, so the ATO must keep applying the existing law. This means employers who make a voluntary disclosure of historical non-compliance won’t be entitled to the proposed concessional treatment, unless and until the amnesty is legislated by a future Parliament. The ATO has said if this eventually happens, it will apply the new law retrospectively to voluntary disclosures made up until 23 May 2019.

Tip: Employers who’ve missed a super payment or haven’t paid employees’ super on time must lodge a superannuation guarantee charge statement and, while the current law applies, pay all of the relevant amounts, including interest and administration fees.

Instant asset write-off with Budget changes now law

Changes to the instant asset write-off rules have now become law, including measures recently announced in the government’s Federal Budget.

The write-off has been extended to medium sized businesses (with aggregated annual turnover of $10 million or more, but less than $50 million), where it previously only applied to small business entities (with aggregated annual turnover of less than $10 million).

The second important change is that the instant asset write-off threshold increases to $30,000, where it was previously $25,000.

The changes apply from 2 April 2019 to 30 June 2020, and the write-off works on a per-asset basis, so eligible businesses can instantly write off multiple assets.

Rental deductions: ATO audits to double

The ATO has warned that it will increase its scrutiny of rental-related deductions this year. It says some people are still claiming travel to residential rental properties, but from 1 July 2017 taxpayers (aside from excluded entities) have no longer been permitted to claim tax deductions for travel expenses related to inspecting, maintaining or collecting rent for a residential rental property.

The ATO expects to more than double the number of its in-depth audits this year to 4,500, with a specific focus on over-claimed interest, capital works claimed as repairs, incorrect apportionment of expenses for holiday homes let out to others and omitted income from accommodation sharing.

Shortfall penalties reduced under new ATO initiative

The ATO has heard from community and tax professionals that people should have a chance to correct their mistakes when they get their tax wrong, provided there isn’t dishonest intent behind their errors, and is taking a new approach that seems to be having positive effects.

Under this new approach, if the ATO finds an error on a tax return or an activity statement during an audit or review, the taxpayer may be eligible for automatic penalty relief. This means the ATO will show the taxpayer where they made the error, won’t apply a penalty and will educate the taxpayer on getting it right in future.

In the first six months of the initiative, the ATO has assisted thousands of people and small businesses and individuals with errors on their tax returns or activity statements, and shortfall penalties for “failure to take reasonable care” and “not having a reasonably arguable position” have been reduced by 89.2% for individuals and 83.8% for small businesses.

How the ATO identifies wealthy individuals and their businesses

The ATO uses sophisticated data matching and analytic models, drawing on tax returns and referrals from other government agencies or the community, to identify wealthy and high wealth individuals and link them to associated businesses. Given the importance of this group to community confidence in the tax and super systems, the ATO says it has an ongoing focus on engaging with such taxpayers, letting them know what information the ATO holds about them, and offering assistance and services to help “get things right up front”. This early engagement is part of the ATO’s commitment to improving the client experience, increasing transparency and reducing red tape.

Client Alert – April 2019

Things to get right this FBT season

Fringe benefits tax (FBT) returns will soon be due and as always, it’s vital to make sure you use the latest rates and rely on the correct information.

FBT rates have recently been updated for the year, and a range of other factors may be need to be considered, including using the best car parking valuations, correctly identifying which travel expenses are deductible, considering how FBT applies to your arrangements with employees and independent contractors, and making sure you keep within the entertainment benefits rules. Another issue to keep an eye on is employees’ private use of work vehicles.

Tip: We can provide advice on these matters and more, and help get your FBT return lodged on time.

Tax concierge service available to small businesses

The Small Business Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, has announced that taxpayers wanting an external review of an adverse tax decision by the ATO through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) can now contact the office of the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman for assistance.

From 1 March 2019, small business owners without legal representation can access an hour with an experienced small business tax lawyer at a significantly reduced cost, subsidised by the office of the Ombudsman. Lawyers can review relevant documents and provide advice on the viability of an appeal. And should an appeal progress, the Ombudsman’s case managers will help the small business owner through the process.

Small business taxation decisions will be finalised within 28 days from the date of a hearing at the AAT.

ATO small business benchmarks updated

The ATO has released its latest small business benchmarks, providing over 100 different industries with average cost of sales and average total expenses. Businesses can see clearly what the relevant benchmarks are for their industry. The benchmark data is drawn from over 1.5 million small businesses around Australia.

Business owners can use the benchmarks to gauge the strength of their business and keep an eye on their competition.

The benchmarks also help the ATO identify small businesses that may be doing the wrong thing and not properly reporting some or all of their income.

Tip: Using the business performance check tool in the ATO app is the quickest and easiest way to work out how your small business compares to the benchmarks. Search for “Australian Taxation Office” on the App Store or Google Play.

Early recovery of small business tax debts: ATO to be scrutinised

Minister for Small and Family Business Michaelia Cash has asked Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell to look into the ATO’s practices in pursuing early recovery of tax debts from small businesses who are in dispute with the ATO.

The Minister said she was determined to make sure the ATO treats small businesses fairly.

“Early recovery can be devastating for a small business, and is particularly damaging when the small business disputes the recovery and then goes on to win the case,” she said.

The Ombudsman will look into the extent of the problem to gather a holistic picture of how current systems impact people running small businesses. The scrutiny will focus on historical cases and will not include live cases currently before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Compensation for defective ATO administration: review announced

Mr Robert Cornall, a former Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department, will lead a review of the Scheme for the Compensation for Detriment Caused by Defective Administration (the CDDA Scheme).

The CDDA Scheme allows Commonwealth Government agencies (including the ATO) to pay discretionary compensation when a person or an organisation suffers as a result of defective administration but there is no legal requirement to make a payment.

Mr Cornall’s review will consider the consistency of the ATO’s CDDA Scheme processes for small businesses, the timeliness of decisions, how effectively findings are communicated, how independent decision-making can be best achieved in future, and the adequacy of compensation for small businesses that have suffered an economic and/or personal loss as a consequence of the ATO’s actions.

Single Touch Payroll: low-cost solutions now available

Single Touch Payroll (STP) is a payday reporting arrangement where employers need to send tax and superannuation information to the ATO from their payroll or accounting software each time they pay their employees. STP reporting started gradually from 1 July 2018, and it will be required for all small employers (with fewer than 20 employees) from 1 July 2019.

A range of no-cost and low-cost STP solutions are now coming into the market. The solutions are required to be affordable (costing less than $10 per month), take only minutes to complete each pay period and not require the employer to maintain the software. They will best suit micro employers (with one to four employees) who need to report through STP but do not currently have payroll software.

Super guarantee amnesty not yet law: ATO will apply existing law

The ATO reminds businesses to be aware that under the current law, if they have missed a superannuation payment or haven’t paid employees’ super on time, they are required to lodge a superannuation guarantee (SG) charge statement.

Until law giving effect to the proposed superannuation guarantee amnesty is enacted, the ATO says it will continue to apply the existing law, including applying the mandatory administration component ($20 per employee per period) to SG charge statements lodged by employers.

The Bill containing the amnesty was still before the Senate when Parliament most recently concluded on 22 February 2019.

If it is eventually passed into law, the proposed amnesty will be a one-off opportunity for employers to self-correct their past SG non-compliance without penalty. It is intended to be available for 12 months from 24 May 2018 to 23 May 2019. The ATO will apply the new law (if it is passed) retrospectively to eligible voluntary disclosures made during this period.

ATO finds 90% error rate in sample of rental property claims

ATO Commissioner Chris Jordan has advised that as part of the ATO’s broad random enquiry program, its auditors have recently completed over 300 audits on rental property tax deduction claims and “found errors in almost nine out of 10 returns reviewed”.

The ATO is seeing incorrect interest claims for entire investment loans where the loan has been refinanced for private purposes, incorrect classification of capital works as repairs and maintenance, and taxpayers not apportioning deductions for holiday homes when they are not genuinely available for rent.

The ATO’s next area of focus will be rental income and related deductions, to help taxpayers report the right information, claim only the amounts they are entitled to, and “close the tax gap”.

Property used for storage an active asset for small business CGT concession purposes

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has decided that a property a small business owner used to store materials, tools and other equipment was an active asset for the purpose of the small business capital gains tax (CGT) concessions.

The taxpayer carried on a business of building, bricklaying and paving through a family trust. He owned a block of land used to store work tools, equipment and materials, and to park work vehicles and trailers. There was no business signage on the property.

After the property was sold in October 2016, the ATO issued a private ruling that the taxpayer was not entitled to apply the small business CGT concessions to the capital gain because the property was not an “active business asset”.

However, the AAT concluded that the business use of the land was far from minimal, and more than incidental to carrying on the business. This meant the CGT concessions could be applied.

Federal Budget |  April 2019

PERSONAL TAXATION

Personal tax cuts: low–mid tax offset increase now; more rate changes from 2022

In the 2019–2020 Federal Budget, the Coalition Government announced its intention to provide further reductions in tax through the non-refundable low and middle income tax offset (LMITO).

Under the changes, the maximum reduction in an eligible individual’s tax from the LMITO will increase from $530 to $1,080 per year. The base amount will increase from $200 to $255 per year for 2018–2019, 2019–2020, 2020–2021 and 2021–2022 income years. In summary:

  • The LMITO will now provide a tax reduction of up to $255 for taxpayers with a taxable income of $37,000 or less.
  • Between taxable incomes of $37,000 and $48,000, the value of the offset will increase by 7.5 cents per dollar to the maximum offset of $1,080.
  • Taxpayers with taxable incomes between $48,000 and $90,000 will be eligible for the maximum offset of $1,080.
  • From taxable incomes of $90,000 to $126,000 the offset will phase out at a rate of 3 cents per dollar.

Individuals will receive the LMITO on assessment after lodging their tax returns for 2018–2019, 2019–2020, 2020–2021 and 2021–2022. This is designed to ensure that taxpayers receive a benefit when lodging returns from 1 July 2019.

Rate and threshold changes from 2022 and beyond

From 1 July 2022, the Government proposes to increase the top threshold of the 19% personal income tax bracket from $41,000 to $45,000.

Also from 1 July 2022, the Government proposes to increase the low income tax offset (LITO) from $645 to $700. The increased LITO will be withdrawn at a rate of 5 cents per dollar between taxable incomes of $37,500 and $45,000 (instead of at 6.5 cents per dollar between taxable incomes of $37,000 and $41,000 as previously legislated). LITO will then be withdrawn at a rate of 1.5 cents per dollar between taxable incomes of $45,000 and $66,667.

Together, the increased top threshold of the 19% personal income tax bracket and the changes to LITO would lock in the tax reduction provided by LMITO, when LMITO is removed.

From 2024–2025, the Government intends to reduce the 32.5% marginal tax rate to 30%. This will more closely align the middle personal income tax bracket with corporate tax rates. In 2024–2025 an entire tax bracket – the 37% tax bracket – will be abolished under the Government’s already-legislated plan. With these changes, by 2024–2025 around 94% of Australian taxpayers are projected to face a marginal tax rate of 30% or less.

Therefore, under the changes announced in the Budget, from 2024–2025 there would only be three personal income tax rates: 19%, 30% and 45%. From 1 July 2024, taxpayers earning between $45,000 and $200,000 will face a marginal tax rate of 30%.

The Government says these changes will maintain a progressive tax system. It is projected that in 2024–2025 around 60% of all personal income tax will be paid by the highest earning 20% of taxpayers – which is broadly similar to that cohort’s share if 2017–2018 rates and thresholds were left unchanged. The share of personal income tax paid also remains similar for the top 1%, 5% and 10% of taxpayers.

Under its Budget announcements, the Government says an individual with taxable income of $200,000 may be earning 4.4 times more income than an individual with taxable income of $45,000, but in 2024–2025 the higher-income person will pay around 10 times more tax.

Medicare levy low-income thresholds for 2018–2019

For the 2018–2019 income year, the Medicare levy low-income threshold for singles will be increased to $22,398 (up from $21,980 for 2017–2018). For couples with no children, the family income threshold will be increased to $37,794 (up from $37,089 for 2017–2018). The additional amount of threshold for each dependent child or student will be increased to $3,471 (up from $3,406).

For single seniors and pensioners eligible for the seniors and pensioners tax offset (SAPTO), the Medicare levy low-income threshold will be increased to $35,418 (up from $34,758 for 2017–2018). The family threshold for seniors and pensioners will be increased to $49,304 (up from $48,385), plus $3,471 for each dependent child or student.

The increased thresholds will apply to the 2018–2019 and later income years. Note that legislation is required to amend the thresholds, so a Bill will be introduced shortly.

Social security income automatic reporting via Single Touch Payroll

The Government intends to automate the reporting of individuals’ employment income for social security purposes through Single Touch Payroll (STP).

From 1 July 2020, income support recipients who are employed will report income they receive during the fortnight, rather than calculating and reporting their earnings. Each fortnight, income data received through an expansion of STP data-sharing arrangements will also be shared with the Department of Human Services, for recipients with employers utilising STP.

This measure will assist income support recipients by greatly reducing the likelihood of them receiving an overpayment of income support payments (and subsequently being required to repay it).

The measure is expected to save $2.1 billion over five years from 2018–2019. The Government says the efficiencies from this measure will be derived through more accurate reporting of incomes. This measure will not change income support eligibility criteria or maximum payment rates. The resulting efficiencies will be redirected by the Government to repair the Budget and fund policy priorities.

STP expansion

The Government will provide $82.4 million over four years from 2019–2020 to the ATO and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to support the expansion of the data collected through STP by the ATO and the use of this data by Commonwealth agencies.

STP data will be expanded to include more information about gross pay amounts and other details. These changes will reduce the compliance burden for employers and individuals reporting information to multiple Government agencies.

BUSINESS TAXATION

Instant asset write-off extended to more taxpayers; threshold increased

The Budget contains important changes to the instant asset write-off rules. These changes are in addition to the measures contained in a Bill currently before Parliament.

There are two key changes.

First, the write-off has been extended to medium sized businesses, where it previously only applied to small business entities.

The second important change is that the instant asset write-off threshold is to increase from $25,000 to $30,000. The threshold applies on a per-asset basis, so eligible businesses can instantly write off multiple assets.

The threshold increase will apply from 2 April 2019 to 30 June 2020.

Small businesses

Small business entities (i.e. those with aggregated annual turnover of less than $10 million) will be able to immediately deduct purchases of eligible assets costing less than $30,000 and first used, or installed ready for use, from 2 April 2019 to 30 June 2020.

Small businesses can continue to place assets which cannot be immediately deducted into the small business simplified depreciation pool and depreciate those assets at 15% in the first income year and 30% each income year thereafter. The pool balance can also be immediately deducted if it is less than the applicable instant asset write-off threshold at the end of the income year (including existing pools). The current “lock out” laws for the simplified depreciation rules (which prevent small businesses from re-entering the simplified depreciation regime for five years if they opt out) will continue to be suspended until 30 June 2020.

Medium sized businesses

Medium sized businesses (i.e. those with aggregated annual turnover of $10 million or more, but less than $50 million) will also be able to immediately deduct purchases of eligible assets costing less than $30,000 and first used, or installed ready for use, from 2 April 2019 to 30 June 2020.

The asset purchase date is critical. The concession will only apply to assets acquired after 2 April 2019 by medium sized businesses (as they have previously not had access to the instant asset write-off) up to 30 June 2020.

Arrangements before 2 April 2019

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Increasing the Instant Asset Write-Off for Small Business Entities) Bill 2019 was introduced in Parliament on 13 February 2019. It proposes to amend the tax law to increase the threshold below which amounts can be immediately deducted under these rules from $20,000 to $25,000 from 29 January 2019 until 30 June 2020, and extend by 12 months to 30 June 2020 the period during which small business entities can access expanded accelerated depreciation rules (instant asset write-off). The Bill is still before the House of Representatives.

The changes in the Bill interact with the Budget changes. This means that, when legislated, small businesses will be able to immediately deduct purchases of eligible assets costing less than $25,000 and first used or installed ready for use over the period from 29 January 2019 until 2 April 2019. The changes outlined above will take affect from then (with access extended to medium sized businesses).

Date of effect

The changes announced in the Budget will apply from 2 April 2019 to 30 June 2020.

Accordingly, the threshold is due to revert to $1,000 on 1 July 2020. Although it is not spelt out in the Budget papers, a Treasury official confirmed to Thomson Reuters on Budget night that from that time the concession will only be available to small business entities (i.e. the instant asset write-off will not be available to medium sized businesses).

REGULATION, COMPLIANCE AND INTEGRITY

Tax integrity focus on larger businesses’ unpaid tax and super

The Government will provide ATO funding of $42.1 million over four years to increase activities to recover unpaid tax and superannuation liabilities. These activities will focus on larger businesses and high wealth individuals to ensure on-time payment of their tax and superannuation liabilities. However, the measure will not extend to small businesses.

Tax Avoidance Taskforce on Large Corporates: more funding

The Government will also provide the ATO with $1 billion in funding over four years from 2019–2020 to extend the operation of the Tax Avoidance Taskforce and to expand the Taskforce’s programs and market coverage.

The Taskforce undertakes compliance activities targeting multinationals, large public and private groups, trusts and high wealth individuals. This measure is intended to allow the Taskforce to expand these activities, including increasing its scrutiny of specialist tax advisors and intermediaries that promote tax avoidance schemes and strategies.

The Government has also provided $24.2 million to Treasury in 2018–2019 to conduct a communications campaign focused on improving the integrity of the Australian tax system.

Black Economy Taskforce: strengthening the ABN rules

The Government intends to strengthen the Australian Business Number (ABN) system by imposing new compliance obligations for ABN holders to retain their ABN.

Currently, ABN holders can retain their ABN regardless of whether they are meeting their income tax return lodgement obligation or the obligation to update their ABN details.

From 1 July 2021, ABN holders with an income tax return obligation will be required to lodge their income tax return and from 1 July 2022 confirm the accuracy of their details on the Australian Business Register annually.

These new requirements will make ABN holders more accountable for meeting their government obligations, while minimising the regulatory impact on businesses complying with the law.

This measure stems from the 2018–2019 Budget measure Black Economy Taskforce: consultation on new regulatory framework for ABNs.

Funding for Government response to Banking Royal Commission

The Government will provide $606.7 million over five years from 2018–2019 to facilitate its response to the Hayne Banking Royal Commission.

On 4 February 2019, the Government proposed measures to take action on all 76 of the Royal Commission’s final report recommendations, including:

  • designing and implementing an industry-funded compensation scheme of last resort for consumers and small business ($2.6 million over two years from 2019–2020);
  • providing the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) with additional funding to help establish a historical redress scheme to consider eligible financial complaints dating back to 1 January 2008 ($2.8 million in 2018–2019);
  • paying compensation owed to consumers and small businesses from legacy unpaid external dispute resolution determinations ($30.7 million in 2019–2020);
  • resourcing ASIC to implement its new enforcement strategy and expand its capabilities and roles in accordance with the recommendations of the Royal Commission ($404.8 million over four years from 2019–2020);
  • resourcing APRA to strengthen its supervisory and enforcement activities, including with respect to governance, culture and remuneration ($145 million over four years from 2019–2020);
  • establishing an independent financial regulator oversight authority, to assess and report on the effectiveness of ASIC and APRA in discharging their functions and meeting their statutory objectives ($7.7 million over three years from 2020–2021);
  • undertaking a capability review of APRA which will examine its effectiveness and efficiency in delivering its statutory mandate, as well as its capability to respond to the Royal Commission ($1 million in 2018–2019);
  • establishing a Financial Services Reform Implementation Taskforce within the Treasury to implement the Government’s response to the Royal Commission, and coordinate reform efforts with APRA, ASIC and other agencies through an implementation steering committee ($11.2 million in 2019–2020); and
  • providing the Office of Parliamentary Counsel with additional funding for the volume of legislative drafting that will be required to implement the Government’s response ($0.9 million in 2019–2020).

The Government said these costs will be partially offset by revenue received through ASIC’s industry funding model and increases in the APRA Financial Institutions Supervisory Levies.

ATO analytics: increased funding

The Government will also provide funding designed to increase the ATO’s analytical capabilities.

First, the Government will provide $70 million over two years from 2018–2019 to undertake preparatory work required for the ATO to migrate from its existing data centre provider to an “alternative data centre facility”. The funding will also be used to prepare a second-pass business case that will identify the full cost of activities required to complete the data centre migration project.

The Government will also provide $6.9 million over four years from 2019–2020 to support additional analytical capabilities within the Treasury and other agencies.

SUPERANNUATION

Super contributions work test exemption extended; spouse contributions age limit increased

The Budget confirmed the Treasurer’s announcement on 1 April 2019 that individuals aged 65 and 66 will be able to make voluntary superannuation contributions from 1 July 2020 (both concessional and non-concessional) without needing to meet the contributions work test. The age limit for making spouse contributions will also be increased from 69 to 74.

Super contributions work test

Currently, individuals aged 65–74 must work at least 40 hours in any 30-day period in the financial year in which the contributions are made (the “work test”) in order to make voluntary personal contributions.

The proposed extension of the work test exemption means that individuals aged 65 or 66 who don’t meet the work test – because they may only work one day a week or volunteer – will be able to make voluntary contributions to superannuation, giving them greater flexibility as they near retirement. Around 55,000 people aged 65 and 66 are expected to benefit from this reform in 2020–2021.

The Treasurer said the proposed change will align the work test with the eligibility for the Age Pension, which is scheduled to reach age 67 from 1 July 2023.

The tax law will also be amended to extend access to the bring-forward arrangements for non-concessional contributions to those aged 65 and 66. The bring-forward rules currently allows individuals aged less than 65 years to make three years’ worth of non-concessional contributions (which are generally capped at $100,000 a year) in a single year. This will be extended to those aged 65 and 66. Otherwise, the existing annual caps for concessional contributions and non-concessional contributions ($25,000 and $100,000 respectively) will continue to apply.

Spouse contributions age limit increase

The age limit for making spouse contributions will be increased from 69 to 74. Currently, those aged 70 and over cannot receive contributions made by another person on their behalf.

The proposed increased age limit for spouse contributions may enable more taxpayers to obtain a tax offset for spouse contributions from 1 July 2020. A tax offset is currently available up to $540 for a resident taxpayer in respect of eligible contributions made on behalf of their spouse. The spouse’s assessable income, reportable fringe benefits and reportable employer superannuation contributions must be less than $37,000 in total to obtain the maximum tax offset of $540, and less than $40,000 to obtain a partial tax offset. Of course, if the spouse in respect of whom the contribution is made is aged 67–74 from 1 July 2020, the spouse may still need to satisfy the requisite work test in order for the super fund to accept the contribution.

Exempt current pension income calculation to be simplified for super funds

Superannuation fund trustees with interests in both the accumulation and retirement phases during an income year will be allowed to choose their preferred method of calculating exempt current pension income (ECPI).

The Government will also remove a redundant requirement for superannuation funds to obtain an actuarial certificate when calculating ECPI using the proportionate method, where all members of the fund are fully in the retirement phase for all of the income year.

Background

There are two methods to work out the ECPI for a complying superannuation fund:

  • segregated method – the segregation of specific assets (segregated current pension assets) which are set aside to meet current pension liabilities; or
  • proportionate method – a proportion of assessable income attributable to current pension liabilities is exempt.

Since 1 July 2017, SMSFs and small APRA funds (SAFs) are prevented from using the segregated method to determine their ECPI if there are any fund members in retirement phase with a total superannuation balance that exceeds $1.6 million on 30 June of the previous income year. Such SMSFs and SAFs with “disregarded small fund assets” are instead required to use the proportionate method. This is currently the case even if the fund’s only member interests are retirement phase superannuation income streams whereby an actuarial certificate will provide a 100% tax exemption for the income in any event.

Where a SMSF is 100% in pension phase for all or part of an income year, the ATO considers that all of the fund’s assets are “segregated current pension assets” and the fund cannot choose to use the alternative proportionate method. The ATO has previously acknowledged that this legal view is at odds with an industry practice whereby some SMSFs have used the proportionate method even if the fund was solely in pension phase. The ATO therefore granted an administrative concession whereby SMSF trustees did not face compliance action for 2016–2017 and prior years for ECPI calculations based on an industry practice. However, for 2017–2018 and later years, the ATO has expected funds that are 100% in pension phase to only use the segregated method.

Super insurance opt-in rule for low balances: delayed start date confirmed

The Government has confirmed that it will delay the start date to 1 October 2019 for ensuring insurance within superannuation is only offered on an opt-in basis for accounts with balances of less than $6,000 and new accounts belonging to members under age 25.

That delayed start day of 1 October 2019 was previously announced as part of the Treasury Laws Amendment (Putting Members’ Interests First) Bill 2019, which was introduced in the House of Reps on 20 February 2019. That Bill (currently before Parliament) proposes to amend the super law to
prevent insurance within superannuation from being provided on an opt-out basis for account balances less than $6,000 and members under 25 years old (who begin to hold a new product on or after 1 October 2019).

Members will still be able to obtain insurance cover within their superannuation by electing to do so (i.e. opting in). The changes seek to prevent the erosion of super savings through inappropriate insurance premiums and duplicate cover.

The Putting Members’ Interests First Bill essentially re-introduced the Government’s policy proposal that was previously contained in the Treasury Laws Amendment (Protecting Your Superannuation Package) Bill 2018. That Bill received Royal Assent on 12 March 2019, after being passed with Greens’ amendments that removed aspects of the insurance opt-in rule for account balances less than $6,000 and members under 25. The Government agreed to those amendments in the Senate to ensure the prompt passage of the other measures in that Bill. As enacted, that Bill requires a trustee to stop providing insurance on an opt-out basis from 1 July 2019 to a member who has had a product that has been inactive for 16 months or more, unless the member has directed the trustee to continue providing insurance.

 

Client Alert – March 2019

Single Touch Payroll reporting for small businesses: get ready!

Legislation has recently passed to bring in Single Touch Payroll (STP) reporting for all small employers (with fewer than 20 employees) from 1 July 2019.

STP is a payday reporting arrangement where employers need to send tax and superannuation information to the ATO from their payroll or accounting software each time they pay their employees. For large employers (with 20 or more employees), STP reporting started gradually from 1 July 2018, and until now it has been optional for small employers.

ATO Commissioner Chris Gordon has said he wants to “reassure small business and give my personal guarantee that our approach to extending Single Touch Payroll will be flexible, reasonable and pragmatic”.

The basics of STP reporting

  • With STP reporting, employers no longer need to provide payment summaries to employees for payments reported through STP. Payments not reported through STP, like employee share scheme (ESS) amounts, still need to be reported on a payment summary.
  • Employers no longer need to provide payment summary annual report (PSARs) to the ATO at the end of the financial year for STP reported payments.
  • Employees can view their year-to-date payment information using the ATO’s online services, accessible through their myGov account, or can ask the ATO for a copy of this information.
  • Employers need to complete a finalisation declaration at the end of each financial year.
  • Employers need to report employees’ super liability information for the first time through STP. Super funds will then report to the ATO when the employer pays the super amounts to employees’ funds.
  • From 2020, the ATO will pre-fill some activity statement information for small to medium with holders with the information reported through STP. Employers that currently lodge an activity statement will continue to do so.

TIP: Contact us today for more information about STP for your business.

Super guarantee compliance:
time to take action

The government’s latest initiatives targeting non-compliance with superannuation guarantee (SG) obligations give businesses plenty to think about. With Single Touch Payroll on the way for small businesses, all employers should take time to review their arrangements for paying employees’ super.

The government is proposing a 12-month “amnesty” for employers to voluntarily disclose and correct any historical underpayments of SG contributions for any period up to 31 March 2018 without incurring penalties or the usual administration fee. This is provided the ATO hasn’t already commenced a compliance audit of that employer. Additionally, employers will be entitled to claim deductions for the catch-up payments they make under the amnesty.

Tip: It’s an important time for businesses to get their SG affairs in order. If you’re an employer with outstanding underpayments of SG contributions, we can assist with the process of making a voluntary disclosure to the ATO.

Proposed increase for small business instant asset write-off

Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently announced the government’s intention to increase the instant asset write-off already available for small businesses from $20,000 to $25,000. Mr Morrison also said that the instant write-off would be extended by another 12 months to 30 June 2020. These measures are expected to benefit more than three million eligible small businesses to access the expanded accelerated depreciation rules for assets costing less than $25,000.

Labor has previously proposed an “investment guarantee” giving all businesses an immediate 20% tax deduction from 1 July 2020 for any new eligible asset worth more than $20,000. This would be a permanent accelerated depreciation measure so that businesses could continue to take advantage of an immediate 20% tax deduction when investing in an eligible asset.

ATO warns about new scams
in 2019

The ATO is warning taxpayers to be alert for scammers impersonating the ATO, using a range of new ways to get taxpayers’ money and personal information.

While the ATO regularly contacts people by phone, email and SMS, there are some tell-tale signs that you’re being contacted by someone who isn’t with the ATO. The ATO will never:

  • send you an email or SMS asking you to click on a link to provide login, personal or financial information, or to download a file or open an attachment;
  • use aggressive or rude behaviour, or threaten you with arrest, jail or deportation;
  • request payment of a debt using iTunes or Google Play cards, pre-paid Visa cards, cryptocurrency or direct credit to a personal bank account; or
  • ask you to pay a fee in order to release a refund owed to you.

ATO refers overdue lodgements to external collection agencies

The ATO has recently started referring taxpayers with overdue lodgement obligations to an external collection agency to obtain lodgements on the ATO’s behalf. External collection agencies will focus on income tax and activity statement lodgements, and referral to an external collection agency doesn’t affect a taxpayer’s credit rating.

If your case is referred to a collection agency, the ATO will notify you in writing before phoning you or your authorised contact to negotiate lodgement of the overdue documents and request payment of any debt.

Tip: If your tax return or other ATO paperwork is overdue, don’t panic! We can help work out what you need to do next, and even make arrangements with the ATO on your behalf.

Government consultation on sharing economy reporting

The government has released a consultation paper seeking views on a possible reporting regime to provide information on Australians who receive income from sharing economy websites like Uber, Airtasker, Menulog and Deliveroo.

The ATO and other government agencies currently have limited information about the income of “gig workers” in the sharing economy, and the government’s Black Economy Taskforce recently recommended designing and implementing a compulsory reporting regime. Although there are a lot of issues still to consider, including costs and data privacy, a new regime could mean gig platforms, payment processors or even banks may soon need to report to the ATO and other agencies on gig workers’ income.

Extra 44,000 taxpayers face Div 293 superannuation tax

An extra 44,000 taxpayers have been hit with the additional 15% Division 293 tax for the first time on their superannuation contributions for 2017–2018. This is because the Div 293 income threshold was reduced to $250,000 for 2017–2018 (it was previously $300,000).

Individual taxpayers with income and super contributions above $250,000 are subject to an additional 15% Div 293 tax on their concessional contributions.

Taxpayers have the option of paying the Div 293 tax liability using their own money, or electing to release an amount from an existing super balance, which means completing a Div 293 election form.

Company losses “similar business test” Bill passes

Legislation originally introduced in March 2017 to supplement the “same business test” with a more relaxed “similar business test” has finally been passed. The test will be used to work out whether a former company’s tax losses and net capital losses from previous income years can be used as a tax deduction for a new business in a current income year. It also is relevant to whether a company joining a consolidated group can transfer its losses to the head company of the consolidated group.

Guests Accounting is expanding and we are looking for passionate, talented and creative people to join our team.

SENIOR ACCOUNTANT

The best and the brightest always have choices in the Accounting industry.

We are a unique boutique accounting practice with a great culture and have built a very strong reputation over the last 70+ years.  We are interested in hiring an Accountant who is looking to broaden their skill sets, gain valuable experiences and is motivated to assist driving our clients and business’s forward through innovative solutions. You will have exposure to a wide selection of accountancy services including large complex group structures, companies, Trust and High Net Wealth individuals and must have:-

Professional Attributes, Skills, Knowledge and Qualifications:-

  • High energy and enthusiasm, with a strong commitment to exceeding client expectations.
  • Flexibility and openness to work on a variety of assignments.
  • Ability to learn quickly and provide value-added service to our clients.
  • Strong communication & interpersonal skills, displaying the ability to connect and build relationships with clients & peers.
  • Confidence and ability to effectively demonstrate skills and knowledge
  • Team player with a desire to be an active, long-term participant in the growth of the Firm.
  • Demonstrated career progression and job stability
  • Anywhere from 6-10 year’s experience in a similar role
  • Experience in preparation of tax returns- companies, partnership, trusts and individuals
  • Experience with high net worth clients with multiple structures highly regarded
  • Qualifications in an accounting, CPA or CA qualification or equivalent
  • Strong technical and organisational Skills
  • Dedicated work Ethic
  • Proficient in Xero and Excel is an advantage

This is a brilliant opportunity to work in a great firm that supports their staff in a fantastic team environment.

Sound exactly like the sort of role for you? Apply now!

Please send your resume to admin@guests.com.au

 

ACCOUNTANT – BUSINESS SERVICES

Exciting opportunity for an ambitious Business Services Accountant to join a rapidly expanding accounting firm.

We are a boutique accounting practice with a great culture.  You will have exposure to a wide selection of accountancy services including large companies, SMSF’s and High Net Wealth individuals.

We require a motivated accountant to assist driving our clients and business forward by increasing productivity through innovative solutions and must have:-

  • Minimum of 3 years’ public practice in a similar role
  • Experience in preparation of tax returns- companies, high net worth individuals with multiple structures, SMSF, partnership, trusts, and individuals
  • Proficient in accounting software -Xero, Myob, Quickbooks
  • CPA/CA qualified or studying towards
  • Good technical knowledge
  • Have experience in running client meetings
  • Excellent attention to detail and organisational skills
  • Present well with excellent communication skills
  • A positive attitude and a great willingness to learn

For further information, please send your resume to admin@guests.com.au

Client Alert – February 2019

Tax clinic trial to reduce tax regulatory burden

To help reduce the regulatory burden on businesses, including the tax burden, the government has allocated $1 million to set up 10 tax clinics across Australia under a trial program based on the Curtin University Tax Clinic.

Each clinic will receive up to $100,000 for 12 months to support unrepresented individual or small business taxpayers by providing general taxation advice and helping them with their tax obligations and reporting requirements. The clinics, through identifying issues and building greater understanding of the tax system in operation, are also designed to improve the interactions that small businesses and individual taxpayers have with the ATO.

The clinics will cover advice, representation, education and advocacy, and will offer students training in the profession the opportunity to work with taxpayers, under the direct supervision of qualified tax professionals.

New “work test” exemption for recent retirees

The Federal Government has created a new opportunity for some recent retirees to make additional superannuation contributions. From 1 July 2019, a 12-month exemption from the “work test” for newly retired individuals aged between 65 and 74 years with a total superannuation balance below $300,000 means many older Australians will now have an extra year to boost their superannuation savings.

The work test requires that a person is “gainfully employed” for at least 40 hours in any 30-day consecutive period during the financial year in which the contributions are made.

The contributions rules are complex, but with the right planning and advice you can maximise your contributions into superannuation at the right time.

Tip: You should also consider other measures that may be available to you, such as “downsizer” contributions (certain contributions of proceeds from the sale of your home) and “catch-up” concessional contributions (accessing unused concessional cap space from prior years).

ATO issuing excess super contributions determinations

The ATO has begun issuing determinations to people who exceeded their concessional superannuation contributions cap for the 2017–2018 financial year. These determinations will also trigger amended income tax assessments and additional tax liabilities. Individuals can elect for the ATO to withdraw their excess contributions from their super fund to pay any additional personal tax liability.

Tip: Concessional contributions include all employer contributions, such as the 9.5% superannuation guarantee and salary sacrifice contributions, and personal contributions for which a deduction has been claimed.

You have 60 days from receiving an ECC determination to elect to release up to 85% of your excess concessional contributions from your super fund to pay your amended tax bill. Otherwise, you will need to fund the payment using non-superannuation money.

Reviewing the tax treatment of granny flats

The Federal Government has asked the Board of Taxation to undertake a review of the tax treatment of “granny flat” arrangements, recommending potential changes that take into account the interactions between tax laws and the social security rules. This request for review is in response to the 2017 Australian Law Reform Commission’s report Elder abuse: a national legal response.

Currently, homeowners may have to pay capital gains tax (CGT) where there is a formal agreement, for example, for an older parent to live with their child, either in the same dwelling or a separate granny flat. This may deter families from establishing a formal and legally enforceable agreement, leaving no protection of the rights of the older person if there is a breakdown in the informal agreement.

Resolving tax disputes: government to help small businesses

The Federal Government intends to make it easier, cheaper and quicker for small businesses to resolve tax disputes with the ATO. It will establish a Small Business Concierge Service within the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman’s office to provide support and advice about the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) process to small businesses before they make an application. The government will also create a dedicated Small Business Taxation Division within the AAT.

Small business tax offset: avoiding errors when claiming

The ATO has provided new tips for avoiding common errors when reporting net small business income and claiming the small business income tax offset for unincorporated small businesses. These include tips on reporting amounts in the right sections of your tax return, providing all of the relevant information, and using net income (not gross income) in your calculations.

The offset (up to $1,000) is worked out by the ATO on the proportion of income tax payable on an individual’s taxable income that is net small business income. For 2018–2019 and 2019–2020 the rate of offset is 8%.

Tip: Not sure if you’re making the most of the tax offset for your small business? We can help – contact us today to find out more.

Home office running expenses and electronic device expenses

The ATO has released an updated version of Practice Statement PS LA 2001/6, its guidance on calculating and substantiating home office running expenses and electronic device expenses that are claimed as tax deductions.

The basic principles have been amended to emphasise that you must actually incur the expenses you claim, and that there must be a real connection between your use of a home office or device and your income-producing work. On the other hand, the requirement that your income-producing use must be substantial – not merely incidental – has been removed.

There is new information on what type of evidence you need to be keep, and the cents per hour rate you can claim for eligible home office running expenses has increased from 45 cents to 52 cents per hour, effective from 1 July 2018.

Genuine redundancy payments: alignment with Age Pension age

The Federal Government has announced that it will amend the law to extend the concessional tax treatment for genuine redundancy payments and early retirement scheme payments to align with the Age Pension qualifying age.

Currently, an individual must be aged below 65 at the time their employment is terminated to qualify for a tax-free component on a genuine redundancy payment or an early retirement scheme payment.

Tip: Genuine redundancy payments are made when a job is abolished, and early retirement scheme payments are made when a person retires early, or resigns, as part of a scheme put in place by an employer.

Where an individual is under age 65 and meets the requirements of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997, they receive tax-free a base amount of $10,399 (for 2018–2019), plus $5,200 for each whole year of service.

The government says it will amend the law to align genuine redundancy and early retirement scheme payments with the Age Pension qualifying age from 1 July 2019.

GST on property developments involving government

The ATO says it is reviewing arrangements involving property developers acquiring land from government entities, specifically where the developer provides development works to the government entity as payment for the land.

The ATO is concerned that some developers and government entities are not reporting the value of their supplies under these arrangements in a consistent manner, resulting in GST being underpaid.

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Man and woman sorting out their accounting and taxation

Accounting & Taxation Services

We believe accounting services should be straight forward and stress-free. By providing cutting edge bookkeeping, accounting, taxation and financial solutions and using the right products for your record keeping, our team at Guests Accounting will work with you to understand your needs and help you achieve your goals, making it easier for you to manage your cash flow and meet your tax obligations.

While fiscal compliance is of the upmost importance, we at Guests Accounting also believe in offering management advice and support at all levels of our services. We are committed to offering the highest level of friendly and professional service and welcome the opportunity to work with you.

The areas we specialise in are as follows:

  • Accounting & Tax Consultancy Services
  • Personal & Business Tax Returns
  • Annual Reporting
  • Business and Tax Advisory
  • ATO correspondence Management
  • Self-Managed Super
  • Cloud accounting experts

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Business discussing their accounting

Business Accounting

Concentrate on running your business and let Guests Accounting take care of all your business accounting and taxation requirements.

Some of the services we can offer your business include:

  • Accounting and bookkeeping
  • Accounting software advice and assistance
  • Business & company tax returns
  • Taxation – GST & PAYG advice, BAS preparation
  • Guests Accounting can liaise with the ATO on your behalf
  • WorkCover: your obligations
  • Audit advice & audit insurance
  • Superannuation for you and your staff
  • Business ‘start up’ advice
  • Prepare Business plans and financial budgets and review regularly
  • Measure your performance against industry benchmarks
  • Trust & company structures
  • Business Insurance

Ask Us a Question

Young professional with his own business

Personal Accounting

We offer a range of Personal Accounting services for individual employees. Our most popular Personal Accounting service is assisting with completing tax returns for individuals.

Tax returns can be complex and there are allowable tax deductions and expense claims that can be made that you may not be aware of. We can help you minimise your payable tax and potentially increase your tax return and make sure your tax return is lodged on time.

We also offer advice on:

  • Investment properties, tax and negative gearing
  • Tax & share investments
  • HELP (higher education loans) debts
  • Superannuation advice
  • Advice on setting up a self-managed super fund (SMSF)
  • Late tax returns

Ask Us a Question

Accountant with files from the bookkeeping archive room

Bookkeeping & Financial Record Management

One of the most important steps in the preparation of financial information is the data entry. It is the vital part of your accounting process, ensuring that your financial information is up to date and accurate.

Our highly experienced team of bookkeepers will get the job done efficiently by using cloud based products and software shortcuts, leaving you more time to concentrate on your business.

Guests Accounting can take over all, or some of your bookkeeping activities allowing you to concentrate on growing your business. We can:

  • Design, establish and review accounting systems and software
  • Perform checks, reconciliations and end of financial year reports
  • Manage your accounts receivable and accounts payable
  • Ensure your business is up to speed with legislative requirements and management reports
  • Undertake payroll duties and compliance
  • Prepare and lodge BAS statements
  • GST & PAYE advice
  • BAS Lodgement
  • GST Reconciliation
  • PAYG Withholding & Superannuation reports
  • Completing expense reports
  • Direct to bank account transactions
  • Organising your documents and records
  • Data / ledger entry
  • Paying bills
  • Completing expense reports
  • Direct to bank account transactions
  • Provide general business administrative support

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Business consultant presenting to staff

Business Advisory

Helping our clients grow, strengthen and develop their businesses is our main aim.  Whether small, medium or large receiving expert help in areas such as strategy development, management accounting, cost analysis and budgeting is very important to attaining a business’s short and long objectives.

Our aim is to enable you and your business to maximise potential and profitability.  We do this by providing the highest level of technical and commercial solutions to resolve issues that might impair the attainment of these outcomes.

We also have particular expertise in advising our private clients with family succession strategies that allows for the effective transfer of wealth to future generations.

Our expertise and time will help you attain your goals.

We specialise in the following:

  • Corporate Structure
  • Strategy development and facilitation
  • Strategic board and management reporting
  • Budget preparation and review
  • Updating your business plan
  • Business value maximisation
  • Systems review
  • Sustainability
  • Financial diagnostic analysis
  • Cash flow and profitability
  • Business succession planning and implementation
  • Business valuations for acquisition or sale
  • Estate planning
  • Asset protection structuring

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Startup business having a meeting

Business Start-Ups & Structures

Choosing your business structure is an important decision and we can advise you on the best structure for your requirements. There are four main business structures commonly used by small businesses in Australia and we can help with them all:

Sole trader: an individual operating as the sole person legally responsible for all aspects of the business.
Partnership: an association of people or entities running a business together, but not as a company. A partnership is relatively inexpensive to set up and operate.
Company: a legal entity separate from its shareholders.
Trust: an entity that holds property or income for the benefit of others. Trusts require a formal trust deed that outlines how the trust operates, require the trustee to undertake formal yearly administrative tasks and if you operate your business as a trust, the trustee is legally responsible for its operations. A trustee of a trust can be a company, providing some asset protection.

It is important to note that you can change your business structure throughout the life of your business.

We can help with the following:

  • Corporate Structures
  • Updating your business plan
  • Business value maximisation
  • Systems review
  • Sustainability
  • Strategic planning
  • Financial diagnostic analysis
  • Cash flow and profitability
  • Corporate compliance
    • Formation of trusts and new company registrations
    • Provision of registered office services for service of notices
    • Attending to ASIC returns and regular filings on your behalf
    • Business name registrations and maintenance
    • Preparing minutes and drafting resolutions

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Cloud Accounting solutions featuring MYOB, Reckon and XERO

Cloud Accounting

Cloud accounting is essentially your accounting software stored and accessed from an online server which allows upgrading of software, tax tables for payroll, also data backups are managed remotely and automatically by the software provider.  This is a great time saver for any small to medium business owner.

Our solutions will help your business take advantage of an eco-system where your accounting software is the centre of all your information. From manufacturing, inventory, to customer relationship management (CRM), rostering/timesheets to payroll, you will be in control of every aspect of your business represented by a thorough reporting system.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for an obligation free consultation session on business software solutions. Our well-trained staff will provide you with the best solution that suits your needs and budget. With customised solutions, discounted software subscription, hands-on and personal training, we are committed to deliver you a quality of service that will meet and exceed your expectations.

Ask Us a Question

Woman auditing the books with a magnifying glass

Auditing

There are many reasons why a business or association may need to be audited. These include audits regulated by ASIC, government departments and licensing authorities.

You may wish for your business to be audited to ensure your financials are all correct, up to date and compliant with Australian accounting standards.

We offer ongoing support for annual audits and can discuss audit insurance for your business.

Self-managed super funds (SMSFs) are required to be audited annually.

Our business auditing services include:

  • Statutory Audits
  • Specialist Reviews
  • Business Risk Reviews
  • Self Managed Superannuation Fund Audits
  • Due Diligence reviews

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Australian dollars in back pocket

Payroll Management

Whether you’re just starting out, experiencing rapid growth or sustaining a mature company we have the solutions for your payroll needs.  We know that accrual and recording of annual and sick leave is a headache most employers can do without.

At Guests we offer a cost saving service that will keep your company compliant with all relevant legislation and will processes your payroll on time and accurately.

We will save you time, reduce costs and offer flexible options.

We can assist with the preparation of:

  • Pay slips
  • Payment of salaries and other benefits
  • Accrual of all types of leave and recording of leave taken
  • Calculation and payment of superannuation

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Australian dollars in back pocket

Migration Assistance Services

We have been working closely with a number of leading migration lawyers and agents to assist our clients to obtain Business Migration Visas (Visa subclass 188, Subclass 132, Subclass 888), Employer sponsored skill migration visas (the old 457 visa or the new TSS visa program).

– Prepare financial reports and Business Plan in a compliant format for migration purposes.
– Prepare statements of financial position of the Applicant and Sponsoring Employer.
– Undertaking due diligence on business and asset purchases.
– Buy/Sell Agreement and Negotiations
– Provide insights on compliance with the Points System necessary for the Government visa requirements.
– Provide tax and business advisory services in order for holders of the subclass 188 visa to meet the requirements of Permanent visa subclass 888.

Primary contact: Ms. Ha Nguyen. Email: hn@guests.com.au

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Accounting services for Accommodation, Restaurants and Hospitality Venues

Accounting for Accommodation, Restaurants and Hospitality Venues

This is an industry with high levels of competition, hard won competitive advantage, and global influences that are constantly changing. Guests Accounting’s experience in this industry is extensive and we have the expertise and provide the range of services that are delivering the results our clients want.

While our accounting skills are very important in delivering the financial analysis and interpretation needed for better strategy development and implementation it is how we use these skills and experience in the following areas that make our efforts even more productive.

  • Acquisition or sale of a business, Amalgamation advice
  • Management advice in the operation of properties
  • Business and governance support
  • Specialist advisory and taxation services, including:
  • Business planning
  • Cashflow projections
  • Working capital management

The accommodation and hospitality industry is subject to many rules and regulations and it is part of our role to ensure our clients are kept abreast of changes and the financial impact that can accompany such change.

Our experience in this industry means you can be confident we’ll provide the financial guidance you need while you focus on what you do best, provide customer satisfaction.

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Accounting services for barristers and solicitors

Accounting for Barristers and Solicitors

Work as a barrister or solicitor can be incredibly time consuming. Potentially long hours and long work weeks, keeping up to date with constantly changing legal paradigms and working through client cases can leave little time for yourself.

Give Yourself a Break

With so much on your plate, the last thing you may want to worry about are your taxes and accounting requirements. By using an accountant to assist in handling your taxes and other relative finances, you could reduce your taxation workload and potentially claim more of your expenses, plus you could have more time to focus on your career and your personal life.

Years of Industry Knowledge, Aimed at Helping Clients

Guests Accounting have been providing accountancy and taxation services to clients throughout Melbourne for many years. We focus on developing strong client relationships, identifying each client’s individual scenario along with their goals, and helping them achieve their accountancy requirements.

Professional Services for Business Start-ups and Established Businesses

We offer a broad range of business services for individuals and small to large firms. Whether you’re managing an established business or starting up one of your own, we can assist you with your accounting and tax needs, from the preparation of certain financial documents, claiming expenses, your tax returns and much more.

If you have any questions, please contact us to discuss your options. Staff at Guests Accounting are more than happy to answer any queries you may have.

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Accounting services for construction and property developers

Accounting for Construction and Property Developers

The process of running a construction business can be profitable though extremely time-consuming at points. Client deadlines, management of construction supplies, Occupational Health and Safety on site, along with overseeing staff and subcontractors is a lot to deal with it as it is.

Effective management of your cash flow and other financial requirements such as taxation can make the difference between your building business flourishing or struggling. Using a professional accountant that understands the financial issues of running a business can provide a benefit to you and your business, such as giving you more time to focus on your business and personal life, rather than worrying heavily about taxation.

With years of industry experience, Guests Accounting has provided accounting services to building businesses in the suburbs of Melbourne, delivering comprehensive tax services and knowledge in the industry.

Comprehensive Services

We provide a wide range of accounting services and advice to businesses and individuals, including:

  • Payroll and bookkeeping services and options
  • Advice relating to claiming motor vehicle expenses
  • Preparing income tax returns and certain financial documents
  • Advice on record keeping software, spreadsheets and tools for recording income and expenses of your business
  • Equipment finance (tools, construction supplies, etc)
  • Advice in relation to the sale and purchase of a business
  • Tax planning strategies
  • Advice for business start-ups
  • Plus much more support.

Whatever direction you’re looking to take your business or contracting, we’re here to help with your taxation and accounting needs. It’s a common situation where builders, trades people and businesses are using software that is beyond their requirements, potentially leading to confusion along with a waste of time and money. We can provide advice with record keeping in regards to your expenses and income, based on your accounting skill level and what is appropriate for your business and goals.

If you’re interested in finding out how we can help you and your business with your taxes, give us a call today or email your enquiry. Staff are happy to answer any questions you may have in relation to our services and appointments.

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Accounting services for doctors and medical professionals

Accounting for Health and Allied Services, Doctors and Medical Professionals

Working in the medical industry can be incredibly fulfilling though also extremely time consuming. Potentially long and extended hours, keeping up to date with patient or client details, travelling and on call jobs can leave you exhausted.

With all this on your plate, worrying about parts of your taxes shouldn’t be an issue. A professional accountant can assist you with your taxes and accountancy, giving you more time to focus on your career and personal life. Not only can accountants reduce your taxation work load but they can also assist with evaluating your expenses to reduce the amount of tax payable or enhance your tax return depending on your situation.

Guests Accounting have helped a range of doctors and medical professionals with their accounting and taxation needs for years in Melbourne. With a devoted team of accounting experts, we focus on providing great service and support for all our clients, whether an individual, small practice, organisation or large business.

Not only do we provide accounting services to doctors but also a large range of medical professionals and careers, such as the following:

  • Patient transport service (PTS) drivers and ambulance care assistants
  • Art therapists
  • Audiology staff and businesses
  • Biomedical scientists
  • Chiropractors
  • Counsellors
  • Chiropodists/podiatrists
  • Dentists, dental hygienists, nurses, technicians and therapists
  • Dieticians
  • General practitioners (GPs)
  • Housekeepers
  • Learning disabilities nursing
  • Massage therapists
  • Mental health nurses
  • Music therapists
  • Myotherapists
  • Neurophysiology and neurosurgery
  • Osteopaths
  • Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians
  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Psychotherapists
  • Practice secretaries and typists
  • Speech and language therapists
  • Sterile services management
  • Plus many more medical areas.

Staff at Guests Accounting are happy to answer any questions you may have about our services or the taxation and accounting process. If you would like to book an appointment or have a query, please contact us today.

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Accounting services for investors

Accounting for Manufacturing Companies

Working closely with our clients and providing professional specialised accounting and management expertise is why many quality manufacturing firms have employed our services for generations.  The benefits of working with a firm that knows what it’s like to be at the ‘coal face’ can’t be overstated.

It’s this approach, passion, professionalism, skill-set and dedication to our task that has given many large Australian businesses the confidence to employ our services.

Manufacturing is the one of the more complex forms of business and made all the more difficult because competition, competiveness and global trends are constantly changing.  Managing this change is what makes or breaks companies but we know our extensive experience across industries and accounting issues has helped many manage their way through problems and others build on their success.

Whatever the situation Guests Accounting has the expertise and experience to help you get the job done.

The services we offer to help you deliver the outcomes your company and stakeholders want are as follows:

  • General accounting input
  • Information technology
  • Audit services
  • Regular management reporting
  • Detailed financial analysis and reporting for profit and loss, balance sheet, and funds statements
  • Cost of production analysis
  • Accurate cost accounting
  • Lead time management
  • Capital requirement
  • Tendering
  • Analysis of actual vs standard cost
  • Identify inefficiencies
  • Manage wastage
  • Source supplies
  • Optimise plant capacities.

Providing financial reporting is one thing but it is how this data is interpreted and used to implement strategy is at the core of Guests Accounting’s value to your firm.

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Accounting services for marketing and digital marketing agencies

Accounting for Marketing and Digital Marketing Agencies

Advertising agencies, marketing consultancies, designers and digital innovators collectively represent one of the fastest growing business segments. They create brands, build websites and deliver marketing campaigns.

At Guests Accounting we believe that accounting is an important and necessary piece of every digital agency’s strategic framework. Accounting is more than balancing books and making sure you’re ready for next year’s taxes. It’s planning for future growth and success.

The specialised services Guests Accounting offer include:

  • Ongoing internal accounting for the Marketing/Advertising Agency itself
  • Assisting to build processes for reconciling your employee’s billable hours to preparing and sending invoices to your client’s on a consistent and continual basis (hourly billing)
  • Calculating project costing and profitability (fixed fee and hourly billing)
  • Employee compensation consulting in an organisational environment wherein your employees consist of a variety of skill sets (engineers, creatives, core operations and business development)
  • Forecasting profits based on management and ownership goals
  • Monitor revenue and collection patterns (Cash Flow)
  • Identifying your key metrics and benchmarking with your competitors
  • Assist with ownership and transition strategies
  • Work to establish financial reporting best practices
  • CFO business advisory and evaluation services
  • Business valuations
  • Succession and ownership transfer planning
  • Risk management (insurance strategies)
  • Budgeting, forecasting, and performance review
  • Customised monthly, quarterly, or annual financial reports
  • Growth strategies (from Mergers and Acquisitions to Organic growth)

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Accounting services for business enterprises and private businesses

Accounting for Private and Business Enterprises

Many of Australia’s best and most successful businesses are privately owned but such ownership comes with its own unique needs and challenges.  Guests Accounting have many years experience working in this area and understand well the unique challenges facing owners of family businesses.

While family businesses face the normal ups and downs of business life there is always the added complexity of family relationships that can make business decisions more difficult.  At Guests Accounting we are able to manage all businesses aspects of such ventures due to our long experience working with family businesses that means we look to address other issues that might impact more heavily than they should.  Issues such as:

  • Lack of quality succession planning and inadequate training of junior family members.
  • External investments draining cash from operations and diverting focus on core operations.
  • Poor governance and management systems.
  • Lack of capital investment and financial support.
  • Has the business adequately distinguished business and family governance?
  • Is there a degree of independent guidance?
  • Is the management team adequately equipped?
  • Generational transition planning, business coaching and mentoring.
  • Operational and strategic management structuring: family versus independent management.
  • Objective external advice on family issues and conflict resolution processes.
  • Assistance with the development and implementation of a family charter, family forums, family councils and advisory boards.
  • Responsive financial, accounting and business advisory support.
  • Family business succession planning.

We pride ourselves on the strength of the relationships we build with our clients and the depth of knowledge and understanding we develop over time.  Nowhere is this more important than with our family business clients.

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Accounting services for primary producers and farmers

Accounting for Primary Producers and Farmers

Managing a farm is a time consuming task. Overseeing staff and ensuring your day to day operations are running smoothly can take up enough time as it is; the last thing you may want to deal with is financial paper work and tax.

A professional accountant can help you efficiently manage your accounting, bookkeeping and taxation requirements, while also providing you with advice and strategies to help effectively grow your business. This can give you more time to focus on what’s important to you, such as handling tasks on your farm and enjoying life outside of work.

For over 60 years we have been providing accounting services for primary producers and farmers throughout Victoria. We understand what farmers require to effectively manage the finances of their farming operations and endeavour to provide all of our farming clients with effective advice and services to do such.

Take the Stress out of Tax with Help from a Professional Accountant

Time is money—two things that accountants can save for you. A professional accountant has the expertise and industry experience to help you efficiently, effectively and quickly manage your accounts, all while helping you save money and reduce tax.

Here at Guests Accounting, we can help you with:

  • Identifying opportunities to legally reduce tax payable
  • Preparation of income tax returns
  • Equipment finance
  • Assistance with employment compliance, such as WorkCover and superannuation
  • Cash flow projections
  • Tax planning strategies
  • Liaising with farm consultants
  • Advice on record keeping software, spreadsheets and tools for recording income and expenses of your business
  • Advice in relation to the sale and purchase of equipment or properties
  • Advice in relation to business expansion and growth
  • Assistance with drought and flood claims
  • Assistance with government incentive programs
  • Advice for business start ups
  • Succession planning.

Looking for help with your accounting and taxation requirements?

Whether a small or medium sized business farm, our team at Guests Accounting have the expertise to help you with all of your tax, accounting, GST and business advice needs.

Contact us today for comprehensive services at affordable prices, and advice you can trust.

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Accounting services for retail businesses and managers

Accounting for Retail Businesses and Managers

Managing a retail business can be a time consuming and complex task. You have to make sure that your staff can perform well, are receiving appropriate payment in regards to their wage and superannuation, plus then there’s the range of OH&S and compliance issues that must be followed.

Guests Accounting understands the financial implications that retailers have to deal with. We offer you professional experience, technical knowledge and support with your taxes and accounting.

Professional Accounting Services

Our services for retailers include:

  • Start-up business financial advice
  • Payroll and bookkeeping services
  • Income tax returns
  • Tax planning strategies
  • Accounting software advice and selection
  • Tools and spreadsheets to assist in detailing and reporting income and expenses
  • Advice about the sale and purchase of your business
  • Advice about claiming motor vehicle and transport costs
  • The preparation and analysis of certain financial documents and statements.

Ongoing Support

Over time, you may want to change the direction your business is heading and this could lead to financial issues. Financial advice and services from professionals could help you and your business keep on track with your goals and evolve positively. Guests Accounting can provide professional accounting advice and services as your business progresses and changes.

If you setting up a new retail business or looking to take your current business to the next level, please contact us today.

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Accounting services for tech companies

Accounting for Tech Companies

The technology industry faces very rapid change.  The extent and variety of this change in the last twenty years alone has been hugely diverse and at a pace that sees companies come and go in very short periods of time.

This risk and instability has also been accompanied by amazing opportunities and finding the best way forward is always complex and difficult.  However, even amongst so much disruption the basic principles of good business are still the guiding light.

Guests Accounting’s expertise, industry knowledge, stability and experience is helping our clients navigate the best way through these opportunities and threats.  Clients include information technology, big data, telecommunications, computer networking, software development and hardware development businesses.

Added into the mix is an ever increasing regulatory framework that has to be understood and managed.  Our experience in this area is extensive and allows our technology clients to stay ahead.

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Accounting services for trades and service industries

Accounting for Trades and Service Industries

When operating in your trade or business, you want to be able to focus on your client’s needs and help them, rather than becoming bogged down with tax, accounting and finances of your own. The friendly team at Guests Accounting provide professional accounting services for trades people.

Apart from your typical builder, plumber, carpenter and electrician we also service clients in a range of other trades including:

  • Air Conditioning Mechanics
  • Arborists
  • Bathroom Renovators
  • Blinds – Repair & Installation
  • Bricklayers
  • Builders
  • Carpenters
  • Carpet Cleaners
  • Carpet Repairers
  • Ceiling Repairers
  • Commercial Cleaners
  • Concreters
  • Domestic Cleaners
  • Electricians
  • Electrical Appliance Repairs
  • Fencing & Gates
  • Floating Floors
  • Floor Sanding
  • Furniture Assembly
  • Fencing Contractors
  • Guttering
  • Garden Maintenance
  • Gas Fitters
  • Glazers
  • Handymen
  • Home Security
  • Insulation
  • Interior Decorators
  • Joinery
  • Kitchen Renovators
  • Landscape Gardeners
  • Lawn Care
  • Painters
  • Paving Contractors
  • Pergolas
  • Plasterers
  • Plumbers
  • Rendering
  • Retaining Walls
  • Reticulation
  • Roller Doors
  • Roof Tilers
  • Roofing Repairers
  • Rubbish Removalists
  • Security Doors, Gates & Grills
  • Swimming Pools & Spas
  • Telecommunications
  • Tiling
  • Timber Floors
  • Tree Loppers
  • Vinyl & Carpet Layers
  • Window Cleaners
  • Wrought Iron Gates & Balustrades
  • Welders

Tailored Support

Guests Accounting are here to help you with your accounting; whether you’re looking to grow a business of your own or just sort out your own finances and taxation.

Many self employed tradesmen use accounting and finance software that is beyond their business needs, potentially leading to confusion along with wasting time and money. We can provide advice with what software or methods would be appropriate for your needs, along with what would be easy to use for you, giving you more time to focus on your work.

If you’re looking for a professional accountant who is dedicated to helping your trades business, please contact us today.

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Accounting services for transport and logistics professionals

Accounting for Transport and Logistics Professionals

Managing a transport & logistics business can be a time consuming and complex task. You have to make sure that your staff can perform well, are receiving appropriate payment in regards to their wage and superannuation, plus then there’s the range of OH&S and compliance issues that must be followed.

Guests Accounting understands the financial implications that transport and logistic industries have to deal with. We offer you professional experience, technical knowledge and support with your taxes and accounting.

Professional Accounting Services

Our services for Transport and Logistics Professionals include:

  • Start-up business financial advice
  • Payroll and bookkeeping services
  • Income tax returns
  • Tax planning strategies
  • Accounting software advice and selection
  • Tools and spreadsheets to assist in detailing and reporting income and expenses
  • Advice about the sale and purchase of your business
  • Advice about claiming motor vehicle and transport costs
  • Advice and assistance with claiming Fuel Tax Credits
  • The preparation and analysis of financial documents and statements.

Ongoing Support

Over time, you may want to change the direction your business is heading and this could lead to financial issues. Financial advice and services from professionals could help you and your business keep on track with your goals and evolve positively. Guests Accounting can provide professional accounting advice and services as your business progresses, grows and changes.

If you setting up a new Transport and Logistics business or looking to take your current business to the next level, please contact us today.

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Avi Paluch

Avi Paluch

Partner

ap@guests.com.au

(03) 9509 7033 / 0418 542 606

Avi Paluch became a partner in 1975. His client base comprises of professionals in a diverse range of industries, sole traders, national, multi-national and international groups in relation to taxation and management issues.

His clients also include large family groups and high net worth individuals. In addition, he is involved in a range of audits. Avi currently involves himself in various community boards in the capacity of honorary treasurer.

His other interests are being with his family and attending sports events.

Andrew Goldberger

Andrew Goldberger

Partner

bg@guests.com.au

(03) 9509 7033 / 0419 155 373

Andrew Goldberger joined Guests in 1987. Prior to that he occupied a senior position with the Australia Taxation Office. As well as looking after a diverse range of groups of SMEs and high wealth individuals, Andrew is an expert in taxation. He has been involved in a number of Large Income Tax and State Revenue Audits and provides advice on various technical tax issues and areas of tax planning. Andrew also consults to other practitioners in these areas.

Andrew has also written articles for various taxation publications including CCH and participated in taxation focus groups. He is regularly called on to address various public practitioner groups on taxation matters and has conducted training sessions for CPA Australia.

Ha Nguyen

Ha Nguyen

Partner

hn@guests.com.au

(03) 9509 7033 / 0439 898 487

Ha joined Guests Accounting in 2002 and has earned her position to having been recently appointed a Partner in the firm. Since obtaining a Bachelor of Business (with Distinction) at RMIT, Ha has completed an MBA at Monash University and recently a Masters of Taxation at Melbourne Law School.

Having worked for a number of ASX Listed companies before joining Guests, Ha possesses both robust technical skills in management accounting and turn-around strategies, accounting technologies, together with in depth knowledge in public practice as a tax specialist and business advisor.

Ha’s diversity and quality of clients have accorded her a never-ending opportunity to learn. This has fuelled her ongoing loyalty to the firm to meet and exceed our clients’ expectations. Maintaining a good rapport with clients and well known for her personal and caring approach, she believes embracing new technology will be instrumental in providing deeper insights to their business. She has effectively utilised her knowledge, skills and creativity to the benefit of many of our clients’ business, both large and small enterprises.

As a firm believer in the importance of life time learning, Ha intends to continue her professional engagement with Australian professional bodies and institutions. Whilst regularly speaking and lecturing at Monash University and Latrobe University, she is actively involved with CPA Australia as an author and a group leader for the “Practice Management” Module of the CPA Professional Public Practice program. She is also a member of the Victorian Public Practice Committee CPA Australia, and a board member of KOTO International, a not-for-profit organisation in Australia.

Moshe Trebish

Moshe Trebish

Partner

mt@guests.com.au

(03) 9509 7033 / 0417 081 305

Moshe joined Guests Accounting in 1985 and has more than 40 years of extensive experience. He has an indepth understanding of business and is responsible for a diverse group of clients and is in charge of the Superannuation Team and the Audit of superannuation funds.

Moshe’s knowledge in many different areas including business structuring, accounting, taxation, auditing, SMSFs and business planning in various industries enables him to provide advice on ‘the big picture’, taking into account both present and future needs of clients.

Moshe has been involved in various not-for-profit organisations during his career in an honorary capacity. This has given him a good grounding in the corporate governance area. Moshe continues his interest in the new regulatory environment of the not-for-profit sector.

  • Diploma of Commerce (RMIT)
  • Member of CPA Australia
  • Public Practice Certificate (CPA)
  • Registered Tax Agent
  • Registered SMSF Auditor
  • Registered Company Auditor
  • Limited AFSL Licencee
  • Chartered Tax Advisor (TIA)
Mory Kalkopf

Mory Kalkopf

Partner

mk@guests.com.au

(03) 9509 7033 / 0405 642 458

Mory graduated from Monash University in 1979 and joined our team with more than 20 years experience. He is a member of both the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the CPA and a Fellow of the Association of Taxation and Management Accountants.

After more than 18 years experience with a Chartered firm, Mory travelled to the United Kingdom and gained invaluable experience working with various Accounting and Legal firms in London, developing operating systems and in investigative accounting roles.

Mory joined Guests in March 2002 and became a partner in July 2005, specialising in Taxation and Business Services. Mory has also served on the executive of community boards and not-for-profit organisations.

Gary Bryfman

Gary Bryfman

Partner

gb@guests.com.au

(03) 9509 7033 / 0411 077 998

Gary Bryfman is a FCPA, having a Masters Degree in Taxation. His earlier accounting background was in industry, specialising in costing and budget preparations.

He has been a partner of Guests for 31 years. Gary has been involved in a number of Jewish organisations, including JCCV as honorary treasurer; CSG, JEMP and advisor to MDA executive.

Accounting Videos

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Email is very convenient in our business world, there is no doubting that. However email messages and attachments can be intercepted by third parties, putting your privacy and identity at risk if used to send confidential files or documents. Secure File Transfer eliminates this risk.

Please enjoy the links to these free tools supplied by MoneySmart - a great resource for general financial information. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss any questions that you may have as a result of using these calculators.

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Email, Phone & Fax

Melbourne Office

  • 234 Balaclava Road, Caulfield North VIC 3161
  • 9:00AM to 5:00PM (Mon-Thurs), 8:30AM to 4:30PM (Fri)

Postal Address

  • PO Box 2197, Caulfield Junction VIC 3161, DX 37066 Caulfield

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