Self-Education

It’s February and so in keeping with the ‘Back to School’ theme I thought I would revisit the opportunities that are available for self-education and professional development.

Whether you are supported by your employer or not you may be able to claim a tax deduction for self-education expenses if they relate to your current work activities.  You cannot claim the costs however if it is for the purpose of new employment or to open up a new income earning occupation. Some of the costs that you can claim are:

  • COMPUTER + STATIONARY CONSUMABLES EG. PAPER, PRINTER CARTRIDGES
  • COURSE FEES [IF PAID BY YOU]
  • PURCHASE OF EQUIPMENT, OR IF THE COST IS OVER $300, DEPRECIATION OF EQUIPMENT
  • INTERNET USAGE
  • STUDENT UNION FEES
  • TEXTBOOKS
  • TRAVEL; BETWEEN HOME + THE PLACE OF EDUCATION + BETWEEN WORK + THE PLACE OF EDUCATION

Likewise, there are also opportunities to claim the cost of professional development.  If you are in an occupation that requires a certain number of certified professional development hours, the costs of attending relevant seminars and conferences can be quite high, however if they are relevant to your employment they can be claimed as a tax deduction.  If you are a business paying this cost for your employees this is a claimable business expense.

Aside from the bonus of a tax deduction, it is a great idea to keep up to date with ideas, techniques and changes in the law no matter what industry you are in.  Maintaining your knowledge is both good for your self esteem and enhances your chances of maintaining your employability.

If you are thinking of taking on additional study and are unsure about how this will affect your tax or your business, just call our office and one of our qualified team will be happy to help you.

 

Amanda Wilkens – Director

CPA

Kick-Ass New Years’ Resolutions

It is common to come up with New Years’ resolutions in January that reflect the way we feel after all the celebrations over Christmas and New Year.  We can pretty much guess that the resolutions will revolve around:

  • Partying less;
  • Eating more healthily; and
  • Exercising more.

That’s all great, however these reflect only the prior three weeks.

What if we could put together resolutions that reflected the prior year or several years?  These resolutions would generally revolve around;

  • Holidaying more frequently;
  • Spending more time with family and friends;
  • Purchasing a house or paying off the one we have; and
  • Becoming more financially independent and secure.

These resolutions are great to work with, and the good news is that they don’t exclude the first set of resolutions – there is no reason why we can’t do both!  Here are the top three questions I am asked by clients starting their road to a “kick-ass” financial future.

  1. WHEN SHOULD I START?  NOW, NOW and NOW!  It’s easy to think that you don’t have anything yet and don’t earn a lot so can’t start – but it’s wrong!  I started saving at 18 years old by putting away $70 a month in a savings plan.  This isn’t a lot but I found I didn’t miss the money.  When it was time to buy a house 12 years later I was well on my way to a deposit.  Remember that everyone has to start somewhere.
  2. HOW OLD SHOULD I BE TO START PLANNING A “KICK-ASS” FINANCIAL FUTURE? There’s no age required, but start now! The sooner you start the sooner you are on your way.  We have probably all heard the Chinese proverb “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” and I suspect we all use this.  I know I think of that whenever I have to complete a mammoth task.  Runners often count steps on long runs, cyclists count kilometres and we all count sleeps to Christmas [even if it’s for our kids].  The best way to achieve anything is to simply start.
  3. OKAY, I’M GOING TO START – WHAT DO I DO?  There are several things to do – all steps on your journey to a “kick-ass” financial future.  Don’t be overwhelmed and don’t think you need to do them all today.  Here are a few things to look at, and I recommend aiming to tackle one item per month [or two months if your life is hectic]:
  • Review your income protection insurance. You may or may not need it, and it totally depends on your circumstances.  However, if you are the main income earner for a family and you have others relying on your income, you at least need to review it.
  • Have wills and powers of attorney prepared. Again, horses for courses, but if you have children you at least need to consider who will look after them if you are no longer able to.  Make sure you document your wishes as it isn’t enough to verbally pass them on.
  • Review your death cover. Once again, you may or may not need it, but if there will be debts within your family should you pass, you need to at least consider whether you should have death cover that is sufficient to pay off the debts.
  • Review your superannuation. Your super may be able to include income protection and death cover, so you may want to review this first.
  • Start saving. A financial plan, or even a small savings goal will put you on the right path.  Set a budget and put away even a few dollars each week.

If you decide you want to start your journey to a “kick-ass” financial future, contact us!  Our team can cover the financial advice, legal and accounting to get you on your journey.

If you just feel like you’d like more information and want to learn more before you start – our Health and Wealth seminar is for you.  It’s free and will give you lots of practical tips to start your journey.  You’ll also have the chance to meet our team in a casual relaxed setting.  Just go to our website and use the links to register.

 

Krystine Canny-Smith – Director

CPA

Christmas + FBT

It’s coming up to the Christmas holiday period which means scheduling the staff Christmas party and purchasing gifts for your employees, but as we skip into the month of December, it’s important that we remember what is deductible in relation to gifts and entertainment provided and how fringe benefits tax [FBT] relates with these actions.

FBT is payable by employers on the value of certain benefits that have been provided to their employees in respect of their employment. The purpose of the legislation to ensure fair tax treatment between cash paid to employees and benefits provided to them during their employment. Fringe benefits can include but are not limited to: providing an employee a vehicle that is owned by the business to drive, providing a loan to an employee with no interest, and also functions and gifts provided to an employee at Christmas time.

Towards the end of December, many employers schedule a work breakup or event to celebrate the holidays with their employees or purchase a gift for the employees and their families. These events can include costs such as venue hire, food and alcohol purchases or booking entertainment such as a band. Are these expenses tax deductible? Is the employer entitled to claim goods and services tax [GST] back on those expenses incurred?

Generally, providing entertainment to an employee is not tax deductible unless FBT is paid. Employers cannot claim deductions for the cost of Christmas gifts purchased for employees if the gift directly provides entertainment by way of food, drink or recreation. Similarly, the expense of a staff Christmas function would not be deductible as it involves the provision of entertainment.

However, there are some exceptions. The cost of a Christmas party is tax deductible if provided on a working day on the business premises and consumed by current employees. Another exception is providing a minor benefit by ensure the cost of the Christmas party and gifts are less than $300 per employee. And when it comes to GST, the credit is available if FBT is paid or the benefit is exempt from FBT and a tax deduction can be claimed.

If you are providing more than salary and wages to an employee, now is a good time to book an appointment with one of our accountants to ensure you are not inadvertently paying more tax than necessary by providing a non-cash benefit to your employees.

 

Jamie Arrington – Manager

B.Com CA

Financial Plans Are COOL

IT IS PRETTY COOL TO HAVE AN ACTUAL FINANCIAL PLAN AND NOT JUST ‘ONE IN YOUR HEAD’

Whilst seeing a client, our discussion often turns to managing personal cash flow.  Some people are happy just living from pay-to-pay and don’t give much consideration to plans for the medium or long term.  Others haven’t really given the idea any thought but think it will all be “OK”.  However, more and more people are thinking about this, but don’t know where to start.

Financial management and retirement planning help people determine their personal saving targets, what they can afford to spend, and how best to arrange their financial affairs.  Retirement planning can quantify how much you need to have saved to retire.  When you are years away from retirement and your personal finances are ever-changing, this can seem like a challenging concept, but it is important to remember that a financial plan is a process, not a product.  It is something that requires discipline to start and at least annual maintenance and review.

A financial plan should include:

  • INVESTMENT PLANNING;
  • INSURANCE + RISK MANAGEMENT;
  • FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT;
  • RETIREMENT PLANNING;
  • TAX PLANNING; +
  • ESTATE PLANNING + LEGAL ASPECTS

Most people insure against at least some of the risks of financial loss due to death, medical issues and damage to property.  You could look at a well-structured and maintained financial plan as insuring against financial difficulty later in life.

Estate planning may also be an overlooked financial planning exercise.  The thing about estate planning is that it should go beyond simply preparing a will just to check off a box and say that it is done.  In a financial planning context, it is important to consider things like who your beneficiaries will be, joint asset ownership, income tax liabilities.  In the same way a married couple may plan for retirement together, it is important to consider what might happen if one spouse or the other died prematurely.  This may be as much a financial planning exercise as an estate law one.

Our financial planners – Samantha Butcher and Helen Yau can get you started on this journey and will assist and advise along the way.  Why don’t you call and make an appointment today, it’s that easy!

 

Amanda Wilkens – Director

B.Comm CPA

Buy Low Sell High

Buy Low Sell High is the first seminar in our free Property Seminar Series.

Buy Low Sell High is designed to provide an overview of the sale process, from engaging a real estate agent right through to handing the keys to the purchase.

We delve into:

  • WHO // you will need to engage to sell + why
  • WHAT // who does what, from the agent to the stylist right through to the broker + lender
  • CONVEYANCING // the general conveyancing process
  • SETTLEMENT DAY // what to expect + what happens if there is a delay
  • TRAPS + PITFALLS // that you should be wary of when consider to sell your property

So when the time is right to move on to your next dream home, selling your property for the best price will be a breeze!

Secure your FREE ticket through Eventbrite here.. https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/buy-low-sell-high-tickets-75801936633

REFRESHMENTS INCLUDED + ALL CHILDREN WELCOME!

New Labour Hire Laws In Victoria

ATTENTION ALL BUSINESSES.. does your business or organisation use labour hire workers?  If this applied to you, then you need to be aware of the new labour hire laws that are now in place, and how they may affect you and your business!

 

Under the Labour Hire Licensing Act 2018, labour hire providers will have until 29 October 2019 to apply for and be granted a licence by the Victoria Labour Hire Authority to operate in Victoria.

Licences can be applied for from the Labour Hire Authority website.  These licences are valid for a period of no more than three years.

There is a test that needs to be satisfied to obtain and maintain a licence.  This is known as “fit and proper test”.  Businesses will need to prove past compliance with the applicable employment, tax, immigration and workplace health and safety laws.

To ensure compliance of the new licensing system, the Victoria Labour Hire Authority will employ inspectors.  These inspectors will be able to enter and search premises, examine, seize or inspect anything suspected of relating to a possible contravention.

KEY POINTS FOR BUSINESS OWNERS:

  • LABOUR HIRE PROVIDERS MUST REGISTER ONLINE TO CREATE AN ACCOUNT + then apply for a licence.
  • LABOUR HIRE PROVIDERS WILL HAVE SIX MONTHS, or until 29 October 2019 to register online + apply for a licence.
  • IF PROVIDERS DO NOT APPLY FOR A LICENCE within the six-month transition period, they will be prohibited from providing labour hire services from 30 October 2019
  • UNLICENSED LABOUR HIRE PROVIDERS CAN FACE SUBSTANTIAL FINES, with a maximum penalty for a natural person being more than $120,000 + for a corporation exceeding $500,000.
  • HOSTS [BUSINESS WHO UTILISE LABOUR HIRE WITHIN THEIR BUSINESS] who enter into an arrangement after 29 October 2019 with a labour hire provider who has not applied for, or who has been refused a labour hire licence face substantial fines ranging from a maximum in excess of $120,00 for a natural person to in excess of $500,000 for a corporation.
  • THERE IS AN APPLICATION FEE, + ANNUAL LICENCE FEE, payable by the labour hire provider.

If your business uses labour hire workers in Victoria, we recommend you begin enquiringly with the providers as to their intentions with respect to applying for a licence.

Please contact Canny Legal on 5278 9500 if you have any queries regarding the new Labour Hire regime.

Property Seminar Series

With Spring in the air it’s no secret that it’s one of the best times of the year to go house shopping!  With that in mind, Canny Legal have put together their very own Property Seminar Series, with seminars covering the following topics:
  • SELLING A PROPERTY
  • BUYING A PROPERTY
  • INVESTMENT PROPERTIES
  • FIRST TIME HOME OWNERS
  • PURCHASE OF A COMMERCIAL PROPERTY
  • RENTAL/LEASING MATTERS
As well as our experienced and friendly team, we will also have special guests including local real estate agents, builders, financial brokers and many more to share their tips and tricks.

State of Wellness Summit

STATE OF WELLNESS SUMMIT // Creating Sustainable Positive Changes In The Lives of Women

We are honored to be sponsoring this amazing wellness movement that is all about creating sustainable positive changes in the lives of women.

You will be able to find our team on Thursday 10th October at GMHBA stadium sharing our knowledge with everyone on how NOT to sweat your finances.

Hosted by Geelong’s charismatic and life-changer Roxie Bennett, there will also be speakers including:
LAUREN BURNS // Olympic Gold Medalist, Naturopath/Nutritionist
JANE KINNEAR // Positive Change Coach, Speaker + Registered Nurse
REBECCA WINKLER // Naturopath + GAPS Practitioner
JO SURKITT // Though Leader, Speaker, Leader + Positive Change Creator
CAL STEWART // Feng Shui Consultant
MADELINE WEST // Food and Mood Centre at Deakin University
KIM BYRNE // Female Mentor, Author + Acclaimed Surfer
AMANDA WILKENS // Canny Group Director, CPA, Chief Financial Operator + Supporter of Women in Business
SAMANTHA BUTCHER // Financial Adviser
DR. CAROLINE TAYLOR-WALKER // Principal Doctor + Lecturer

THURSDAY 10TH OCTOBER 2019
HIGHER MARK @ GMHBA STADIUM GEELONG

Director Amanda Wilkens along financial adviser Samantha Butcher are going to be on stage from 3.30pm for the Q+A Expert Panel answering all of the questions related to women finances.

By using the following link, https://www.stateofwellness.com.au/ we are lucky enough to be able to offer a $50 discount on all tickets that are purchased, just enter CannyFriend as the promo code to apply your discount.

Deceased Estates

There are no inheritance or estate taxes in Australia.  The person responsible for administering a deceased estate is most commonly referred to as an executor, but could also be an administrator where letters of administration are granted by a court.  Both are considered a legal personal representative by us.

When a person dies, there are some important tax and superannuation issues for the executor and the beneficiaries, including:

 

IF YOU ARE A BENEFICIARY OF A DECEASED ESTATE

There may be some tax obligations for beneficiaries, depending on the nature of any distribution they may receive:

RECEIVING SUPER BENEFITS

If the deceased person had super, the super fund’s trustee will work out who to pay any benefit to [either as a lump sum or an income stream].  Super paid after a person’s death is called a ‘super death benefit’.  The tax on a super death benefit depends on:

  • WHETHER YOU WERE A DEPENDENT OF THE DECEASED UNDER TAXATION LAW
  • WHETHER IT IS PAID AS A LUMP SUM OR INCOME STREAM
  • WHETHER THE SUPER IS TAX-FREE OR TAXABLE AND WHETHER THE SUPER FUND HAS ALREADY PAID TAX ON THE TAXABLE COMPONENT
  • YOUR AGE AND THE AGE OF THE DECEASED PERSON WHEN THEY DIED (FOR INCOME STREAMS).

RECEIVING ASSETS

Capital gains tax (CGT) applies to the disposal of an asset; so if you receive an asset you are not affected by CGT.  If you later sell that asset, CGT may apply.

EARNING INCOME

If you as a beneficiary are presently entitled to income of the deceased estate, the income is assessable in the year your present entitlement arose, not in the year the amount is received.

For example, if you were presently entitled to the deceased estate income on 30 June 2018 but did not receive it until September 2018, you are personally assessable on that amount in the year ended 30 June 2018, not in the year ended 30 June 2019.

COMPLETING YOUR TAX RETURN

As a beneficiary, you need the following information:

  • YOUR SHARE OF TRUST INCOME TO WHICH YOU ARE PRESENTLY ENTITLED
  • THE AMOUNT OF YOUR ENTITLEMENT THAT WAS PAID TO SOMEONE ELSE FOR YOUR BENEFIT
  • THE ASSESSABLE INCOME AMOUNT
  • YOUR SHARE OF FRANKING CREDITS ASSOCIATED WITH ANY DIVIDENDS IN THE TRUST DISTRIBUTION
    • THIS MEANS THAT THE COMPANY PAYING THE DIVIDENDS HAS PAID INCOME TAX FOR THE AMOUNT.
    • IF YOU ARE AN AUSTRALIAN RESIDENT BENEFICIARY, YOU ARE ENTITLED TO THE ASSOCIATED FRANKING CREDIT WHEN THE INCOME DISTRIBUTION IS INCLUDED IN YOUR TAX RETURN FOR INDIVIDUALS.

BENEFICIARIES PRESENTLY ENTITLED BUT UNDER A LEGAL DISABILITY

If you are a beneficiary presently entitled but under a legal disability you also need to know the amount of tax the trust paid on your behalf.  If you need to lodge your own tax return you are entitled to receive a tax credit for this so that the same amount isn’t taxed twice.

NON-RESIDENT BENEFICIARIES

If you are a non-resident beneficiary, you will also need to know the amount of:

  • INTEREST IN YOUR DISTRIBUTION AND THE WITHHOLDING TAX PAID
  • UNFRANKED DIVIDENDS IN YOUR DISTRIBUTION AND THE WITHHOLDING TAX PAID
  • FRANKED DIVIDENDS IN YOUR DISTRIBUTION
  • TAX THE TRUST PAID ON YOUR BEHALF

 

Kim Sandhu – Senior Accountant

CPA – B.Com M.Acc

Investment Properties – What Happens When You Sell?

Investment Properties – What happens when you sell?

When you sell an investment property, you are likely to make a capital gain or profit and will be required to pay tax on it.  The tax consequences depend on a range of issues, from whether you inherited or purchased the property, to your intention for the property if it was a new build.

In certain circumstances, an inherited property can be tax free when it is sold, but this is dependent on who you inherited the property from, how they used the property before you and when you sold it.  Was it an investment property for them or a principal place of residence?  The answers to these questions will have a bearing on whether there is no taxable capital gain or whether you will end up with a large amount of tax to pay.

Your intention for an investment property can make a difference on whether the ATO will consider it to be subject to capital gains tax or if it should be considered a profit-making venture, especially if you are building on vacant land.  Your intention should be made clear from the outset and documented to avoid complications further down the track.  If your intention is to build a property and keep it for a number of years and rent it, this leans more to the fact that it should be treated as a capital gain.  If you have to sell earlier than you had wished for, the ATO could view it as being a profit-making venture, depending on the time frame between the build being complete and the sale.  This is where documenting your intention can become important.  Where you buy vacant land, or land with a house and demolish it, then proceed to build units on the land, the ATO will consider this a profit-making venture.  In this circumstance, you are likely to be required to register for GST as well.

There are many considerations that need to be taken into account when selling an investment property and it is not always a simple process to determine the tax consequences.

 

Danny Grigg – Senior Accountant

B.Comm CA

Advantages + Disadvantages of Investment Properties

Advantages + Disadvantages of Investment Properties

Purchasing an investment property can be a very exciting time and can help build your wealth over time.  However, before rushing out to buy an investment property, it is important you consider the pros and cons.

ADVANTAGES

  • Provision of rental income to help top of other income
  • Help reduce income tax if the property is negatively geared i.e. the rental income is less than the interest on the loan
  • Potential capital growth in value of the property
  • Can be less volatile than shares or other investment options

DISADVANTAGES

  • Lack of investment diversification
  • A lot of money is tied up in one asset that can take time to sell
  • Buying and selling costs can be high
  • Tenancy risk. There is a chance your investment property will have periods of time where it is not tenanted.
  • You are responsible for all ongoing maintenance
  • Capital gains tax will be payable if the property is sold at a profit
  • Interest rate risk – a rise in rates will result in higher loan repayments and a potential reduction in net income
  • A substantial amount of capital is required from the outset

As always, we encourage you to seek professional advice to ensure the decision is right for you.

 

Samantha Butcher – Financial Adviser

BComs Dip FS

How To Plan For Your Possible 2019 Tax Refund + Possibly Maximise It!

How to plan for your possible 2019 tax refund and possibly maximise it!

As the days tick down towards the end of the financial year it is without doubt that many of you are beginning to consider your 2019 Tax Return and hope or perhaps expect you will be in a tax refundable position this year.

I suggest now is the time to begin collating your tax receipts into a tidy folder.  Grouping your deductible tax invoices by the type of expense will assist dramatically in allowing us to process your return effectively and efficiently.  For those taxpayers that have numerous allowable deductions, consider storing copies of the tax invoices on your phone in a folder titled “2018/19 Tax Receipts”.  Further, for example, a tradesman who may have purchased a number of tools during the year, adding these into an excel spreadsheet and totalling them will be of great assistance.

With the above in mind in order maximise any tax refund you may be entitled to [or reduce your tax payable] ensuring you include/remember all your allowable deductions is essential.  The Australian Taxation Office provides “industry and occupation specific guides” [see link at the bottom of the article].  These guides will allow a number of you to review what expenditures you may have incurred in carrying on your job as a wage earner in common industries [note this is not an exhaustive list].  Moreover, they will advise you on a number of deductions that are not allowable and save you the time of collecting these.

Hopefully the above tips will assist you this tax season and come the new financial year we look forward to seeing you all and again assisting in the preparation of your Tax Returns.

https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Income-and-deductions/Occupation-and-industry-specific-guides/

 

Sam Higgins – Accountant

BComm