Archive for 'General news'

How to make your website accessible

Posted on 12 August '20 by , under General news. No Comments.

The key goal for all business websites is to attract as many visitors as possible. However, not many business owners remember to cater their website to those with special needs and disabilities. To make sure your website is accessible for everyone on the internet, here are a few tips to consider.

Be mindful of your colour choices

Colour is often viewed as a major contributor to making a website visually appealing. However, not all people have the privilege to distinguish between colours, or may find it difficult to read texts over certain colours. It is therefore important to be mindful of the colours you choose to use on your website as well as the contrast levels between your text and background colours. For example, red-green colour deficiency is most common among individuals experiencing colour blindness so it is best to avoid using such colours on your website altogether. Using visual cues such as asterisks and question marks can also be helpful in separating content otherwise divided by colour.

Ensure your website is keyboard and mobile-friendly

Not all of your website’s visitors are going to be on a computer, so it is important to make sure your website is both keyboard and mobile friendly. Keyboard-only navigation means that all of the content, links and pages on your website can be accessed without a mouse, often using the ‘tab’ key. It is also important to accommodate mobile users and make sure your website can shrink down to the vertical, zooming and pinching format while also retaining its functionality.

Include alternative text for images

Visitors may prefer to read text over viewing images on your website due to a number of reasons, such as slow internet connection, image-blocking browsers or users who are sight-impaired. To satisfy such audiences, consider providing descriptive alternative texts in place of images to convey the same message to those who cannot see them. Alternative text is especially important in cases where your image acts as a page link or is integral to the content on your website.

Make sure your content is structured

A clean and uniform structure is integral to making your website accessible and this can be achieved by using headings to correctly organise your content. Headings can be used to help visitors easily navigate between your content, but it is also important to make sure your headings are visually uniform to prevent confusion between different content pages on your website.

What to consider when developing a sales strategy plan

Posted on 12 August '20 by , under General news. No Comments.

A successful sales strategy plan will provide your business with clear priorities, goals, and outcomes that can help you increase sales.

Outline your mission and goals

What’s your business’ mission statement? What are the goals and objectives that will help you achieve this? Your mission statement should define what your business stands for and what it aims to achieve, while your goals and objectives should be aimed at executing your mission. Consider using the S.M.A.R.T. framework when developing your goals to ensure that they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time based.

Identify your ideal customer

Knowing your ideal customer persona is crucial as it will be the basis of your marketing strategy. Assess your ideal audience by researching their demographics, needs and wants while thinking about how your products or services have to offer them. Don’t limit your demographic research to age, location, and gender, but also consider their attitudes, aspirations, and lifestyle.

Conduct a SWOT analysis

Assessing your business by using a SWOT analysis can help you identify areas to consider when developing a sales strategy plan, by addressing:

Strengths:

  • What are your strongest assets?
  • How skilled is your sales and marketing team?
  • What advantages does your business have over competitors?
  • What resources are available to you?

Weaknesses:

  • What are your areas of improvement?
  • What types of complaints do your customers have?
  • Where do you fall behind from your competitors?
  • Are you working with limitations on resources or skills?

Opportunities:

  • Are there changes in the business environment you can benefit from?
  • Have there been changes in the market that could present an opportunity?
  • Do your competitors have weaknesses or gaps you can fill?

Threats:

  • Are your competitors expanding or getting stronger?
  • How satisfied are your customers?
  • Are there changes in the economy, consumer behaviours, or government regulations that could affect your sales?

Buying property through your SMSF

Posted on 12 August '20 by , under General news. No Comments.

Using SMSFs to buy property has become increasingly popular among Australians in recent years, particularly since it became possible for SMSFs to borrow money to fund a direct property purchase.

Residential property

A residential property owned by an SMSF has some limitations as to who it can be leased to.

To buy property through your SMSF, the property must meet the following requirements:

  • It meets the ‘sole purpose test’ of solely providing retirement benefits to members of the fund.
  • It is not acquired from a related party of a fund member.
  • It is not to be lived in or rented by a fund member or a party related to a fund member.

Commercial property

A commercial property owned by an SMSF can be leased to a wider range of tenants than residential properties. Commercial property purchased for business purposes can be purchased from a member of the SMSF or a related entity. This allows small business owners to use their SMSF to purchase the premises from which their own business is run, enabling them to pay rent directly to their fund. This can be preferable to paying rent to an alternate landlord. However, keep in mind that rent must be at market rate and be paid promptly and in full at each due date.

SMSF borrowing

SMSFs can borrow money to purchase a property, however, the borrowing criteria for an SMSF is generally much stricter than regular property loans taken out by individuals. All loans must be undertaken through a limited recourse borrowing arrangement (LRBA). An LRBA involves an SMSF trustee taking out a loan to purchase a single asset, such as a residential or commercial property. Under the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993, super fund trustees can use borrowed money to pay for regular repairs and maintenance. However, borrowed money under the LRBA cannot be used for property improvements or renovations that result in the acquirable asset becoming a different asset. This may include adding additional rooms to the property or completely renovating a room.

Tax consequences

Buying and renting property through an SMSF also comes with tax consequences. SMSF funds are required to pay 15% tax on rental income from properties purchased through the fund. However, properties held for over 12 months receive a one third discount on any capital gains made upon the sale, bringing any CGT liability down to 10%.

Expenses such as interest from loans, council rates, maintenance and insurance can be claimed as tax deductions by the SMSF.

As well as this, once SMSF members reach pension phase, any rental income or capital gains arising in the fund will be tax-free.

SMSF property costs

SMSF property sales often attract higher fees that can end up reducing your super balance. Fees and charges can include:

  • legal fees,
  • property management fees,
  • bank fees,
  • advice fees, and
  • stamp duty.

What is a TPAR and do you need to lodge one?

Posted on 12 August '20 by , under General news. No Comments.

The Taxable Payments Annual Report (TPAR) is an industry-specific report through which businesses inform the ATO of the total payments made to contractors for services in that financial year. This information is then used by the ATO to match the contractors’ income declarations to improve their compliance efforts.

A TPAR is generally required by businesses that have an Australian Business Number (ABN), have supplied a relevant service and have made payments to contractors for services completed on your behalf. Contractors can be operating as sole traders, partnerships, companies or trusts. The following services are considered relevant:

  • Building and construction services
  • Courier or Road freight services
  • Cleaning services
  • Information Technology services
  • Investigation or surveillance services

If your business provides these services, regardless of whether it is only a part of the services you offer, or if it is a federal, state, territory or local government entity, you are obligated to report the payments made to third parties through a TPAR.

It is important to remember that not all payments need to be reported. Your taxable payments annual report does not require details of:

  • Payments for exclusively materials
  • PAYG withholding payments
  • Contractors who do not provide an ABN
  • Incidental labour costs
  • Invoices that are unpaid as of 30 June
  • Payments within consolidated groups
  • Payments for private and domestic projects.

Only payments made to contractors for work that is relevant to carrying on your business needs to be reported. Your TPAR is due by 28 August each year, and fines may apply for not lodging the report by the specified deadline.

If your business does not need to lodge a TPAR for a particular financial year, consider submitting an optional non-lodgement advice through the ATO business portal to avoid unnecessary follow-up about TPAR lodgements.

Using your tax return wisely

Posted on 7 July '19 by , under General news. No Comments.

Getting your tax refund back is exciting, but as tempting as it is to splurge, consider other ways you can put that money to good use. It is easy to get caught treating your return as extra money when you shouldn’t see it any differently than your regular paycheck. Give the money a purpose by thinking about your personal financial situation and determining your needs.

Emergency fund:
An emergency fund can make all the difference if a difficult financial situation comes up, acting as a backup in the case of an emergency such as losing your job or medical costs. Building an emergency fund with enough money to cover at least three months worth of expenses is a good starting point. Make sure the money is added to a high-interest savings account to utilise compound interest. If you are contributing regularly to this fund, adding money from your tax return can boost it above schedule.

Make debt repayments:
With a bit more money at your disposal, now is the time to make repayments on debts you may have. Start with the higher interest debts and work down, your interest repayments will drop when you lower your outstanding balance. These debts can be things like credit cards, personal loans, outstanding bills or mortgage repayments.

Budget 2018: living stronger

Posted on 8 May '18 by , under General news. No Comments.

The Government is focused on encouraging older Australians to better grow and secure their personal retirement funds.

Retirees exempt from work test
An exemption from the work test will be established to allow retired Australians aged between 65-74 who have total super balances below $300,000 in their first year that they do not meet the work test criteria, to make voluntary payments into their superannuation funds.

Retirement income strategy
Superannuation trustees will now be required to produce a retirement income strategy for their superannuation fund members. This is due to new amendments to the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993.

The Government is also set to revise the Corporations Act 2001 to ensure providers of retirement income products will supply standardised and simplified reporting to assist with more informed decision making.

Pension Work Bonus
Increase in funding to the Pension Work Bonus will mean that pensioners can now receive up to $300 per fortnight before their pension payments are affected. The Bonus will also cover self-employed individuals, who will be entitled to receive up to $7,800 per year without reducing their pension payments.

Funding for older workers program
Additional funding will be provided over four years to form the Skills Checkpoint for Older Workers program, starting from 2018-19. This measure will focus on supporting employees aged 45 to 70 to remain working for longer.

Improved skills for mature age Australians
Funding will be provided over the next five years to help mature age individuals to remain up to date with changing and new skills needed to remain relevant in their workplace.

Consolidating your super

Posted on 12 April '17 by , under General news, Super. No Comments.

Chances are, if you have had more than one job, you will most likely have multiple super accounts.

Having multiple super accounts means more fees and less savings. Consolidating all your super accounts into one account can help you to keep track of your super, reduce unnecessary paperwork, and most importantly, save on costs.

The first step in consolidating your super is selecting a fund to move all of your super savings into. When comparing funds, consider funds with lower fees; suitable investment options; extra benefits; funds which have performed well over the last 5 years; and provide appropriate insurance cover for your needs.

Once you have selected a new super fund, you may need to open an account with the fund and provide your employer with the new details. You will then need to rollover super to your chosen fund either online through myGov or you can transfer your super by using a form and sending it to your chosen fund. Some funds have an online process too.

Before consolidating your super, be sure to check the impact on your retirement benefit if you are in a defined benefit fund. It is also good practice to check that you are not losing benefits, such as insurance, and look up the cost of exit fees of your old fund. If you are unsure if consolidating your super is right for you, seek professional advice.

Consolidating your super

Posted on 12 April '17 by , under General news. No Comments.

Chances are, if you have had more than one job, you will most likely have multiple super accounts.

Having multiple super accounts means more fees and less savings. Consolidating all your super accounts into one account can help you to keep track of your super, reduce unnecessary paperwork, and most importantly, save on costs.

The first step in consolidating your super is selecting a fund to move all of your super savings into. When comparing funds, consider funds with lower fees; suitable investment options; extra benefits; funds which have performed well over the last 5 years; and provide appropriate insurance cover for your needs.

Once you have selected a new super fund, you may need to open an account with the fund and provide your employer with the new details. You will then need to rollover super to your chosen fund either online through myGov or you can transfer your super by using a form and sending it to your chosen fund. Some funds have an online process too.

Before consolidating your super, be sure to check the impact on your retirement benefit if you are in a defined benefit fund. It is also good practice to check that you are not losing benefits, such as insurance, and look up the cost of exit fees of your old fund. If you are unsure if consolidating your super is right for you, seek professional advice.

New measure to combat franked distributions funded by capital raisings

Posted on 12 April '17 by , under General news. No Comments.

The Government has announced a new measure in the 2016-17 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook to prevent the distribution of franking credits where a distribution to shareholders is funded by particular capital raising activities.

This new measure is intended to address issues raised by the Tax Office’s Taxpayer Alert 2015/2 regarding arrangements used by companies for the purpose of, or for purposes which include, releasing franking credits or streaming dividends to shareholders.

The ATO have been reviewing arrangements with all or most of the following features:

  • A company with a significant franking credit balance raises new capital from existing or new shareholders, i.e., issuing renounceable rights to shareholders. Shareholders may include large institutional superannuation funds.

  • The company makes franked distributions to its shareholders, at a similar time to the capital raising and a similar amount of capital is raised. This may occur as a special dividend or through an off-market buy-back of shares, where the dividend forms part of the purchase price of the shares.

  • Overall, there is minimal net cash inflow to or outflow from the company; the net asset position of the company remains essentially unchanged but their franking account is significantly reduced, and there is minimal impact on the shareholders (except in some cases they may receive refunds of franking credits, and in the case of buy-backs they may also get improved capital gains tax outcomes.)

The new measure is set to apply to distributions made after 12.00pm (AEDT) on 19 December 2016. The measure has not been enacted and is subject to the normal parliamentary process.

New measure to combat franked distributions funded by capital raisings

Posted on 12 April '17 by , under General news, Tax. No Comments.

The Government has announced a new measure in the 2016-17 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook to prevent the distribution of franking credits where a distribution to shareholders is funded by particular capital raising activities.

This new measure is intended to address issues raised by the Tax Office’s Taxpayer Alert 2015/2 regarding arrangements used by companies for the purpose of, or for purposes which include, releasing franking credits or streaming dividends to shareholders.

The ATO have been reviewing arrangements with all or most of the following features:

  • A company with a significant franking credit balance raises new capital from existing or new shareholders, i.e., issuing renounceable rights to shareholders. Shareholders may include large institutional superannuation funds.

  • The company makes franked distributions to its shareholders, at a similar time to the capital raising and a similar amount of capital is raised. This may occur as a special dividend or through an off-market buy-back of shares, where the dividend forms part of the purchase price of the shares.

  • Overall, there is minimal net cash inflow to or outflow from the company; the net asset position of the company remains essentially unchanged but their franking account is significantly reduced, and there is minimal impact on the shareholders (except in some cases they may receive refunds of franking credits, and in the case of buy-backs they may also get improved capital gains tax outcomes.)

The new measure is set to apply to distributions made after 12.00pm (AEDT) on 19 December 2016. The measure has not been enacted and is subject to the normal parliamentary process.