The devil is in the detail when it comes to digesting the results of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s “worst performing” super list.
While anything that gets people more actively involved in understanding and reviewing their superannuation fund is to be commended, but it needs to be understood that the APRA league table was an assessment of the relative performances of MySuper Funds only.
MySuper Funds act as a default account for people who do not choose their own super fund when they start a new job. According to government legislation, MySuper accounts are designed to be:
- Simple: With a single diversified investment option or a lifecycle option, depending on the fund, with simple plain English explanations of products and features.
- Low cost: Like a basic home loan, MySuper funds are very “vanilla” in nature, with restrictions on the type of fees that can be charged.
- Easy to compare: MySuper fund dashboards follow a standard format so they can be easily compared.
MySuper Funds that Failed to Meet the Benchmark
Retail, industry, and corporate funds all can offer MySuper options to members in the accumulation (pre-retirement) phase. APRA’s inaugural results assessed 76 MySuper funds, with at least five years of performance history, against an objective benchmark.
A total of 13 products failed to meet this benchmark. Among the 13 funds deemed failures by APRA were:
- AMG Super – AMG MySuper
- ASGARD Independence Plan Division Two – ASGARD Employee MySuper
- Australian Catholic Superannuation and Retirement Fund – LifetimeOne
- AvSuper Fund – AvSuper Growth (MySuper)
- BOC Gases Superannuation Fund – BOC MySuper
- Christian Super – My Ethical Super
- Colonial First State FirstChoice Superannuation Trust
- Commonwealth Bank Group Super – Accumulate Plus Balanced
- Energy Industries Superannuation Scheme Pool A – Balanced (MySuper)
- Labour Union Co-Operative Retirement Fund – MySuper Balanced
- Maritime Super – MYSUPER INVESTMENT OPTION
- Retirement Wrap – BT Super MySuper
- The Victorian Independent Schools Superannuation Fund – VISSF Balanced Option (MySuper Product)
However, almost all of the super funds highlighted will have other portfolios and other fund options which may be performing well and meeting the needs of members. The important takeout from this is to ensure you understand your super fund – including the costs, the portfolio and whether it suits your overall needs and risk profile.
If you want help getting more actively involved in your super, including reviewing your current superannuation policy, super strategy options and assessing whether you are on track to meet your retirement goals, contact the Affinitas Financial Planning team on 07 3359 5244 or
To read the full APRA Superannuation report, see https://www.apra.gov.au/news-and-publications/apra-releases-inaugural-your-future-your-super-performance-test-results
At Affinitas, we admire the contributions made by all our small business clients – but we do help look after some organisations who are giving back to their communities in very special and unique ways. For these organisations – and the dedicated teams who run them – the desired outcomes go way beyond making money.
They are about making a positive and lasting difference to their clients and communities.
Growing RREPP For Fairtrade
RREPP is a Sydney Northern Beaches based business with a global reach that has grown from a mere seed thought in the mind of Socialpreneur and Founding Director Scott Goddard.
For more than a decade, Scott has worked on taking an almost unattainable business objective and turning it into a full-blown reality – which is to create a manufacturing business that is completely compatible with Social Justice and Environmental Sustainability. And not just in part – but 100% through every step and every aspect of its supply chain – from the growers of natural raw materials, right through to the last stitch being applied by workers during the final stages of production.
RREPP makes a signature range of sports balls (soccer, futsal, netball, rugby union, touch football, and rugby league) – all of which are minimum match quality and cater to players of all levels – including their top range of soccer balls which are put through the same rigid testing as any of the highest standard FIFA Quality PRO balls sold anywhere in the world. RREPP also produces a range of garments – caps, cotton tees, and polo shirts – that are certified to the highest of global fair trade standards.
Scott says the overarching goal was to engage consumers to understand more about the power of their purchasing. “It’s about how being empowered to make ethical choices can transform the lives of workers, families, and communities that provide us with the clothes we wear, or the sports balls that millions of kids and adults play with around the world every day – from mini-league to World Cups.”
To find out more about RREPP and the products they sell, go to https://www.rrepp.com.au/
Life With Horses
Pursuit of Happier Trails
After facing down her own career crossroads, corporate head of events Kat Creech’s life was turned around when she rediscovered her childhood love of horses. Now Kat is intent on giving back to these wonderful, gentle creatures and helping humans at the same time through her newly formed charity – Life With Horses.
Working under the full title – Life With Horses. Healing Together – the organisation has a dual purpose:
- to provide an eye-opening experience for veterans and others suffering from PTSD and, at the same time,
- working on Kat’s other passion – re-educating, and re-homing retired racehorses.
And there is a third level of experience – for those who want to sponsor a horse and share in the hands-on journey, as the trainers work to retrain and refocus the energies of each sponsor horse. Kat says Life With Horses is a charity that will take all stakeholders on a “life with horses journey” – where everyone gets to experience growth and development through equine awareness.
To learn more about Life With Horses and Ducky – their first sponsored horse – go to https://lifewithhorses.com.au/
Cleveland Film Company
Local Film Company Reaching for the Stars
Affinitas Financial Planning clients Bradford Lee Walton and Diana Petrovic provide the creative force and driving energy behind Cleveland Film Company – a community-based dramatic production company based in Redlands, Queensland.
CFC’s first short film – 5 Moons of Pluto – was released in 2020 to critical acclaim and was shortlisted in film festivals throughout the world. A powerful and visually stunning piece – 5 Moons of Pluto was a triumph and testament to the talents of the cast and crew – and the spirit of the Redlands community.
Not content to rest on its 2020 laurels, Cleveland Film Company currently has three feature film projects fully developed and ready for production;
- Caged Creatures – about a lonely and depressed pet shop owner who finds a somewhat unique solution to her dilemma
- Kane – a tale of horror and evil set in local cane fields
- Psycho-Swipe – a thriller where some promiscuous teenagers get more than they bargain for when using hook-up apps.
Cleveland Film Company’s goal is to produce high-end feature films and VOD Series for low to medium range cost. These projects are enabled by quality scripts, budget discipline and accessibility to cost-effective locations and crew in the region. Operating under the motto – Film Local. Screen Global – Cleveland Film Company celebrates collaboration and community values.
To learn more about Cleveland Film Company and it’s fundraising projects, visit https://www.clevelandfilmcompany.com.au/
Every tax claim you make has the ability to boost your return. But to be a legal claim, it must be directly connected to you earning assessable income. Plus you must have incurred the expenditure and not been reimbursed by your employer.
Except, there are literally thousands of twists, turns, tax rulings, private rulings, court case decisions, and other traps and nuances when it comes to making legal tax claims in Australia. For example, did you know the following Five Fun Facts about ……
Motor Vehicle Claims
- Did you know there are two car claim methods – set rate per km or logbook?
- Set rate per km is available for eligible business km up to 5000km annually. You do not need to keep receipts, but you do need to keep a record of how you calculated your annual km claim.
- Log Book method is only available if you travel more than 5000 eligible km for work purposes, requires a 13-week logbook to establish % use of your vehicle and you must keep all your receipts in relation to vehicle purchase, finance repayments, petrol, repairs, rego, insurance etc.
- If you receive any car allowance, then it needs to be declared as income before you can make any car claim.
- In most cases, travel to and from work is not considered to be claimable work km – but there are some exceptions.
Do you think you might be able to include a motor vehicle claim in your 2021 tax return? If so, why not put your return in the hands of an experienced tax professional?
Tax Time Bookings
Gather Everything. Beware the ATO Targets. Remember The Golden Rule
The days leading up to 30 June are busy ones for all financial service and accounting businesses. As much as we try to avoid it, there always seems to be last-minute transactions to process and tax planning advice required. Throw in some nationwide Covid lockdowns – and it takes the last-minute rush to the next level.
Tax Time 2021
A lot of people are expecting some extra dollars back in their 2021 tax – so we are anticipating a very busy start to the 2021 tax season. As far as tax time appointments are concerned, we are expecting many clients will continue with the virtual appointment regime that was used so successfully during the 2020 tax season.
The use of zoom and tele-appointments proved extremely popular, especially when people realised they did not have to battle traffic, find a park, and/or worry about how to keep the children amused during their annual tax catch-up with our team. But we also will be welcoming some people back into the office (covid lockdowns permitting). As with every tax season, bookings will be available for virtual and face-to-face appointments – including some selected extended night hours and Saturdays.
There are also some new technologies that we have employed in 2021 to help gather your information in a more efficient and effective manner. There will always be an experienced person at the end of your return – but these systems are designed to improve the information gathering and ultimately the turnaround times for your returns – so please bear with us if you get some emails this year that look a little different.
But, overall, in the rush to get back those much anticipated tax refunds, there are three important points that every taxpayer needs to remember.
1. Make Sure You Have All Your Info
A lot of people who are quick off the mark in July run the risk of making mistakes. The ATO – via the myGov portal – provides a lot of information to help people get their returns correct. This includes your work PAYG summaries, bank interest, share dividends, plus they are expanding their reach to provide information from sharing economy platforms, whether you have sold shares or property and even cryptocurrency exchanges. But early in July all this information is still being reported and collated into individual reports for each taxpayer. If you prepare your return too early, you risk the ATO contacting you later in the year to announce that your return is incomplete and require you to lodge an amended return – and often this means paying back all or part of a refund. This is where a little patience in July can save you some grief later in the year.
2. Beware The ATO Targets
The ATO has “favourite” targets that it includes each year on its warning list – including a focus on rental property expenses, cash economy industries and ensuring that any capital gains from rental property and share sales are properly recorded. And this year the ATO tells us that they will be taking a special interest in what people have been doing on cryptocurrency exchanges. Other tips that may help include the following:
- Car claims. Make sure you have a current logbook. If claiming a set rate have diary records or spreadsheet of kms traveled and make sure you take into account this year any time off or work from with COVID.
- Work From Home. If making a claim you need to make sure you have diary records over a month or letters/contracts from work stating that you are working from home.
- Cross Matching Claims. The tax office will be looking closely at claims this year to see if they “make sense” across the board. For example, if you worked from home for some of the year they may question why you are claiming laundry for the whole year. This is where a tax professional will ask all the right questions about whether you wear logo uniforms and how many times a week you wash them and how many months in the year you wore them.
- Internet and Mobile Phone. If you are claiming internet and mobile phone costs for work make sure you have records and have backup of how you worked out % claimed for work.
3. The Golden Rule (for tax claims)
There are many different trades and professions – and a wide range of items that taxpayers can potentially claim as a work-related expense. These things are not set in stone – the ATOs approach to claims, and the records you need to prove your claims, can change from year to year. This is where an experienced and up-to-date professional tax accountant can help ensure you don’t miss any legitimate claim, but also don’t get your claims wrong. But regardless of the potential deduction, the first thing you must ensure is that it meets three basic criteria.
- You must have paid for it – ie spent money on the item concerned – and not been reimbursed that money by your employer
- The expenses must directly relate to the earning of your employment income and must not be private in nature
- You must have a record to prove you made the expenditure (eg a tax invoice/receipt)
Tax Time Bookings
Happy Mothers’ Day, Mums
And to some of Affinitas’ own mums, too!
Affinitas Accounting has always been a team staffed with incredibly talented, efficient, and hard-working mothers. This Mother’s Day, we would like to make special mention of our newest mum, Senior Tax Team Leader Georgie Service, who recently welcomed young William into the world.
So Georgie now gets to join all the other Affinitas mums – Deb Duncan, Toni Sweeney, Erin Smith, Tanya du Preez, Jenelle Hollingdale, Anita Schmidt, Rika Clainos, Michelle Esler, and Natalie Butler – in celebrating Mothers Day 2021.
On behalf of the entire Affinitas Team, we want to acknowledge all mums and sincerely hope they are appropriately spoilt on Sunday. And, in particular, a shout out to the incredible contribution that working mums make to our economy as they juggle professional and family commitments.
Affinitas Recognises Three Outstanding Team Achievers on International Woman’s Day
There are a lot of ingredients that go into the secret sauce that helps run a successful small business. The vision, drive, and decision-making comes from the business owners. But this needs to be mixed with hard work, dedication, and loyalty from team members.
Affinitas has recognised three such outstanding team members, who each have contributed 10 plus years to our journey as a small business. These three outstanding female team members were honoured as International Woman’s Day was approaching. We didn’t necessarily plan it this way – but it was a very appropriate coincidence.
Anita Schmidt, Jenelle Hollingdale, and Michelle Esler have all played significant roles in the successes we have enjoyed as a professional tax, accounting and financial services practice.
Anita has filled the important and central role of admin manager for the practice – taking the lead in managing diaries and website enquiries, onboarding new clients, practice bookkeeping and payroll, software and systems development.
Jenelle is a great team allrounder – filling a key processing role in the complex area of lending applications and combining this with administrative and bookkeeping support for the accounting business.
Michelle is the senior customer service manager in the financial planning team. She is an extremely popular contact with clients and someone who has accumulated a wealth of knowledge across the ever-changing compliance and admin functions of a financial planning practice.
So on behalf of the grateful Affinitas team, and its clients – we thank these three exceptional team members for their extraordinary and loyal service.
Everyone Wins When We Ask Questions About Your Tax Returns
When using the services of an experienced tax professional, many people are surprised by the number of detailed questions asked and documentation requested. Put simply, a professionally qualified tax agent has a duty of care and a legal obligation to ensure the tax laws have been correctly applied to every return they lodge.
Upholding this obligation involves asking appropriate questions and, in some cases, sighting documentation that backs up the income reported and deductions claimed on your returns. In many cases, asking these questions can arrive at identifying more deductions and a better tax outcome. But sometimes it does mean informing clients that a particular expense is not deductible.
Either way, the outcome should be a high level of comfort that the final lodged tax return is correct and defendable if ever questioned by the ATO.
A recent case decided by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (S & T Income Tax Aid Specialists Pty Ltd Trading as Alpha Tax Aid and Tax Practitioners Board  AATA 161) supported and confirmed the Tax Practitioner Board’s decision to terminate the registration of a tax agent due to claiming inflated, unsubstantiated, and/or non-deductible work-related expenses for their clients. This is in addition to the termination of the registration of one of the directors of that firm for threatening an ATO officer.
In this case, the ATO had conducted an audit of eight of the firm’s clients. All eight of the clients audited had work-related expense claims reduced and/or disallowed. On average, the ATO allowed only 18% of the work-related expense deductions claimed. Following the ATO’s complaint to the TPB the firm’s registration was terminated.
Although the list of specific deduction claims and the issues raised is very extensive, briefly the AAT commented in relation to the firm’s conduct:
“The conduct of the applicant in respect to the preparation and lodgement of the ITRs for the eight taxpayers, as detailed above, demonstrates that in 2016, the applicant failed to ensure that a tax agent service it provided, or that was provided on its behalf, was provided competently. The applicant repeatedly claimed work-related expense deductions without first obtaining or satisfying itself that there was appropriate evidence to support the claims; the applicant failed to properly ascertain through its own enquiries and failed to obtain sufficient evidence to support the required nexus between the expense claimed and earning assessable income, and the applicant incorrectly applied the relevant tax law with respect to several of the taxpayers.”
The AAT also indicated that the tax agent had essentially relied solely on the client’s verbal claims and often estimated expenses when receipts were not available.
Further, the evidence provided by the tax agent at the hearing was that even on occasions when he was not convinced an expense was deductible, he would claim it anyway, often with some small reduction “for protection”. The agent seemed to take the position that if the client was happy to take the risk, then he would claim the deduction.
This case should serve as a reminder that tax agents are required to take reasonable care to competently provide their services, including taking steps to verify claims made by clients in relation to deductible expenses and push clients to provide appropriate evidence to support the claims. Tax agents are also obliged to take appropriate steps to ensure that the tax law is being applied correctly.
The Code of Professional Conduct for tax agents includes the following principles:
- You must ensure that a tax agent service that you provide, or that is provided on your behalf, is provided competently.
- You must maintain knowledge and skills relevant to the tax agent services that you provide.
- You must take reasonable care in ascertaining a client’s state of affairs, to the extent that ascertaining the state of those affairs is relevant to a statement you are making or a thing you are doing on behalf of a client.
- You must take reasonable care to ensure that taxation laws are applied correctly to the circumstances in relation to which you are providing advice to a client.” The question that often arises is whether tax agents are required to effectively ‘audit’ their clients before providing tax agent services. The Tax Practitioners Board makes it clear that this is not a requirement, but tax agents are expected to ask clients appropriate questions, based on the registered agent’s professional knowledge and experience, and to obtain supporting documents and evidence where this is appropriate. Cases like this suggest that the threshold is reasonably high and that this is to protect the general public.
(Source: Knowledge Shop Pty Ltd The Round Up February 2021)
Are Your Business Numbers Up To Date?
If you don’t know where you are, how can you plot where you are going?
Those who leave completing their end of year accounts and tax returns until the last possible minute are doing themselves a disservice – particularly if you run a business.
The 2020 financial year finished more than 7 months ago – and there are less than five months to go before the end of the 2021 tax year. By now you should have your annual 2020 returns completed, or at the very least your tax accountant should be contacting you to get them finalised ASAP.
We realise that completing annual accounts and tax returns is not the most exciting job for most – but it is an absolutely critical part of running a business.
The following are 10 very important reasons that you should move quickly to complete your 2020 accounting and tax.
- How did your business perform overall in FY2020 compared with FY2019?
- Which areas of income have improved and which are in the decline?
- What expense items have increased and why? Where they planned for or unexpected?
- What is your tax position for 2020 – remember your bookkeeping software will only tell you part of the story because there are many things that are done only in the end-of-year accounts like bad debt write-offs, asset depreciation and Division 7A loan repayments?
- If you have a tax bill you have time to plan. If you owe the ATO some money, then you can often delay the lodgement and give yourself time to plan for the payment.
- If you are due a refund, then it is better back in your bank account as working capital.
- Where there any one-off effects (positive of negative) that impacted on the 2020 result (Covid downturn? Stimulus payments?)
- Your final 2020 results will establish a base by which you can assess the year-to-date (YTD) performance for 2021.
- The 2020 results compared with your 2021 YTD will provide you with the opportunity to conduct projections and tax planning for your 2021 result.
- If you are planning to purchase business assets to write off for 2021, then you need to plan this before the end of March, because there can be significant delays in supply of the assets and also delays in obtaining finance to purchase the assets.
So when you receive those reminder calls and emails from your accountants with requests for outstanding information needed to complete returns, remember it is going to be in your (and your businesses) best interest to put aside some time to answer those queries and get your numbers finalised. And if you are concerned that your tax agent or accountant has not been in touch, then find out why and make sure you get things moving.
If your needs cannot be met in a timely manner, then you may need to contact a firm with the capacity to complete the work for you as soon as possible.
For enquiries about new client onboarding, contact the Affinitas Accounting at or 07 3359 5244.
Why Count Financial was the best partner for Affinitas Financial Planning
Choosing a licensee is a decision to never be taken lightly. Affinitas Financial Planning recently travelled down that road and explain what impacted their decision to choose Count Financial. Brad Peters, Director, and Senior Financial Planner at Affinitas Financial Planning, took a lot of care and time to decide. “Starting with a matrix of assessment factors, I divided licensees into three general categories – Must, Preferable and Nice (but not necessary). Then, with the help of a consultant, I met with about 14 potential licensees. It then came down to a final three – where we went into a lot more depth.”
“Of all of the licensees, Count Financial was always ahead in terms of financial backing and potential long term stability.” Brad spent time getting to know people like Matthew Rowe and Andrew Kennedy – and spoke with some of the key people he would be working with on a daily basis to better understand the service offerings, cost structures, and cultural alignment. Brad also spoke with some existing Count Financial advisor firms and was made aware of how they were going to be remoulded and reinvigorated under CountPlus ownership.
“In the end, I felt Count Financial understood who we were, could provide what we needed, and valued what we offered,” explains Brad. “Count Financial provided a clear outline of the steps required, helped us prepare, and was always there to assist with advice and practical help at each step. Count Financial delivered on everything they promised as far as pricing and levels of support were concerned during the changeover process.”
As a result of transferring to Count Financial, Brad feels that Affinitas Financial Planning now has the right levels of support in key areas to ensure they can continue to service existing clients, write new business, and remain compliant.
“We have been able to contact key decision-makers/support people when needed, and have received real value from having ongoing access to a dedicated Practice Development Manager,” Brad explains. “Affinitas Financial Planning firm has operated as part of an overall business structure that includes an accounting practice. Support for accounting qualified financial planners has always been part of Count’s DNA. Therefore, practice development will always be mindful of how changes in the tax/accounting landscape will impact our overall business.”
In addition to support, Brad says the Australia-wide network of Count Financial firms and the CountPlus ownership model provides some potentially exciting succession planning opportunities.
“Businesses don’t change licensees for fun – because it is a labour intensive, time-consuming and potentially costly process.” However, Brad explains that it is going to be a necessary reality for many advisory firms who want to secure their long term future in the financial planning industry. Choosing the right licensee makes all the difference.
Operating for 20 years, Affinitas Financial Planning is part of the wider Affinitas group, a Brisbane-based business that provides individual and small business clients with a holistic offering covering accounting, tax, finance, investment, and personal insurance advice. The accounting practice services about 1400 clients, of which about 400 are an investment and/or insurance clients.
Article taken from CountPlus Annual Report 2020. For the full article, click here.
Sorting Out Late Tax Returns
It’s Easier Than You Think
In 30 years of preparing tax returns, some of the most relieved and happy clients you come across are those whom we have helped “catch up” and lodge late tax returns. Apart from straight out forgetfulness, failure to lodge a return can happen for a variety of reasons, including illness or any other adverse change in personal circumstances.
Sometimes people move overseas for a time period and don’t realise they still have obligations to lodge an Australian tax return. For most, the obligation to lodge a tax return will not go away despite how many years you delay and/or the reasons for the delay. The Tax Office will eventually catch up with you.
All you achieve by delaying your lodgements is cause yourself worry, risk late fees, and the potential that your records – particularly legitimate deductions – may be lost or destroyed. But putting yourself in the hands of an experienced tax professional can make the journey can be a lot less painful than you imagine.
Consider the following testimonial we have recently received from a client, who was four years behind with their returns.
“We were recommended to use Affinitas Accounting by a friend. From the first contact, Debbie was friendly, professional, very efficient, and extremely knowledgeable in her field. She took us on as expats needing to complete our last four years’ worth of income tax returns and was so patient and helpful when we had to get all our documents sorted and what she needed to complete the return. Even though the timeframe had us close to the Christmas break, she worked overtime to have it complete for us and ready to submit before the new year. We cannot recommend her company enough and will definitely be using her services each year from now on.”
So if you are late with your tax returns (or you know someone who is) then make getting up to date your New Year’s resolution. Contact us on 07 3359 5244 or