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  • 13Dec2018

    Top 10 New Year Resolutions for Small Businesses

    Every New Year provides the opportunity for a fresh start – and this is especially true for a small business owner.

    Most small business people get to take at least some time off during December and January to recharge their batteries.

    So what are the New Year business resolutions that could turn 2019 into a bumper business period?

    1. Learn To Delegate and Do More of It

    Small business people are amongst the worst at convincing themselves that they need to do it all. This leads to inefficiencies and tired and overworked business owners who can never find the time to spend on the critical planning and growth areas of their business. Start by delegating some of the small tasks to others and see how it starts to free up your time. If you can get this area right, you’ll have a better business and a better work-life balance.

    1. Promote Your Business Regularly and Consistently

    The task of attracting new customers and keeping the existing ones happy is often at the bottom of the To Do list. Promote it up the order and work on creating a marketing plan – either by yourself or with the help of marketing professionals. Then, remember Point No. 1, when you identify marketing tasks that need to be followed through, delegate wherever possible.

    1. Make Business Planning a Weekly Event

    Analysing what is working and not working and analysing progress towards your goals should not be just a one per year or half year job. The business  environment is ever-changing and you need to be constantly assessing your progress and planning ahead. This is one way where you can avoid making costly mistakes.

    1. Learn Something New

    New skills can help you grow as both a person and a business leader. Sometimes these new skills can be directly related to business. Others can be totally unrelated to business, but just designed to give you important time and head-space away from business. Plus you’ll potentially be a more interesting person to talk to at dinner if you have interests that are outside of your business.

    1. Join a Business Organisation or Networking Group

    These can be helpful as a source of new business, but also as a source of business ideas. They can either be specific to your industry or draw on people from different backgrounds. Both these mixes can be helpful. Do your research prior to joining one of these groups and make sure what it’s offering can help you achieve your business goals.

    1. Give Back To Your Community

    Small business is always part of a community. It’s likely that many of your customers are involved with the same schools, churches, charities and other community groups as you and your family. Always get involved for the right reasons. People will recognise your efforts and goodwill will grow. Some small businesses often decide to use this type of volunteering as a group effort  – something that will bind the team together away from the day-to-day pressures of being in business.

    1. Put Time For Yourself In The Calendar

    The success of a small business always depends on the input of the owners. Happy and healthy owners make better business decisions and are more likely to have the energy, commitment and foresight to run a long term, profitable business. Don’t look at it as goofing off or being lazy – look at it as investing in yourself for the long term good of you, your family and your business.

    1. Set Realistic Goals

    It’s relatively easy to plug big numbers into a budget forecast and come up with a fantastic projected result. But there is nothing more deflating than seeing those forecasts not met month after month. You have to set business goals that will stretch you and your team – but they have to be realistic, even if they are not easily achievable. Otherwise, you are just running your business on pipe dreams.

    1. Don’t Just Make Do – Get a New One

    Re-look at your business after a rest and see if you can identify any road blocks to productivity. Whether it’s old, unreliable equipment, or team members who are just not suited to the roles they have been given – it may be time to consider replacement. The cost of replacing things that aren’t working is sometimes much less than the long term costs of struggling on with inefficient equipment or team members.

    1. Drop What’s Not Working And Move On

    Whether it’s outdated sales methods, computer systems or unreliable suppliers/contractors, don’t continue spending time trying to make the unworkable workable. Make a change and move on, because almost inevitably when you do you will find something or someone who is a better fit for your business.

    So what are your New Year’s Business Resolutions going to be?

    Will they be the ones that make a real difference to your life and your bottom line in 2019?

    Source: Ward, Susan. Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions For Business Success. The Balance Small Business, August 22, 2018. 

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    Affinitas' Top Ten Small Business New Year's Resolutions
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  • 07Dec2018

    Top 10 Tips for Turning a Festive Season Profit

    For many, Christmas is known as The Season To Be Spending.

    But with a bit of forethought, you can often turn things around and earn some extra cash over the holiday season.

    For individuals and families, there are quite a few alternatives that could be considered.

    1. Renting Out Your Home

      Christmas holidays is the time when people are on the move visiting family and friends. If you are heading away over the holiday period, you might want to consider offering your house as a potential rental. Services like Airbnb can help you market and facilitate this type of short-term rental.

    2. Keen Cooks 

      If you are a dab hand in the kitchen, you may find there is a market in making some extra Christmas goodies. Many people nowadays chose to buy Christmas cakes, plum puddings, plus seasonal sweets like White Christmas and will be happy to pay for genuine home made articles.

    3. Handy Hobbies

      If you are handy at woodwork, cabinetry, metalwork, sewing or general arts and crafts, then there is a market to service people looking to source and buy traditional hand-made gifts.

    4. Angles for Anglers 

      The consumption of seafood reaches a peak over the Christmas holidays. If you are a keen and skilful angler, and able to catch an excess of prawns, crabs or fish, you may find many workmates and neighbours who are keen to source their seafood from someone they know and avoid the long pre-Christmas lines at seafood outlets.

    5. Be Fruitful

      Many people nowadays are making the most of their gardens to grow their own vegetables and fruits. If you are lucky enough to have excess of good quality home grown, mangoes, cherries, watermelons or citrus fruit, then there will be plenty of people willing to buy.

    For businesses, the quiet times can provide an opportunity to inject extra cash into the coffers for the New Year.

    1. Show Me The Money

      If you have been busy completing work in the lead up to Christmas, you may have fallen behind with your invoicing. Use this time to get all your invoicing up to date – and hopefully your debtors will be filled with the spirit of Christmas – and pay on time.

    2. Follow Up Leads

      There may have been enquiries come through in the past few months that you have not had time to fully explore. Over the quiet Christmas period, you should follow up these business leads. Who knows, the people who have contacted you might be interested, but just have not had the time to assess your proposal. A timely follow up from you could put you ahead of the pack.

    3. New Year Deposits 

      You probably have a list of jobs that you know needs to be started in the New Year. You can use the time to schedule these jobs into your work calendar and take deposits from clients to secure the starting date.

    4. Sell Surplus Assets 

      If you get a chance to get out of your office and have a walk around your factory or work compound, you may be able to identify equipment or other assets that you are no longer using. Rather than keeping these lying around, you might be able to sell them and inject some extra capital into your business.

    5. Review Expenses

      As the year winds down, you may finally have time to pull out the reports sent to you by the accountants and look through your list of work expenses and identify areas where you might be able to make savings – and improve your margins.

    None of the above should take away from your enjoyment of the Festive Season. In fact, if you are able to free up some extra cash, or have your early New Year work schedule better organised, it can only help make your holiday break a stress free and relaxing time.

    10 Tips for Turning a Festive Season Profit
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  • 29Nov2018

    Fringe Benefits Tax and the season to be jolly!

    Don’t let Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) become the Grinch that spoils Christmas for your organisation.

    If you are the person in charge of organising your work Christmas festivities, you need to make sure that they comply with current FBT guidelines.

    There is scope within the FBT rules to celebrate, but you need to know how they work, or consult someone who does. That might be someone in the internal accounting team or, in a smaller organisation, you may need to chat with your external accountant.

    When planning your Christmas party list (and checking it twice), consider:

    • How much it costs
    • Where and when it is held – a party held on business premises on a normal work day is treated differently to an event outside of work
    • Who is invited ? Is it just for employees, or are partners, clients or suppliers also invited?

    Christmas presents or gifts may also attract FBT. You’ll need to consider:

    • The amount you spend
    • The type of gift – gifts of wine or hampers are treated differently to gifts like tickets to a movie or sporting event
    • To whom who you are giving the gift? There are different rules for employees and clients or suppliers.

    Early planning will allow you to either avoid paying FBT or start planning now for how much FBT you will have to pay on top of the costs of the function and gifts.

    Christmas parties

    There is no separate fringe benefits tax (FBT) category for Christmas parties and you may encounter many different circumstances when providing these events to your staff. Fringe benefits provided by you, an associate, or under an arrangement with a third party to any current employees, past and future employees and their associates (spouses and children), may attract FBT.

    Implications for taxpaying (non-exempt) organisations

    If you are not a tax-exempt organisation and do not use the 50-50 split method for meal entertainment, the following explanations may help you determine whether there are FBT implications arising from a Christmas party.

    Exempt property benefits

    The costs (such as food and drink) associated with Christmas parties are exempt from FBT if they are provided on a working day on your business premises and consumed by current employees. The property benefit exemption is only available for employees, not associates.

    Exempt benefits – minor benefits

    The provision of a Christmas party to an employee may be a minor benefit and exempt if the cost of the party is less than $300 per employee and certain conditions are met. The benefit provided to an associate of the employee may also be a minor benefit and exempt if the cost of the party for each associate of an employee is less than $300.The threshold of less than $300 applies to each benefit provided, not to the total value of all associated benefits.

    Gifts provided to employees at a Christmas party

    Providing a gift to an employee at Christmas time may be a minor benefit that is an exempt benefit where the value of the gift is less than $300.

    Where a Christmas gift is provided to an employee at a Christmas party that is also provided by the employer, the benefits are associated benefits, but each benefit needs to be considered separately to determine if they are less than $300 in value. If both the Christmas party and the gift are less than $300 in value and the other conditions of a minor benefit are met, they will both be exempt benefits.

    Tax deductibility of a Christmas party

    The cost of providing a Christmas party is income tax deductible only to the extent that it is subject to FBT. Therefore, any costs that are exempt from FBT (that is, exempt minor benefits and exempt property benefits) cannot be claimed as an income tax deduction.

    The costs of entertaining clients are not subject to FBT and are not income tax deductible.

    Christmas party held on the business premises

    A Christmas party provided to current employees on your business premises or worksite on a working day may be an exempt benefit. The cost of associates attending the Christmas party is not exempt, unless it is a minor benefit.

    Christmas party held off business premises

    The costs associated with Christmas parties held off your business premises (for example, a restaurant) give rise to a taxable fringe benefit for employees and their associates unless the benefits are exempt minor benefits.

    If you are unsure about how FBT might impact on your office Christmas plans, contact or phone 07 3359 5244.

    Source: Fringe Benefits Tax and Christmas Parties. ATO Website, 2018.

    Don't let Fringe Benefits Tax ruin your office Christmas.
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  • 23Nov2018

    10 Tips To Help You Get Ahead Of Your Christmas Cashflow

    Whether it’s finishing work, or attending social events, the lead up to the Christmas holidays each year is a busy time.

    But amongst the whirl of work projects and parties, it’s worthwhile taking time out to think about your business cashflow over the Christmas/New Year period.

    If you are in a business which traditionally has a slow period between 25 December and the end of January, then you need to think through what you can achieve in turnover and what expenses will need to be met.

    Take some time to review the following points, so you can assess and plan your cashflow needs.

    1. What kind of work can you complete before Christmas and in January?

    2. If you complete the work, are the clients likely to pay over the December/January period?

      • Can you encourage/incentivize them to pay early?
    3. What are the key expenses you need to fund over the break?

      • These can include wages, rent, power and finance payments.
    4. Are there any extra festive season related expenses that you need to fund?

      • Xmas parties, client/staff Xmas gifts, festive season decorations?
    5. Don’t forget as business owners, you also are going to need to take a break and spend time with family/friends.

      • Holidays, even if you stay at home, cost money.
    6. Remember the collection of tax/GST/Wages PAYG does not really stop over the festive season.

      • So review key dates for lodgement and payment of these obligations.
    7. Stock and materials.

      • Will you need to replenish and make an order in the New Year?
    8. Review your human resources.

      • If you get the work orders in, will you have the staff ready and able to complete the work? If not, do you need to think about casuals/contractors?
    9. If it looks tight, what are your options?

      • Cashflow finance? Discount & sell off surplus stock or redundant assets? Review bad debts and payment arrangements?
    10. If you need cashflow finance, start the process early.

      • Get it in place before you need it and beware that all finance institutions slow down processing and approvals as Xmas/New Year approaches.

    If you need help with any of these tips, please contact the helpful elves in the Affinitas Accounting team on 07 3359 5244 or .

    Get Ahead Of Your Christmas Cashflow
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  • 15Nov2018

    What Happens To My Tax Return After October 31?

    If you still haven’t lodged your 2018 tax return, don’t despair – you still have options available.

    If you're late to filing your tax return, you still have options.

    The government’s MyTax service is still operational if you wish to self prepare your return. But you are officially late if you use this service. The ATO suggests that you contact them to discuss your reasons for being late.

    If, however, you have used a registered tax agent to lodge your return in the past, you might not be late for 2018 provided you are all up to date with the previous year’s lodgements.

    You do not have to return to the same registered agent to access the extended lodgement deadlines.

    Transferring to any registered agent with a good lodgement history should enable you to access the extensions.

    A professional registered tax agent will help you liaise with the ATO, prepare and lodge the returns, and help you navigate any problems there might be with your lodgements. You’ll be back on track as soon as possible.

    If you are avoiding visiting your accountant because you believe you may owe the ATO some money, the best strategy is to get the return prepared and know what sort of debt you are facing. You can then use the extended deadlines to delay the lodgement and have the money ready to pay the ATO.

    In other words, if you have a 15 May lodgement deadline, best to have the return done by December and then have 6 months to save/plan how you are going to pay the debt.

    This is a much better strategy than waiting until early May to prepare the return and discover the debt is more than you expected, with no time to prepare for the payment.

    And if you get more than one year behind, do not put your head in the sand.

    Make sure you get yourself up to date as soon as possible.

    This is where an experienced tax accounting firm can help you with backdated lodgements. We will guide you through the process and take the weight off your shoulders.

    At Affinitas Accounting we have had more then 20 years of experience helping clients with late and backdated tax return lodgements. Some result in tax debts to pay – but others can result in unexpected windfalls.

    And if you cannot get to the office for an appointment, contact us on 07 3359 5244 or at  about using our postal or email service.

    If you're late to filing your tax return, you still have options.
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  • 09Nov2018

    10 Most Commonly Asked Questions During Tax Season

    The vast majority of individual taxpayers in Australia complete and lodge their income tax returns each year between 1 July and 31 October.

    In the world of tax and accounting, this four month period is often referred to as tax season.

    While most taxpayers who lodge through registered tax agents have deadlines that stretch well beyond 31 October each year, tax season and the days leading up to 31 October are an intensely busy time for the Affinitas Accounting tax team.

    We get to welcome new clients and catch up with many of our once-per-year regulars.

    Whether it’s via email or face-to-face, we get to deal with clients’ tax situations and answer questions and queries related to their income and expenses.

    A poll of the Affinitas tax team produced the following list of 10 most commonly asked questions during the 2018 tax season.

    The most common 10 questions we get asked around tax time are below.

    These questions and our responses are summarised below.

    1. Do I need to come into the office for my appointment?

     No. Many of our clients from all over Australia and the world make use of our email service to prepare, check and lodge their returns.

    1. I have had a phone call telling me I owe money to the ATO and I will be jailed if I don’t pay.

    Every year unscrupulous people try to cash in on tax season by running these types of scams. If you are our client and you have a tax debt we will know about it. So just hang up the phone and call us to check what you are being told.

    1. Why do I need to pay PAYG instalments?

    While it is always much more exciting to receive refunds, some people  lodge a tax return which results in a tax bill. This could be for a number of reasons – high bank interest, capital gains or other forms of untaxed income. If this happens, the ATO will assume you are going to continue to receive these tax bills and ask you to start prepaying towards next years bill. This is called a PAYG instalment. 

    1. Why do my PAYG instalments keep changing, I thought we had sorted this out?

    Your PAYG instalment is calculated by the ATO based on the information in your most recently lodged tax return. Each time you lodge a new tax return, the ATO resets and re-calculates the amount. If you think it is excessive based on your current circumstances, then we can always amend this figure as long as we make a reasonable attempt to be accurate. 

    1. Can I pay my debt off with the ATO?

    In most cases the answer is yes, provided you have a good record with your tax lodgements and no previous bad debts with the ATO. Normally, the ATO will allow you to pay off a debt over  periods of up to 12 months.

    1. What home office expenses can I claim?

    It depends – that is the short answer. There are two broad categories of home office expenses . These are referred to as occupation expenses and running expenses. It depends on whether your are running a business from home or simply using your home to occasionally do some of your paid employment work. It is worth having a more detailed chat with us if you believe you may have a claim in this area.

    1. Do I have to declare and pay tax my overseas rental property?

    Generally speaking yes, unless you hold a temporary resident visa. Holders of temporary resident visas who have overseas rental properties need to declare the income earned from these properties, but will not need to pay tax on them.

    1. Do I need to declare capital gains if they are under $10,000?

    Yes, unless the capital gain is for what is classified as a personal use asset. There have been a lot of questions in this area related to cryptocurrency gains. In most cases, a gain on buying and selling a cryptocurrency is going to be considered a capital gain even if the amount is less than $10,000.

    1. How come I spent $1200, but don’t get a $1200 refund?

    One of the most common misconceptions in relation to how tax deductions work in Australia. A refund reduces your taxable income, but ultimately the tax you get back (or save) is related to your tax bracket. For example, if you are in the 32.5% tax bracket, your $1200 deduction will provide a tax benefit of $390. This $390 will either be added to your refund or reduce any tax you have to pay.   

    1. Why can’t I claim that? My friend does?

    Once again a very common question. Australia operates a self assessment tax system and under this system many self-preparers can misinterpret the rules relating to what is an allowable deduction.  It’s only if and when they are audited that the ATO will disallow the claims. Our job as qualified professionals and registered tax agents is to do our best to ensure your tax lodgement is correct each and every year according to the tax laws of Australia.

    If you think self-preparing sounds more lucrative as far as refunds are concerned, ask anyone who has been subjected to an ATO audit. They are time consuming, stressful and often result in the taxpayer having to repay many thousands of dollars worth of refunds, plus fines and penalties. Using a registered tax agent does not guarantee you will not be audited, but it should mean that the process will not be as time consuming or expensive. Options like buying tax deductible audit insurance also can provide peace of mind that our fees will be covered if we need to help you through a tax audit process.

    Has that helped?

    We hope so!

    If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to contact the Affinitas team. You can also keep up to date with us on Facebook and LinkedIn for more tax and accounting tips.

    The most common 10 questions we get asked around tax time are below.
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  • 02Nov2018

    More On Building A Better Budget

    Our blog on How To Avoid The Budget Blues attracted a lot of interest.

    This is an encouraging response. It’s obvious that many people realise just how important completing – and monitoring – a budget is as part of an overall business and financial plan.

    For those who are about to tackle or revisit their budgets, the following are some further tips on how to get your numbers as accurate as possible and, most importantly, how to best use those numbers.

    More on Building A Better Budget

    Brad expands on his budgeting advice from last week.

    Sources of Information

    Traditionally, you would be digging into the filing cabinet and pulling out copies of your most recent bills and pay slips.

    However, today’s online world offers many alternatives. Your online bank and/or credit card statements will provide most of the information on income and expenses that you need.

    For businesses, a copy of last year’s profit and loss statement can be a handy start. It will give you your sources of income and your regular expense categories.

    Many ledger software programs nowadays also will break down your results on a month-by-month basis. Very few businesses earn income and incur expenses in the same amounts every month.

    This month-by month breakdown can be important to highlight the peaks and troughs that you may experience throughout the year. For example, if you are in the business of selling Christmas decorations, you can expect to have strong sales figures in November/December and weaker trading in January/February.

    In relation to your expenses, you may have many annual renewals due in January each year or just prior to 30 June. This knowledge helps you to plan your cashflow.

    One-off Expenses 

    In both your personal or business situation, there are certain expenses that arrive every few years rather than every month or year. These are generally larger expense items – like painting the house, buying a car, replacing household whitegoods or updating the computer system. It could even be funding that two month dream holiday.

    These items are often referred to as one-off capital costs.

    Once you’ve got a handle on tracking and controlling your monthly and yearly expenses, you should put your mind to setting some dollars aside to cover these longer term contingencies.

    Tracking & Controlling

    Once you have set your budget, you need to track your actuals against the budget. This can be done via computer programs, which most businesses use. 

    There also is personal budgeting software available, but even just sitting down and manually looking at your bank balances and what you’ve earned and what you have spent – then projecting ahead to the next month can be a powerful way to keep yourself from heading off the rails.

    Set aside time in your diary to update and monitor your budget numbers. If it is not in your diary there is a big chance that it will not get done.

    Get Bank Accounts Working For You

    Beware working from just one bank account. Very few can get control with all money going in and out of one account.

    Many individuals and couples find a three bank account system useful. One bank account for weekly housekeeping/spending, one for monthly bills and a third for longer term savings/debt reduction.

    If you calculate and transfer regular amounts into these accounts each pay cycle, you should have better control. Or, it should highlight very quickly whether you have underestimated your expenses in any of these areas.

    HINT: Only have a debit card for your weekly spending account. Set up direct debits for your monthly bills and do one-off transfers for annual expenses. This will help you avoid the temptation of dipping into the wrong account.

    Similarly, most successful businesses run multiple bank accounts. A general working account and other subsidiary accounts to save for tax/GST/PAYG; staff holiday pay, yearly expenses and capital replacements.

    Business Budget Checklists Available

    More business budgeting help is available by downloading our free business budget checklist. Read our article from last week for a personal and family budget.

    We also have some industry specific checklists if you’re a tradie or a medical professional. Watch this space for more industry specific budgets, or use the general business template above.

    lodge an ato tax return people discussing documents
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  • 25Oct2018

    How To Avoid The Budget Blues

    A budget is the basic building block of every financial plan.

    Whether you are a business, individual employee, investor or a family – you need to now how much income you earn, plus the expenses and other priorities that need to be covered.

    Incomings that exceed outgoings provide surplus cash for saving or reducing debt.

    Outgoings that exceed incomings are a recipe for increased debt, plus associated financial and emotional stress.   

    Budgets do not need to be complicated and most of the information you need about your income and expenses is available on line.

    Even so, it is often very difficult to get people to complete and then monitor a budget.

    Helping prepare and monitor budgets  during the past 30 years has provided me with some insights into the misconceptions and areas where aspiring budgeters can  get confused, stuck or discouraged during the process.

    Hopefully, the following can help you achieve a positive budget outcome.

    1. A budget is not about your accountant or financial planner passing judgement or telling you what you should spend. It’s a tool to allow YOU to make decisions about your spending priorities.
    2. Be honest about your starting position and spending habits. Even if things don’t balance now it’s better to start with reality and improve from there.
    3. Partners (business and personal) must work together as a team. Don’t make budgeting about judging each other. If you turn it into a battle, it is doomed to fail.
    4. Realise that you will not agree on everything – either the actual priorities or what amounts to allocate to each item. Try to find a compromise – but if any particular item is causing a roadblock, park it, move on and revisit later.
    5. To work, a budget needs to include your set (known) expenses, plus allow for discretionary expenses – entertainment, holidays, presents, hobbies, etc.
    6. I believe, even in a tight budget, that each partner should be allocated some amount of money each week (pocket-money/discretionary spending) for which they do not have to account.
    7. Budgets will never be perfect. You have to commit to them and get as close as you can – Progress, Not Perfection, is the key.
    8. Couples and business partners, in particular, need to commit to tracking your progress each month at an allotted time. Pick something regular — like the third week of every month — and allocate a few hours during that week to reviewing what you have in the bank, what bills you have paid and plan for what’s coming up.
    9. You need to be patient and give it time to work. The first few months are often a struggle – especially if you are paying off debt and do not have too much in the way of savings.
    10. Good budget habits are lifetime habits. There will never be a time in your life where you have so much money that you don’t need a budget.
    11. Once you have the numbers you need there are a number of different ways of controlling and monitoring your spending. It’s about finding the combo that is right for you.

    Preparing a budget for a business needs a little more customising as each business is different. Next week we’ll go into a bit more detail on how to prepare a budget for your business and give you a checklist to help you get started.

    To get started on your journey towards budget success, download our free personal or family budget template by clicking through here.

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  • 12Oct2018

    Take Financial Stock Before Cancelling Policies

    Comment by Brad Peters BA, MBA, FCPA (FPS)
    Senior Adviser and Director – Affinitas Financial Planning

    The recent Haynes Royal Commission is to be commended for highlighting some concerning things that have been occurring in the banking, financial planning and insurance industries.

    But in the midst of all the negative reports, try not to lose sight of the fact that that there are many extremely ethical people working in these industries who do strive every day to work in the best interests of their clients.

    When acting in the Best Interests of Clients was enshrined in legislation via the FOFA reforms,  my reaction was to shake my head in wonder.

    In my opinion, working in the best interests of clients should be the first concern you have with each and every client. Just like a doctor’s first concern is to Do No Harm.

    Unfortunately, history has proven that not all doctors adhere to the Hippocratic Oath. But that does not mean the entire medical industry is corrupt.

    Similarly, a vast majority of financial planners build their reputations and businesses by putting financial plans in place that are tailored to suit the needs of each client. These plans help protect their families and achieve their financial goals.

    Successful financial planners make money. But so do successful doctors, lawyers, accountants, plumbers and carpenters.

    Making money is nothing to be ashamed of in a western society. But making money via deceptive means or for services not provided was what the Royal Commission highlighted.

    The evidence given before the commission and the subsequent media reports on the issues have been a wake up call for many to check their own policies and the associated costs.

    However, probably the most worrying trend is that some people are deciding to cancel superannuation and insurance policies based on nothing more than these negative news reports.

    For example, there have been quite a few media stories about insurance companies not paying claims. However, there are thousands of successful claims made every week.

    In our practice, we look after about 400 clients with insurance policies. In the past 18 months, there has been more than $3 million in death benefits, $2 million in trauma/crisis insurance and many hundreds of thousands of dollars of income protection payments made to individuals.

    These payments have helped these people support themselves and their families at a times when the injury (or worse) of a member of the family could have resulted in real financial stress.

    No one enjoys paying insurance premiums. But there is no bigger advocate for the value of insurance then someone who has made a successful claim – or someone who has realised too late that they should have had insurance cover in place.

    Before cancelling insurances, make sure you seek out someone for a professional conversation. Make sure you understand what you have in place, what you need and what you would be losing if you cancel your policies.

    Similarly, if you believe your superannuation policy might need to change. Make sure you take the time to seek advice and make an informed decision about what might be the right policy for you.

    The cost of running a superannuation fund is one major point to consider. But so is how it fits into your overall financial plan, the type of investor you are and the types of investments that interest you.

    And if you feel you need the services of a financial planner, then take some time to find the type of person/practice that is right for you.

    Recommendations from family/friends, Google reviews, Facebook and websites will provide you with a lot of information to help you make a decision.

    Remember, a Royal Commission and journalists can highlight the problems in an industry, they just won’t be there to help you make an insurance claim. Nor will they help you reach your retirement goals and put your pension in place.

    The right financial planner will help you do all this and more.

    To get in touch with the Affinitas team to discuss your financial situation, simply book an appointment.

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  • 28Sep2018

    Can I Claim Travel Tax Deductions For A Holiday?

    There is often a lot of confusion surrounding travel costs and whether or not they are deductible on a tax return.

    Some clients believe a particular form of travel is deductible when it is not allowable. Others do not realise that they have travel expenses that could be claimed.

    There are many twists and turns in the travel expenses area, but the following are some of the Do’s and Don’ts that can help you decide if your travel expenses may be claimable.

    Dos and Donts Travel Deductions

    DO – know your base of work or employment.

    Travel to and from this base is not claimable. The ATO makes no distinction whether you have to travel five stations on the train or take two plane rides to reach your base of work. This is considered going to and from work and is not claimable.

    DON’T – forget that once you are at your place of work, that any costs of travelling from this base for work purposes could be tax deductible.

    This could include work site visits, client meetings, off-site training courses or even trips to the airport to catch a flight for work purposes.

    DO – keep good records of km travelled in your motor vehicle, tolls, parking, or other fares and make sure the dates on the receipts can be matched back to a diarised work event.

    DON’T – assume if you travel and stay overnight for work purposes that all expenses related to that trip are automatically 100% claimable.

    There could be portions of things like your meals and other incidentals that would be considered private in nature and need to be apportioned.

    DO – keep a detailed diary if your work related travel extends for more than six nights.

    DON’T – make the mistake of thinking that a private holiday that has only a vague connection with your work is going to be claimable.

    For example, if you are in the airline industry, a holiday trip to Seattle is not claimable just because you decide to tour the Boeing factory. However, if you get the opportunity to do some training at the Boeing factory that is connected with your work and you use your holidays and private funds  to do this, then this is much more likely to be considered a tax deductible expenses.

    DO – be cautious about assuming that carrying any sort of tools in your motor vehicle is an automatic green light that makes all your travel deductible.

    There are a number of conditions that need to be met before this type of travel is claimable.

    DON’T – expect your accountant to just make the travel the same every year.

    It may be similar every year, but it always needs to be justified against your diaries and/or records.

    DO – keep records of any travel related to study courses that are connected with your work.

    This travel is likely to be claimable.

    DON’T – forget the Golden Rule of tax deductions.

    If you are not sure whether something is deductible, keep the receipts and other records and discuss this with your accountant.

    Further information on travel claims and the associated records is available on our annual tax checklist. To obtain a copy of our logbook template, click through here.

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    Dos and Donts Travel Deductions
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