News/Blog

Enduring Power of Attorney

The enduring power of attorney is a document which empowers another to act on your behalf in your best interests in respect of your financial affairs including banking and property matters.  The authority given endures should you lose your faculties, hence is virtually an essential as society ages.

Naturally the person appointed needs to be trustworthy, reliable and competent, able to maintain records and accounts of dealings, transactions made under the authority of the enduring power of attorney.

The enduring power of attorney does not allow the donee or holder to:

  • make a will on behalf of the donor;
  • make personal, lifestyle or treatment decisions;
  • act as company director or secretary on behalf of the donor; or
  • delegate the authority.

Enduring Power of Guardianship

The enduring power of guardianship empowers another to make health and lifestyle decisions for you after you have lost decision-making ability.

Advanced Health Directive

An advanced health directive contains your own directions as to future medical treatment.

The foregoing is general information; you should consult your legal advisor for specifics.

Improving Your Records

Gathering your tax return information each year end to pass to your accountant may seem like the most tedious chore, but did you know that providing your accountant with concise and correct records rather than a shoebox full of receipts could save you on your accounting fees each year?

Whether you are a property investor, a sole trader or an employee with simpler tax affairs, there are ways you could help reduce the bill you receive from your accountant.  Most accountants’ charges are based on the time spent preparing the work, so anything you can do to reduce their preparation time will save you on your bill.  For example, if you own a rental property you could provide the agent’s annual summary to your accountant rather than 12 monthly statements.  Or, if self-managed, a summary of all income and expenses for the year using a BSN & Co provided template or format.  If you are claiming work related deductions, summarise your expenses into categories such as subscriptions, union fees, printing, stationery etc.  Be sure to keep receipts or invoices for your deductions in the event of Tax Office scrutiny.

For business clients maintaining their records on software such as MYOB and Xero, there are ways to shave some costs too.  Ensuring the file is in the correct financial year, bank accounts are correctly reconciled and sending the files to the accountant in the appropriate format are all straightforward so this will save time and cost, as will prompt attention to any queries which may arise.

BSN & Co offers an in-house or off-site bookkeeping service which facilitates the preparation of financial statements and tax returns, and could present you with an efficient option.

TAX TIPS FOR NEW BUSINESS OWNERS

Want to avoid paying more than you should come tax time?  Or a frantic last minute search for missing financial records?

New business owners have a lot on their plate, and can easily lose track of an approaching tax deadline or financial data needed to submit their return.

Organization is key when preparing for tax time, as is taking advantage of the many tools and resources out there to support new entrepreneurs.

Set yourself up for success by following these four pillars of painless tax prep.

1.    Commit to clean bookkeeping from day one

Year-round, effective bookkeeping is the best way new business owners can minimize tax season stress.  With the wide range of accounting software out there, there’s no reason to rely on time consuming manual methods that leave room for error.

All-in-one options like Xero, KashFlow and QuickBooks automate your most important bookkeeping processes, including:

  • Tracking expenses;
  • Tracking sales and income;
  • Creating and sending invoices; and
  • Managing inventory.

With your financial records all in one place and up-to-date, you’re better positioned to maximize your refund, while avoiding penalties associated with incorrect or incomplete tax returns.

2.    Capture every business expense

Each year, 21% of small business owners claim less than half of their business expenses, largely because they don’t have a reliable system for documenting expenditure while on the go.

Without carefully logged receipts, entrepreneurs must forfeit valuable tax deductions, sacrificing cash they could be funnelling back into their business.

Cash in on claimable expenses by using a mobile app to record receipt data, track mileage and generate expense reports.  As an added bonus, many of these tools sync with your all-in-one accounting software.

3.    Separate business from personal

Right from day one, small business owners should clearly divide their personal and business expenses.  Differentiating between the two will make it much easier to claim deductions on your tax return – and support those claims in case of an audit.

Recommended steps to separate your business and personal finances include:

  • Create a separate bank account for your business and designate a credit card solely for business purposes (this will help you track expenditure while building up your credit and borrowing power);
  • Never combine business and personal expenses (for example, if you buy printer ink for your home and your business at the same time, ask for two separate receipts);
  • Pay yourself a set salary from your business bank account each month (this will help you determine how your income, as well as the business, will be taxed).

4.    Always consult with an accountant

Not sure exactly what you can claim as a business expense?  Wondering which accounting software to use or how to interpret local tax regulations?

Consult with an accounting professional to put your mind at ease – well before the filing deadline!  In addition to managing the nuts and bolts of tax preparation, regular meetings with an accountant will help you continuously improve bookkeeping practices and better understand the financial workings of your small business.

Those organizational strategies you commit to now will promote positive relations with your local tax authorities – and the long-term financial health of your company.

If you want help and advice to manage your small business tax then speak to the experienced team at BSN & Co.  We have helped many small businesses so book a free no obligation meeting today!

How to set your small business payment terms

With the start of the new financial year, now is the time to set your business payment terms and improve your cashflow for the year ahead.  Healthy cash flow is important for any business, but particularly for small business owners in those first few “make it or break it” years.

Business owners who set clear payment terms with their customers, invoice quickly, and follow up on late payment can avoid the dreaded cash flow crunch that can quickly put them out of business.

These simple guidelines for setting payment terms can help you get paid quickly and maintain a steady cash flow.

Decide on your terms

The purpose of your payment terms is to outline exactly how and when your customers must pay you.

Some business owners provide their potential customers with an outline of their fees and payment terms.  Others just include those details in their work contracts and invoices.

However you decide to communicate your payment terms with customers, make sure they include:

  • when payment is due
  • accepted forms of payment (i.e. cash, credit card, Paypal or EFT)
  • your preferred currency (if you serve international customers) and
  • early payment discounts and/or late penalties

In the business world it’s customary to be paid within 30 days of invoicing.  However, as a small business owner you can set the payment terms that suit you best.  For example, you might require partial payment up front with the balance due upon completion of services. Depending on the industry standard and how promptly your customers pay,  you might stipulate a shorter or longer payment deadline.

In this digital age where invoices are sent out quickly, it’s not uncommon for small business owners to set a 7 day deadline.

So set your terms and communicate them clearly to your customers and it will be more likely you’ll be paid on time.

When to invoice and when to follow up

It’s in your best interests to invoice immediately after completion of services.  After all, the sooner you request payment, the sooner you’ll receive it.

Some small business owners offer an early payment discount as an incentive to pay early – e.g. for 30 day invoices a discount rate of 1.5-2% is common. Many customers will be happy with this as they’ll save a few dollars, while you get paid straight away.

Customers who routinely pay late may be motivated by a late payment penalty – usually in the 1-2% range.

Make it a policy to email a friendly reminder on the date payment is due.  If payment is still late, follow up with a phone call the next day to find out when you can expect payment.

Final tips

  • Take advantage of cloud-based accounting software that can be accessed anywhere there’s an internet connection, including via your smart phone, to generate invoices.
  • Make sure you have the correct payment details on your invoices to avoid payment delays.
  • Be willing to negotiate with late payers; partial payment is better than not being paid at all.

Should you ever need to take legal action to deal with a late payer, having documented evidence showing that you clearly communicated your payment terms up front will be advantageous.

If you would like help to improve your business cashflow and processes,  Contact us today for a free, no obligation meeting and see how we can assist you.

SALARY SACRIFICING

Salary sacrificing or salary packaging is a common arrangement utilised by a lot of employers and employees whereby the employee agrees to forego part of their future salary in return for a benefit of a similar monetary value provided by the employer.

The most common types of benefits provided by employers are superannuation and cars as they carry a number of benefits.  Salary sacrificed superannuation contributions reduce your taxable income which reduces the tax payable, as well as being tax deductible and exempt from fringe benefits tax (FBT) for your employer.

Below is an example that demonstrates the benefits of salary sacrificing super:

Salary packaged super:

No salary packaging Salary packaging Tax saving
Salary $80,000 $80,000
Less salary sacrificed super $0 $15,000
Taxable income $80,000 $65,000
Less income tax (2016/17 rates) $17,547 $12,672 $4,875
Less Medicare 2% $1,600 $1,300 $300
Net income after tax $60,853 $51,028
Tax saving $5,175

Benefit:

In addition to the tax saving, the outcome in this example is a significant positive contribution of $15,000 into a low tax environment for growth for eventual retirement.

Salary packaging a car (novated lease):

This has its benefits too, if done correctly, but is generally subject to FBT.  Not only does an employee enjoy the private use of a salary sacrificed car, but also the employer can benefit from the arrangement as the concessional valuation rules for FBT are available, and if the employee makes after-tax contributions to the employer for the provision of the car, that can save the latter on FBT costs.  Novated leases are a highly popular method of salary sacrificing cars as the employee can have a work car of their choice as well as increase their net disposable income.

The example below demonstrates the increase to an employee’s disposable income by salary packaging a car and making after-tax contributions towards the running costs of the car to reduce FBT payable by the employer to nil. This arrangement is commonly known as a novated lease.

No salary packaging Salary packaging
Salary $80,000 $80,000
Less salary sacrificed contribution (car)* $0 $4,290
Taxable income $80,000 $75,710
Less income tax (2016/17 rates) $17,547 $16,153
Less Medicare 2% $1,600 $1,514
Less employee after tax contribution* - $6,000
Less annual car running costs** $10,643 -
Net cash salary $50,210 $52,043
Saving to net cash salary per year $1,833
Total saving over 5 year lease $9,165

 

* The part salary sacrifice, part after-tax employee contribution to running costs is as follows:

Salary sacrifice balance      $ 4,290

Net GST employer credit   $     353

After-tax contribution        $ 6,000

$10,643

** The National Tax and Accountants Association estimates the annual running costs of a $30,000 motor vehicle leased over 5 years, travelling up to 15,000kms pa, is $10,643.

 It is important that any salary sacrifice arrangement is proactive to be effective for the benefits to be reaped.  Contact us at BSN & Co to discuss if salary sacrificing is for you.