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Authority for super complaints introduced

The new Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) will make it easier for individuals and small businesses to make complaints about their superannuation financial firms.

The Coalition government has responded to criticisms of previous dispute resolution bodies by creating a new financial disputes framework. AFCA has been described as a “one-stop shop” that will improve outcomes for consumers and increase the efficiency of the dispute resolution process.

AFCA’s jurisdiction
AFCA has been given authority over a range of complaint areas including:

What you can make complaints about
Your super complaint to AFCA must adhere to its governing rules. AFCA has specific time limits for complaints but no monetary limits.

You can make complaints about:

Posted on 14 December '18, under super. No Comments.

Avoid these small business tax errors

Unwanted attention and penalties from the ATO can jeopardise your small business.

Protect your business by avoiding these common small business tax errors.

Not using an accountant
Tax laws frequently change, and compliance requirements can be time-consuming and demanding. A registered tax agent will streamline your financial processes, provide advice on maximising your finances and keep you compliant.

Inaccurate tax returns
Small businesses that do not declare their income and deductions accurately will attract the ATO’s attention and financial penalties. All foreign income, capital gains tax, business sales and bank interest must be declared. You must also have legitimate evidence supporting your tax deduction claims.

Poor record keeping
Businesses that fail to keep accurate records will struggle to remain compliant. It is vital to keep:

Incorrect superannuation payments
The ATO will sanction employers that fail to pay their employees’ superannuation correctly and on time. Make your mandatory quarterly payments are paid at the correct rate of 9.5 per cent of your employee’s pay. The cash-flow benefits of delaying super payments and missing deadlines are not worth the financial and criminal punishments incurred by frequent breaches.

Posted on 14 December '18, under tax. No Comments.

How small business can compete with major corporations

Small businesses should not feel intimidated by their corporate competitors as they have many unique advantages that can help them gain a sizeable market share.

Small business owners should focus on specific areas, so they can go head-to-head with large companies with more resources.

Customer service
Small businesses have the opportunity to build a stronger relationship with their customers through the delivery of friendly and personal customer service. Businesses that provide superior customer service to their corporate competitors will build a loyal customer base and grow their business through word of mouth.

Tap into niche markets
Small business owners are directly involved with their customers, which means they have a greater insight into what their customer base values. Take advantage of this by innovating more quickly than corporations, whose decision-making processes are slower. You may provide a service that corporations cannot feasibly implement.

Build a strong staff
The expansive corporate chain of command is far more likely to have a weak link than a small business. Small businesses have greater quality control over the selection of their staff and the standards and expectations of performance. Build a competent team that outperforms your corporate competitors.

Posted on 7 December '18, under business. No Comments.

Employer SuperStream checklist

Employers must make superannuation contributions on behalf of their employees. SuperStream is the ATO’s electronic and standardised solution that streamlines the super payment process.

Using SuperStream for employers means:

Obligations
You must make contributions to a super fund through a SuperStream solution unless you are eligible for the following exemptions:

Step-by-step guide
Once you have decided that SuperStream is right for you, the following steps will help you stay compliant:

Posted on 7 December '18, under super. No Comments.

Getting to know the ATO Business Portal

The ATO has introduced the Business Portal to allow small business owners to manage their tax affairs online at their convenience.

Connect your ABN to your myGov account or a compatible AUSkey so you can access the business portal. The portal is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The portal can be used for the following services:

Refer to the ATO for direct links that will step you through how to use these services successfully. If you still have trouble with technology it may be worth consulting a registered tax agent to help you fulfil the ATO’s compliance requirements.

Posted on 7 December '18, under tax. No Comments.

Credit card do’s and don’ts

Credit cards are useful financial tools that can help you manage cash flow but can run you into debt if you are not careful. Before you swipe your first credit card consider the following do’s and don’ts, so you gain all the advantages without the headache of a tarnished credit rating.

Do’s
There are several actions you can take that will help you manage your credit card. Follow these rules:

Don’ts
Credit cards can accumulate debt with ramifications for your credit score and loan applications down the track. Avoid these standard blunders, so you do not end up regretting your credit card:

Posted on 29 November '18, under money. No Comments.

Mental health tips for small business owners

Small business owners are constantly under stress and pressure, which is why it is important they look after their mental health.

The following tips will help you manage your mental health as a small business owner.

Have a reliable support network
Friends and family are vital to anyone’s functioning; however the unique challenges small business owners face means they may benefit from connecting with like-minded thinkers. Consider joining a small business owners groups on Facebook or LinkedIn. These networks are helpful as the members can relate to your problems on a deeper level. Both business groups and your nearest and dearest can provide a sympathetic ear, realistic solutions to your problems and tell you to get help.

Allocate personal time
When you are running a small business, it can feel like your life is consumed by it. An unhealthy work-life balance will harm your mental health and productivity. Schedule time off from work. Taking up a hobby or joining a sports team may be a great way to have structured breaks from your business.

Know the warning signs
Knowledge is key to prevention. Get educated on mental health and know the warning signs and symptoms. If you catch your problem early, you can avoid jeopardising your health and your business by taking a hiatus, relinquishing some responsibility or seeking help.

Posted on 29 November '18, under business. No Comments.

ATO warns of illegal early super release

The ATO has issued a warning to the public regarding illegal early release of super schemes, which are subject to severe penalties.

There are strict rules around when you can access your super so your current decisions do not jeopardise your quality of life in retirement. The ATO has reminded the public you may only access your super early if you have experienced severe financial hardship or you have reached the preservation age and have stopped working.

How these schemes work
The promoters of these schemes:

Penalties:
Penalties apply to promoters and individuals who illegally access their super early. If you illegally obtain your super early, it is included in your assessable income even if you return the super to the fund later. If you are an SMSF trustee, you may be fined up to $420,000 and liable for jail terms of up to five years. Civil and criminal penalties apply to promoters.

Posted on 29 November '18, under super. No Comments.

ATO update: Tax deduction rules on travel to rental properties

The ATO has enforced strict guidelines on tax deductions for rental property owner’s travel expenses.

As a rental property owner you are not able to claim deductions for travel expenses relating to inspecting, maintaining or collecting rent. If you have already claimed a tax deduction for the cost of travel to and from your property in your 2018 return, you will need to request an amendment. The law change came into effect on 1 July 2017 and affects tax returns from 2017-18 onwards.

Exclusions
You may claim these travel expenses on your tax return if you are carrying on a rental property business or are an excluded entity.

An excluded entity is a:

Posted on 29 November '18, under tax. No Comments.

Benefits and problems of niche marketing

Business owners thinking about specialising their products and services to target a niche market should know the benefits and risks of this business strategy. Niche marketing is the business strategy of targeting a specific subset of a market.

Here are some benefits and problems of niche marketing that will help you build a business strategy right for you.

Benefits
Niche marketing can provide the following benefits:

Problems
However, niche marketing has its pitfalls you should know before you specialise:

Posted on 26 November '18, under business. No Comments.

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