Regulatory Roundup – February 2014

Insight Accounting News -February 2014

MYOB has five New Year’s resolutions for small businesses

Accounting software provider MYOB has outlined its top five New Year’s resolutions for small businesses to define and redefine their business goals:

  1. Learn from last year’s hit and misses
  2. Stay on business track with a solid business plan
  3. Don’t try to be all things to all people, delegate and avoid micromanaging
  4. Add cash flow expertise to your toolbox or enlist a trusted accountant or bookkeeper
  5. Don’t be afraid to embrace technology.

Australian businesses likely to see lifted activity in 2014

More than a third of Australian businesses (35%) see “no major barrier” to growth in the year ahead, with expectations for sales, profits, selling prices, investment and employment reaching their highest levels in 12 months, according to Dun & Bradstreet’s (D&B) latest National Business Expectations Survey. Other positive findings from the survey were 68% of respondents are more optimistic about growth this year, 18% are planning to access new finance during the first quarter of 2014, and 13% plan to increase capital spending.

Tax Office crackdown on high-risk industries that fail to comply with super obligations

The Tax Office is on the lookout for businesses in the hairdressing and beauty services, clothing retail, and management advice and consulting services that are non-compliant with their super obligations. Common mistakes made by non-compliant employers include:

  • paying insufficient super contributions (the current rate is 9.25%)
  • missing the quarterly cut-off dates (October 28, January 28, April 28 and July 28)
  • not understanding they may have to pay super for contractors, even if the contractor has an Australian business number
  • not keeping accurate records
  • not providing an employee’s tax file number to their super fund, and
  • not lodging a superannuation guarantee (SG) charge statement.

Businesses must be ready for Super Stream changes by the end of June this year

The Tax Office is stepping up its awareness campaign about the looming change in store for businesses that have SG obligations towards their employees. Businesses with more than 20 staff have six months left to get ready for Super Stream – a new superannuation payments system that, according to the Tax Office, should make things easier for employers. There are more than 800,000 employers that will be required to take on the system, although businesses with less than 20 staff have another year to get on board.

Superannuation clearing house to be run by the Tax Office

The government has announced that from April 2014, the Tax Office will take over running the Small Business Superannuation Clearing House from Medicare. The clearing house was set up by the previous government to aid businesses process superannuation payments for employees.

Small Business Minister Bruce Billson said the move would mean small business owners operating businesses with less than 20 employees would be able to access the clearing house services directly through the Tax Office.

Looking to start up a business? Be warned that NSW and WA have higher state taxes

Queensland, South Australia and Victoria have the “most attractive” state taxation regimes for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Pitcher Partners State Tax Review 2013-14 has found. When it came to small businesses, Queensland was the most competitive with a higher payroll tax threshold than the other major states, better stamp duty and Work-cover premium rates. When it came to medium-sized businesses however, SA’s lower payroll tax rate coupled with stamp duty savings stemming from low property prices helped it move up the ranks to first place.

No penalty for carbon-polluting businesses

Carbon polluting businesses will no longer be penalized if they fail to meet carbon emissions targets under the government’s Direct Action plan. Under the previous government’s system, Australia’s 500 biggest carbon polluters were penalized if they did not comply with requirements to reduce carbon emissions. However, Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the federal government had no intention to “raise revenue” through the Emissions Reduction Fund and said he believed in “incentives rather than penalties”.

Thinking of starting a business? Check out D&B’s tips

Dun & Bradstreet has outlined a few tips on how to estimate the start-up costs for a business:

  • determine the common expenses you are likely to incur so you can establish how much money you will need to best position your business for success
  • determine your spend on assets and have an inventory on hand before you start making sales and building revenue
  • estimate the time it will take to start-up because very rarely will a business open its doors and become an overnight sensation, identify if you have the budget and capacity to get the wheels in motion.

D&B said common start-up blunders include a flimsy or non-existent business plan, not hiring a bookkeeper, lack of funding or lack of research into suppliers.

Businesses urged to think about succession and exit planning “at their peak”

Small business owners have been advised to devise an exit strategy while their business is doing well and while they have the energy and enthusiasm to make the appropriate changes. Provider of advisory services in exit planning, Succession Plus, said many business owners find it hard to keep up with technology and the new competitive environment that brings. “If you feel defeated and lose market share, your business value will diminish so start the process when you still have some fight and passion for your business.”

Record-keeping templates most popular download by businesses

The Fair Work Ombudsman revealed that over the past financial year, the most downloaded forms from its website related to employer record-keeping obligations such as time sheets, pay slips, managing staff and ending employment forms – which were downloaded 438,000 times. Also frequently downloaded more than one million times were fact sheets covering issues such as unpaid internships, conditions of employment and workplace rights.

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