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HECS-HELP benefit for maths, science, education and nursing graduates up to $1,831 per annum


If you graduated after 30 June 2008 in a maths or science course or after 30 June 2009 in an education or nursing  course and are employed in a related occupation you may be eligible for the HECS-HELP benefit.


The HECS-HELP benefit provides an incentive for graduates of particular courses to take up related occupations or work in specified locations by reducing their compulsory HECS-HELP repayments.


The HECS-HELP benefit is not a cash payment. It provides for a reduction in the compulsory HELP repayment included on an income tax notice of assessment or, for early childhood education teachers who do not have to make a compulsory repayment, a reduction in the accumulated HELP debt. The HECS-HELP benefit may reduce your overall tax debt or increase your tax refund, depending on your individual circumstances.


The following links to the ATO website will provide the eligibility criteria and application form for:

Have you heard about SuperStream?

Have you heard about SuperStream?

The word is starting to get out about this new requirement.  SuperStream is a government reform aimed at improving the efficiency of the superannuation system. Under SuperStream, employers must make super contributions on behalf of their employees by submitting data and payments electronically in accordance with the SuperStream standard. All superannuation funds, including SMSFs, must receive contributions electronically in accordance with this standard. Initially, from 1 July 2014, SuperStream will only apply to employers with 20 or more employees. So if you are an employer in this category, you need to take action to make sure you comply. Exactly what you need to do varies depending on your particular circumstances (eg software used, if you are registered with an Funds etc), so please call us for some specific assistance. If you have a SMSF, and are employed by someone with 20 or more employees, you need to ensure your fund is registered with an electronic service provider. We can assist with this, so please contact us.

Small Business Tax Concessions - Proposed Changes

If you are a small business wanting to take advantage of the immediate write off of assets acquired for under $6,500, get in before 31 December 2013.  Proposed tax legislation is set to repeal the  concessions given to small businesses for depreciation over the last few years.


The proposed amendments for small business depreciation include:

  •     The immediate tax deduction threshold of $6,500 is reduced back to the $1,000 from 1 January 2014
  •     The low-value pool low balance write off of $6,500 will reduce back the $1,000 from 1 July 2014
  •     Accelerated depreciation for Motor Vehicles with the immediate write off of $5,000 will be repealed from 1 January 2014

In addition to these small business concessions, the proposed legislation is set to repeal the carry back loss rules from 1 July 2013.  Carry back losses will only be allowed in the 2012/2013 financial year.

Anti-Bullying - Fair Work Act Changes

Anti-Bullying - Fair Work Act Changes

Changes to the Fair Work Act will take effect will take effect 1 January 2014 which will enable the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to deal with Bullying complaints. This is the first time a health issue has been embedded into workplace legislation; previously bullying complaints have been dealt with by WorkSafe.


The legislation allows a worker who has been bullied at work to apply to the FWC for an order to stop the bullying and the FWC must start to deal with the complaint within 14 days. The outcome would be a non-monetary outcome, such as training, warnings, mediation, counselling etc. The order however may give rise to other claims in the future or penalties if the order given is breached and / or a rise in "go away money".


Case law will be required prior to establish how the FWC will generally deal with such claims however; the FWC would still need to be satisfied that bullying has in fact taken place. It is expected that they would investigate including reviewing internal procedures, training, and the dispute resolution model used within the workplace.


It may be timely to review your internal policies and dispute/complaint resolution model, make sure your staff are well trained and understand what Bullying is in the workplace.

"Restoring integrity in the Australian tax system" Dealing with the backlog of backlog of 96 tax and superannuation measures announced but unlegislated

On 6 November 2013, the Treasurer, Joe Hockey, and the Assistant Treasurer, Senator Arthur Sinodinos, announced how the Government will deal with the backlog of 96 tax and superannuation measures proposed but unlegislated at the time of recent general election. The announcement stated that soon after Government was elected, it was advised that 96 tax and superannuation proposed measures (one dating back as far as March 2001) had not been legislated. Four of the 96 have been dealt with in the Government's mining tax and carbon tax repeal packages..

Of the 92 initiatives remaining, 64 further initiatives are going to be consulted on by the Assistant Treasurer. The Treasurer stated that they have a disposition not to proceed with those 64 further initiatives. However, a decision will be made by 1 December this year and the final outcome will be put into the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook statement to be released by Christmas. The Treasurer stated that the backlog has created significant operational uncertainty for businesses and consumers.

Of the 92, the Coalition Government is going to definitely proceed with 18 including:

·         Anti smoking strategy Tobacco Tax increases announced in the 2013-14 Budget.

·         Net Medical Expenses Tax Offset (NMETO) phase out announced in the 2013-14 Budget.

·         Managed Investment Trusts – Introduction of a new tax regime for managed investment trusts which will increase certainty and reduce compliance costs.

·         Farm management deposits scheme. Increases the off-farm income exclusion threshold and facilitates consolidation of deposits.

·         Research and development tax incentive. Denies access to the R&D tax incentive for large companies with incomes of $20 billion or more.

A further 3 initiatives will be significantly amended, including:

·         Thin Capitalisation Changes – addressing aggressive tax structures that seek to shift profits by artificially loading debt into Australia - proceed with amendments  - The Coalition will not proceed with Labor's proposal to deny deductions made under s 25-90 of ITAA 1997.

·         Offshore Banking Unit Regime - addresses integrity issues associated with related party dealings and better targets the regime to genuine mobile financial sector activities. The Government will not proceed with the measure to exclude all related party dealings but instead will develop targeted rules to address integrity concerns.

·         Measure to restrict GST refunds - proceed with amendments. Restricts refunds of overpaid GST. Amendments will address a recent AAT finding it doesn't have jurisdiction to consider refund matters.

The Government will not proceed with 7 initiatives, including:

·         Self-Education Expenses Cap - will not proceed with introducing an annual $2,000 cap on work-related self-education expense deductions.

·         Fringe Benefits Tax changes on cars – will not proceed with an amendment to the fringe benefits arrangements for cars.

·         Superannuation Pensions – will not proceed with a tax on investment earnings above $100,000 p.a. on superannuation assets supporting retirement income streams.

·         Low value import threshold to be set by regulation - will not proceed with the separation of the low value import threshold for customs duty and GST purposes as the Government has not yet considered the business case on the low value import threshold.

Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos, with assistance from the Board of Taxation will undertake consultation with tax experts, including a number drawn from the Board's advisory panel over the next two weeks with a disposition not to proceed with the remaining 64 measures.

It will be an expedited and thorough review with industry, focusing on whether there are any unintended consequences from not proceeding with the measures or whether there are compelling reasons why the measure should proceed. The Treasurer stated that the fiscal impact of the vast bulk of the remaining 64 initiatives is expected to be minimal.

In addition, there will be legislated protection for any taxpayer who has self-assessed with announced changes that the Government will not proceed with. Taxpayers that have complied with previous announcements that will no longer proceed, and have paid additional taxation, will be entitled to a refund.

To view the Media Release which  includes details of some measures set out in an Attachment go  here.  The Treasurer and Assistant Treasurer also held a joint media conference to announce the details. A transcript of the media conference can be accessed here.

To Bind or not to Bind

To Bind or not to Bind
(with due apologies to Shakespeare)

Do you need a binding, or non binding death benefit nomination in your super fund?? Did you realise that on your death, your superannuation is dealt with separately to your estate? Just because your will stipulates that your estate is divided equally between your kids, doesn't mean that this is what will happen to your superannuation. How your superannuation is divided is at the discretion of the superannuation fund trustees.  If you want the superannuation to be passed to a particular beneficiary / beneficiaries, then a binding death benefit nomination may be the answer. A binding nomination is as the name suggests, and if correctly executed, is binding on the trustee. If you have a  non-binding nomination - this is like a statement of intent. The Trustees can take this into account, but are not obliged to follow it, if there are other considerations.  If you would like more information about this, please give us a call.

Anne Rollason
Superannuation Specialist


Why is analysis of business risk important?

The word 'crisis' when written in Chinese is composed of two characters; one represents danger and the other represents opportunity.   

This is why the analysis of risk is important; by identifying the risks that may cause a business crisis, you are not only identifying the threats to our business but you identify opportunities.

There are many risks to a business both external and internal, over the coming months we will look at the areas of risk and how these may be mitigated. 

Given the upcoming election, we thought we would start with Political Risk. 

What is Political Risk?

Basically this is the risk that a change in the law will detrimentally impact your business.  Recent real life examples are the introduction of the mining tax and the effect on the mining industry, the carbon tax and the plain packaging laws for cigarettes. 

This is one of the hardest risks to minimise because it is external to your business and often beyond your control.  Ways to minimise the risk are to be aware of the political landscape, keeping up to date via the media, talking to your local Politician and joining industry or business associations.  For example if you have a large labour force a change in workplace relations or Super Guarantee levels could have a material impact on the cost of that labour force.

So keeping your ear to the ground and being aware of what each political party stands for, especially in areas that may affect your business is paramount.  


Can you access your superannuation money?

Over a game of golf a friend tells you that someone he knows managed to get his money our of his super fund, and it had been really good as he'd had a big overseas holiday….. No, this isn't a figment of your imagination, it happens. But that doesn't make it legal. If someone offers to 'help you get your super money out', chances are it will be part of a scheme and will be illegal, and in the eyes of the law, you will be at least partly responsible. The facts are – unless you are over 55 years and permanently retired, it is very difficult to access your superannuation monies. The exceptions that exist deal with crisis such as a terminal medical condition or severe financial hardship after being on Centrelink payments for 6 months.  So, if one day, over a game of golf, this offer is made to you, please call us, and we'll tell you if it will work or not.

Anne Rollason
Superannuation Specialist

In the 2012 Federal Budget the Government announced that the CGT discount would no longer apply to gains made by foreign residents. However, the CGT discount will still apply to the portion of the discount capital gain of a foreign resident individual that accrued up until the date of announcement (8 May 2012) provided that they obtain a market valuation of the property as at that date. The legislation enacting these changes has now been passed.

Generally, foreign and temporary resident individuals are only subject to CGT on Australian residential and commercial real estate.

The new rules will apportion the discount percentage applied to reduce discount capital gains to ensure that the full 50 per cent CGT discount is only available for periods in which a CGT asset was held:

- prior to 9 May 2012; and
- after 8 May 2012 during which the individual was an Australian resident.

The rules will apply where:

- an individual was a foreign resident or a temporary resident at any time on or after 8 May 2012; and
- the individual makes a discount capital gain directly (or indirectly as a beneficiary of a trust), from a CGT event that occurred after 8 May 2012.

If you own property in Australia and you will be moving overseas, or if you are a foreign or temporary resident who owns Australian property, these changes may affect you. We recommended that you seek our advice in relation to the new rules and how they may apply in your circumstances.

David Ferguson
Taxation Specialist

One of the recently enacted changes to superannuation is to increase the level of concessional contributions that can be made by people over 59 years of age on 1 July 2013. People falling into this category can now contribute $35,000 (up from $25,000) into superannuation as employer or member concessional contributions for the 2013/2014 financial year.

If you usually salary sacrifice the maximum allowable amount into superannuation we suggest this is the appropriate time to speak with your payroll department / personnel area to ensure that over the next 12 months you take full advantages of the increased contribution limit.

If you need any assistance with this, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Anne Rollason
Superannuation Specialist

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