In this issue...

The ATO Can Now Impact Your Ability To Borrow
The ATO is now allowed to disclose to credit reporting bureaus the tax debt information of businesses that have not effectively engaged with the ATO to manage these debts from 1 July, 2017.

The measure will initially only apply to businesses with Australian Business Numbers and tax debt of more than $10,000 that is at least 90 days overdue.

CreditorWatch managing director Colin Porter said businesses that fail to address outstanding tax debts prior to FY2017-18 should expect their credit rating to be adversely affected.

If you are struggling to meet your tax obligations please contact your
Harris Black team member to discuss so appropriate steps can be taken with ATO to reduce this risk.

  Budgeting Growth
It may seem obvious that business growth can only occur when there is money available for reinvestment.

However, many businesses do not consider this when budgeting and planning their long term finances. One of the biggest impediments to growth is access to finances that will fuel the investments that are needed to support growth. Therefore, it is important that a business obtains healthy and robust profit margins to prepare for any future expansions.

If a business is planning to fund investment in its own infrastructure it will only be able to do so with appropriate profit margins. Without this, the business may have to raise funds through the sale of equity, or borrow funds in order to grow. Here are some key aspects of business growth that may require funding in the future:

Investment in new support systems

With more data to process through increased transactions, there must be sufficient finances to fund the necessary support systems. These include financial, logistics, quality control, human resources, customer relationships management, complaints handling and asset tracking. These new systems also require staff training which, similarly, costs money.

Staff development

The time it takes to train staff will have an impact on the cash flow of the business. This training will be necessary as new products or operating systems come into play with business growth. Furthermore, in adopting and/or inventing new products for sale, new marketing operations will need to be implemented.

Enhancing your competitive edge

Surplus cash can help businesses to counter aggressive marketing, meet competitive product changes or undertake competitive pricing.

Buffering periods

The ability to absorb mistakes, evaluate what went wrong and identify solutions can mean the difference between complete failure and just a bump in the road. Rather than having to instantly cut back or take drastic action, a business with a cash buffer can re-enter the market with a renewed approach. Therefore, even without any immediate prospects of business growth it is wise to implement strategies from day one of business operations that account for the future. After all, growth does not come from standing still.

  Combat The Increase In Audit Activity 
The government has proposed a 55% increase in audit funding over the next four years. A target of $3.7 billion is anticipated for the gross revenue that will be raised as a result. So what does this mean for you? We suspect an increase in audit activity in relation to individual, business and SMSF lodged returns.

Our recommendations to combat the increase in audit activity:

Be in the know
Gain a better understanding of your financial position and tax particulars by talking with your accountant. Your accountant can also conduct a risk assessment, and in doing so you could both discover a better way to structure your affairs.

Seek expert advice

In the event that you are contacted by the ATO or other government revenue agencies, the best action for you to take is to advise them that you would firstly like to talk to your accountant. As your accountant, we have the experience in dealing with these matters and will be more likely to reduce the time and cost required to attend to the audit activity in question.

Consider Audit Shield

We offer our Audit Shield service as a mechanism to protect you against unplanned professional fees that can arise as a result of audit activity. With the government's focus on increasing gross revenue, taxpayers will be scrutinised – increasing your chances of an audit, enquiry, investigation or review. Even if no adjustments are required to your lodged returns, significant costs can still be incurred in order to satisfy the requests of the ATO or other government revenue agencies responsible for the instigation.

If you would like to hear our experiences with the increase in audit activity, or if you would like to learn more about how you can protect yourself with our Audit Shield service, please contact your Harris Black team today.

  Harris Black Featured Add-On: 'ServiceM8'
Accounting add-ons have evolved recently in the world of accountancy. Each month we feature a range of add-ons that will help keep you focussed and become more efficient within your own practice.

This months' featured add-on will take control and work smarter with real-time communication between your office, field staff and customers.

ServiceM8 is a field service management app which empowers small business to thrive. Very useful for the construction industry. ServiceM8 highlights include job allocation, management and tracking, job safety and risk managements; quoting, billing and payment receipting, staff and contractors time tracking and appointment management.
ServiceM8 combines best-in-class technology including MYOB and Xero integration. Designed to be used by everyone in your business, from each individual field staff member, to back office staff, though all levels of management. It is simple and effective, and best of all, it's available anytime and anywhere.

To know more about ServiceM8, contact your
Harris Black team member today. 

  Harris Black Top 15: Email Etiquette Rules Everyone Should Follow
Studies shows that an average employee spends about a quarter of the work week combing through hundreds of emails we all send and receive on a daily basis. Despite the fact that we are all glued to our email reply buttons, many of us still don't know how to use emails appropriately.

Harris Black have come up with 15 basic email etiquettes to help you avoid making embarrassing errors and mistakes that can have serious professional consequences. 
  1. Include a clear, direct subject line.
  2.  Use a professional email address.
  3. Think twice before hitting "Reply All" button.
  4. Include a professional signature block.
  5. Use professional salutations – 'Hey' is a very informal salutation.
  6. Use exclamation points sparingly.
  7. Be cautious with humour.
  8. Know that people from different cultures speaks and write differently.
  9. Reply to your emails – even if the email wasn't intended for you.
  10. Proofread every message before sending.
  11. Add the email address last.
  12. Double check that you have selected the correct recipient.
  13. Keep your fonts classic (Arial 10.5 for HB).
  14. Check the tone of your email.
  15. Nothing is confidential – so write accordingly.

  Improving Your Sales Pitch
Getting a sales pitch right can be incredibly tricky as there are many things that you need to consider.

Even the slightest moment of uncertainty or hesitation can cost you the customer's trust, and you need to be able to think on your feet in order to respond to difficult questions.

The benefits of having refined sales skills also goes beyond dealing with customers. You can transfer these skills of persuasion into other areas of your professional life, for example, when dealing with employees, suppliers or investors.

While the gift of the gab does come more naturally to some, the good news is that it is definitely possible to improve your verbal communication with a little preparation.

Believe in what you're selling

If you don't believe in what you're selling it will be glaringly obvious to your customer. Spend some time with a pen and paper listing all of the positive attributes of your product or service. Think about who might benefit from it, and in what kind of situation. Writing all of this down will allow you to look back over it and appreciate all the great things that your business does.
Learn to control your voice

The tone of your voice can make a huge difference in a sales pitch. One of the worst things you can do is talk too fast. Talking quickly will give off an impression of nervousness, which in turn may undermine your credibility. Practice pacing your speaking voice when you are alone until you find a pace that you feel sounds natural.

Listen and respond

A huge mistake that many salespeople make is to lecture their customers without pausing to let them contribute. Remember that a sales pitch is a conversation, not a presentation, and customers may come to feel bored or even insulted if you simply speak at them for an extended period of time.

Make sure that you make eye contact regularly, and if they look as though they want to say something then allow a pause in which they can interject.

Prepare for questions

There will always be questions from customers in regards to the things you have explained in your sales pitch. Some of these will be easy to answer and others more difficult. Being unable to answer a customer's question is one of the worst positions you can find yourself in, and it is advisable to prepare yourself for the most difficult questions you can imagine. If you are struggling to think of what these might be, ask a friend or colleague to role play with you.

Know your close

The most common place to lose a customer is just before or during your close. If you leave a pause before you attempt to make your close it can give them an opportunity to thank you and walk away.

The best way to close your sales pitch is to make a judgement call on how well you think the sale is going and carry on accordingly. A customer who seems interested may just need a simple inquiry about whether or not they wanted to purchase, whereas with a customer who seems sceptical you may be better off asking if they have further questions.

  How To Fuel Creativity
Whether you are a business owner, manager or employee; creativity is a crucial element in problem-solving and brainstorming new ideas.

Developing new and original ideas is a valuable life skill and is often key to business growth.

Highly creative individuals can solve complex problems faster, generate more insights and capitalise opportunities.
Fortunately, creative insights are not limited to the highly-imaginative creative professionals. Individuals can boost their creativity with these simple tips:

Incorporate daily downtime

A busy schedule is often an unavoidable part of modern day life. Between meetings and day to-day routines; prioritising rest and relaxation can seem all too challenging. However, research shows people are more likely to adopt a creative mindset when they are in a state of relaxation.

Regular practice of activities such as mindfulness and meditation can lead to more insights, as it allows the brain to truly wonder.
Making a conscious effort to find some time alone and include relaxing activities, such as going for a walk, can have a dramatic impact
on not only your creativity, but your overall productivity. Ensure your 'relaxation' time is free from distractions, such as mobile phones and laptops, and try to jot down any fleeting thoughts immediately.

Change your environment

When struggling to generate ideas, changing your physical environment can make all the difference. If you do all your work in a familiar environment, such as your office, consider leaving the office for a walk or moving to an empty conference room. The change in scenery can help provoke new insights and stimulate different thought patterns.

Embrace failure

Don't think of failure as something that must be avoided at all costs but rather an opportunity for innovative thought. The way failure is treated, particularly in a business context, can either push people to try new approaches or prevent them from sharing new ideas.

Adopting a positive approach to failure is a sure fire way to tackle complex decisions and can lead to more 'light bulb' moments. If you are finding it difficult to solve a problem, take a break and do something to lift your spirits.

  The Art of Delegation
Business leaders juggle a significant amount of tasks and responsibilities on a day-to-day basis, and more often than not, attempt to take care of everything themselves.

Workplace demands can become overwhelming and sometimes there are just not enough hours in the day. While delegating is an essential skill for business owners, entrepreneurs and leaders, it can often be challenging habit to pick up.

However, when performed correctly, delegating will help members of your team expand their skill sets and increase their ownership over their work. It can also help to refocus your efforts onto bigger projects and explore new possibilities.
Not only does delegating improve efficiency, but it can help reduce time pressures and the risk of burnout. For the best possible outcome, delegation should be approached in a professional manner. Here are three tips to help you start delegating:

Match tasks with the right person

Take the time to understand the skills and capabilities of your team and match tasks accordingly. This will help to ensure employees are capable and confident in completing the job. When delegating tasks to an employee, first explain to them why they were chosen and then the expected outcomes of the task. Consider including a backup person for greater flexibility.

Communicate clear expectations

Delegation is often successful when the nominated person for the task clearly understands your expectations, their role and responsibilities, and intended outcomes. Be sure to provide thorough instructions and offer your assistance throughout completion of the task. Developing key metrics to assess and measure their success will also help to ensure you are both on the same page.

Empower staff

Although it can be tempting to micromanage, remember it won't improve employee performance or results. Employees need to feel accountable for their work, so give them enough space to best put their talents to work. Encouraging them to work independently will demonstrate your trust and ultimately deliver more value to the delegated task.

  ATO Data-Matching Programs Continue
The ATO has advised that it will continue with the following data-matching programs.

Share transactions

Data about share transactions will be acquired for the period 20 September 1985 to 30 June 2018 from various sources, including stock transfer companies. The ATO will collect full names and addresses, purchase and sale details, and other information. The program aims to ensure that taxpayers are correctly meeting their tax obligations in relation to share transactions. It is estimated that records relating to 3.3 million individuals will be matched.

Credit and debit cards

Data about credit and debit card transactions will be acquired for the 2015–2016 and 2016–2017 financial years from various financial institutions. The ATO will collect details (such as name, address and contact information) of merchants with a credit and debit card merchant facility and the amount and quantity of the transactions processed. The program seeks to identify businesses that may not be meeting their tax obligations. It is estimated that around 950,000 records will be obtained, including 90,000 matched to individuals.

Online selling

Data will be acquired relating to registrants who sold goods and services to an annual value of $12,000 or more during the 2015–2016, 2016–2017 and 2017–2018 financial years. The ATO said data will be sought from eBay Australia and New Zealand Pty Ltd. The data will be used to identify those apparently operating a business but failing to meet their registration and/or lodgement obligations. It is estimated that between 20,000 and 30,000 records will be obtained.

  Tax Debt Release Applications Refused 
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has recently refused the applications of two individuals who sought to be released from their tax debts under the tax law.

Case 1

An individual suffering from Parkinson's disease had received income protection policy payments and sought to be relieved from the related tax debts, which totalled $130,416. He said he was unable to dispose of his home or an investment property to pay the debts, as there were mortgages over the properties in favour of his wife. The individual also argued that selling the properties would compound his illness and make it more difficult to meet his living needs. Although the AAT accepted that serious illness was a consideration, after reviewing the circumstances it held that the taxpayer would not suffer serious hardship if he was required to pay his tax liability. The AAT said the taxpayer did not make proper provisions to meet his tax liabilities and preferred to pay his other debts. Accordingly, relief was not granted.

Case 2

A Sunshine Coast real estate agent sought to be relieved from his tax debts, which totalled $437,681 as at 11 August 2016. He argued he had an outstanding compliance history and that his circumstances were the result of a catastrophic financial event in 2005, among other things. The Commissioner pointed to the taxpayer's "unusually high level of discretionary spending, including on holidays, dining out and entertainment, which could be reduced". The AAT said the taxpayer had a "poor compliance history" and agreed with the Commissioner's description of his discretionary spending. The AAT was of the view that the taxpayer "simply gave priority to other matters and ignored his tax obligations". The AAT accordingly refused the application for relief.


  Companies Held To Be Resident And Liable To Tax In Australia
In a long-running saga, the High Court has unanimously dismissed the appeals of four corporate taxpayers. The Court confirmed the taxpayers were Australian residents for income tax purposes, and therefore liable to tax in Australia on the profits they made from share trading activities on the Australian Stock Exchange. In making this decision, the Court rejected the taxpayers' contention that because Justice Perram had in the first case found that the directors of each taxpayer were resident abroad, and because meetings of those directors were held abroad, then Justice Perram and the Full Federal Court should have held that the central management and control of each company was exercised abroad, and therefore that the companies were not residents of Australia for income tax purposes.

The High Court held that, as a matter of long-established principle, the residence of a company is a question of fact and degree to be answered according to where the company's central management and control actually occurs. Moreover, the Court emphasised the answer was to be determined by reference to the course of the company's business and trading, rather than by reference to the documents establishing its formal structure and other procedural matters.
The High Court further held that the fact the boards of directors of the companies were located in overseas countries was insufficient to locate the companies as "foreign residents" in circumstances where (as found in the first case) the boards of directors had abrogated their decision-making in favour of a Sydney-based accountant, and only met to mechanically implement or rubber-stamp decisions that he made in Australia.

  Harris Black News 
It's been a big month at Harris Black

We've celebrated for…
  • our new parents Vanessa and Simon Cook! We wish you much happiness as you welcome Seth Henry Cook into your family.
  • Louise Chen for her recent promotion as senior accountant.
  • Robert Williams for his 5 years with Harris Black.
  • Keziah Sedgwick for passing CA.

From your Harris Black team… Congratulations!!!

  Navigating Superannuation in 2017...
   Thursday 30 March 2017
12:30 - 6:00PM
Event Details 
   How well do you know the superannuation rules?

Have you maximised your contributions?

Do you have more than $1,600,000 in superannuation?
As a Trustee of a Self-Managed Superannuation Fund (SMSF) you are responsible to know the rules of superannuation and how to manage your SMSF.

From 1 July 2017, there are many superannuation changes that could affect you - you may need to take action before 30 June!

Our conference has been designed to ensure you meet the necessary educational requirements and to bring you up to date on a number of issues.
Who Should Attend? 

Click to RSVP

Or phone 07 3032 0200   

by 23 March 2017

Attendance is Free
Bring A Friend!

An Attendance certificate will be issued 

If you are a Trustee of a Self-Managed Superannuation Fund 
You have a Large Balance in your Superannuation Fund

If you are contemplating starting a Self-Managed Superannuation Fund

You are concerned about the recent changes in superannuation
Victoria Park Golf Club
Alabaster Room
Herston Road
Herston Qld 4006
(Free Parking)
Our Speakers 
Paul Whimp
Harris Black

  Renee Bettenay
Harris Black

  Nathan Gordon
Harris Black
  Noel Lord
Qld State Manager

  Scott McGeever
Co-Founder and
Property Searchers
Loan Chow
YHC Lawyers
  Sue Winsor
Senior Financial
  Kieran Hoere
Merthyr Law
  Brendan Power
Harris Black

  To know more about the conference please click HERE or contact your Harris Black team member today. 

  Important Tax Dates
28 February 2017
  • Lodge tax return for non-taxable large/medium entities as per the latest year lodged (all entities other than individuals). Payment (if required) for companies and super funds is also due on this date. Payment for trusts in this category is due as per their notice of assessment.
  • Lodge tax returns for new registrant (taxable and non-taxable) large/medium entities (all entities other than individuals). Payment (if required) for companies and super funds is also due on this date. Payment for trusts in this category is due as per their notice of assessment.
  • Lodge and pay Self-managed superannuation fund annual return (NAT 71226) for new registrant (taxable and non-taxable) SMSF, unless they have been advised of a 31 October 2016 due date at finalisation of a review of the SMSF at registration.
  • Annual GST return or information report – lodge (and pay if applicable) if the taxpayer does not have a tax return lodgement obligation. If the taxpayer does have a tax return obligation, this return or report must be lodged by the due date of the tax return.

21 March 2017

  • Lodge and pay February 2017 monthly activity statement.
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This newsletter is for guidance only, any professional advice should be obtained before acting on any information contained herein. Neither the publisher nor the distributors can accept any responsibility for loss occasioned to any person as a result of action taken or refrained from in consequence of the contents of this newsletter. We recommend that you contact your Harris Black team member before making any decision to discuss your particular requirements or circumstances.

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Since 1994, Harris Black has been providing accounting and advisory services to our valued clients to help them achieve their business and personal wealth goals.


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