Major ATO Focus On Work-Related Clothing And Laundry This Tax Time

This tax time, the ATO will be closely examining claims for work-related clothing and laundry expenses. Clothing claims are up nearly 20% over the last five years and the ATO believes many taxpayers are making mistakes or deliberately over-claiming. Around a quarter of all clothing and laundry claims in recent years were exactly $150 – the amount claimable without a specific requirement to keep detailed records about the work-related clothing expenses.

TIP: The ATO has issued a stern reminder that the $150 threshold is not a “safe amount” that everyone can claim. We can help make sure your tax return claims are done right – contact us to find out more.

To know more about work-related clothing and laundry expenses, contact your Harris Black team member.

Charity – “One Year On Our Bike”

Harris Black is proud to be supporting “One Year on our Bike“.

One Year on Our Bike (Wolters Family) is inspired by the work of Motor Neurone Disease Association Queensland (MNDAQ) and wanted to support them by raising money and awareness.

Diana and Josef Wolters together with their daughter (Chloe, 14) and son (Jack, 12) are in the middle of a tough and fun adventures riding solely their push bikes while raising money for MNDAQ.

Wolters Family are doing a full round trip of Australia and have to carry everything with them in two tailor made trailers that they made themselves. They started their journey in Bundaberg on Australia Day and are currently in Karratha in outback Western Australia.

In the next 4 months, the team at Harris Black will raise funds through various activities to be organised by Bjorn Kirberg, brother of Diana Wolters, to help One Year on our Bike raise funds for MNDAQ.

Harris Black 2018 Staff Day

On Friday 10 August 2018 all at Harris Black attended the firm’s annual “Staff Day”. This is a day where we collectively review the past 12 months at Harris Black, reaffirm our core values and further develop strategies that will improve our service and better help our clients achieve their goals.

Guest appearances were made by Jack Perlinksi, from Dais marketing consultants and Troy Schoenfisch from Beyond Blue. The former invited us to embrace and promote our firm’s identity as an organisation that is focused on helping our clients achieve their goals whilst the latter promoted the need to provide support and understanding when a workmate is struggling. Both were well received.

Last year’s Staff Day saw all at Harris Black identifying ways to actively develop a strong Growth Mindset (one that embraces challenges and learning experiences in a positive manner). The Growth Mindset concept is now a huge part of how we operate as a team and with our clients. With the introduction on Staff Day of the “5 Second Rule” concept we’ve now extended this even further… “The 5 Second Rule” encourages us to move forward on those things we are avoiding. The initial move we’re required to make is often the hardest and that which stops us getting started on a difficult or challenging task. The key idea behind “The 5 Second Rule” is that when needing to start one of those difficult tasks, we should count backwards from 5 and at the count of 1, make a physical action towards the task, even if it is something that ongoing requires largely mental application. Our reference for “The 5 Second Rule” was a book of the same name by Mel Robbins. A lot of great pointers in this one for those interested in self-improvement both from a personal and business perspective.

As usual we made sure there was plenty of fun and laughter tied up our Staff Day learning activities… Blind-folded challenges, a baby photo competition and the creation of promotional video’s “off-the-cuff” were interspersed across the day and all were both extending and entertaining (hopefully the latter will look a little more polished before they hit our website!).

The Harris Black Staff Day was as entertaining and productive as always and ended with the entire team heading out to enjoy a belated EOFY celebration at 1889 Enoteca. As is generally the case with any Harris Black Staff Event, an exceptional night was had by all!

New Financial Year Changes

A reminder of legislative and compliance changes that have come into effect from 1 July 2018.

Minimum wage increases

A new minimum wage is now in effect starting from the first pay period on or after 1 July 2018. The new hourly minimum wage is $18.93 per hour, up from $18.29 – a 3.5 per cent increase. The base rates of pay in modern awards will also increase. Employers must ensure that they check the new wage rates that apply to their business and take action immediately.

High income threshold

The high income threshold in unfair dismissal cases will increase to $145,400 per annum. The previous threshold was $142,000 per annum for dismissals that took place on or after 30 June 2017. The compensation limit will be $72,700 for dismissals occurring on or after 1 July 2018.

Changes to penalty rates for some awards

From 1 July 2018, Sunday penalty rates for workers in the Fast Food, Hospitality, Pharmacy and Retail awards changed, following a Fair Work Commission decision made last year. The rate cuts are between 10 to 15 per cent, depending on the award.


Online retailers are now required to register for GST on sales of low-value imports of physical goods imported by consumers. Businesses that meet the $75,000 registration threshold will need to take action now to review their business systems to ensure that they comply. They will need to:

  • register for GST;
  • charge GST on sales of low value imported goods (unless they are GST-free); and
  • lodge returns to the ATO.

These businesses may be merchants who sell goods, electronic distribution platform operators or re-deliverers.

Also, the 32.5 per cent income tax rate increased to $90,000 from $87,000 as of 1 July 2018.

If you have any questions about these changes, contact your Harris Black team member today.

Harris Black Digital Toolbox – “Squirrel Street”

Digital technology provides great opportunities to amplify the impact of your business activities and practices.

Gone are the days where you need to do everything manually within your practice like ordering, logistics, payments and receipts, marketing, HR, motor vehicle log book and so many more.

Every month, Harris Black will showcase a digital tool that will improve awareness, knowledge management, communication, and productivity within your business practice.

In this month’s issue, we give you Squirrel Street.

Want to stay organised this financial year?

Squirrel Street effortlessly and accurately captures, manages, and stores your financial documents, business records, invoices and receipts.
The Squirrel Street Process

Squirrel Street is a simple and secure expense management app that will enable you to focus more on other important things in your business.

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

Creating An Agile Workplace

In today’s society, technological change is the norm – new opportunities are continually arising that change the way a business operates or improves products and processes. Businesses that are complacent can risk failing.

Creating a workplace which emphasises the need to meet changing demands is important. That is where agility fits in. An agile workplace is one that adapts quickly to the changing needs of the market, its customers, employees and other key stakeholders.

Agile workplaces respond faster to these trends and disruptions, are more efficient and encourage innovation.

Consider the following ways to promote a culture of agility in your workplace:

Staff training and development

Building up your team to deal with disruptions and contingencies is key. Cross-training and reskilling your staff is one way to meet the ever-changing demands of your business. This provides flexibility as roles can be rotated and a variety of tasks can be delegated. Having multidisciplinary teams also helps to create a smooth transition when a staff member leaves and another employee starts, meaning the team won’t suffer too much from the departure of one staff member.

Use data to make decisions

Agile businesses determine the strategic direction of the business by evidence obtained from multiple sources of data and insights. By using data rather than relying on knowledge alone, businesses can gain a competitive advantage and respond to predicted forecasts and opportunities in a more timely manner. Data can also be utilised to reduce inefficiencies and manage risk more effectively.

Leverage technology

Technology is the ally of agility. To successfully thrive, technology must be at the forefront. Traditional business models are continually changing with technology providing new ways of doing business. Adopting new technologies and encouraging adaptation among staff can help to remain competitive and agile.

How can we help you?

Today’s financial environment demands a regular review of strategy and a focus on execution.