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We welcome you to our April e-Bulletin

In this issue ...

 

   

Accounting in the cloud

'The Cloud' – this term has been around for a number of years now, and when it comes to accounting solutions while there has been hesitation from some, many have moved to an online or 'cloud' package.

Cloud and accounting software - the perfect match

Working with a cloud solution promises many advantages - better access and overview of your finances, improved collaboration with people in and outside of your business, better leverage of your computing resources and access to smarter processes. You can use cloud-based software from any device with an internet connection. Online accounting mean business owners stay connected to their data.  It also gives easy access for their accountant in real time without the need to transfer data manually. Software can integrate with a whole ecosystem of add-ons. It's scalable, cost-effective and easy to use.

What to watch for in the clouds

There are still those that are concerned about the Cloud and those concerns are warranted.  The significant issue revolves around security of data – the great advantage of being online, available anywhere, has a double edge….if your login details are not kept secure then unauthorised access may occur.  And then there is the issue of where the data resides – the 'cloud' is really just a term to reflect the internet based access to data.  Massive data warehouses are the real 'cloud' and their location could be in Australia or anywhere overseas.  There is a concern if your data is stored outside of Australia that the laws governing privacy and access may be different to what we expect here.  For example there are non-US companies that will not subscribe to data services that are housed in the US, fearing the way US government legislates over security issues could compromise their privacy.

There are many things to consider when looking at Cloud options for your business - amid the risks, there are many more opportunities and it is therefore important to look at how you could benefit.

             

   

   

                      
Xero, MYOB and Reckon are all providers of 'cloud-based' accounting solutions. Phillipsons can assist you with any of these solutions and many more – if you would like more information or even a demonstration of the various options, phone and make an appointment to discuss your cloud accounting needs.

Phone 03 5144 4566.



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FATCA - just the facts

FATCA is a provision of a US law signed by President Obama in 2010 designed to combat tax evasion by Americans. So what does an American tax law have to do with Australian taxpayers? Plenty - with more to come.

What are the immediate effects of FATCA here in Australia?
1.   Individuals/organisations are being asked about their status with the US government when opening new financial accounts. Eventually every pre-existing financial account will undergo FATCA compliance scrutiny.
2.    Accounts identified as subject to US tax laws will have information collected and reported to the ATO which will then forward all reported accounts to the US tax authority, the IRS.

How can Australia send my financial information to the IRS? The US and Australia are set to sign an international tax treaty known as an Inter-Governmental Agreement, or IGA. This treaty effectively requires every financial institution in Australia to identify accounts subject to US tax laws and to report those accounts to the ATO. The IGA will also make it legal for the ATO to forward this information to the IRS.

Why would Australia agree to be subject to American laws and force Australian financial institutions to spend millions to become compliant with a foreign law?
In return for collecting and reporting on the accounts of US persons and businesses in Australia, all American financial institutions will collect the same information on Australian owned accounts and report this information to the ATO so that it can target tax evaders here at home.

What is the ATO doing to prepare for this new law?
For the answer to this - and much more - click here to read the full story.                       

          
   Marilyn Williams      


Marilyn relocated to Australia from the US in 2008 and has over 20 years experience in taxation in both the US and Australia. Contact Marilyn if you require any advice on FATCA or international tax issues.

Phone 03 5144 4566.

 

  


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Underpaying staff: short term gain and long term pain

A word from David Bates, our specialist employee relations partner.

Australia's increasingly complex employment laws are making it harder than ever for retailers to pay employees correctly. But underpayments – whether intended or accidental – can result in hefty penalties and massive back-payments.

This month (April 2014), we look at the key things every employer needs to know about wages and related record-keeping requirements.

Finding the right rate of pay

Here at Workforce Guardian, our team receives countless phone and email enquiries from employers looking for help to find the correct rates of pay for their employees. Many employers (quite rightly) anticipate the team simply needs to 'look-up' the rate online. If only it was that easy!

Given the recent – and very unfortunate – situation involving the owners of a Caltex outlet in Victoria, let's take the example of a cashier working in a petrol station. The minimum information our team would need to know to accurately determine the 'base rate' of pay would include all of the following:

 

  • The state where the employee works.
  • The employee's age.
  • Whether the employee works full-time, part-time or as a casual.
  • Which Modern Award covers the employee.
  • Which Award classification level applies to the employee's specific position.
  • The pre-Modern Award that applied to the employee.
  • The employee's correct pre-Modern Award classification.
  • Whether the business employed staff before 27 March 2006.


It gets worse ...

Read the full article here.

 

 

To find out more about Workforce Guardian, jump onto their website - Workforce Guardian offers subscriptions to access expert advice and resources:

http://www.workforceguardian.com.au/
services?partner=PHILLIPSONS
 

            









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Farming with big data

Our market analyst Fred Strauss takes a closer look at how feeding data gathered by tractors into computers can tell farmers how to increase their output of crops

Major agricultural companies based in the United States say the next revolution on the farm will come from feeding data gathered by tractors and other machinery into computers that tell farmers how to increase their output of crops like corn and soybeans.

Monsanto, Du Pont and other companies are racing to roll out 'prescriptive planting' technology to farmers across the United States who know from years of experience that tiny adjustments in planting depth or the distance between crop rows can make a big difference in revenue at harvest time.

Many tractors and combines already are guided by Global Positioning System satellites that plant ever-straighter rows while farmers, freed from steering, monitor progress on iPads and other tablet computers now common in tractor cabins.

The same machinery collects data on crops and soil. But many farmers have haphazardly managed the information, scattered in piles of paperwork in their offices or stored on thumb drives clattering in pickup-truck ashtrays. The data often were turned over by hand for piecemeal analysis.

Sellers of prescriptive-planting technology want to accelerate, streamline and combine all those data with their highly detailed records on historic weather patterns, topography and crop performance.

Algorithms and human experts crunch all the data and can send advice directly to farmers and their machines. Supporters say the push could be as important as the development of mechanized tractors in the first half of the 20th century and the rise of genetically modified seeds in the 1990s.

For the full story, click here.

 


           

Fred Strauss is an independent and highly regarded investment expert, and is part of our investment committee.

Fred keeps a close eye on international markets, and USA in particular.

If you would like to get more of Fred's insights or to discuss your individual investment strategy, contact our financial advisors on 03 5144 5207.
             





            
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Are you ready for SuperSTREAM?

As we have previously covered, from 1 July 2014 employers with 20 or more employees will be required to make superannuation guarantee (SG) contributions electronically. The contribution data is to be sent electronically to the superannuation fund in a message format, and the contribution payment to be sent electronically through the banking system. The data message and payment will be linked by a payment reference number which enables reconciliation by the receiving superannuation fund.

Most contributions you make to retail and industry funds are already SuperStream compliant (as most of these funds only accept contributions and other data electronically). However many employers will need to change their methods to ensure they comply fully.

If an employee's SG contributions are paid to an SMSF, and you are not already complying with SuperSTREAM, employees have until 31 May to provide you with:

  • SMSF's name & ABN
  • SMSF's electronic service address for SuperSTREAM purposes
  • SMSF's bank account details.


Consider how you currently make contributions and then any action that you may need to take to comply by 1 July 2014. This may involve doing any or a combination of the following:

  • Upgrading your payroll software (to confirm whether the current version of your payroll software is SuperSTREAM compliant, contact your payroll software provider).
  • Using a Clearing House.
  • Working with the recipient superannuation fund which may have an online solution.


Employers with fewer than 20 employees have an extra year until 1 July 2015 to comply with these requirements.

           
             Tracey De Nobile

More information? Phone Tracey at our SuperCentre for information and advice on all things Super.

Phone 03 5144 4566

                       
















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April Fools' Day prankster referred to ASIC for hoax media release

As reported in the media recently, when 16-year-old Lismore resident Kudra Falla-Ricketts sent a fake press release to local journalists on April Fools' Day claiming that gas drilling company Metgasco was pulling out of New South Wales after community opposition, she got a lot more attention than she bargained for.

Metgasco responded quickly to the prank, issuing a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange informing shareholders and investors that the press release was a hoax and that the company '… intends to continue its conventional and unconventional gas exploration and development activities.'

Metgasco's CEO Peter Henderson said that the effect of the fake email could have been devastating for shareholders and referred the prank to corporate watchdog the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). ASIC is now investigating the teenager, whose father is a coal seam gas activist.

Kudra's prank is similar to the Whitehaven Coal hoax in January last year, where a false press release on behalf of the company, claiming that the ANZ Bank had withdrawn a loan to the open-cut coal mine worth more than $1 billion, resulted in temporarily wiping $314 million from Whitehaven Coal's share value.

Under corporation law, false or misleading statements can result in 10 years in jail, a $765,000 fine or both. As Kudra is a minor and no harm was caused to Metgasco's share price, the likely outcome here is a stern warning from ASIC.

The lesson to be learned from this is that in the event of false or misleading information about your organisation being published, it is vital to address the issue quickly.

  1. Issue a statement exposing the false information as a hoax as soon as possible.
  2. Report the offender to ASIC.
  3. Advise anyone who has already published, or might in the future publish, the false information that it is false.

Not acting quickly could result in a costly disaster.

         

            
           

If you find your organisation in a position of being falsely represented in the media, you should contact ASIC as soon as possible.



           












           
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And finally, a word from the editor ...                 

Easter is upon us – a chance for some time off or perhaps a busy time of year for others.  But for all of us, a cold hard reality that we are now over a third of the way through 2014 and there is not much time left before the end of another financial year.

By this time next month, we will likely be reacting to another Federal Budget which is being built up to be a tough one. Look out for our special Budget Bulletin where we will bring you the relevant details affecting business and individuals.

Stay safe over the Easter period and all the best, until next time.
 
Cheers,

Kurt Best
General Manager

Phillipsons.com.au



 





             
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