Accounting & Business
Taxation services
Financial Planning services


5 Tips to get ahead in the new financial year

Proactive ways to get your new Financial Year strategy into shape

All around Australia, business owners and leadership teams are meeting with their accountants to plan for 30 June. But beyond tax planning and compliance, could those conversations add more value to your business?

Dean Love, Director of  an accounting and advisory firm says his clients often want to know what's next, rather than what has happened in the past.

"There's always a role for historic data, you can certainly learn from it. But you can't change it," he explains. "We also make it a priority to talk with our clients about the decisions they're making for the year ahead – and three years beyond that too."

He shares five ways to make sure you're proactively planning beyond your tax return.

1. There's more to end of year reporting than the P&L

Love says companies should pay more attention to their cash flow statements.

"This cuts through the accounting 'smoke and mirrors', because cash determines the health of your business. Whether you're accounting on an accrual or cash basis, you need to know where that cash has gone – and how that impacts your ability to fund your business plans or dividends."

Looking at a cash flow statement for the past 12 months can help you see patterns in spending, and also forecast the year ahead.

Also recommended is an aged debtors report to check whether working capital is tied up in receivables.

"We suggest clients push their '90 day plus' debtors to collect, as once you get beyond 90 days it can be quite risky and difficult. Often they're still doing business with those clients – not realising they're effectively financing that client's business. If you have an overdraft, those debtors are costing you in real terms."

For businesses with stock, an inventory aging report can help identify any obsolete or slow-moving products, which should be cleared pre-June 30 through promotions to make room for new inventory.

2. Benchmark your key performance metrics

What performance measures really matter to your business – and how do you compare with competitors and the industry average? It's an important question to ask at this time of year.

"Key performance indicators are not 'one size fits all', but most businesses – whether product or service – should be looking at their gross profit margin," suggests Love. "If it's positive, that's a good sign you are at least covering your overheads. If it is dropping off, it can be a warning sign and you need to look for the cause."

Then you can make an informed decision to correct it – before it starts to impact your cash flow.

Love says it's very easy to fall into the trap of working harder to generate sales, only to find you're focusing your energy on less profitable service lines. The additional investment in time or money may not prove worthwhile – or sustainable.

He also recommends looking at working capital ratio to check the liquidity of your business. "This is a forward-looking measure of how easily you can meet your debts over the next 12 months. If it's high, that may also be a red flag you're holding too much in inventory, or receivables."

 3. Take time out of the business before June 30

Even though it may feel even harder to take time out of the day-to-day operations at this time of year, it's essential to re-set your strategy before you discuss options with your accountant or financial adviser.

"If you only do one thing before June 30, do this," says Love. "It's an opportunity to get a helicopter view of your business, so you can focus on where you want it to go. If you're too close to the detail, you'll miss the bigger picture."

He suggests taking an afternoon with your leadership team to set your strategic plan and direction for the next financial year – and then discussing financial models with your accountant to understand the potential impact.

 4. The forward-thinking 3-way model

Love says developing a three-way financial model is a key part of their end of financial year discussions.

"This is how we tease out the forward thinking, and help clients plan for the year ahead. We can look at a certain scenario, and model the impact on the profit and loss, balance sheet and cash flow."

As an example, one of Love's clients was able to assess and plan for the impact of proposed development works on their trading activity. "It gave them a clear understanding of the consequences, and ensured everyone was on board."

Sometimes this model highlights assumptions that may need to be challenged, or lets you avoid a costly mistake – because the numbers simply don't stack up.

"If you've acquired a business, you can also use this to see what the next 12 months look like – and then hold management accountable to achieving their goals. It becomes a measuring stick for performance, and makes sure the business plan plays out from a financial perspective."

 5. Set up a sound governance structure

Love believes businesses of any size can benefit from a structured advisory model – and this is a good time of year to establish that framework.

"If you're still in a start-up phase, you may just need access to a business mentor to provide guidance on an as-needs basis. But as you grow, it's a good idea to appoint a panel of advisers, who can add value in areas beyond your core business expertise – such as financial services, HR, marketing or legal advice."

Clarke McEwan can assist to put together your advisory team through our network of contacts  and then once all this is in place, your business will be set for a more proactive approach to the financial year ahead. And while it's obviously important to ensure reports are in place for the tax office, and make sure you're being as tax effective as possible, it's also worth taking the time to get more strategic value from your data.

The benefits of running your own super fund

There's been a lot of talk about the upcoming super changes, whether you can make non-concessional contributions, moving super between pension and retirement phases, and resetting the CGT cost base of the fund's investments.

While there is a lot happening, things haven't changed to any great degree for anyone thinking of starting a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF). 

The basic considerations for having an SMSF remain the same as they have for many years. In other words, 'the more things change, the more things stay the same'. 

At Clarke McEwan we can advise you on the best way to structure your SMSF so as to gain maximum benefit from the opportunities.

Reasons for having an SMSF

The main reason for having an SMSF is the greater control the trustees/members have over their retirement destiny. Other reasons include:

  • Investment choice: Trustees decide the fund's investment strategy to suit the investment and superannuation needs of the fund's members. The investment choice can include direct shares, managed funds, real estate, cash and term deposits. There are some investments which are unique to SMSFs;
  • Cost: The cost of setting up and running an SMSF may vary depending on the circumstances. It is possible for the costs of running the fund to be lower than fees you may pay on other funds;
  • Transparency: Monitoring and controlling the fund's transactions is directly done by the trustees/members, which provides greater visibility of the fund's investments and their performance at any time;
  • Tax control: It is possible for an SMSF to provide greater control over the tax payable by the fund. This mainly relates to the timing of the purchase and sale of investments which may optimise the tax position of the fund;
  • Estate planning: Having an SMSF provides the flexibility to plan who receives the member's death benefits, when they receive it and how they receive it, such as a pension or lump sum; and
  • Pooling of investments: Family members may be able to pool their superannuation in the one SMSF, which may invest in certain assets for the benefit of the family business. This may include business property and some direct and indirect investments in family business entities.

SMSFs are continuing to attract a younger demographic. Of the funds established in the December 2016 quarter, 43% of new trustees were under the age of 45. This proportion has increased steadily year by year. This demographic is after greater control of the member's retirement savings and innovative admin solutions with real time access, as they are more tech savvy than older generations.

 Here are some advantages of using an SMSF:

  •  Holding business premises in the SMSF: Many small business owners have their business premises owned by the SMSF. This provides tax effective strategies as the premises can be leased to the member's business and may receive a tax deduction for the rent paid on the property. The fund would be taxed at 15% on the net rent received. In some cases, the SMSF may wish to enter into a limited recourse borrowing arrangement, where the fund borrowing to have a property purchase is held in trust on behalf of the fund. You may need to obtain advice on how this could advantage the fund. Assets held by the SMSF are protected from bankruptcy, as creditors are unable to access a member's superannuation benefit if they are facing bankruptcy;
  •  Ability to buy or sell the fund's investments quickly: Trustees/members of an SMSF can quickly change their investments, or the asset allocation of the fund, within the limitations of the fund's investment strategy. This allows the fund to gain optimum access to tax benefits, as well as investment opportunities as soon as they arise;
  • Ways of investing differently: SMSFs can hold direct property, unlisted shares, artworks and other exotic or boutique investments;
  • Manage or eliminate CGT: Capital gains on investments held to support pensions are generally tax free because there is no CGT payable;
  • Buy assets that members could not otherwise afford: An SMSF allows up to four people, usually family members, to pool superannuation assets to purchase assets which may be unaffordable if purchased by members individually; and
  • Flexible payment of death benefits: Benefits from superannuation are not subject to the same payment restrictions as if they are paid from a person's estate. There is no requirement to wait until probate has been granted.

 There are some things that trustees/members of SMSFs may need to pay attention to. These include:

  • Time involved: Some trustees may like to spend a lot of time reviewing their SMSF. This needs to be taken into account in working out the total effort required in operating the fund;
  • Knowledge of trustees: SMSF trustees need to make sure they know the superannuation rules and they update themselves of any changes to determine the impact on the operation of the SMSF;
  • Investment Risk: Taking greater risk or lacking investment diversity may impact on the returns of the SMSF, or may not provide enough cash flow to allow benefits to be paid to members when required; and
  • Costs: Before establishing an SMSF, a comparison of costs should be made. If the SMSF is small, it may turn out to be more expensive than other types of funds.

The decision to have an SMSF requires a number of considerations, some of which may seem to be in conflict. However, there are many benefits of having an SMSF, which include control and flexibility over investment decisions, including timing investments to take advantage of taxation and estate planning.  #financialplanning #SMSF #superannuationrules #pensions

Contact Clarke McEwan today.

Super Changes Myth Busting Video

Finance expert Peter Switzer debunks common myths and misconceptions on the super changes.

This content is provided courtesy of the Australian Taxation Office.

Watch video  


Super pensions: Reviewing the merits of keeping a TRIP

Gone are the days when all Australians work to a certain age, and then the next day, they retire from the workforce. The end of work and the beginning of retirement is more fluid in recent times, and the rules that apply to accessing superannuation benefits reflect this blurring of what retirement means.

 In 2005, a special type of super pension was introduced, known as a transition-to-retirement pension. By starting a transition-to-retirement pension (what we call a 'TRIP'), you don't have to retire to withdraw your super benefits. You can work part-time or full-time or even casually, and withdraw a portion of your super benefits each year.

Until 30 June 2017, the major selling point in starting a TRIP is that you can access the tax advantages associated with super pensions while you're still working. Tax advantages include tax-exempt earnings on assets financing the pension (this exemption will be removed from 1 July 2017); and tax-free pension income for over 60s (which continues beyond 30 June 2017). If you start a TRIP when you're under the age of 60, then you can take advantage of the 15% pension offset on assessable pension income, and this 15% pension offset will remain in place beyond 30 June 2017.

15% pension tax offset remains in place

According to an ATO spokesperson: "From 1 July 2017, the earnings from assets supporting a transition to retirement income stream (TRIS)[TRIP] will no longer be subject to an earnings tax exemption, i.e. will no longer be exempt current pension income. The change is only in relation to the tax treatment at the super fund level – there has been no change to the tax treatment of a TRIS benefit paid to an individual member. Therefore there are no changes to the way tax offsets operate for the individual receiving the TRIS payment. A TRIS [TRIP] will continue to meet the definition of a superannuation income stream in the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (ITAA), however it will not be a superannuation income stream in the retirement phase under the new section 307-80(3)(a) of the ITAA."

Important: At the risk of repeating this key change to the TRIP rules, note that from 1 July 2017, the government is removing the tax exemption on earnings from assets financing a TRIP, that is, a TRIP will not be considered a superannuation income stream in the retirement phase (although minimum pension payments must still be withdrawn each year).

Depending on the strategies an individual chooses to use, it is possible to reduce the amount of income tax that a person pays while boosting the super benefit. For example, one of the more popular TRIP strategies is to salary sacrifice into your super fund up to your concessional (before-tax) contributions cap, and replace that income with tax-free (if over 60), or concessionally taxed pension payments (if under 60).

Until 30 June 2017, the right combination of salary and super will depend on your salary level, your age, your tax position, the size of your super benefit and your income needs.

Note that from 1 July 2017, the tax-effectiveness of such a strategy has been lessened due to the cut in the concessional contributions cap from $35,000 to $25,000, and the removal of tax-exempt earnings on TRIP assets.

Before I take a TRIP, what's the catch?

If you're considering starting a TRIP, note that you must have reached your preservation age – anyone born before 1 July 1960 has a preservation age of 55, and anyone born after 30 June 1960, has a preservation age of at least 56 years, and anyone born after 30 June 1961 has a preservation age of at least 57 years. If you were born after 30 June 1964, your preservation age is 60 years.

A TRIP is like any other account-based pension (although from 1 July 2017, a TRIP will no longer be considered a superannuation income stream), except for two important requirements:

  • You can withdraw no more than 10% of your TRIP's account balance each year as pension income, and
  • In nearly all circumstances, you cannot withdraw lump sums from your TRIP until you retire, or until you satisfy another condition of release, such as reaching the age of 65. The one exception to the non-commutable rule (not being able to convert to a lump sum) is when the fund member has unrestricted non-preserved benefits in the TRIP account. You may have this type of benefit if you were a fund member before July 1999. If so, this category of benefits are not preserved and can be accessed as a lump sum without breaking the TRIP rules (until 30 June 2017). If you do withdraw these benefits as a lump sum, the lump sum counts towards the minimum pension payment amount required to be paid each year, but does not count towards the 10% maximum payment limit. Note that treatment of a lump sum as pension payment is only possible until 30 June 2017.

Important: From 1 July 2017, TRIPs will no longer be eligible for the tax exemption on pension asset earnings (15% earnings tax will apply), although pension benefit payments on or after the age of 60 will continue to be tax-free, and minimum payments must continue to be withdrawn from the TRIP.

Note: If an individual runs a self-managed super fund (SMSF) and chooses to salary sacrifice while taking a TRIP, then the SMSF trustees must either segregate the fund's assets, or obtain an actuarial certificate. If a fund does not segregate pension assets from assets representing accumulation phase, then the SMSF trustees must then obtain an actuarial certificate each year to identify the tax-exempt income derived from pension assets.

What happens to my TRIP from 1 July 2017?

If you currently have a TRIP, then you will need to review your circumstances before 1 July 2017, to determine the impact of your TRIP no longer being considered a superannuation income stream in the retirement phase. The most significant implication is losing the tax exemption on the fund earnings from assets financing the TRIP. Moving assets back to accumulation phase, may also mean that assets previously exempt from capital gains tax, will now become assessable.

Capital Gains Tax relief in your Fund

For SMSF trustees in particular, if a pension asset becomes an asset in accumulation phase, then a line will need to be drawn on the value at the time of transfer to ensure previously tax-exempt capital gains are not taxed in the future.

If you are seeking to make changes prior to the end of the financial year, contact us to discuss your options.

#superannuation   #earlyretirement   #TRIPS    #TTR


Keeping your details up to date

With the day-to-day demands of running a business it can be easy to overlook small things like the accuracy of your company and business records, but it's important. 

Directors have a responsibility under the Corporations Act to advise the Australian Securities & Investments Commission of certain changes within a set time-frame.

By keeping your details up to date, not only are you doing the right thing as a responsible business owner, you also stand a better chance of hearing about government activities that could directly benefit your business.

Your ABN details are also used by government agencies to plan for future community and infrastructure developments that you need to know about that may benefit your business.

If you need assistance to update your ABN  or company details within 28 days of change, including your address, email, phone numbers, entity type, or any other details contact us now.

ASIC Fee Indexation

ASIC will be increasing some fees based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) from 1 July 2017.


Fee from 1 July 2017

Late payment penalties

Annual review fee for a proprietary company *


Late payment fee applies if not paid within 2 months after review date

Annual review fee for a special purpose company *


Late payment fee applies if not paid within 2 months after review date

Late payment fee for up to 1 month late



Late payment fee for more than 1 month late



*For further information and advice about fees contact us .


Simpler BAS is coming your way

Good news for small business owners is that from 1 July 2017 the ATO is reducing the amount of information needed for the business activity statement (BAS) to simplify your GST reporting.

From 1 July 2017, Simpler BAS will be the default GST reporting method for small businesses with a GST turnover of less than $10 million. Simpler BAS is a partnership between the ATO, software developers, tax professionals and small business associations.

Eligible businesses will only need to report their (1) Total sales (2) GST on sales and (3) GST on purchases.

This will not change the reporting cycle, record keeping requirements, or how you report other taxes on the BAS.

Simpler BAS will make it easier to classify transactions and lodge activity statements and reduce the time small business owners need to spend on paperwork and form-filling without  making changes that would impact the final GST amount. 

Simpler BAS will not affect how other taxes are reported such as your PAYG income tax instalments or PAYG tax withheld, or how often you submit your BAS.

You still need to keep records, such as invoices, as proof of any claims you make in your BAS and income tax return lodgements.

What's next?

The ATO will be automatically transitioning eligible small business' GST reporting methods to Simpler BAS from 1 July 2017. To help the transition, the ATO will email Clarke McEwan to advise whether clients are affected and how they can benefit from Simpler BAS.

Small business owners can choose whether to change their GST bookkeeping software settings to reduce the number of GST tax classification codes.

Before making any adjustments please talk to us at Clarke McEwan about whether reduced or detailed GST tax code settings are best for your business.

First home super saver scheme

Personal Tax Tips  - First home super saver scheme

From 1 July 2017 individuals will be able to make voluntary contributions to superannuation of up to $15,000 per year and $30,000 in total, to be withdrawn for the purpose of purchasing a first home. Both voluntary concessional and non-concessional contributions will qualify.

These contributions (less tax on concessional contributions) along with deemed earnings can be withdrawn for a deposit from 1 July 2018. When withdrawn, the taxable portion will be included in assessable income and will receive a 30 per cent offset.

Features associated with this measure include:

  • contributions will count towards existing concessional and non-concessional contribution caps
  • earnings will be calculated based on the 90 day Bank Bill rate plus three percentage points
  • the ATO will administer this scheme, calculate the amount that can be released and provide release instructions to superannuation funds.

To discuss this or any property investment matter contact us now.

Tax planning strategies for 2017

End of year planning is not just about minimising your tax bill.  These last months of the financial year are a great time to forecast how your 2016/17 financial year will wrap up and implement some strategies to support your objectives and minimise your tax liability by taking advantage of opportunities that will disappear from 1 July 2017.

The fact that many legislative changes will come into effect post 30 June 2017 means now it is time for early planning.  Here are some of the reasons to sit down now with Clarke McEwan and have that year-end planning discussion.

Clarke McEwan will look at your "whole of business", the way it operates, and its likely future needs. 

  • Use your end of year planning as a means of understanding your financial results to determine what improvements you can influence over the next 12 months and what profit result is achievable.  We can help quantify the benefits of future opportunities by using "what-if" scenarios such as investing in more staff, equipment or marketing.
  • The small business $20,000 immediate asset write-off currently available to businesses with <$2 million turnover will cease on 30 June 2017. With Company Tax Reform legislation to pass in May which will expand the definition of a Small Business to a <$10 mil turnover this is a window of opportunity for those businesses to bring forward asset purchases to pre 30 June.
  • With the Tax Reform looming and changes to the Small Business definition, companies with <$10 million dollars turnover will benefit from a lower 27.5% company tax rate in 2016/17.  It is anticipated that companies with <$25 million turnover will be entitled to a tax rate of 27.5% in the 2017/18 financial year. With this in mind it is worth exploring strategies to defer profit until the lower tax rate year.
  • Super Reforms come into effect 1 July 2017, including options available for a limited time. Consider this window of opportunity to increase your retirement savings and save tax by taking advantage of higher tax deductible concessional contribution limits of $30,000 for fund member under 50 years of age, and $35,000 for fund member in the 50 years plus age category.
  • Income streaming to lower income family members, already important in this financial year will be increasingly important in 2017/18 when new double contributions tax legislation applies to income from $250,000.  This division 293 tax result in super contributions being taxed at 30% rather than the 15% once "income" exceeds the limit.

As a guideline, your discussion with us should give you :-

1) an estimate of tax payable for the year ended 2017, the amounts of any tax instalments and the timing of due dates;

(2) a summary of options for the mix of salary, dividends if appropriate, and superannuation contributions to be paid this year;

(3) tax planning initiatives that might be undertaken prior to 30 June 2017; and

(4) determining how family trust income may be distributed so resolutions of trustees may be prepared before the end of June 2017.

This information is intended as a guideline only. Professional advice related to your personal situation is crucial. Request an appointment now 


Property investors to lose out from proposed budget changes


 The 2017 Federal Budget, handed down by Treasurer Scott Morrison on Tuesday night, 9th May at 7:30pm AEST includes proposed changes which will affect residential property investors Australia-wide.

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) allows owners of income producing property to claim depreciation deductions for the wear and tear that occurs to a building's structure and the plant and equipment assets within.

The proposed changes relate to the depreciation of plant and equipment assets and the eligibility to claim this deduction. Currently, investors are eligible to claim qualifying plant and equipment depreciation on assets found in an investment property they purchase, even if they were installed by a previous owner.

"Under the new rules which are yet to be legislated by Parliament, investors will be able to depreciate new plant and equipment assets and items they add to their property, however subsequent owners will not be able to claim depreciation on existing plant and equipment assets," said the Chief Executive Officer of BMT Tax Depreciation, Bradley Beer.

"This change will have a major impact on investors, essentially reducing the annual deductions they can claim therefore reducing their cash return each year. This could lead to investors being in a tighter financial position and may discourage future investors from purchasing a second hand residential property," said Mr Beer.

"It is our understanding at this stage that if the property is new, they will be able to continue to depreciate plant and equipment as they were previously. We are seeking further clarification on this," said Mr Beer.

Investors will still be able to claim capital works deductions also known as building write off, including any additional capital works carried out by a previous owner.

The budget notes were clear that existing investments will be grandfathered. This means that anyone who has purchased a property up until the 9th of May 2017 will be able to claim depreciation as per normal.

If a property investor exchanges contracts to purchase a second hand property after 7:30pm on the 9th May, there could be different depreciation rules applicable to their scenario.

"We are currently speaking with government to further understand the intricacies relating to the budget notes and the proposed changes to depreciation of plant and equipment assets," said Mr Beer.

This article was originally published as a media release at

Contact Clarke McEwan