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Archives for May 2020

Go ahead, ZOOM me!

Isn’t it interesting how life forces you to adapt?

Over the last several months, the  COVD-19 situation has spun off many examples of how we’ve been obliged to adapt. However, the one example that I’m specifically thinking of is adapting to ‘virtual meetings’ with clients using ZOOM.

Now, I’ve been aware of ZOOM for some time. I’ve occasionally participated in a ZOOM meeting (organised by someone else), and I have thought to myself, every now and again, ‘I really must find out more about this ZOOM thing…some day.’

Well, that day arrived with a thud in mid-March when, following Government direction, we went from having zero staff working remotely to having 90% of staff working remotely. That presented us with a challenge. A significant aspect of our value proposition to clients involves meeting with them on a regular basis to review their circumstances and preferences and to make any adjustments to their strategy as may be required. These sorts of meetings are best held in person. In the first week or so I tried to replicate these meetings via telephone calls. But of course, now you can’t see your client and you can’t share written reports or data with them.

Then I started watching YouTube videos about ZOOM, and they helped, a little. I only really started to make progress in my understanding of, and comfort with, ZOOM by just trying different things and asking work colleagues lots of ‘dumb’ questions.

So now only a few weeks later I’m feeling pretty proficient at using it. I can now readily organise meetings, adjust the security settings, share a screen, as well as recording the meeting. I particularly enjoy personalising my virtual background (my favourite is the standard beach back-drop.)

And clients love ZOOM! In fact, I look after some clients whom I think we might never see in our offices again. They can get all they need out of our meetings without ever leaving the comfort and safety of their home. Of course, as I mentioned above, sometimes you just need to sit across the table from someone, but going forward I really do think that ZOOM meetings are going to represent a significant part of our interaction with clients.

Please note this article provides general advice only and has not taken your personal, business or financial circumstances into consideration. If you would like more tailored advice, please contact us today.

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Super Tax Tips

We are hurtling towards the end of another financial year. What better time to get your house in order?! Super still remains a low-tax savings environment designed to fund your retirement.

Here is a useful 10-step super checklist that will help you maximise your entitlements:

Do a “Lost Super” search

With more than $17 billion in lost super, there’s a chance a few of these dollars might be yours. Google ‘superseeker’ and it will take you to the ATOs Super search tool. Simply enter your name, date of birth and tax file number in the search filters and you’re set.

Consolidate your super funds

Make sure you have undertaken step 1 and have a flick through your past statements. Use this opportunity to consolidate your funds into one account to make life simple. Ensure you’re not missing out on any insurance or other benefits before you close any accounts. Rolling over existing accounts into one account is a simple process with many superannuation funds providing this service for you.

Salary sacrifice

You’ve probably heard the term before but what does it actually mean? Salary sacrificing is when you ask your employer to redirect a portion of your pay as a contribution to super. By ‘sacrificing’ some of your before-tax salary into your super, you are taxed at the concessional tax rate of 15%. These before-tax contributions reduce your taxable income so you pay less tax at a marginal tax rate.

Non-concessional contribution

If you’ve recently sold an asset, received an inheritance or received a bonus from work, then a non-concessional or after-tax contribution might be worth considering. It is referred to as a ‘non-concessional’ contribution because you don’t receive a tax deduction. Non-concessional contributions are the simplest way to add to your super as you simply deposit your personal money into your super fund.

Co-contribution

If you earned less than $38,564 during the 2019/20 financial year and make a non-concessional contribution of $1,000 towards your super, the government will also contribute $500. That’s a guaranteed 50% return on your money!

Spousal contribution

If your spouse earns less than $10,800 and you make a $3,000 non-concessional contribution to their super, you may be eligible for a tax rebate of up to $540.

Super splitting

If you or your partner take time off work or reduce working hours to look after the kids, keep the super contributions rolling by splitting. It allows the working spouse to have up to 85% of their super contributions placed into the account of the non-working spouse. It helps keep a couple’s accounts evenly balanced and is simple to implement.

Transition to retirement

If you’re aged between 57 and 64 and still working, a Transition to Retirement (TTR) strategy might be right for you. Despite some of their gloss coming off due to the 2017 super changes, a TTR remains a solid strategy that lets you draw tax-effective funds from your super while you’re still working. You can then use your normal income to make concessional contributions to super. The simplest way to think about it is that you’re recycling your retirement benefits to reduce tax and boost super.

Set up a self-managed super fund

For those of you with more than $250,000 in accumulated super, a self-managed super fund might be the way to go. The Australian Tax Office has helpful videos: head to www.ato.gov.au/super/self-managed-super-funds and search for “SMSF videos”. It’s very important to get the right advice before proceeding.

Seek advice from a professional

Financial advice can help you identify and plan to achieve your financial goals so you can enjoy the lifestyle you want. An adviser will help you assess your current circumstances, identify your goals and priorities, and recommend financial strategies and products that will help you reach your goals.

So there you have it: the essential 10-point super checklist to tick-off before 30th June. If executed consistently every year, it can make a big difference over the long-term. It is never too late to start.

Please note this article provides general advice only and has not taken your personal, business or financial circumstances into consideration. If you would like more tailored advice, please contact us today.

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