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Regulator Roundup April – 2015

SMSF tax return lodgement due dates

The SMSF annual return for a particular income year is due in the following income year. Not all funds have the same lodgement due date.

Check the list below for a due date that applies to your fund. Regardless of the dates in the list below, you must lodge by a different date if the Tax Office has directed you to.

Generally the lodgement and payment due dates for SMSF annual returns are:

  • if you lodge your own annual return – 28 February after the financial year
  • if you lodge through a tax agent – according to the tax agent lodgement program (ask your agent about the due date).

If it’s the first annual return for your SMSF, the lodgement and payment dates are:

  • if you lodge your own annual return – 31 October after your first financial year
  • if you lodge through a tax agent – 28 February after your first financial year.
Calendar of SMSF lodgement dates
Date Description
31 October Due date for lodging your SMSF annual return if:

  • you are a new registrant self-preparer
  • you are a self-preparer and had one or more returns overdue at 30 June
  • you are a self-preparer and your previous tax return was lodged late
  • you lodge through a registered tax agent and have one or more tax returns overdue at 31 October
  • the ATO has directed you to lodge on this date.
1 December Due date for payment of income tax for super funds if you are required to lodge return by 31 October.
15 January Due date for lodgement of SMSF annual return for taxable large/medium business super funds as per latest year lodged, unless required earlier – payment for these super funds was due on 1 December.
28 February Due date for lodgement of SMSF annual return by:

  • a registered tax agent for
    • new registrant SMSFs, which did not have to lodge earlier (taxable and non-taxable) – payment (if required) is also due on this date
    • non-taxable large/medium business super funds as per the latest year lodged – payment (if required) is also due on this date
  • self-preparing entities which did not have to lodge earlier – payment (if required) is also due on this date.

 

31 March Due date for lodgement of SMSF annual return by a registered tax agent for super funds with total income in excess of $2 million in latest year lodged (excluding large/medium business taxpayers) – payment (if required) is also due on this date.
15 May Due date for lodgement of SMSF annual return by a registered tax agent (unless otherwise required to lodge earlier or eligible for the 5 June concession) – payment (if required) is also due on this date.
5 June Concessional due date for lodgement of SMSF annual return for funds where all of the following apply – they:

  • lodge by a registered tax agent
  • were non-taxable or received a refund as per latest year lodged
  • are non-taxable or will receive a refund in current year.

This concession is only available to super funds with a lodgement end date of 15 May. It is not available to large/medium business taxpayers or funds with an earlier due date.

10 technology mistakes small businesses often make (and how to avoid them)

The technology and working life website Lifehacker says that while technology can streamline business processes, it can also create major problems.

Lifehacker has come up with what it says are 10 of the most common mistakes, not necessarily in order, that small businesses make in IT. Thankfully, it also suggests how to avoid them.

1. Not investing in training

Sufficient training in the tools staff are using to do their job is crucial, but often overlooked in favour of a “work it out as you go” approach. “Staff that are educated in the ins and outs of the software they use on a daily basis are more confident, productive and overall a lot happier in their roles,” Lifehacker says. It says they don’t even have to leave the office to get up to speed — many software programs offer short online courses.

2.  Using too many communication tools

Communication tools — Lifehacker mentions email, Trello, Slack, Hipchat, Google Hangouts, Skype, Smartsheet, Yammer, twoodoo, Glip — are all useful, but Lifehacker says keeping track of multiple messages on multiple platforms can be a nightmare. “While it might be fun to check out a new platform, take some time to get to know it before rolling it out to your team.” Lifehacker says it is better to choose a couple of methods you think will work for your business, and stick to them.

3.  No social media strategy

“Randomly chucking posts up on Facebook will get you nowhere. If you take building your online prescence seriously, you need to have a strategy.” Using Facebook’s built in analytics to identify peak times to post will give you more reach and engagement with your followers, and attract new ones Lifehacker says. “Tools like HootSuite can help you take over Twitter as well.”

4.  Not taking security seriously

Even something as simple as network sharing can comprise your business security, with Lifehacker advising businesses to check who has permission to view files and folders. “Make sure you’re installing the latest security patches as they become available — you should receive a notification from your anti-virus software; ensure that it’s legit, and make sure you’re only running one program.” In this case however, Lifehacker’s advice is that more is not better in this case. “Have a regularly scheduled date to ensure everything is updated and secure, and it will benefit you both day-to-day and in the long run.”

5.  Not utilising two-step authentication

Two-step authentication is not just for bank accounts; Google and Twitter and numerous other online services also have the option of requiring two-step authentication. As well as needing a regular password, you also need to enter a code sent to your mobile number, email or a security token issued by the provider to access your accounts. “This means that even if someone does discover your unique clever, seemingly random and often changed password (you’ve made sure you’re doing all that, right?) they still won’t be able to log in.” Lifehacker says if two-step authentication is offered for a service you use for your business, do it.

6.  Forgetting to back up data

Backing up is so easy to put off until something terrible happens — and you lose all your data. “Set a reminder in your calender, on your phone, wherever you need to. Commit to making backups part of your regular routine and you’ll never have that sinking feeling of despair in the pit of your stomach again.”

7.  Email chaos

Lifehacker says there are a few schools of thought when it comes to organising your emails, with some preferring to file and categorise, while others insist on the inbox-only route. “What definitely doesn’t work, however, is having thousands of unread messages. Find the time to cull 50 per day. Unsubscribe from mailing lists, change notification settings on social media and chip away at that pile until you can breathe a sigh of relief. You’ll be less likely to miss important emails, and your inbox will thank you!”

8.  No actual tech support

While it may be tempting to simply get the most tech-savvy member of your team to look after any problems as they arise, a proficiency in Call of Duty is no guarantee of actually knowing what is best for your business. “It is simple and surprisingly affordable to outsource proper IT support, and its importance cannot be understated,” Lifehacker says. It says most outsourced providers offer around-the-clock support via a multiple number of communication methods, so if your tech-savvy team member is off sick you will never be short of someone to assist with whatever arises.

9.  Slow internet

Lifehacker offers a link to this online tool to check your speed online and compare options. “Don’t put up with snail pace internet if you don’t have to! It’s worth spending a little extra to get the fastest internet possible in your area — you’ll see an improvement in everything from staff morale to an increase in productivity.”

10.  Not upgrading regularly enough

Following on from the above theme of not being overly tight with the purse strings, Lifehacker advises that struggling with hardware that is 10 years old is something you should stop doing now. “Invest in new equipment on a regular basis.”  And while not advocating that business owners should get into debt, it says “if your printer cartridges are obsolete you should probably move on, rather than ordering them from eBay”.

Initiative shows small businesses how to benefit from energy efficiency

Australia’s 2.4 million small businesses are being encouraged to take practical steps to reduce their energy bills as a way of improving their competitiveness.

Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) chief executive Oliver Yates says the new Energy Cut initiative provides small businesses with valuable hints and tips to manage energy costs.

“Small businesses are the engine room of the Australian economy, accounting for nearly half of private sector employment,” Yates says. “Energy Cut provides these businesses with expert knowledge on improving their energy efficiency, which has the potential to improve productivity and business performance.”

The initiative provides small businesses with a practical 20-step guide to saving energy, such as better managing heating and air conditioning systems, controlling transport costs and securing financing for energy efficiency upgrades.

Energy Cut is a joint initiative of not-for-profit organisation Do Something and the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia (COSBOA). It was researched by Do Something’s Jon Dee, who also co-founded Plant Ark and National Tree Day. Energy Cut received funding from the government’s Department of Industry.

Yates says that CEFC finance was already helping small businesses control their energy costs, by installing new efficient equipment and solar photovoltaic systems. He says examples include:

  • a plastics manufacturer, with operations in Victoria and Queensland, halved the energy use of its ovens through a technology upgrade
  • a Victorian fresh produce supplier slashed its cool room energy costs by about a quarter through a major refrigeration upgrade
  • a New South Wales foam manufacturer more than halved its lighting bills through upgrading with induction lamps.

“Through our work it’s clear that small businesses can benefit through lower energy costs and wider productivity gains, improving their overall competitiveness and positioning them for continued growth,” Yates says. “Energy Cut points the way for small businesses to make informed choices in order to save on energy costs.”

To learn more about Energy Cut and how to reduce your energy bills, visit the website. You can also download a free PDF copy of the Energy Cut book. In addition to reading it on your tablet or computer, you can also distribute the book for free to all of your employees, suppliers and stakeholders by giving them the link.

Test your knowledge: Financial reporting quiz for directors

A survey of directors, auditors and other financial professionals conducted by the Financial Reporting Council revealed that, on average, directors believe their knowledge of the more technical accounting issues was “fair”.

While the survey acknowledged a large diversity between directors of ASX top 200 companies, versus other listed, non-listed, not-for-profits, and superannuation trustees, almost all survey respondents acknowledged concerns about directors’ knowledge of financial reporting.

In response to concerns, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has developed a confidential quiz to test the financial reporting knowledge of a wide variety and sample of Australian company directors.

It was developed in conjunction with Australian Institute of Company Directors, CPA Australia, The Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and the Institute of Public Accountants.

The quiz consists of 10 multiple choice questions, and seeks to:

  • provide a self awareness of general competence relating to financial reporting requirements
  • provide education in respect of each specific question
  • provide links to additional resources and/or training to maintain or improve competence.

The quiz focuses on the more technical elements of financial reporting rather than broader financial knowledge. For example, the quiz doesn’t test understanding of matters such as financial products or instruments, assessments for capital and funding decisions, financial processes and controls, or how decisions can impact on the future financial health of a company.

Completion of the quiz is confidential, and no names or email addresses of participants are recorded. As well, IP addresses of respondents are hidden and not made available to ASIC.

Completion of the demographic data in the questionnaire is optional, but ASIC says this data will enable it to refine further questionnaires and also aid the shaping of its educational offerings in the future.

Click here to begin the quiz.

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