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Summer of Cricket


This summer has been a real treat for cricket enthusiasts.

Throughout December and January,  Cricket was regular fixture on TV with the test series against India and the Big Bash on every night. This has probably been bad news in some households where I'm sure the battle for the remote has been fierce.

I was lucky enough to head across to Adelaide for the first test which ended in a spectacular fashion with Australia taking 8 wickets in a session to win the test. On Saturday we also made the trek to Melbourne to watch the local derby in the Big Bash. The whole experience was extremely entertaining from the fireworks and giant flames which you could feel from 200 metres away to the explosive batting.  This match also finished in amazing fashion with one run off the last ball to win the game and some controversy in regards to whether the batsman was run out.

Happily for us enthusiasts and sadly for everyone else, the summer of cricket is far from over.With the One Day International Tri Series starting on Friday night followed by the World Cup starting in February there is plenty more cricket to come.

Hopefully Australia can do us proud in the World Cup and bring home the trophy. I know I will be watching, will you?

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oi, Oi, Oi!

 

The Christmas Grinch


As we approach the end of another calendar year and wonder where the time went, many small business owners begin to plan Christmas parties which provide a chance for employers to thank staff for their support throughout the year.  Staff Christmas parties and staff morale are essential to any effective organisation, and this needs to be managed easily in a way that is most beneficial for your business.

Most Christmas parties are organised without the slightest regard of what the tax man considers to be tax deductible, nor the consideration that they are providing a benefit to staff that is outside the safe definition of 'salary', and whether it is a fringe benefit .

The Australian Taxation Office's view is that the costs of a Christmas party are only deductible to the extent that they are subject to FBT.  They have however stated that Christmas entertainment costs are part of the general FBT rules and come under the 'minor benefits' umbrella. This allows a $300 limit to 'incidental' benefits to be FBT free.

This may sound generous and allow employers to avoid the extensive FBT calculations and paperwork; however the exemption from FBT means that the employer is not entitled to claim the GST on the expenses, nor claim them as a tax deduction.

Apologies in advance if I have put a downer on your workplace festivities, however from all the team at GMG we wish you a safe and happy Christmas, and wish you all the best for the New Year!

Farm Finance Concessional Loans Scheme

The 2nd round of loan applications for the Farm Finance Concessional Loans Scheme in Victoria has opened. Rural Finance is acting as the delivery agent on behalf of the government for this scheme in Victoria.

The scheme aims to assist Australian farmers who are currently struggling with high levels of debt by refinancing existing debt and/or providing new loans to fund productivity enhancement activities that will help farmers to better manage their debt in the future.

Minimum amounts for the loans start at $100,000 up to a maximum of $650,000 with a very enticing interest rate of 4.5%.

Additional information along with guidelines & application forms can be found directly on Rural Finance's website.

If you think that you could benefit from one of these Farm Finance Concessional Loans or would just like some advice on business related finances, please call the office on 0350329422 or email us at contact@gmgfg.com.au.

The Challenge of Reinvention


Over the last six months, I have  been working with a business on a business plan predominantly to re-energize the business by improving its public perception, skills, communication, culture, systems, procedures and ultimately profitability. Invariably, this process requires a business (regardless of its size) to go back to basics and look at Why, When, Where, Who and How they do things - as well as identifying a profile of what the business owners would like the business to be. These missions and goals which should be formed from their own principles and values should be documented as a constant reminder of the purpose of the business.

An enthusiastic principal of that business recently sent me the following article on David Koch's role in the resurgence of the Port Adelaide Football Club. It is an excellent read with many of the points equally applicable to small business as it is to a major sporting club.


 

The Gap between Online & Offline.

I read with interest recently an industry article that suggested the gap between online-savvy small businesses and those which are online-cautious is widening. The article indicated both sales growth for the past 12 months and future projected sales growth was proportionately higher for on line savvy businesses than it was for those without an online presence. Almost 50% of SME's that use cloud technology (online shop/outlet) reported increased sales or work, whilst 40% of SME's with a website and social media presence reported similar growth. This contrasts to only 25% of businesses without some form of online presence reporting growth in sales or work.

The proportion of businesses willing to jump into the online arena continues to grow at some pace. The proportion of businesses with a website has increased 4% to 42% over the past 6 months with a similar increase in businesses using social media.

Interestingly females lead the charge in an online presence amongst business owners with 9% more female owners more likely to have invested in the resource than their male counterparts.

Certainly social media (Facebook, Twitter etc) has a very active role in online advertising and ultimately sales growth.  I am a strong advocate of businesses finding a way to embrace the trend if they wish to grow or even maintain their market share. It is interesting to see how different businesses face this challenge in recent times in particular the increase in sponsored celebrity postings. More and more businesses are turning to celebrities with large social media followings to promote their products and services. The question in my mind is how much further can product advertising - both direct and indirect- go on social media outlets before consumers numbed by information overload and disconnect or seek new social media platforms?

CoINVEST

 

CoINVEST – Employers & Working Subcontractors obligations 

Under the Construction Industry Long Service Leave Act 1997, employers & working subcontractors in the building, construction, electrical and metal works industries must register with Co Invest. Employers are required to provide details of their workers days & wages each quarter & contribute 2.7% of the total of their gross wages. Note this is not deducted from workers wages.

Working subcontractors can pay between $30 and $100 per month on behalf of themselves to gain service credits towards long service leave. You can recommence contributions for yourself to CoINVEST.

Please refer to the below link for additional information about your obligations, phone CoInvest on (03) 9664 7677 or contact our office for more info.

https://www.coinvest.com.au/

 

Friday Morning Tea is Serious Business

One tradition that we have at GMG is the Friday morning tea roster.

Each week a staff member has their turn to make or supply morning tea. We all have our morning break together in the tearoom to enjoy the food and time together. This has become an important part of the firm and is one of the first things that our new employees are made aware of - to prepare them for their turn.

A favorite that everyone enjoys is Toll House Cookies - The recipe is below:

250gms Butter or Marg

½ Cup Castor Sugar

½ Cup Brown Sugar

1 tspn Vanilla

2 Eggs

2 ¼ Cups Plain Flour

1 tspn Bi-Carb Soda

200 gms Choc Chips

1  Cup Crushed Nuts

Cream butter and sugars, add eggs and vanilla and mix well.  Sift the flour and bi-carb soda into the mixture, then add the choc bits and nuts. Place small spoonful's of mixture on to a baking tray lined with baking paper, allowing room for them to spread. Bake at 190C degrees for 10-12 mins or until firm .

Enjoy!!!

Money Matters




Feel like you don't know where your money is disappearing to?

As a 19 year old in my first year as a full time employee, I was often left wondering what my money was going towards. From not having to worry about what I was spending whilst at school to having to save money for the necessities such as rent, bills and food while still trying to spare some for weekends out with friends, the word 'overwhelmed' comes to mind.

Fortunately for me, GMG have started offering a "Money Matters" program to our clients. They suggested I download a handy app called 'Track my Spend' (free from the App Store). This app allows you to record each little thing you spend money on for a period of time and it's surprising how quickly the little things add up. From that I was able to have a go at our Money Matters Project – helping me to figure out where my money was going and redirect some of it into a savings account.

If you are tired of stressing about money and want to feel like you are in control of your finances, give us a call on 5032 9422 and make a "Money Matters" appointment.

Restart Wage Subsidy


Restart $10,000 Government Wage Subsidies

If you are employing or looking to employ mature aged staff on a full time or permanent part time basis you may be eligible for government assistance of up to $10,000 over a two year period.

The restart program is designed to deliver support to employers who employ mature age job seekers being 50 years of age and over and at the same time will assist mature age job seekers to re-enter the workforce.

In light of Australia's ageing population and the need to become a more productive nation, the contribution of older workers is becoming more crucial to the workplace. When older Australians lose their jobs, they remain unemployed for a much longer period than younger job seekers often because they face significant barriers to finding work.

Restart has been funded for $524.8 million over four years is expected to encourage business owners to give mature workers a chance.

 

An eligible job seeker is someone who:

  • Is 50 years of age or older;
  • Has been unemployed for six months or more and has been in receipt of any of the following income support payments for six months or more:

Newstart Allowance; Parenting Payment; Disability Support Pension; Bereavement Allowance; Widow Allowance; Carer Payment; Special Benefit; Partner Service Pensioners; War Widows; Age Pension; Mature Age Partner Allowance; Wife Pension; Widows B Pension;

  • Does not have any outstanding workers' compensation claims against the employer; and
  • Is not an immediate family member of the employer.

How to get started

Employers

Applications for restart wage subsidy can now be accessed online by visiting

http://www.employment.gov.au/restart-wage-subsidy

Job Seekers

Job seekers can register with job agencies who are registered providers of the program. To find a provider in your area visit

http://jobsearch.gov.au/providers/

 

 

Apprenticeships - Trade Support Loans



You may have missed it in the news recently, but on the 17th of July the new Trade Support Loans Bill was passed through both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

What does this mean?

Eligible apprentices can now access Trade Support Loans of up to $20,000 over the course of their apprenticeship.

The loans assist apprentices with everyday living costs while they complete their apprenticeship, and will replace the 'Tools for your Trade' Grants which were scrapped on 30th June 2013. Similar to the previous scheme, the loan income is able to be used for any purpose suitable to the apprentice's needs.

The programme provides apprentices with up to a $20,000 paid monthly in arrears adding to;

Year 1 - Up to $8,000

Year 2 - Up to $6,000

Year 3 - Up to $4,000

Year 4 - Up to $2,000

How does it work?

The Trade Support Loans will work similar to the Government HECS/HELP Debt scheme, being repaid by the individual through the taxation system when the minimum income threshold is reached; in 2014-15 the minimum repayment occurs at $53,345.

The notable difference is that unlike the indexation on HECS/HELP Debt which is set to be changed to the Government Bond interest rate and caped at 6% p.a. as of 2016, Trade support loans will be indexed from the 1 July 2017 in line with the much lower consumer price index (CPI).

Another feature of the Trade Support loans is that apprentices who successfully complete their apprenticeship receive a 20 percent discount on the balance of their loan, effectively meaning that the amount borrowed will be reduced by 20 percent.

Follow this link to find a list of Trade Support Loans eligible apprenticeships.

How do I apply?

Apprentices can apply for the loan through Australian Apprenticeships Centres -  Murray Mallee Training and MEGT Apprenticeship Centre located in Swan Hill. Once the application is complete, apprentices can then choose to opt-in every 6 months, and can opt out at anytime.

 For more information on trade support loans or if you would like to discuss whether they are right for your situation, call 5032 9422 and book an appointment today.



 
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