2019 Australian Accounting Awards

Collins Hume shortlisted for Australian Accounting Awards 2019

Collins Hume Accountants and Business Advisers have been named Finalists in the Australian Accounting Awards for Mid-Size Firm of the Year (20 employees or more), Business Advisory Firm of the Year and Marketing Program of the Year.

Australian Accounting AwardsThe Australian Accounting Awards, in partnership with Intuit QuickBooks Australia, is the only national independent awards program for the accounting industry. Recognising excellence across a true cross-section of the accounting industry, the awards celebrate the contributions of both individuals and firms who are leading the way. 

Partner Peter Fowler and Business Manager David Keith said that they were humbled to be recognised and proud to be a part of such an exclusive network. 

Commenting on being shortlisted, Peter said, "Collins Hume's recognition for our contribution to NSW Northern Rivers industry reinforces the strength of our business in engaging with our clients and connecting with our community."

"As well as recognising exemplary skill and innovation, this year's awards program celebrates the impact of accountants on the health, wellbeing and lifestyle of their clients and employees which we have been asserting for a number of years." 

Wendy Gleeson, Certified Practising Marketer at Collins Hume said, "The team has made sustained impact with clients and in the community ever since I've known them by demonstrating entrepreneurial spirit fuelled by innovation with exceptionally high client service. With such good business bones there's always something to write about, so it's a pleasure to consistently report on their progress and achievements at a national level year on year."

"By guiding others to develop purposeful businesses and make meaningful contributions to society we are leading the change we want in the world," David added.

"To a group of people who prioritise their clients and professionalism above all else, sincere congratulations from myself and the team at Accountants Daily," said Head of Editorial at Momentum Media Katarina Taurian. 

"The material impact of an accountant in the lives of their clients should be sung from the rooftops, and Accountants Daily is proud to do that for the accounting profession."

The Finalist list, which was announced on Wednesday 17 April, features over 270 accounting professionals and firms across 32 categories. Winners of each category will automatically be shortlisted for the coveted Accountants Daily Excellence Award. 

The Winners will be announced at a black-tie gala awards ceremony on 24 May at The Star Sydney.

Read more about 2019's awards here including a full list of Finalists. Check out Collins Hume other recognitions here.

#accountingawardsau

Contaminated land and property transactions

What lies beneath - contamination in the Northern Rivers

This article has been written by Hailey Spry of Easterly Point Environmental. Hailey is a senior environmental scientist who specialises in the assessment and management of contaminated sites.

contaminationContaminated land is usually thought to be associated with heavy industry such as gasworks, refineries, power stations, and the like. While this is justified stereotyping, the ubiquitous and pervasive nature of contaminants means that any piece of land has a potential to be "contaminated". After all, contamination just means something you don't want, or more formally; the presence of a substance above the concentration at which it is normally present, with an associated risk of harm to human health or the environment.

A local misconception is that the Northern Rivers is fairly contaminant free, all natural and healthy based on the absence of apparent heavy industry. Contrary to these two perceptions, the Northern Rivers has a long and varied industrial history, with the following being five common resultant sites of concern:
  1. Residential and commercial sites with hazardous building materials and wastes, including lead-based paints, sub-slab termite protection with arsenic and organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), and asbestos containing materials and fibres. 
  2. Agricultural sites, including cattle-tick dip sites and banana lands, which often included the use of various herbicides and pesticides.
  3. Petrol stations and other workshop and depot sites where fuels were stored in underground storage tanks (USTs). Fuel storage in USTs was also common on rural properties where the fuel was used for privately owned farming equipment and machinery.
  4. Filled sites, where uncontrolled land filling has resulted in a range of wastes and garbage, including contaminated soil, putrescible waste, construction and demolition waste.
  5. Sites impacted with heavy mineral sand residues. Heavy mineral sands residues occur as contaminants on the North Coast of NSW, in old mining and processing areas, at former landfills and disposal sites, and sporadically where filling of land has occurred, including residential blocks. These residues present a potential environmental health hazard, due to the ionising radiation associated with the mineral monazite.

Due diligence and property transactions
These types of sites can, if not appropriately identified and managed, result in extensive remediation costs and large development delays and overruns. However, if appropriately identified and managed prior to purchase, and if an associated discounting in price can be negotiated, these sites offer a good potential for 'value adding'. Or, if the contamination is to such an extent, the pre-purchase due diligence assessment may save significant losses by concluding not to purchase.

During property transactions, vendors have a legal obligation to disclose as much information as possible in the contract about any known, or potential contamination to avoid the purchaser rescinding the contract or claiming substantial damages, including loss during remediation. However, the issue with contamination is that it is not always visual or tangible, and is often as a result of historic activities for which the current owners may not be aware exists.

For purchasers, a fit-for-purpose environmental due diligence is one way to understand your acquisition and decrease the risk in the property transaction.

Regardless of the stage of the project or transaction, it is essential to get advice from suitably experienced and competent consultants, including those who employ accredited auditors, i.e. those who the regulators recognise as being appropriately experienced and competent.

Easterly Point is a specialist consultancy firm, providing services in the assessment and management of contaminated land, including site auditing in New South Wales, Queensland and the ACT. Easterly Point has extensive experience conducting due diligence assessments for property transactions, strategic contaminated land reviews and contaminated land audits, supporting clients during the purchase of property and development application process.

Contact them for information on how their team may assist on your contaminated land project or visit their website for further details.

Further reading: 

Single Touch Payroll from 1 July

Single touch payroll extended to all employers

From 1 July 2019, single touch payroll – the direct reporting of salary and wages, PAYG withholding and superannuation contribution information to the ATO – will apply to all employers. 

roger tsengWhat employers need to report will also be extended to include certain salary sacrificed amounts. 

Employers with 20 or more employees have been required to use single touch payroll since 1 July 2018. The new rules push all businesses with employees into the single touch payroll system. This includes the situation where payments are made to the owners of the business in the form of salary, wages or directors fees.

The ATO has asked software providers to provide new low-cost payroll options for micro employers (1-4 employees). MYOB and Xero have announced new $10 per month offerings (limited to 4 employees) with other software houses following suit.

The ATO also states that to assist micro employers there will be, "a number of alternate options that are not available to employers with 20 or more employees – such as initially allowing your registered tax or BAS agent to report quarterly, rather than each time you run your payroll."

While the start date for small employers will technically start on 1 July 2019, the Commissioner of Taxation released a statement indicating that small employers can actually start reporting through single touch payroll any time from 1 July 2019 until 30 September 2019. No penalties will be applied to mistakes, missed or late reports for the first year.

Plus, if your business is in an area with no viable internet connection, such as some rural and remote regions, then exemptions may apply.

In any event, make time now to meet with the Collins Hume team to ensure you are STP-ready by July. Our advice is don't leave it to the last minute, as set up can be time-consuming for some businesses. Call us in Ballina or Byron Bay on 02 6686 3000.

Let Collins Hume partner with you to achieve greater business and lifestyle success as your trusted advisers. Call us in Ballina or Byron Bay on 02 6686 3000.

Foreign income tax offsets

Tax warning on overseas income

Do you earn income overseas? A recent case highlights why you might pay more tax than you thought on foreign income.

tax planningIf you are an Australian resident and earn income from overseas, such as income from investments, sale of assets such as property, distributions from foreign trusts, etc, you will generally need to declare that income in your Australian tax return. If you have paid tax in a foreign country on that income, you might be able to claim a foreign tax offset to reduce your Australian tax liability. 

Sounds simple enough but a recent case highlights where problems can occur and you might end up paying a lot more tax than you thought. 

The taxpayer, in this case, was a resident of Australia but was taxed in the US on gains they made on interests in US real estate. Most of the gains they made were taxed at a concessional rate of 15% (rather than the normal rate of 35%) because the interests had been held for more than one year. Some of the gains were ultimately taxed at 35% in the US.

The capital gains were also taxed in Australia and qualified for the general CGT discount of 50%.
As the taxpayer was a resident of Australia and had paid tax on the US gains, the taxpayer claimed a foreign income tax offset for all of the US tax they paid. However, the ATO amended the tax assessment and only allowed a tax offset for slightly less than 50% of the tax they paid in the US. 

The problem for the taxpayer was that while the US and Australia both have tax concessions for longer-term capital gains, they operate quite differently. The US applies a lower rate to the whole gain while Australia applies a normal tax rate to half of the gain. Unfortunately for the taxpayer, the Federal Court held that the Commissioner's approach was correct. If foreign tax has been paid on an amount that is not included in your assessable income then you cannot claim a foreign tax offset on it. In this case, the portion of the capital gain that was exempt from Australian tax because of the CGT discount,was not included in assessable income.

It is not uncommon for people who have made capital gains on foreign assets to assume that they get all of the tax back that they paid overseas. Unfortunately, that's not necessarily the case and often only a partial credit is available, if at all.

Let Collins Hume partner with you to achieve greater business and lifestyle success as your trusted advisers. Call us in Ballina or Byron Bay on 02 6686 3000.

STP for under 20 employees

Under 20 employees? What you need to do.

1 July 2019 is not that far away. If your business does not already use STP compliant software, you may need to upgrade your systems or implement new ones. 

payroll wagesSTP requires PAYG withholding and superannuation contribution details to be reported to the ATO as payments are made to employees or superannuation funds. 

When it comes to PAYG withholding, employers will report details of salary and wages paid to employees as well as the PAYG withholding amount at the time the payment is made to the employee. Employers have the option of paying the PAYG withholding liability at the same time, although this is not compulsory. 

What needs to be reported:
  • Salary & wages
  • Director remuneration
  • Return to work payments to individuals
  • Employment termination payments (ETPs) – not compulsory if the employee has died
  • Unused leave payments
  • Parental leave pay
  • Payments to office holders
  • Payments to religious practitioners
  • Superannuation contributions (at the time the payment is made to the fund)
  • Salary sacrificed amounts (from 1 July 2019).

Employers with poor super guarantee payment history outed
Underpayment or non-payment of superannuation guarantee (SG) is a big issue. New laws will enable the ATO to advise employees (or former employees) of their employer's poor SG payment and reporting history. 

If an employer makes a complaint to the ATO, then a taxation officer is able to make a record or advise the employee about a failure or suspected failure by their employer or former employer to comply with their SG obligations. They can also share the Tax Commissioner's response to the complaint. So, if the Commissioner finds there is a problem with SG payments, they can disclose this information to the complainant.

Make time now to meet with the Collins Hume team to ensure you are STP-ready by July. Our advice is don't leave it to the last minute, as set up can be time-consuming for some businesses. Call us in Ballina or Byron Bay on 02 6686 3000.

Let Collins Hume partner with you to achieve greater business and lifestyle success as your trusted advisers. Call us in Ballina or Byron Bay on 02 6686 3000.