Protecting your business from ID thieves

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to many challenges for small business operators, including a significant escalation in cybersecurity threats.

One of the fastest growing of these threats is identity (ID) crime, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC’s) Scamwatch finding ID theft in Australia increased 234 per cent in 2021.

The scale of the problem is worrying, with a recent survey by the Australian Institute of Criminology finding 19 per cent of respondents had experienced misuse of their personal information.

What identity criminals want

The explosion in ID crime is not just a problem for individuals, it’s a growing headache for businesses. This is due to the increasing amount of personal information they now hold, about their employees, clients and customers.

The ATO has been reminding small businessowners that ID documents are like gold to tax scammers, who can use information such as a driver’s licence, passport and tax file number to steal tax refunds and super.

Cybercriminals can also commit fraud in your name, take over your business and submit amendments to your Business Activity Statements. This makes it vital to protect key information ID thieves target, such as employees’ personal information, business records containing personal information, BAS documents and myGovIDs.

Check your physical records are protected

Worrying about the physical security of your information may seem old-fashioned, but ensuring your business premises and systems are protected is vital.

ID criminals can obtain invaluable business and client details simply by breaking into your premises and photographing business records or employee details.

To combat this, fit physical barriers such as window and door locks, file copies of documents and ID information in lockable storage units, and ensure you install an appropriate alarm system to protect against intruders.

Securing your business online

Strong online security practices are also essential to protect information about your business, employees and clients from ID thieves.

If you hold financial records, confirm the identity of anyone requesting changes to their information and fully verify new payment details. Ensure your employees are trained to identify suspicious requests for personal information, or emails that may link to fake websites built to capture passwords.

It’s also important to secure your email account through multi-factor authentication or a strong, unique passphrase.

Good online security also means changing all the passwords used in the business on a regular basis and ensuring they are not easy for potential thieves to guess. Updated security and anti-virus software needs to be installed on all devices used by the business and by any employees working from home.

When sourcing business software and support (such as payroll services), ask vendors about their system security, including where the data will be stored and their security certification and support services for data breaches.

Reporting cybercrime to the ATO

While your business’s reputation can take a real battering if you don’t have adequate protections for both your own and your clients’ ID information, there are also regulatory requirements when it comes to data breaches.

Businesses have an obligation to report all tax-related security issues to the ATO.

To help you manage your obligations to protect identity information, the ATO has an online security self-assessment questionnaire small businesses can use to check their performance in this area. This can help you identify which online security measures you are getting right as well as potential areas for improvement.

Businesses also have data breach reporting obligations under the Privacy Act. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has helpful tips on how to create a solid data breach response plan.

Protect your myGov ID

The government’s push for more online transactions means more and more personal and business information needs to be protected. If you or a key employee accesses the government’s online services on behalf of your business, you will need a myGovID.

This new digital identity key uses encryption technology to protect your identity when interacting with government agencies online. To strengthen protection of your identity and business information online, you can now set up face verification on myGovID.

If you are aware or suspect your myGovID has been inappropriately accessed, you need to report it immediately.

If you need any assistance setting up your myGovID, please get in touch via email drouin@rgmgroup.com.au or contact us on 03 5120 1400.

Material contained in this publication is a summary only and is based on information believed to be reliable and received from sources within the market. It is not the intention of RGM Financial Planners Pty Ltd ABN 36 419 582 Australian Financial Services Licence Number 229471, RGM Accountants & Advisors Pty Ltd ABN 69 528 723 510 that this publication be used as the primary source of readers’ information but as an adjunct to their own resources and training. No representation is given, warranty made or responsibility taken as to the accuracy, timeliness or completeness of any information or recommendation contained in this publication and RGM and its related bodies corporate will not be liable to the reader in contract or tort (including for negligence) or otherwise for any loss or damage arising as a result of the reader relying on any such information or recommendation (except in so far as any statutory liability cannot be excluded).

Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

5 Signs of a well run business

Every small business owner wants their business to thrive, but it can be tough to keep the money coming in the door while staying on top of all the necessary paperwork.

One way to ensure success is to understand the behaviours that separate a well-managed business from one that’s just muddling through.

Surprising as it may sound, the ATO is keen to help small business owners prosper and to share its insights on running a successful business.

Getting the basics right

Since it’s charged with keeping an eye on almost four million Aussie small businesses, the tax regulator is well placed to know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to keeping the doors open.

According to the ATO, when a small business is operating well, it tends to get the basics right. That means keeping good records and having in place effective tools so you can easily reconcile your business’s income and expenses.

1. Keep informed

The ATO finds business owners who are operating effectively take the time to understand their tax and super obligations and to keep on top of any changes affecting their business’s processes.

2. Know your cash flow

Small businesses that are well managed use a cash flow projection or budget tool, as this is the main reason small businesses fail. If you don’t have clear insights into your cash flow position and are not carefully managing the business’s income and expenses, it can be a recipe for trouble.

If you are using cloud-based accounting software, cashflows and budgets can be easily integrated into your everyday reports. Get in touch with us on our contact page if you need any guidance to assist with the implementation of cash flows and budgets in your software.

3. Declare all income

Well-run businesses declare all their income – including any cash income – in their income tax return. Although it’s the ATO’s job to collect tax, it argues small businesses not declaring all their income are heading for trouble down the track.

4. Split your expenses

It’s important to carefully apportion (or split) your business expenses between private and business use.

5. Keep up to date

The final marker of a well-run business is that all its details are up to date – particularly with the ATO. That means keeping your ABN details, contact information and bank details current and easy to find.

Although many of these indicators are straightforward, it’s surprising how many small businesses don’t take these simple actions.

Behaviours to avoid

Just as there are habits that mark a well-run business, there are behaviours common to operations heading for trouble.

Businesses that omit income by depositing it into private accounts or mortgages, or that don’t declare cash sales or record director’s fees correctly, are not on top of things.

The same goes for failing to account correctly for private use of business assets or funds. If you are claiming an excessive business portion of an expense with both personal and business use, it’s a sign of poor management. As is claiming private expenses as a business expense, or not having the necessary records to substantiate your claims.

Making errors because you don’t understand your tax responsibilities is also a sign that things are not being well-run.

Bring in the professionals

With so many rules and regulations, it’s not surprising that business owners may occasionally overlook some of their obligations. There is an easy solution though.

Well-run small businesses seek professional advice when they need it. We can work with you to improve your business overall, not just to meet your tax obligations.

In fact, the ATO’s 2017-18 research and audit work with around 120,000 small businesses indicated that those who have regular contact with a tax professional are more likely to report correctly.

ATO deputy commissioner for small business, Deborah Jenkins recently gave her top three tips for effectively managing your business: maintain good business records, keep an eye on your competition using the ATO’s Small Business Benchmarks and take care of your mental health because running a small business can be very stressful.

If you think your business could do with a financial tune-up, give us a call today on 03 5120 1400.

Material contained in this publication is a summary only and is based on information believed to be reliable and received from sources within the market. It is not the intention of RGM Financial Planners Pty Ltd ABN 36 419 582 Australian Financial Services Licence Number 229471, RGM Accountants & Advisors Pty Ltd ABN 69 528 723 510 that this publication be used as the primary source of readers’ information but as an adjunct to their own resources and training. No representation is given, warranty made or responsibility taken as to the accuracy, timeliness or completeness of any information or recommendation contained in this publication and RGM and its related bodies corporate will not be liable to the reader in contract or tort (including for negligence) or otherwise for any loss or damage arising as a result of the reader relying on any such information or recommendation (except in so far as any statutory liability cannot be excluded).

Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.




Tax Alert – December 2021

As COVID-19 turbulence starts to settle, the ATO is moving away from its supportive position and returning to its more usual compliance focus.

That means taxpayers need to be aware their financial affairs will come under renewed attention in the year ahead.

Data gathering programs increase

In recent months the ATO has announced programs to gather data on various aspects of Australians’ financial lives to use in its ongoing data-matching projects.

Recent programs include gathering data on property management and rental bonds, cryptocurrency, online selling and novated leases for the upcoming financial year (2022-23). The ATO will also be collecting data on payments made by government agencies such as Comcare, the Department of Health, the NDIA, Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the clean energy regulator.

Taxpayers who buy and insure high-value lifestyle assets will also be under the microscope, with the ATO looking to collect details that will “assist with profiling [to obtain] a holistic view of a taxpayer’s wealth”. Under this program, the taxman will be obtaining information from insurance companies for the period 2020-21 to 2022-23 about assets exceeding certain nominated thresholds.

These high-value assets include boats valued over $100,000, motor vehicles (including caravans) and thoroughbred horses valued over $65,000, fine art worth over $100,000 per item and aircraft valued over $150,000. Data obtained from insurers will include individual client identification and policy details.

Overseas gifts or loans under scrutiny

The ATO has also announced it will be increasing scrutiny of undeclared foreign gifts or loans from related overseas entities, including family and friends.

The regulator says it has encountered many situations where Australian taxpayers are deriving assessable income or capital gains offshore but failing to declare these in their income tax returns. The ATO will be looking at arrangements where taxpayers are attempting to avoid tax on foreign assessable income by disguising amounts as gifts or loans.

Anyone receiving genuine monetary gifts or loans should keep supporting documentation. Inheritances count as gifts, so if you receive an inheritance from overseas, get a certified copy of the person’s will or estate distribution statement.

Focus on working from home deductions

On a positive note, if you are still working from home due to COVID-19, you can continue using the shortcut method for claiming deductions until 30 June 2022.

From 1 July 2022, you will need to use either the traditional fixed rate or actual cost methods and meet their eligibility and recordkeeping requirements.

The ATO says it’s currently reviewing the 52 cents per hour fixed rate method to make it easier and simpler to use, given more people will be working from home in the longer term.

Backpacker tax under fire

Employers paying working holidaymakers will need to keep a close eye on developments in this area following a decision by the High Court that tax rates applied to these employees is discriminatory as it is based on nationality.

The decision could affect the applicability of the backpacker tax for workers from countries with double tax agreements with Australia. According to the ATO, this means working holidaymakers from Chile, Finland, Germany, Japan, Norway, Turkey, UK, Germany or Israel.

The ATO is currently considering the implications of the High Court decision and will provide further guidance for employers. In the meantime, employers should continue using the tax rates in the ATO’s published withholding tables for backpackers.

Self-education expense threshold to go

The government has made good on its May 2021 Budget promise to remove the $250 non-deductible threshold for claiming work-related self-education expenses.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (2021 Measures No.7) Bill 2021 is currently before Parliament. If passed, it will remove the current threshold for taxpayers claiming self-education expenses. It’s also expected to simplify the claims process in your annual tax return.

The start date for the change is likely to be 1 April or 1 July 2022.

Reminder on super stapling

If you are an employer, don’t forget to request super fund details from new employees, now the government’s super stapling rules are in place.

If a new employee doesn’t choose a super fund, you must request their stapled super fund from the ATO if they have one. This fund is linked to them and must be used for your Superannuation Guarantee (SG) contributions unless the employee requests otherwise.

If you would like help getting your tax affairs in order for the new year, contact our office today on 03 5120 1400 and speak to one of our tax accountants or send us a message via our contact page.

Material contained in this publication is a summary only and is based on information believed to be reliable and received from sources within the market. It is not the intention of RGM Financial Planners Pty Ltd ABN 36 419 582 Australian Financial Services Licence Number 229471, RGM Accountants & Advisors Pty Ltd ABN 69 528 723 510 that this publication be used as the primary source of readers’ information but as an adjunct to their own resources and training. No representation is given, warranty made or responsibility taken as to the accuracy, timeliness or completeness of any information or recommendation contained in this publication and RGM and its related bodies corporate will not be liable to the reader in contract or tort (including for negligence) or otherwise for any loss or damage arising as a result of the reader relying on any such information or recommendation (except in so far as any statutory liability cannot be excluded).

Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.




Tax Alert June 2021

The Government is continuing to support COVID-affected businesses by extending most of its pandemic inspired tax offsets and benefits. But at the same time the ATO has micro businesses like contractors who fail to declare all their income in its sights.

Here’s a roundup of some of the key developments when it comes to tax.

LMITO extended again

For individual taxpayers, an important tax change is the Budget announcement of another one-year extension to the current low- and middle-income tax offset (LMITO) for 2021-22.

This welcome decision will provide a valuable tax offset of up to $1,080 for individuals and $2,160 for dual income families as taxpayers repair their post pandemic finances.

Continuation of full expensing and loss carry-back

Business taxpayers should also be happy with the Budget announcement of an extension to the full expensing and loss carry-back measures. Under the full expensing rules, eligible businesses with an aggregate annual turnover of up to $5 billion are able to deduct the full cost of eligible depreciable assets until 30 June 2023.

Eligible companies can also carry-back tax losses from the 2022-23 income year to offset previously taxed profits as far back as 2018-19. This tax refund is available when you lodge your business tax return for the 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23 financial years.

ATO tracks contractor payments

While the Budget provided tax incentives, contractors working in courier, cleaning, building and construction, road freight, IT, security and surveillance industries are increasingly under the tax man’s spotlight.

The ATO has announced it’s now combining data from its Taxable Payments Reporting System (TPRS) with its other data and analytical tools to ensure more than $172 billion in payments to contracting businesses have been properly declared. The ATO is now proactively contacting contractors identified as not declaring income reported by their customers through the TPRS.

New food and drink limits

The new reasonable weekly food and drink amounts businesses can pay an employee as a living-away-from-home allowance (LAFHA) have been released.

For this FBT year (starting 1 April 2021), the ATO considers it reasonable to pay an adult working in Australia a total food and drink expense of $283 per week. As an employer, if you pay more than this you will be liable for FBT on the LAFHA over this amount.

New tax umpire

Small businesses will now have more rights to pause or modify the collection of tax debts under dispute with the ATO.

The Budget included an announcement that small businesses will be able to apply to the Small Business Taxation Division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to have an ATO debt recovery action paused until their case is decided.


End to STP exemption

From 1 July 2021, the exemption for small employers on reporting closely held payees through the Single Touch Payroll (STP) system will end.

This exemption allowed small employers to not report payee information for any individuals directly related to the business. Closely held payees include family members of a family business, directors or shareholders of a company, or beneficiaries of a trust.

More support brewing

The Budget also recognised the importance of small business entrepreneurs and technology-driven innovators, with incentives to spur economic growth.

Brewery and distillation businesses will also benefit from a new measure giving them full remission (up from 60 per cent) of any excise paid on alcohol produced up to a new $350,000 cap on the Excise Refund Scheme from 1 July 2021.

The Budget also recognised the growth in local digital gaming businesses, with a new Digital Games Tax Offset. From 1 July 2022, eligible game developers will be able to access a 30 per cent refundable tax offset for qualifying Australian games expenditure of up to $20 million a year.

The Government also plans to provide tax incentives for medical and biotechnology companies by introducing a new ‘patent box’ from 1 July 2022. Income from patents will be taxed at 17 per cent, rather than the normal 30 per cent corporate rate.

Material contained in this publication is a summary only and is based on information believed to be reliable and received from sources within the market. It is not the intention of RGM Financial Planners Pty Ltd ABN 36 419 582 Australian Financial Services Licence Number 229471, RGM Accountants & Advisors Pty Ltd ABN 69 528 723 510 or RGM Finance Brokers Pty Ltd ABN 81 330 778 236 (RGM) that this publication be used as the primary source of readers’ information but as an adjunct to their own resources and training. No representation is given, warranty made or responsibility taken as to the accuracy, timeliness or completeness of any information or recommendation contained in this publication and RGM and its related bodies corporate will not be liable to the reader in contract or tort (including for negligence) or otherwise for any loss or damage arising as a result of the reader relying on any such information or recommendation (except in so far as any statutory liability cannot be excluded).

Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

Stay safe from Scams

As we approach tax time, we also head into the season where scammers increase their activity – that is, looking to hoodwink small business and individuals alike.

Scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, so it pays to be aware of what is real and what is fake. Because unfortunately they’re not going away any time soon, with over 216,000 scams reported to Scamwatch during 2020, resulting in total financial losses of around $1.75 million dollars.i

Here are some recent scams to be aware of:

COVID-19 phishing

With increased communications being sent out due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this has also created ample opportunity for scammers. By pretending to be from official organisations, scammers aim to find out your personal information (such as your usernames, passwords, bank details, etc.) – this is known as phishing.

There have been emails and SMS messages impersonating the Department of Health and the ATO, providing links to what are purported to be information pages. One example is an SMS which says that you are due to receive a support payment and asks for your bank details.

To know what is real and what’s fake, don’t click on links in messages – instead visit the organisation’s website directly, or call them if in doubt.

Verifying your myGov details

Another common example of a phishing scam is receiving an email or SMS asking you to verify your myGov details. Often the message will have time pressure, saying that your account will be locked if you don’t do so within 24 hours.

You will get email or SMS notifications from myGov whenever there are new messages in your myGov inbox, however these messages will never include a link to log into your myGov account.

Automated calls regarding a suspended TFN

Your tax file number (TFN) is important for both you and/or your business’ tax and superannuation purposes, which is why hearing it has been suspended can be alarming. Linked to your name and date of birth, this piece of personal information should generally only be shared with the ATO, banks, your superannuation fund, the Department of Human Services and your employer.

Under law, any individual, organisation or agency that is allowed to ask for your TFN information must not record, collect, use or pass on your TFN (unless allowed under taxation, personal assistance or superannuation law).ii

A common scam involves an automated phone message advising you that your TFN has been suspended. The purpose of this is to convince you to pay a fine or transfer money to reactivate it.

The ATO do not suspend TFNs or need you to pay for reactivation, nor will they send unsolicited pre-recorded messages to your phone. So if you hear this scam message, hang up.

Tax debt

Another worrying message to receive is that you have tax debt that needs to be paid off. This scam is often done through SMS, voicemail and direct calls, whereby the scammer pretends to be from the ATO. They then will ask you for payment, which is often through methods such as cryptocurrency or gift cards.

Suffice to say this isn’t regular procedure from the ATO, so if you receive a call or message like this, ignore or hang up.

Scams are ever-evolving but are often based on similar concepts, as shown above. A helpful resource to keep up-to-date with current scams is the Scam Alerts page on the ATO website.

While scammers can be conniving and convincing, it’s important to err on the side of caution whenever you receive an unexpected message or call, or whenever your personal details are requested. Never give out any personal information unless you can independently verify the identity of the person or organisation you are providing it to.

Should you ever be unsure whether someone requesting your financial details is a trusted source, don’t hesitate to get in touch for our advice on 03 5120 1400.

https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/scam-statistics?scamid=all&date=2020

ii https://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy/your-privacy-rights/your-personal-information/your-tax-file-number/

Material contained in this publication is a summary only and is based on information believed to be reliable and received from sources within the market. It is not the intention of RGM Financial Planners Pty Ltd ABN 36 419 582 Australian Financial Services Licence Number 229471, RGM Accountants & Advisors Pty Ltd ABN 69 528 723 510 or RGM Finance Brokers Pty Ltd ABN 81 330 778 236 (RGM) that this publication be used as the primary source of readers’ information but as an adjunct to their own resources and training. No representation is given, warranty made or responsibility taken as to the accuracy, timeliness or completeness of any information or recommendation contained in this publication and RGM and its related bodies corporate will not be liable to the reader in contract or tort (including for negligence) or otherwise for any loss or damage arising as a result of the reader relying on any such information or recommendation (except in so far as any statutory liability cannot be excluded).

Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.





Tax Alert September 2020

Many small business owners and sole traders will be breathing a sigh of relief following the extension of the JobKeeper scheme until March next year. At the same time, however, the ATO is stepping up its compliance activities.

Here’s a roundup of some of the key developments in the world of tax.

JobKeeper extended to March 2021

The government has announced its JobKeeper scheme, which was originally due to wind up on 27 September 2020, will now continue until 28 March 2021.

However, the $1,500 per fortnight payment will drop to $1,200 per fortnight from 28 September 2020 and to $1,000 per fortnight from 4 January 2021.

From 28 September 2020 businesses claiming JobKeeper will also be required to demonstrate they have suffered a decline in turnover using actual GST turnover rather than projected GST turnover.

ATO data matching support payments

The tax man is also starting to put JobKeeper support payments under the microscope using information from a new data matching arrangement with Services Australia (formerly Centrelink).

Information about JobKeeper payments reported to Services Australia for social security payment purposes will also be provided to the ATO. This will help the ATO identify people who are receiving both JobKeeper and social support payments.

JobKeeper still open to businesses

Although most businesses suffered an immediate decline in turnover when the COVID-19 crisis started, some businesses are finding things are tougher now the new financial year has commenced. The renewed lockdown in Victoria has also dealt a new blow to many businesses, so it’s worth remembering it’s still possible to apply for the JobKeeper subsidy.

If your small business has experienced a drop in turnover of more than 30 per cent and you meet the eligibility requirements, you are still able to apply for financial support through JobKeeper.

Expenses shortcut extended

For employees who have been using the shortcut method to calculate their working from home expenses, the good news is the end date for this scheme has been extended from the 30 June to 30 September 2020.

The ATO announced the new three-month extension and said a further extension may be considered.

Employees and businessowners who work from home between 1 March 2020 and 30 September 2020 on income producing activities can use the shortcut method to claim 80 cents per work hour for their home office running expenses. This all inclusive rate means you don’t need to calculate and record your actual running costs.

The shortcut is not a free pass, however, as the ATO recently noted this was one of the top three issues it was seeing in returns lodged for 2019-20. To avoid problems in this area, ensure you don’t double up on your shortcut claim by adding, for example, a depreciation claim for laptops and desktops.

Warning on TPAR requirement

The ATO is warning some small businesses may find they need to lodge a taxable payments annual report (TPAR) this financial year if they have started using contracted service providers due to the pandemic.

TPARs keep the ATO informed about payments made to contractors, with the requirement initially rolled out for the building, cleaning and courier industries.

The tax man is now cautioning restaurants, cafes, grocery stores, pharmacies and retailers who have started paying contractors to deliver goods to customers that they may be required to report.

If total payments received for delivery or courier services are ten per cent or more of your business’s total annual business income, you may need to lodge a TPAR for 2020-21.

No tax on ‘robodebt’ refunds

And some good news for taxpayers who receive a refund amount from Services Australia for a debt raised using averaged ATO income information – also known as a robodebt. You don’t need to include the money in your income tax return.

The ATO is advising no action needs to be taken regarding these refunds and tax returns for prior years should not be amended.

If you need assistance with your tax, contact one of our accountants on 03 5120 1400.

Material contained in this publication is a summary only and is based on information believed to be reliable and received from sources within the market. It is not the intention of RGM Financial Planners Pty Ltd ABN 36 419 582 Australian Financial Services Licence Number 229471, RGM Accountants & Advisors Pty Ltd ABN 69 528 723 510 or RGM Finance Brokers Pty Ltd ABN 81 330 778 236 (RGM) that this publication be used as the primary source of readers’ information but as an adjunct to their own resources and training. No representation is given, warranty made or responsibility taken as to the accuracy, timeliness or completeness of any information or recommendation contained in this publication and RGM and its related bodies corporate will not be liable to the reader in contract or tort (including for negligence) or otherwise for any loss or damage arising as a result of the reader relying on any such information or recommendation (except in so far as any statutory liability cannot be excluded).

Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.