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What are the different types of cashless payment methods?

By July 2, 2020 Money

In an effort to minimise physical contact during the global pandemic, most businesses are making the switch to cashless payments. While contactless credit cards and mobile wallet applications remain the most common type of cashless payments, many other methods have emerged in recent times. In the event that your business is also looking to make the switch, here are a few cashless payment types to be aware of.

Radio-frequency identification (RFID):

RFID uses radio technology to track tags containing electronic payment and banking information. RFID tags are most commonly attached to wristbands, watches or badges and can be scanned using mobile phones and RFID system technologies.

RFID tags can also be used at business events or service-providing organisations to keep track of clients while also acting as their digital wallet.

Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD):

USSD services are another real-time cashless payment method which require a mobile network. With the USSD method, clients must dial a USSD code on an interactive menu provided by the business (could be a mobile phone), which will then allow clients to make payments to chosen recipients. The USSD code is dependent on a client’s mobile network and in order to make successful payments, clients must have their bank accounts correctly linked to their mobile phone number.

Quick Response (QR) Codes:

A QR code is a two-dimensional gridded pattern of black squares and is a viable cashless payment method as long as both clients and businesses have modern image-reading and camera technologies. Payments made through QR codes require a user to scan the QR code of a merchant to complete the transaction and can be done through banking apps or third-party payment applications on mobile phones.

While it may be tempting to make an immediate switch into cashless payment methods, the technology required to support cashless transactions is a costly investment. Before jumping the gun and spending money you do not need to, take note of which cashless payment methods would best accommodate your clients’ needs and fit into your existing business operations.

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COVID-19 factors to remember when filing your tax return

By July 2, 2020 Tax

The end of the financial year has rolled around again, but this time, COVID-19 may affect the way you fill out your tax return. The ATO has released a range of methods to make tax time easier for businesses and individuals experiencing unprecedented circumstances.

How JobKeeper will affect tax returns

Sole traders receiving JobKeeper payments on behalf of their business are required to include these payments as assessable income for the business. Employees receiving JobKeeper will see that those payments have been automatically filled out in their tax return.

Individuals who have had their wages increase due to JobKeeper should identify whether they have been bumped into a higher tax bracket as a result. If an individual is working multiple jobs and receiving JobKeeper at one of these positions pushes them into a new tax bracket, they may be faced with a higher tax bill on their return if their other employers had continued deducting tax at their original lower rate.

How JobSeeker will affect tax returns

JobSeeker payments are considered taxable income. The ATO will automatically upload JobSeeker details in the ‘Government Payments and Allowances’ section of recipients’ tax returns. However, recipients are advised that there may be a delay in these JobSeeker details being updated, potentially until the end of July. The ATO recommends delaying tax return lodgements until these details are finalised. Recipients that wish to complete their returns prior to this must ensure they include these details themselves, as leaving out assessable income can slow down the return process or result in a bill later.

COVID-19 protective equipment

Occupations that require public interactions may be able to claim personal protective equipment (PPE), including:

  • Face masks
  • Sanitiser
  • Anti-bacterial spray
  • Gloves.

This would typically apply to industries such as healthcare, retail and hospitality. Many workplaces now have this PPE available for employees, however, employees who must pay for their own COVID-19 PPE and are not reimbursed for it will be able to make a claim.

Working from home

The ATO has introduced a new ‘shortcut method,’ which applies from 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2020. Under this new method, employees working from home as a result of COVID-19 can claim expenses incurred at a rate of 80 cents for each hour worked from home. Employees must keep a record of the hours they worked from home as evidence to support their claim.

Deductible running expenses include:

  • Utilities such as heating, cooling and lighting.
  • Cleaning costs for your work area.
  • Mobile or landline phone expenses for work calls.
  • Internet connection.
  • Computer consumables and stationery.
  • Repair costs for home office equipment and furniture.
  • Depreciation of home office equipment, computers, furniture and fittings.
  • Small capital items such as a computer (purchased for the purpose of working from home) can be claimed if they cost under $300. If the cost exceeds $300, the decline in value can be deducted.

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Do you need to lodge a transfer balance account report?

By July 2, 2020 Super

Self-managed super funds (SMSF) may be required to lodge a transfer balance account (TBA) report by 28 July 2020 in the case of a TBA event.

A TBA report will need to be lodged with the ATO in the event that both of the following apply:

  • A TBA event occurred in a member’s SMSF between 1 April and 30 June 2020,
  • Any member of the SMSF has a total super balance greater than $1 million.

SMSFs will also need to complete this report when a member needs to correct information about a TBA event that they have previously reported to the ATO or are responding to a commutation authority.

According to the ATO, an event is classified as a TBA event if they result in credit or debit in a member’s transfer balance account. Such events include:

  • Super income streams in existence just before 1 July 2017 that both continue to be paid on or after 1 July 2017, or were in retirement phase on or after 1 July 2017,
  • Super income streams that stop being in retirement phase,
  • Limited recourse borrowing arrangements (LRBA) payments entered into on or after 1 July 2017,
  • LRBA payments resulting in an increase in the value of the member’s superannuation interest supporting their retirement phase income stream,
  • Personal injury (structured settlement) contributions that occurred post 1 July 2017,
  • Voluntary member commutations.

There are a number of ways you can lodge your TBA report with the ATO:

  • Lodge online by completing an interactive online form in the Business Portal
  • Lodge online by completing an interactive online form with a tax agent and filing through online services
  • Lodge a paper report (you can report up to four events for the same member on a paper report)
  • Use bulk data exchange (BDE) to submit through file transfer facilities. You will generally need support from a software provider to meet BDE specifications.

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How to keep employees safe as they return to the workplace

By July 2, 2020 Business

Enforcing health precautions is an essential step to creating a safe workplace and giving your employees peace of mind, especially during the current pandemic. Businesses looking to invite their employees back into the office after the easing of lockdown restrictions should implement safeguards to ensure their workplace is a safe one.

Conduct a COVID-19 risk assessment

Before opening your office to employees, conduct a COVID-19 risk assessment with Safe Work Australia. A risk assessment will include an evaluation from Safe Work Australia regarding your business’:

  • responsibilities and leadership,
  • worker engagement, alternative means of communication and participation levels,
  • COVID-19 hygiene principles (such as the 4 metre square requirement),
  • hierarchy of controls, and
  • employee health and safety plan.

The progression of additional business activities will also be assessed. For example, the safety of business trips when travel restrictions are lifted.

Implement cleaning processes

Invest in frequent cleaning services and processes to lower transmission risk and give your employees peace of mind. In addition to hiring a cleaning service, you can also keep your workplace safe by providing employees with disinfectant solutions for door handles, light switches and keyboards.

Other cleaning and hygiene processes to implement include:

  • Distributing hand-sanitizer
  • Reminding employees to wash their hands
  • Providing PPE wherever necessary
  • Minimising physical interaction between your employees (e.g. using disposable condiments, laminating documents for easy cleaning)

Support your employees’ mental health

Supporting your employees’ mental health is just as important as their physical health. To create an environment that your employees feel comfortable and safe to work in, provide aid in the form of workplace flexibility, therapy and counselling services, home-to-business transportation options and financial advice. Additional services such as child-care can also be helpful to supporting your employees’ mental health.

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