News Pulse for September 29, 2016

A daily download of SME, startup, fintech and tax news from around Australia.

Spark Accelerator announces its latest intake of poverty-fighting startups, including a former Neighbours star

A Melbourne accelerator for startups that are helping to reduce poverty has welcome nine Australian entrepreneurs into its three-month program, including former Neighbours star Saskia Hampele.

Spark Accelerator founders Kaitlin and Aaron Tait say the program, which is run around the world with mentors like Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, has impacted more than 150,000 people living in poverty.

Employment potential of SMEs stymied by red tape, taxes and entitlement

We’ve become accustomed to hearing about small business being the engine room of the economy, but the reality is the engine is spluttering, especially when it comes to employment.

Despite the best intentions of the federal government’s most recent budget , the SME sector still faces significant barriers to reaching its potential as a driver of productivity and employer of people in this country.

AiGroup says tax cut for small business better than nothing

Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said a tax cut for smaller business would be better than nothing if it proved too hard for the government to pursue relief for multinationals.

Mr Willox said the best outcome would be for the Senate to pass the government’s 10-year Enterprise Tax Plan , which gradually cuts the corporate rate for businesses of all sizes to 25 per cent.

Research funds ‘failing to deliver’, says review

As much as 90 per cent of government subsidies for research and development pays for work that would have happened anyway, a high-powered review of the $3 billion scheme has found.

The review says the cost of the research and development tax breaks has blown out 50 per cent since the former Labor government revised it in 2011 and says the budget burden, particularly the cash refunds to small business, is excessive.

Press forward on company tax cuts

The Turnbull government has to stick to its guns on legislation to progressively cut taxes for all companies to 25 per cent over the next decade. Treasurer Scott MorrisonThe Hon. Scott Morrison, Federal Member for Cook Treasurer from 21.9.15 must not water down the government’s enterprise tax bill – and he has not ruled it out – by trying to pass the politically popular tax cuts for small business while leaving lower taxes for bigger companies for some future Coalition government to fight.

The government made business tax cuts the centrepiece of its economic growth pledges at the election. Company tax rates that exceed global benchmarks – as Australia’s clearly do – are effectively an extra tax on everything that private sector business has to provide: growth, investment, jobs and the revenues that pay for all the services and social safety nets that we want.

Million-dollar challenge

SMALL and medium-sized businesses are being challenged to save the taxpayer millions by coming up with solutions to public service dilemmas.

The Business Research and Innovation Initiative encourages the development of innovative solutions for govern­ment policy and service deli­very challenges.

Small and Medium Enterprises can submit proposals for five problems. The chosen projects will be eligible to receive up to $1.1 million each over 18 months.

Gusto CEO: We now have 40,000 customers, twice as many as Zenefits

In the race to automate the HR, payroll and benefits systems of the nation’s small businesses, Gusto CEO Josh Reeves is charging full steam ahead with a barrage of new offerings.nnThe software now supports a bunch of new HR functions like employee personnel files, 401K plans and savings plans. This is in addition to the stuff the software already did, like payroll and onboarding.

Startups slam R&D tax plan as wasted ‘subsidy’ for big business

The peak startup body has slammed the review of the research and development tax incentive, claiming its recommendations will continue to subsidise large corporates for R&D they would do anyway.

There was little in the review’s recommendations  for startups, said StartupAUS chief executive Alex McCauley, and therefore little to incentivise new R&D in Australia.

R&D Consultation now open

The Australian Government has called for consultation on the review of Research and Development (R&D) incentives. Submissions close 28 October 2016.

The consultation information is  here. As R&D is an integral part of Australia’s IT and start-up industry  StartupAUS, a not-for-profit entity with a mission to transform Australia through technology entrepreneurship wants to make sure all interested parties have their say.

Perth lawyer launches a startup to act as a mediator for co-parenting after a divorce

When parents go through a messy separation, children are regularly embroiled in the conflict and often left the most vulnerable.

Perth lawyer and family mediator Lacy Gow sees this all the time.nnIt’s what inspired her to team up with husband Gordon Gow and create Famylia, an app that aims to not only de-escalate conflict but promote healthier co-parenting relationships for the sake of the kids involved.

Sydney startup Homecamp shuts down after “running out of time and money” for its Airbnb for camping platform

A Sydney startup pitching itself as the “Airbnb of camping” has shut down nearly two years after launching.

Homecamp launched in January 2015 offering a two-sided platform  connecting owners of private land in Australia with campers and travellers.

The Entourage’s Founder Calls On Government To Help Facilitate Education For Entrepreneurs

Government initiatives, such as the Coalition’s Incubator Support initiative, are of huge benefit to Australia’s start-up ecosystem but there needs to be a greater focus on education for emerging business people, according to Jack Delosa , founder and CEO of the Entourage , a leading educator and community of entrepreneurs.

Announced last week, the Turnbull Government’s Incubator Support initiative includes $23 million in matched grants for new and existing incubators to help start-ups access advice, capital and business connections. Incubators can apply for grants of up to $500,000 per project plus grants of up to $25,000  to engage experts-in-residence from overseas and Australia.

Small businesses connecting through this for that

This content is produced by The Australian Financial Review in commercial partnership with Telstra. A new commerce site that lets participants employ the ancient art of quid pro quo while helping develop connections between small businesses has had its first transactions.

The Proquo platform went live in June after a year in development. The site’s name is a play on the Latin “quid pro quo”, meaning “something for something” or “this for that”.

Interview with David Speers, Sky News | Ministers for the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science

Greg Hunt thank you for your time. Can I say right up front the panel that’s done this review for you has found the existing R&D incentive program falls short of meeting its stated objective and presents a lost opportunity for the $3 billion that’s being invested. Do you agree with that core finding at the start?

IPA welcomes ATO ‘one chance’ rule

The Australian Tax Office’s (ATO Australian Taxation Office’s) move to introduce a ‘one chance’ rule relieving individuals and small business of first-time tax penalties has contributed to a positive cultural shift, according to the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA).

IPA chief executive officer, Andrew Conway, said that this rule was a good sign in particular for small businesses that were often “time-poor”.

Under the new rule, if someone had failed to lodge an activity statement or an income tax return on time, they would be given a first-time offender break.

Tips, comments or suggestions? Let me know in the comments, send me an email or tweet me @simeonduncan.

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