News Pulse for April 25, 2017

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

How illegitimate sick leave affects SMEs

The fact that Aussies love the beach is undisputed worldwide. What is concerning, however, are the potential business impacts, with a survey of 2000 adults, undertaken by Finder.com.au, revealing that one in seven (14%) have cashed in their sick leave to get some sun and hit the waves.

Every time an employee decides to fake an illness or miss work for an illegitimate reason, the business feels the effect of it. While to the individual it may seem like just a few hours, the business is losing money for an unproductive reason and if it happens enough within SMEs, these hours add up.

Zeroing in on Xero

From a standing start in 2006 Xero has amassed a million subscribers across the developed world. Making things easier for users is its special sauce. As Drury said at the outset: ‘ Most of all, we’re just hoping to give you back some hours in your week.’

Back when all accounting software was downloaded from a CD onto the desktop, Xero’s software could be purchased and used through the internet. Incumbents like MYOB and Intuit failed to see the low hanging fruit that technology improvements had created, and Xero capitalised on them.

Freshdesk adds 2000 Australia and New Zealand businesses to its customer base – Media Releases

Sydney, Australia, 7 April 2017 — Freshdesk, the leading provider of cloud-based customer engagement software, today announced the company has surpassed 7000 customers in Australia and New Zealand, upping its local customer base by 2000 customers since March last year.

The announcement was made as Freshdesk’s COO Nishant Rao is in Australia to mark the company’s annual Customer Happiness Tour in Sydney. The event brings together local businesses to discuss how to deliver better service to their own customers and staff.

457 change to hurt growth

Xero boss Rod Drury has warned the ability of global tech firms to continue their growth will be disadvantaged by the visa changes flagged last week in Australia, the US and New Zealand.

Mr Drury said the changes come at a particularly sensitive time for Australia, which had previously seen its engineers flee to the US and Britain, with more than 22,000 Australians working in tech centres on the west coast of the US in 2015. He said global platforms like Xero and Facebook had big roles to play in pushing back against a rise in nationalism, and helping keep borders open for tech talent.

Visa change puts focus on skills

The Turnbull government’s 457 visa overhaul has set alarm bells ringing for the local start-up sector. The prospect of higher development costs and disrupted growth plans are a valid danger for those tech companies that haven’t quite achieved the same lift as ­Atlassian.

However, the anxiety should perhaps sharpen the industry’s focus on the one existentialist threat for the sector — skills shortage — and updating the current education system to remedy the situation.

The tax loophole for optimistic small businesses

As a result of the Coalition government not having an outright majority in both houses of Federal Parliament, a budget measure announced last year that was meant to apply from July 1, 2016 has still not been passed. Those small business owners that take a glass-half-empty approach could find themselves missing out.

Under the proposed policy the turnover threshold for a business to qualify for the small business entity tax concessions was meant to increase from $2 million to $10 million from July 1, 2016. The increased turnover threshold was not going to apply to the small business entity test for accessing the small business capital gains tax concessions.

Alibaba, online giants say changes to GST collection will hurt small business and create “more incentives to cheat” on tax

Chinese retail giant Alibaba is among a group of multinational retailers that is insisting local small businesses will be left worse off by the federal government’s plan to collect GST on low-value online purchases from overseas suppliers.

On Friday, management from Etsy, Alibaba and eBay appeared before a Senate committee to discuss the implementation of the government’s plan to apply the goods and services tax to “low value goods” worth less than $1000 bought by Australian consumers from overseas retailers.

New tools released targeting SME lending

Online lender Spotcap and national aggregator e Choice have simultaneously released two digital tools to assist clients and brokers with small business lending.

Spotcap’s offering is an online portal to help explain and bring further awareness to the different non-bank lending options available for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs).

Small business to get $100 discount for using Single Touch Payroll system

Small businesses that use Standard Business Reporting software as part of the federal government’s Single Touch Payroll (STP) Scheme will receive a tax offset worth $100 from July 2017.

Small business minister Kelly O’Dwyer announced the offset this morning, alongside an announcement that the government will conduct a pilot of the STP system in the first half of 2017, which will focus on small businesses.

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

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