News Pulse for August 21, 2017

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

Landlords ‘locking up business profitability’

The commercial property rental market is failing SMEs and causing the very cost pressures the government says it is trying to alleviate, a business owner has claimed.

Commenting on a story about stalling wages in around half of SMEs , one My Business reader suggests that price gouging by landlords is severely reducing the profitability of smaller businesses, and hence their ability to pass on higher wages to their employees.

Rod Drury sets sights on $NZ1b in revenue, eyes automated future

Xero chief executive Rod Drury has always been a dreamer. Having read all the books about the early days of IBM, Microsoft and Apple from his home in a “small set of rocks in the South Pacific”, he professes he’d always wanted to do something big.

“Having read all of those Silicon Valley books I had it in me that the ultimate for a software entrepreneur was to take a company public,” Drury tells  AFR Weekend  from the company’s birthplace in Wellington, New Zealand – although he no longer believes the company has a headquarters.

How some companies cut billions off their tax bill

The federal government is expected to score a $10 billion windfall over the next decade after multinational oil giant Chevron abandoned an appeal against the Australian Tax Office in the High Court.

In a settlement believed to be worth more than $1 billion, the US company’s case hands Australian authorities a precedent that will shape all future tax arrangements for multinational resources companies.

Small business set to make big noise

A new lobbying organisation to put the case for small business to Government and the Public Service is to be established with the aid of the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO).

The Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, said she would also host a new small business hub in Canberra for organisations to use as a base when putting their case to national policymakers.

Chevron dropped its High Court appeal over a $340 million tax bill

Oil and gas giant Chevron has settled a long-running transfer pricing dispute with the Australian Tax Office for an undisclosed sum, although the figure is likely to be well in excess of $1 billion.

Chevron had been planning to challenge the matter in the High Court but lodged a notice of discontinuance on August 15, a court spokesman confirmed.

How some companies cut billions off their tax bill

The federal government is expected to score a $10 billion windfall over the next decade after multinational oil giant Chevron abandoned an appeal against the Australian Tax Office in the High Court.

In a settlement believed to be worth more than $1 billion, the US company’s case hands Australian authorities a precedent that will shape all future tax arrangements for multinational resources companies.

Will Australia’s new laws stamp out modern slavery?

If it has been raining in the Lockyer valley, the deep green farmland carpeting the region beckons as a place of plenty.

But it is here, in this verdant pocket of south-east Queensland, that a former undercover police officer was thought to be running a slavery-like racket involving Pacific Islanders picking produce bound for the shelves of major supermarkets.

Xinja seeks up to $15 million amid push for start-up banks

Xinja, which hopes to lead a wave of new digital start-up banks, says moves to relax the strict licensing regime for the industry are already making investors more willing to back small challenger banks.

The start-up is an example of one type of business Treasurer Scott MorrisonThe Hon. Scott Morrison, Federal Member for Cook Treasurer from 21.9.15 is trying to encourage, through moves to make it easier to start a new bank in Australia.

Peer inside ING’s future of voice-activated, open banking

The convergence of open banking regimes and rapid advancements in artificial intelligence technology could make this voice-activated banking environment a reality within the next five years, predicts Uday Sareen, chief executive of ING in Australia.

MYOB launches free bookkeeper training course

The program aims to help newcomers into the industry and could make it easier for businesses to find staff with MYOB skills.

Accounting software provider MYOB has launched a 12-month bookkeeping course in partnership with not-for-profit Infoxchange and business training organisation, the Monarch Institute.

Pocket money startup Spriggy to leap forward with $2.5m investment in educational offering

Sydney-based fintech startup Spriggy has closed a $2.5 million funding round, which it will invest in evolving its educational pocket money app and bank card and growing out its user base of more than 35,000 parents and children.

As part of the round, which was led by Alium Capital with additional funding from Perle Ventures plus several high-net investors, Spriggy also welcomed two new advisors – former ING DIRECT Australia CEO Vaughn Richtor and ex-Delivery Hero CTO Scott Fletcher.

Chevron tax case outcome welcomed | The Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP

The Turnbull Government welcomes the withdrawal of Chevron’s appeal to the High Court over the Australian Taxation Office’s assessment of $340 million in tax and penalties for interest payments made to related offshore parties.

Chevron sought to challenge Australia’s transfer pricing rules and the appropriate method for establishing an arms-length interest rate for a related party loan. The case also raised constitutional issues regarding transfer pricing provisions. The Full Federal Court upheld the ATO Australian Taxation Office’s position in April this year. The withdrawal of the appeal means that the decision is now final.

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