News Pulse for March 13, 2018

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

ACTU says $50 increase in minimum wage necessary for struggling families

Unions are today calling for a $50 a week increase in the minimum wage.

It currently sits at just under $695 a week, which is roughly $36,000 a year.

MYOB takes on Xero with AI adviser product to help accountants offer more services

Listed accounting technology company MYOB is adding more AI credentials to its products, as part of its ongoing battle with Xero to lure bookkeepers and small businesses to its software, saying its tools will now enable accountants to begin offering advisory services.

MYOB will launch a free artificial intelligence powered tool called Advisor this week, which it says outstrips rival products from Xero and Intuit by using machine learning and natural language generation technologies to mine the data in a company’s books, giving accountants more insights into their client’s finances.

Almost half of SMEs undercutting to win work

Plenty of businesses are admitting to undercutting competitors in a bid to win contracts, according to a new survey, some by as much as 30 per cent.

Services marketplace ServiceSeeking found that 42 per cent of SME owners have slashed their margins to keep new customers coming in.

Spare us excuses for a wage lift

The Australian Council of Trade Unions puts in a ridiculous pay claim to raise the minimum wage (and other award wages). The employers make the entirely legitimate point that the claim is unaffordable and will cost jobs. The extraordinarily well-paid members of the Fair Work Commission wade through the various submissions, have a few rounds of public hearings and put out an intensely turgid statement outlining the reasons for the decision a few months later.

It is one of the banes of my existence to plough through these reasons for the decision. They remind me of a mediocre undergraduate essay in which the author is way too keen to argue a particular point, trying to refute or ignore contradictory evidence.

Xero’s new chief Steve Vamos knows how to sing his own praises

And now we turn to Steve Vamos , the incoming CEO of ASX-listed market darling Xero.

Like an increasing number of executives we despair of in this age of personal branding, Vamos is the owner of “Steve is considered to be a dynamic thought leader,” it states. “He is down to earth” (because what signals humility better than having your own digital shrine) “and his stories and messages that he shares from his 30 years experience are valuable and relevant to his audiences”. As well as lots of glamour shots, visitors can listen to his TED talks, read numerous collated articles about him (the nice ones, of course), and learn all about Vamos’ management insights and book recommendations.

A ‘bridge too far’ for retailers

Business is booming at Opus Design, in the eastern Sydney suburb of Paddington, as the gift and homewares store prepares to celebrate its 50th year of successful trade.

Owner Tass Tourgelis, 73, says staff are key to the store’s success over five decades.

Get rid of the lawyers, Franchise Council urged

The Franchise Council of Australia has been taken over by consultants and lawyers, doesn’t represent franchisees, and is in denial about the problems that have prompted a parliamentary inquiry into the sector, according to founder of the Brumby’s Bakery chain Michael Sherlock.

A lack of leadership from the FCA had contributed to franchising reaching crisis point and its board must be overhauled, said Mr Sherlock, who sold his 321-store franchise network to Retail Food Group in 2007 , only to see it now reduced below 240 stores. Franchisees have left amid complaints of high fees and supplier rebates, which Mr Sherlock claimed had made it more expensive to buy flour within the Brumby’s system than elsewhere.

FinTech Australia appoints interim chief executive

The association representing Australia’s burgeoning fintech industry is searching for a new leader following the resignation of its chief executive on Friday.

As the search begins to replace Danielle Szetho, FinTech Australia has appointed Sarah Worboys as interim chief executive.

Worboys was most recently the head of strategy and operations at Melbourne-based peer-to-peer invoice financier Timelio. She is a chartered accountant by profession.

Danielle Szetho steps down as Fintech Australia boss, as she looks to bridge “disappointing” gap between Aussie and Asian startups

The chief executive of Australia’s peak fintech advocacCommunications Access Co-ordinatory and policy body Danielle Szetho has announced she will be stepping down and moving to Asia to champion further collaboration between Australia and the rest of the Asia Pacific region.

Szetho has spent nearly two years as the head of Fintech Australia, having worked in the media industry before becoming the industry body’s first ever chief executive in mid-2016. In that time, she has seen the organisation grow from an early-stage idea to an influential policy-making powerhouse and mainstay of the Australian startup ecosystem.

Labor wants to scrap policy giving $2.5 million refunds to some non-taxpayers

Australia’s $5 billion-a-year system of cash refunds for some shareholders would be abolished under Federal Labor’s latest tax policy.

When paying dividends to domestic shareholders, companies include what are known as franking credits.

Paying tax on worldwide income a question of your residency

How income is taxed depends on where a person earns it, and whether that person is regarded as a resident for Australian income tax purposes. When you are an Australian tax resident you pay Australian income tax on your worldwide income.

When someone is a non-resident for income tax purposes they pay Australian income tax on income they earn in Australia. Like most things to do with taxation, there are some exceptions to what non-residents pay Australian income tax on. One example of this is fully franked dividends paid to tax residents of other countries.

Tap and go relief looms for small business

Australia’s obsession with tap-and-go has come with convenience for shoppers and extra costs for retailers but that might be about to change.

Under an arrangement that drew criticism from a parliamentary inquiry, tap-and-go payments cop higher fees than eftpos transactions using swipe or pin. The fees for tap-and-go are about four times higher than eftpos and work out to about an extra 40 cents on a $100 transaction for a merchant.

Exclusive: Inside the Australian Tax Office’s crisis management team

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO Australian Taxation Office) had a challenging year in 2017, featuring in the headlines a number of times.

Previous Deputy Commissioner Michael Cranston was forced to resign last year due to his son’s connection with a tax fraud syndicate. The whole affair had left the ATO Australian Taxation Office “dismayed” , Commissioner Chris Jordan was quoted as saying. Furthermore, the office’s online systems suffered massive storage failures in December 2016 and again in February 2017.

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


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