News Pulse for June 18, 2018

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

Domain scam firms cop $2m fine

Two related companies that scammed small businesses out of a total $2.3 million with fake internet domain name renewal notices have been fined close to $2 million.

Competition watchdog the ACCCAustralian Competition and Consumer Commission The ACCC is Australia's competition regulator and national consumer law champion. said the Federal Court found Domain Corp Pty Ltd and Domain Agency Pty Ltd had sent false and misleading domain name registration renewal notices to about 300,000 businesses between November, 2015 and at least April, 2017.

Cast net wider to compete online

SMALL retailers have been warned to innovate and adjust their business models following a spectacular growth in online shopping and the expansion of Amazon.

Australian shoppers spent $1.3 billion on online purchases in April. That was up from $828 million at the same time last year, according to the latest ABS figures.

Number of businesses not paying superannuation up 60% as government considers 12-month compliance amnesty for SMEs 

Changes to how long businesses will have to pay their employees superannuation, and the penalties they’ll face if they don’t, are being considered by the government, with statistics from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO Australian Taxation Office) showing the number of business owners who failed to pay their employees’ super has increased over 60% in the past year.

Data provided by the ATO Australian Taxation Office to the ongoing Senate Committee discussing the proposed Superannuation Measures Treasury Laws Amendment Bill showed the number of unique employers who lodged a superannuation guarantee charge statement in the 2017–18 financial year was 17,712; up nearly 60% from the 11,096 employers who lodged them in the preceding financial year.

How Unlockd fell apart following Google’s threat to ban its apps and what happens now

When Unlockd co-founder Matt Berriman hit the road three months ago to meet with potential backers of the company’s planned initial public offering on the Australian Securities Exchange, they took with them the air of confidence that comes with being the hottest tech ticket in town.

The company appeared to the outside world to be on a roll that was leading inevitably to a big payday, and further plans to take on the world with ambitious growth targets.

Bosses failing to pay super

The number of bosses failing to pay employees superannuation has increased by more than 50 per cent over the past year — ­breaches that are soon to carry penalties of up to a year in jail for employers.

There has also been a marked increase in the number of workers dobbing in their bosses for underpayment or non-payment of super entitlements, according to confidential Australian Taxation Office data supplied to a Senate inquiry.

Good tax policy, not politics

Parliament resumes today, for a fortnight that is set to shape Australia’s personal and corporate tax systems for years, even decades, into the future. The opposition starts the crucial sitting — the last before five by-elections on Super Saturday, July 28 — on the back foot, with the Treasury raising serious doubts about its retrograde policy to double tax retirees’ share dividends. Treasury’s detailed costing of the proposal, Simon Benson reports, has identified a $10 billion black hole, including a $1bn revenue shortfall over the forward estimatesThe forward estimates are the estimated financial statement projections for the four years following a budget (the budget year and the three out years after the budget year).. The tax grab is a dud policy in principle, hurting those who save to be independent of taxpayers in retirement.

Give power back to citizens to fight government agencies, inquiry urged

Large government agencies have too much power and too little accountability, a federal inquiry has heard, with calls to change laws that would help tip the balance of power back into the hands of ordinary citizens when they have a gripe with an agency.

On Thursday some groups appearing before a parliamentary inquiry into Model Litigant Obligations likened the behaviour of large government agencies such as the Australian Taxation Office to the big banks.

ATO accused of being a “dictator” and “cooking” SMEs as government considers rules to enforce fair conduct 

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO Australian Taxation Office) has been accused of being a “dictator” and “a pack of bullies” in a Senate Committee hearing yesterday debating proposed legislation to allow the Commonwealth Ombudsman to enforce model litigant obligations (MLOs) on government agencies.

These obligations currently exist as guidelines for how government bodies should act during litigation, including stipulations to act honestly, consistently, and fairly, deal with claims promptly, and to not take advantage of claimants who have fewer resources than the body itself.

ATO’s own research raises SME concerns

The tax office has questioned the need for a bill to enforce tougher litigation obligations, despite it spending almost $1 million on internal research that identified widespread concerns about its dealings with SMEs.

Fronting the Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee in Sydney, ATO Australian Taxation Office assistant commissioner Grahame Tanna questioned the need for the Judiciary Amendment (Commonwealth Model Litigant Obligations) Bill 2017, saying it would add cost and delays to litigation rather than reduce it.

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