News Pulse for September 6, 2018

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

Retail spending flat

Australian retail sales fizzled out in July while nationwide home prices fell again in August and a measure of job advertisement eased, suggesting a further dent in consumer confidence and spending.

Monday’s figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed retail sales for July were flat, the weakest result since March.

Xero launches open API for banks to integrate at ‘Coachella for accountants’

Cloud accounting company Xero is anticipating an influx of new fintech and banking partnerships with the company launching an open banking API at its annual Xerocon conference on Thursday.

The new feature, which will reduce the time of a banking integration from four to 12 weeks to just two days in some cases, was one of about half a dozen new products announced by the business at Xerocon.

​Xero expands machine learning features for small businesses

Cloud accounting firm cum small business platform Xero has made a handful of announcements on Wednesday, including new machine learning features, an education platform, and simple compliance capabilities for small businesses.

Announced at Xerocon Brisbane 2018 was a “files required” feature, which allows advisors to identify and collect client documents in one place; a “more intuitive invoicing experience” that uses machine learning insights for each business, touted as making it easier to invoice customers and speed up time to pay; Xero email-to-bills, which expands on an existing machine learning feature for Xero bills, to extract and automatically populate details from any email PDF bill into Xero; advancements to the Xero app marketplace; and Xero Projects integration to share timesheet information.

Pension age change: Scrapping $5b plan the ‘wrong thing to do’ for Australia’s future

The Morrison government’s decision to back down on raising the pension age to 70 will cost $5 billion over the medium term, as the Coalition scrambles to rid itself of unpopular policies and win over older voters ahead of the next federal election.

The surprise pre-cabinet announcement on morning television comes as Prime Minister Scott MorrisonThe Hon. Scott Morrison, Federal Member for Cook Treasurer from 21.9.15 looks to get ahead of a wave of policy leaks that threaten to destabilise his political initiative.

Leak reveals government plan to bring forward small business tax cuts and change $20,000 instant asset write-off 

The federal government is seeking to bring tax cuts aimed at Australia’s small and medium businesses into effect four years earlier than originally planned, costing the government $3.6 billion over four-year 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)..

Treasury costings leaked to Fairfax reportedly reveal the government has decided to adopt  industry calls to bring forward the already legislated tax cuts for companies with under $50 million in annual turnover, which would see them fully implemented by 2022 rather than 2026. The documents also reveal it’s considering extending the popular $20,000 instant asset write-off threshold.

Xero launches ‘Learn’ solution for budding SMEs, accountants

Cloud accounting software provider Xero has launched a new solution — Learn — which it says is designed to give future small business leaders, accountants and bookkeepers the financial literacy and accounting skills needed to build better businesses.

Xero says Victoria’s Swinburne University of Technology, University of Southern Queensland, Auckland University of Technology, Macquarie University and AccountingPod are among the first institutions to “onboard” with the Learn solution, giving their students access to “world-class accounting tools”.

Small business in for rude shock over asset write-off

Small businesses that have purchased assets since 1 July this year are in for a rude shock, with parliamentary inaction meaning the extension to the asset write-off is still awaiting approval.

The ATO Australian Taxation Office confirmed that while plans were unveiled in the May budget to extend the $20,000 instant asset-write off for another year to cover 2018-19, this has yet to be approved.

Where is the gig economy taking us?

There are two opposing schools of thought on the gig economy, where almost a million self-employed Australians work on a freelance or project basis rather than in permanent jobs.

First, that the gig economy is a boon for contractors and companies because it boosts labour market flexibility. Second, that it is a form of mass exploitation of younger workers, particularly those born overseas, and a race to the bottom in wages and conditions.

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