In this episode, Chamberlains’ Managing Director, Stipe Vuleta, is joined by Accross Business Principal & Director Kieran May, to discuss all things Jobkeeper, SGC Amnesties and strategy about recovery post COVID-19.

As with all Chamberlains Lawcast episodes, the information provided cannot be considered as legal advice, if you have any questions in relation to any information presented, please contact our office on 02 6188 3600 or visit our website at www.chamberlains.com.au   

Presented by; Stipe Vuleta ft. Keiran May
Date; 13/10/2020
at Chamberlains Law Firm, Canberra.

 

Transcript 

Stipe Vuleta: Hi viewers, it’s Stipe from Chamberlains again, and I’m here with Kieran May from Accross Business talking all things, Jobkeeper, SGC amnesties and strategy about recovering post-Corona. Kieran, how are you going?

Kieran May: Yeah good Stipe. Good yourself.

Stipe Vuleta: Really, well, I’m chilling at home in the home office and enjoying a coffee, which is already complete and finished and looking forward to the next one.

Um, what about you? What are you up to today?

Kieran May: Having a coffee. Yeah, well, actually I’m very, very busy. Um, there’s a few, you know, initiatives starting to kick goals, but it was interesting, um, you know, you mentioned there you are in your lounge recording this conversation, I’m sitting in my home office  allowing you to record the conversation.

And it, it just occurred to me that, that here I am, and here you are, doing what we plan to do pre-COVID. Yeah. Um, and suddenly with COVID hitting us now, our opportunity to work from home is what everybody’s doing! It’s becoming, this is the way to do business.

Stipe Vuleta: Oh, absolutely. I mean, can I say, you know, say in, in a, in a way share, uh, an insecurity, I have pre-Corona because I’ve always been a pretty relaxed and casual guy. And, you know, you want to be doing things like this, but I, but I, I think prior to COVID-19, there was always an expectation. You do a corporate video, it’s you and I in suits in front of a white or a blue background and, you know, jazzy images and stuff like that. Whereas I think this is a, a lot more honest, lot more accessible and, you know, hopefully the viewers get some value out

Kieran May: And in marketing speak, they say it’s “authentic”.

Stipe Vuleta: Well, well speaking of being authentic, you’re a bit of a master on LinkedIn Keiran, do you want to tell us a bit about your business and where people can find you?

Kieran May: Sure. Yeah. Uh, accross.com.au, is the web address and that’s accross with two C’s. You have to watch your spellcheck there. And it’s got two C’s in it because we talk about accountable. We talk about accessible.

Stipe Vuleta: Yeah.

Kieran May: Um, hence the two C’s to play on that. Um, but I do get around on LinkedIn quite a bit. You can follow my personal posts it’s probably the, the most common, um, source of information. Then I do like the comment of, I’ve got an opinion on a lot of things.

Stipe Vuleta: Speaking of conversations, I’m not going to hold you to it, but, uh, you know, Jobkeeper’s a hot mess, but an exciting, hot mess at the moment. What are your thoughts on it? What developments, where do you think it’ll land?

Kieran May: Jobkeeper?! The big, the big downside to it, of course, is that, that circumstances around jobkeeper, keep changing, so the rules keep changing. Um, and you know, we, we can go back to the jobkeeper one when the first announcement was made, and then we’re all confused because the tax office kept changing the rules. Every, every day, they kept making more exceptions and whatever. But interestingly, right from the start, they said, “Hey, this is where it’s at, we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow”. We’ll keep tweaking it. And eventually on the 28th of May was the, the cutoff date for it all to start happening. But their promise was by the 28th of May, we will have it all sorted out. People panicked in the meantime, because they kept changing the rules. 28th of May came, bang, tax office had it all sorted out.

Stipe Vuleta: Yeah.

Kieran May: The, the scheme itself was, was, you know, in some people’s eyes was poorly thought out because it, it, um, basically plumped everybody into the same basket. And sadly, there were some people who probably should’ve qualified for jobkeeper,well, deserved jobkeeper missed out because the rules changed. Well, the rules didn’t fit, but if you look at it in the context that the government was backed, almost backed into a corner where they had to do something, and they couldn’t sit around and consider every permutation or possibility. It was like bang, quickest thing we can do is pick a number, make it available, set some rules around it, and if there’s a good case to make exceptions, we’ll make exceptions on the fly.

So then jobkeeper two. And all the kerfuffle about jobkeeper it two, you know, the government needs to, you know, you can’t end jobkeeper and, well, my view always was well, politics says, they can’t just cut it off on the 30th of September. Won’t work.

Stipe Vuleta: Yeah.

Kieran May: There’s always going to be something. So anyway, they came out and they announced that the jobkeeper version two, and that included, um, a review of your income for the April, May, June quarter.

Stipe Vuleta: Yeah.

Kieran May: As, as the first step. And if you had a, you met the benchmarks there, you would then look at your, um, July, August, September quarter and see if you still qualify, and then you would go into the pool and, and continue on with a reduced number. And of course, circumstances quickly changed, the comparison of the April, May, June quarter is now out the door.

Stipe Vuleta: Yeah.

Kieran May: And to qualify for a jobkeeper two, you only now need to look at, um, July, August, September.

 Stipe Vuleta: Yeah.

Kieran May: And, uh, and there’s a few things that happen around there. And of course, what we haven’t seen yet is the alternate tests.

Stipe Vuleta: Of course, yes.

Kieran May: Which have been promised, but they haven’t. And I’m sure that will be based on the original alternate tests, but they haven’t been announced yet. So, we’ve just gotten to that point with jobkeeper right now where everybody, and I’ll say everybody in inverted commas, I guess, is wanting to have all the answers now.

Stipe Vuleta: So, I guess takeaways from that, uh, jobkeeper is still uncertain. Uncertainty causes stress, call a good Bookkeeper or a good Accountant. And Kieran May is [00:06:00] a great find, if you find him on LinkedIn, he’s always there to answer questions if you need them. But I guess from something that’s probably a bit more, important to me, given that I do a lot of restructuring work, particularly corporate restructuring work, the, the SGC Amnesty, tell us about it, what’s happening?!

Kieran May: Hasn’t that slipped under the radar with all the talk of jobkeeper?!

Stipe Vuleta: Oh, absolutely!

Kieran May: So back in, uh, the end of April at around about the time COVID-19 hit, there was some legislation, was passed through the parliament to introduce a superannuation guarantee, amnesty for unpaid, super, dated back prior to 1st, the 31st of March, the previous year.

Stipe Vuleta: Yeah,

Kieran May: They’re talking about really old stuff, and the amnesty wasn’t about excusing businesses from paying it. It was about a system to bring them back into, into compliance, to allow them to declare what they hadn’t paid, and to pay what they hadn’t paid.

Stipe Vuleta: Yeah.

Kieran May: But not impose penalties on those amounts as you, as you would do without the amnesty. Now, this was actually legislated and incorporated into that legislation was an end date for the amnesty. And that is, 7th of September.

Stipe Vuleta: Wow! That’s coming up.

Kieran May: So, and this is this, and this is legislated. The tax office, all the flexibility they’ve been able to show with jobkeeper, and with late payments on PAYG installments and GST installments. They cannot extend any leniency on jobkeeper because there is an end date. I’m sorry, on superannuation guarantee. Cause there is an end date in the legislation and unless parliament sits down next week, when they come, after their 14-day consolation, unless they sit down and change that end date, the amnesty finishes on the 7th of September.

So, what’s required? Is for businesses to declare all their unpaid superannuation, and, either pay by the 7th of September. And they will get the full benefit of the amnesty.

Stipe Vuleta: Yep.

Kieran May: That is there’ll be, there’ll be no penalties and they will be able to claim those deductions, on their income tax this year. Um, if they don’t pay or don’t declare number one, then the amnesties off and the tax office will start chasing them, because they do know who hasn’t paid. They do know that.

Um, and if you do declare, but don’t that do not pay by the 7th of September, they expect that you will have entered into an arrangement to make those installments over the next couple of years.

Stipe Vuleta: Right.

Kieran May: Without those installments, they are within the amnesty rules, but they will not have the same extent of forgiveness. Um, the, tax deductibility of some of that, disappears, uh, and that there will be no interest charged on it. They’re not, no additional penalties provided they stick with the rule. So, there’s a bit going on there as well. There’s probably a lot of people who have just ignored it. Number one, because they want to shut their eyes, and number two have put it on the back burner because jobkeeper’s more immediate and more important right now.

Stipe Vuleta: Yeah.

Kieran May: So, people need to be aware that that’s coming up, then it’s not too late to do something about it.

Stipe Vuleta: Yeah.

Kieran May: Um, and again, that can be managed by a tax agent or a BAS agent. So, they’re starting to call it that group tax professionals.

Stipe Vuleta: Yeah.

Kieran May: But they must be registered tax agents or registered BAS agents, and you can find them on the tax practitioner board website, tpb.gov.au. Um, or generally, if you go to, um, the website for the Institute of certified bookkeepers, for example, they will provide you with a list of BAS agents, and of course, most accountants who are tax agents can do the job as well.

Stipe Vuleta: Yeah, of course.

Kieran May: People need to get in quick! The complication is your records need to be up to date, so the paperwork can just be filled out and then dealt with.

Stipe Vuleta: Alright. So, I mean, takeaways on SGC. are, it’s real, it ends on the 7th of September, and people need to get in quick.

Kieran May: And third one don’t ignore it. And then the tax office knows who has not paid.

Stipe Vuleta: Yeah.

Kieran May: And they probably know exactly how much has not been paid

Stipe Vuleta: Absolutely! So, so speaking about, you know, the daunting things coming out of COVID-19, we’re talking about an extension and contentual future and to jobkeeper two, we’re talking about the SGC amnesty, but you know, bringing it all back together, what can someone do today to make sure they’re still around and prospering 12, 24 months from now?

Kieran May: Yeah, absolutely. And again, I guess it’s, it’s a bit like the SGC amnesty, jobkeepers come along and it’s taken out of this, our focus away from tomorrow, and everything’s about making sure we’re still here at the end of the day, and tomorrow can take care of itself. But I keep asking the question of, of LinkedIn, you know, will you still be here, delivering what your customers will want when the crisis is over?

Stipe Vuleta: Yes.

Kieran May: And sadly, the answer for a lot of businesses is no, jobkeeper is propping them up. Uh, and fair enough, it it’s doing the job it should do, and that was to give people breathing space… And to keep, keep their employees engaged with their business.

But throughout this period, I mean, we’re living and breathing right now of how the world of businesses changed because of COVID and that is, we need our, our office less than we did before we won’t travel as much as we did, because we’re not out and about, we’re not drinking as many coffees at cafes that we did.

Um, you know, and there’s a lot of things that, that we are not necessarily, um, avoiding. But just don’t have occasion to consume. So, what every business needs to do now is to have a look at ‘what are my customers doing now that’s different?’.

Stipe Vuleta: Yeah.

Kieran May: What would they be doing different when everything goes back to normal? As normal as it can be. And how do I change my business to make sure that when we come out the other side, that number one, I’m still in business. And number two, I’m delivering what my customers will want when it’s all over, knowing of course that crystal ball gazing is sometimes a little bit dangerous, but nonetheless, if we don’t look to the future and explore the options and play out some scenarios, at least in our mind, chances are we’re going to go along blissfully unaware that the world’s changed around us.

And it’s never going to go back to what it was. So, sitting at the top of the tree, the strategy, people, and sometimes people get confused with that word, but what is strategy? Its only about, you know, what does my business look like? What will it look like? You know, what, will my customers want? Where will I need to operate? And, you know, maybe even, why am I bothering?

For some people it might be just look, let’s take the opportunity to, to, to bow out gracefully while I still got a bit of equity in the business. And you see that all the time in your work, with company liquidations, the number of times that people who are in trouble just hold on too long.

Stipe Vuleta: Yeah.

Kieran May: And, if you pull back a little bit, if they took some, some right consultation and advice, you can call it advice or guidance or whatever, however you want to go. If they took the right advice and the right sort of thinking six months, 12 months earlier, one of two things might have happened. One is that they might have changed the direction of the business.

Stipe Vuleta: Yeah.

Kieran May: Made it profitable or sustainable again. Or, two, they might have made that decision 12 months ago, to wind it up. While they still had some equity in the business.

Stipe Vuleta: Yeah absolutely. And I guess that’s a, probably a good jump off point as we approach sort of a comfortable listening and viewing time. But. Really, what you’re saying is, you know, if people want to get ‘accross’ their business, you know, pun intended, then they should be reaching out to you today because there’s no better time than right now to take advantage of the opportunities, and some of the amnesties in the market. But also, there’s no time to waste if you need to make a bad decision or a hard decision, uh, sooner rather than later. And I guess, um, it’s been a pleasure hearing your thoughts Kieran, and I’m looking forward to doing it again. I hope you have a great day

Kieran May: And the coffee is good!

Stipe Vuleta: Indeed! Ciao.