Introducing Sue Karzis, CEO, State Schools’ Relief

Introducing Sue Karzis, CEO, State Schools’ Relief

1 in 10 Victorian state school students is supported by State Schools’ Relief. Alarming numbers which have been growing over recent times.

Only 5.4% of fortune 1000 companies are led by women. Another alarming fact. However, the good news is that at State Schools’ Relief Sue Karzis leads this major not-for-profit [NFP] organisation.

We sat down with Sue to learn more about her role and the role which SSR plays in our children’s everyday lives. Thanks, Sue.

1. Congratulations on being the first female CEO of State Schools’ Relief. Prior to being appointed did you realise you were making history?

I had absolutely no idea! I am excited to make history though, especially if it encourages other women to put themselves forward for leadership roles.

2. Being the first female CEO since the organisation started in 1930, what challenges have you faced?

The challenges I have faced are the challenges that most CEOs in NFPs face – that is, how to increase fundraising, revenue, improve systems and processes and become sustainable into the future. I have had lots of support from the SSR Board, so I am very lucky.

3. Do you believe that women bring a different perspective to senior roles?

I think that women often approach leadership differently. I think that the traditional notion of power is an antiquated one and leaders of today need to be collaborative and coach staff to achieve a shared strategic vision. For staff to be engaged, they need to buy into what the organisation is trying to achieve. In the case of State Schools’ Relief, our staff understand the huge impact that our work has. Last year alone, we assisted over 56,000 children and young people with school uniforms, shoes and other educational resources. Our mission is to remove the barriers that underprivileged children face so that they can engage with education and realise their full potential.

4. What makes you smile at work?

The feedback about what a difference we make in the lives of children – when I am having a bad day, I often look at it and it puts everything into perspective.

5. What frustrates you at work?

When IT doesn’t work! Other than that, delays in getting things done. Once I have an idea, I really want to see it through, and it can be hard to be patient.

6. The topic of women in the workforce especially the number of senior leaders is very topical, why do you think that is?

I think that as women, we are living in a watershed moment; what is happening with the #MeToo movement reflects a new awareness of women’s rights and is highlighting areas where there is an obvious disparity. To have only 5.4% of Fortune 1000 companies led by women shows that despite best efforts, the glass ceiling still exists, and women are not attaining leadership positions at the rate that they should.

7. What do you believe organisations need to do to improve the number of senior female appointments?

I think that female leaders need to mentor their colleagues and ensure that they are championing them, creating opportunities for them to step into leadership and supporting the sisterhood rather than seeing other women as competition. We need to tackle unconscious bias so that when hiring, we don’t have a preconceived idea about potential candidates, and we need to keep talking about the issue and empowering women of all ages to feel like they are worthy of the top jobs.

8. Which leaders inspire you and why?

The leaders I find most inspiring are humble and inspired by their own experiences to make a difference. Rosie Batty inspires me with her strength and determination and Malala, who has overcome the voice of young women battling discrimination and adversity all over the world.

9. How do you measure success?

Success to me is measured by the impact you are having. Leading an organisation like State Schools’ Relief, I know we are having a huge impact on the lives of those we help.  From an organizational perspective, achieving strategic objectives, such as establishing a social enterprise to retail our school shoes with a view to funding our charity is a true measure of success.

10. What does a typical day look like for you?

Most mornings I try to catch up on emails, I have at least 2-3 meetings most days as well as attending stakeholder events and media opportunities whenever required. In an organisation like SSR, I am fairly hands-on, so I am often involved in operational matters and meeting with staff to solve problems on a daily basis.

11. How would others describe your leadership style?

I have been told I am transparent, hands-off and I trust and empower those around me to make decisions and feel invested. I believe that any leader is only as good as the team that they have around them.

Thank you, Sue. For more information about State School’s Relief please visit their website by clicking here.


Tax news, views and clues February 2019

Tax clinic trial to reduce tax regulatory burden

To help reduce the regulatory burden on businesses, including the tax burden, the government has allocated $1 million to set up 10 tax clinics across Australia under a trial program based on the Curtin University Tax Clinic.

Each clinic will receive up to $100,000 for 12 months to support unrepresented individual or small business taxpayers by providing general taxation advice and helping them with their tax obligations and reporting requirements. The clinics, through identifying issues and building greater understanding of the tax system in operation, are also designed to improve the interactions that small businesses and individual taxpayers have with the ATO.

The clinics will cover advice, representation, education and advocacy, and will offer students training in the profession the opportunity to work with taxpayers, under the direct supervision of qualified tax professionals.

New “work test” exemption for recent retirees

The Federal Government has created a new opportunity for some recent retirees to make additional superannuation contributions. From 1 July 2019, a 12-month exemption from the “work test” for newly retired individuals aged between 65 and 74 years with a total superannuation balance below $300,000 means many older Australians will now have an extra year to boost their superannuation savings.

The work test requires that a person is “gainfully employed” for at least 40 hours in any 30-day consecutive period during the financial year in which the contributions are made.

The contributions rules are complex, but with the right planning and advice you can maximise your contributions into superannuation at the right time.

TIP:You should also consider other measures that may be available to you, such as “downsizer” contributions (certain contributions of proceeds from the sale of your home) and “catch-up” concessional contributions (accessing unused concessional cap space from prior years).

ATO issuing excess super contributions determinations

The ATO has begun issuing determinations to people who exceeded their concessional superannuation contributions cap for the 2017–2018 financial year. These determinations will also trigger amended income tax assessments and additional tax liabilities. Individuals can elect for the ATO to withdraw their excess contributions from their super fund to pay any additional personal tax liability.

TIP:Concessional contributions include all employer contributions, such as the 9.5% superannuation guarantee and salary sacrifice contributions, and personal contributions for which a deduction has been claimed.

You have 60 days from receiving an ECC determination to elect to release up to 85% of your excess concessional contributions from your super fund to pay your amended tax bill. Otherwise, you will need to fund the payment using non-superannuation money.

Reviewing the tax treatment of granny flats

The Federal Government has asked the Board of Taxation to undertake a review of the tax treatment of “granny flat” arrangements, recommending potential changes that take into account the interactions between tax laws and the social security rules. This request for review is in response to the 2017 Australian Law Reform Commission’s report Elder abuse: a national legal response.

Currently, homeowners may have to pay capital gains tax (CGT) where there is a formal agreement, for example, for an older parent to live with their child, either in the same dwelling or a separate granny flat. This may deter families from establishing a formal and legally enforceable agreement, leaving no protection of the rights of the older person if there is a breakdown in the informal agreement.

Resolving tax disputes: government to help small businesses

The Federal Government intends to make it easier, cheaper and quicker for small businesses to resolve tax disputes with the ATO. It will establish a Small Business Concierge Service within the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman’s office to provide support and advice about the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) process to small businesses before they make an application. The government will also create a dedicated Small Business Taxation Division within the AAT.

Small business tax offset: avoiding errors when claiming

The ATO has provided new tips for avoiding common errors when reporting net small business income and claiming the small business income tax offset for unincorporated small businesses. These include tips on reporting amounts in the right sections of your tax return, providing all of the relevant information, and using net income (not gross income) in your calculations.

The offset (up to $1,000) is worked out by the ATO on the proportion of income tax payable on an individual’s taxable income that is net small business income. For 2018–2019 and 2019–2020 the rate of offset is 8%.

TIP:Not sure if you’re making the most of the tax offset for your small business? We can help – contact us today to find out more.

Home office running expenses and electronic device expenses

The ATO has released an updated version of Practice Statement PS LA 2001/6, its guidance on calculating and substantiating home office running expenses and electronic device expenses that are claimed as tax deductions.

The basic principles have been amended to emphasise that you must actually incur the expenses you claim, and that there must be a real connection between your use of a home office or device and your income-producing work. On the other hand, the requirement that your income-producing use must be substantial – not merely incidental – has been removed.

There is new information on what type of evidence you need to be keep, and the cents per hour rate you can claim for eligible home office running expenses has increased from from 45 cents to 52 cents per hour, effective from 1 July 2018.

Genuine redundancy payments: alignment with Age Pension age

The Federal Government has announced that it will amend the law to extend the concessional tax treatment for genuine redundancy payments and early retirement scheme payments to align with the Age Pension qualifying age.

Currently, an individual must be aged below 65 at the time their employment is terminated to qualify for a tax-free component on a genuine redundancy payment or an early retirement scheme payment.

TIP:Genuine redundancy payments are made when a job is abolished, and early retirement scheme payments are made when a person retires early, or resigns, as part of a scheme put in place by an employer.

Where an individual is under age 65 and meets the requirements of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997, they receive tax-free a base amount of $10,399 (for 2018–2019), plus $5,200 for each whole year of service.

The government says it will amend the law to align genuine redundancy and early retirement scheme payments with the Age Pension qualifying age from 1 July 2019.

GST on property developments involving government

The ATO says it is reviewing arrangements involving property developers acquiring land from government entities, specifically where the developer provides development works to the government entity as payment for the land.

The ATO is concerned that some developers and government entities are not reporting the value of their supplies under these arrangements in a consistent manner, resulting in GST being underpaid.

Clients should not act solely on the basis of the material contained in this article. Items herein are general comments only and do not constitute or convey advice per se. Also, changes in legislation may occur quickly. We, therefore, recommend that our formal advice be sought before acting in any of the areas. This article is issued as a helpful guide to clients and for their private information. Therefore it should be regarded as confidential and not be made available to any person without our prior approval.


Goals or Resolutions - what's the difference?

2019 has now clicked over, and we're nearly at the end of the first month! So the question is, did you set any new year resolutions? Or perhaps you set yourself or your business some new goals? What's the difference you might ask! Resolution means a firm decision to do or not to do something. Whereas the definition of a goal is the object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result. Resolutions don't necessarily allow for actions to achieve them; instead, they are more of a statement.

For so many people resolutions are unmet, long-term, vague, or sometimes unrealistic statements, e.g. I just decided that I’m going to join a gym this year. It’s just too hard to maintain our motivation with this type of statement. This diminished enthusiasm is probably one of the main reasons research shows that more than 80% of New Year’s resolutions are broken.

When we speak with clients one of the fundamental things we are trying to discover is what your goals are not your new year resolutions! By understanding what your goals are in life, business and/or retirement we can start to create a tailored plan to help you achieve those goals.

The word goal has more of a sense of being a specific target that is realistically achievable within a defined amount of time. A goal requires action! A goal, by definition, requires a conscious intention to do something. Sometimes goals can be achieved alone, but most of the time they need some help, planning and advice on the best way to achieve them.

We know that for goals to be achieved they need to have some action steps, be measurable, attractive [otherwise we won't be motivated to achieve them!], specific and have a deadline attached to them.

Every day we ask clients what their goals are; what it is that they want to achieve so we thought we'd share some of our goals with you; goals that you can keep us accountable for! We know that one of the secrets to success in achieving your goals is to share them, so here goes!

Brian McPhail
Catching up more with friends by arranging lunches every fortnight together.
Visiting our daughter in Oxford in July.
Help organise the volunteers for the Presidents Cup Golf in December.

Wayne Durdin
To declutter.
Having recently moved (downsized) I now have boxes of things that I have not seen or used in years & need to decide what to keep, what to donate & what to throw out by April 2019.

Matthew Drew
To turn back the clock and run another half marathon by following a 12-week running plan by March 2019.

Andrew Beltramello
Build a deck in the backyard by July 2019.

Rebecca Rosario
Increasing the days I volunteer to two days a week next year.
Recommence dance classes once a week.
Connect more with relatives by catching up with them at least once a month.

Monika Murti
Design and renovate the laundry area by June 2019.

Stephen Howard
Travel to Italy by July 2019 and win a cricket premiership by March 2019.

Lewis Morgan
My 2019 goals are to increase my knowledge surrounding accounting topics and improve my efficiency and accuracy when completing tasks at work.

Prisca Languila
By saving $200 every fortnight and go back to Mauritius by December 2019.

Louise Davey
Travel to New Zealand by July 2019.

Chathu DeSilva
To get ripped 6 pack abs by September 2019 by exercising at least 4 times a week and by eating healthy at least 5 days a week.

As you can see our goals are very personal to each of us, but there is definitely a common theme or two!

Goals don't need to be complicated, but they do need to be written down, shared and worked towards otherwise they are just a dream!

Do you have a new goal that we don't know about yet that we can help you achieve? Perhaps you know someone who could benefit from our advice and support? Please feel free to contact us.