Some of the best car tips you'll ever read - thanks to RM Autohaus

If you are heading off on a long drive in the coming months or, you are looking for general car advice, Phil from RM Autohaus shares his knowledge and experience in this article. Big thanks to Phil and his team; they have been valued clients of McPhail and Partners for many, many years.

  1. Some drivers don’t realise that even though they have a fairly new car there are still things that need checking before they take a long drive anywhere. What would be the top 7 things drivers need to have checked on their cars at this time to year?

Heading into the holiday season it is important to check that your tyres are in good condition and that the pressures are correct, it is important also to check engine oil and coolant levels, lights, windscreen wipers and washer fluid. For a visual inspection of tyres and all levels RM Autohaus offers this free of charge exclusively to McPhails clients for the month of November and December.

  1. If someone is looking at buying a second-hand car, whether for their children or themselves, what are the top 7 things they should be aware of?

When buying a second-hand vehicle, the first thing to do is check that it is not listed on the stolen vehicle or "written off " register- click here.

It is also important to see evidence of a thorough and consistent service history and that the vehicle has a current roadworthy certificate. A visual inspection of the vehicle condition inside and out is often a good indicator of how well it has been cared for by the owner and what wear and tear it might have seen, particularly for those that are not mechanically minded. A pre-purchase inspection from a reputable provider is a great idea. RM Autohaus offers this service.

  1. There seems to be so many choices nowadays when purchasing tyres - what are some good tips to know before making that sort of investment and how often should tyres be replaced?

Tyres generally last between 40,000 and 60,000 km's, and should be replaced every 6 years regardless of km's travelled. There is a lot of choice of tyres these days but a high profile brand with a good range of tyres is always a good place to start. Every vehicle is labelled with a tyre placard (refer to your owners manual) this will indicate the correct size, speed and load ratings required for your vehicle. Cheap tyres are not always a good deal; generally you get what you pay for.

  1. You have an extremely well-established business that has a fabulous reputation, why do you think clients keep coming back to your business?

I have been in business 27 years. My team prides itself on customer satisfaction, honest, reliable service that people feel confident about and are happy to pay for. We've just had one of our favourite customers reach the magical 500,000 km's in his vehicle, which had been maintained faultlessly by us for the last 15 years. Our business has grown by word of mouth. We have lots of people come to us dissatisfied with dealer service and often they end up bringing us vehicles for the whole family.

  1. You’ve been a long time client of McPhail and Partners, what do you value about them and why do you remain a client?

It is very comforting to know that McPhails are looking after our financial obligations so that we can continue to work on our businesses success. We know that they have our best interests at the top of their minds. But it’s more than just ticking the accounting box, they partner with us on our business journey, working through business strategy from time to time and seem to get satisfaction from our continued growth and development. 

     6. What do you think about these hybrid cars? Are they the future of driving in Australia?

Being a European car specialist the hybrid cars have been slow to come through. This seems to be the future given the legal problems that occurred with VW's diesel range. I think hybrid technology is the way of the future as soon as they get more environmentally friendly and longer lasting batteries that can be disposed of safely.

  1.  I’m about to take the family on a long trip from Melbourne to Queensland, do I take the kids or leave them with their grandparents?

There's nothing wrong with a road trip, it's a great way to see the country and spend time together, especially when you also get great satisfaction out of driving a comfortable and well-performing car. There’s no excuse not to take the littlies along for the ride now that portable digital devices are available to help break up the journey. 

Rmautohaus is a European service specialist located conveniently in Hawthorn. They also have a workshop in Richmond. They offer log book service and all mechanical repairs to the European car range. They have the latest diagnostic equipment and courtesy cars available on request.

Go to or call Phil on 9819 2777

Thanks Phil, they are great tips and a wonderful offer exclusive to McPhail clients only, thanks!

Your Local Spring Property Update thanks to Ray Abley

Ray Abley is a true property professional. With a career spanning over 40 years, you may even know him! Ray is the Managing Director of Abley Real Estate. We sat down with Ray armed with a list of questions to gain his insights into the current property market. Ray is a valued client of McPhail’s and we would like to thank him for taking the time to speak with us, thanks Ray.

  1. Ray, you started in the Real Estate profession some 40 years ago; what is one of the biggest changes you have seen in the way in which people buy real estate nowadays?

40 years ago the agents would personally chauffeur client to the properties having strong and meaningful conversations between each property. With the introduction and communication systems involved through the Internet, communication has been enhanced in many ways, although a quick call can sometimes answer many questions people may have. Emails can also document and show a record of the process too, which is extremely handy. Nowadays too, the first inspection on residential property is usually done online and, as people are visual learners today, the photos need to be precise and informative to perspective buyers. The photos we’re producing today are also in high definition, therefore giving greater presence and involvement in the property.

  1. You’re an expert in the area of Knox for residential sales; if someone was thinking of selling a house, when is the best time and why?

Anytime is the best time to sell a property and it’s all about supply and demand. Winter can sometimes be a good time to sell a property, as there are still plenty of buyers around with very few properties but come spring there’s more competition within the marketplace.

  1. How have the current Asian restrictions affected the real estate market? Are residents happy with that or not?

There is a mixed feeling in the community regarding the current restrictions on the Asian community. Some say it helps the first home buyer as there are less Asian buyers purchasing at the moment. This should eventually settle down as the overseas markets get used to the extra costs involved. With the higher end overseas market this has had an impact and also the apartment situation in the city, it’s not as commonplace here in Knox.

  1. Your business also specialises in Commercial property - what is the best investment over time, residential property or commercial?

Over a long period of time commercial/industrial is known to give a good return with little maintenance costs. However, residential wins hands down when it comes to capital growth. It can depend whether you want strong yield or capital gains.

  1. How much affect does the low interest rates we are currently experiencing have on the local real estate market?

The low interest rates have boosted real estate prices dramatically and will continue to do so. Imagine a 2% interest rate hike and the impact on young families who have borrowed to their limit. That would definitely change the real estate market!!

  1. What is the average age of people buying residential property in the local area?

The majority of residential purchasers in our area are owner occupiers and this age group can vary, although there is still a strong mum and dad investor presence in our marketplace, particularly now they have realised the profit potential.

  1. What would be a dream home for a real estate professional to market and sell?

Anything that’s easily marketable and the vendor is realistic on price. This could be a 3 bedroom home worth $500,000 or a 4 bedroom acreage property in Belgrave South for $1.3 million. Although development sites are always my favourite.

  1. Is it best to auction or private sale a house and why?

This can depend on the property. Auctions are good because they can create a sense of urgency within the market and if a property has a real presence it can attract emotional buyers to the home. There will be greater restrictions from the government soon on agents being more transparent with their information to buyers and this can only be a good thing.

  1. How long have you been a client of McPhails? Why do you continue to maintain an ongoing relationship with them?

About 8 years. The company have alerted me to tax advantages over the years, helping me with the bottom line. I’m a specialist in real estate and I leave my tax return to a specialist in taxation!

  1. People talk about the property market bubble bursting; what do you think about that?

With interest rates remaining on hold, it certainly doesn’t look like slowing down, although the apartment market has certainly taken a hit in the city. Unfortunately again, this is about supply and demand, as they anticipate there will be in excess of 26,000 apartments in the CBD in 3 years’ time. This doesn’t seem to be happening in our market place where the average days on the market is just over 30 days in Knox. Having said this, our properties on average have only been on the market for 21 days at Abley Real Estate.

To contact Ray and his team to find out more information, please click here to visit their website.



101 Ways to Use Felt - Super Client Interview

This month we had the pleasure of speaking to John Davies, who has been a valued client since July 2007. Felt Warehouses of Australia is the oldest and largest family run felt supplier in Australasia. Started in his grandfather’s garage in 1929, the company is now owned and managed by his son Michael, the 4th generation of Davies in the business. This is a truly successful Australian small business and we are proud to partner with them.

Did you know there is 101 ways to use felt? From medical to transport, the list is endless! Below are just a sample and some closing thoughts from John.

  1. Where can you find felt?

Decorative Felt - various colours and 1mm thick.

  • Window dressing in shops
  • Live stage show costumes and decorations
  • Decorating showrooms
  • Notice boards
  • Pennants and show ribbons
  • Headlining in cars
  • Toy making
  • Under coasters and trophies (even under the TV week Logies)
  • Lining violin & instrument cases, trinket boxes, glasses cases

Self adhesive Felts - various thickness and types.

  • Protection on trophy bases and the like
  • Under furniture to stop scratching
  • Sound deadeningfelt-home-31

Engineering Felts - off white 1.6mm to 25mm thick.

  • Oil seals & gaskets
  • Wipers on machines
  • Cleaning sheet metal
  • Seals & sound deadening on washing machines & clothes dryers
  • Wicking fluids for coating or perfume
  • Etching press felts
  • Friction clutches
  • Munition box linings

Saddle Felt - a few colours 3.2mm to 19mm thick.

  • Horse and even camel saddles
  • Protection on assembly tables in factories
  • Lining of sports belts, weight lifting belts
  • Sound deadening

Medical Felt - soft white 2mm to 10mm thick, sometimes self adhesive.

  • Podiatry uses
  • In hospitals to alleviate pressure on patient's limbs

Hard felts.

  • Percussion mallets
  • Piano hammers049-felt-craft-shapes-2
  • Polishing bobs and mounted points
  • Polishing metal components
  • Polishing granite bench tops etc.

Needled felts.

  • PET felt, made from recycled plastic bottles.
  • Used for vertical gardens in which plants are held
  • Protection packing
  • Polyester used for filtration & filter elements.
  • Wiping sheet metal

Miscellaneous felts.

  • Slippers
  • Backing of dog & cat collars
  • Table place mats, coasters & runners


  • Window channel lining
  • Case for electronic screens

Packing felt & quilted blankets.

  • Removalists
  • Protection of metal products
  • In lounges and chairs
  1. What makes a business like yours so successful?

Having stock of quality products at reasonable prices & quick deliveries.

  1. Best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Give the customer what they want.

  1. What advice would you give to someone who was thinking of starting a business [any industry]?

Make sure one has enough money to run for a year while you get established.

Make sure your product is what is needed & the price is reasonable.

  1. What three words would you use to describe McPhail and Partners?

Accessible, understanding & knowledgeable.

Thank you John. For more information please check out their website.

Five Secrets to a Happy, Balanced Life

Everyone has unique dreams, goals, and aspirations. Each person also has a diverse range of strengths, weaknesses, and personality characteristics. It's often difficult for people to know their true potential because they haven't yet uncovered their purpose. Most people don't know that perfect mix of what they're good at and what they love, so their true potential lays dormant, covered in layers of socially acceptable presentations.

We wander through life. While we like the idea of a cheat sheet, the truth is, most people just do their best to adjust to changing conditions. When you're constantly playing catch up, it's difficult to maximise your abilities. We each have talents, but in order to water the seeds of our potential, we need to find a way to get ahead.

First, what is potential?

Potential is the capacity to transform into your unique goals and aspirations. It's aligning your intention with your attention to manifest your dreams in reality. This means engaging in personal work to define your goals and self-reflecting on your strengths and weaknesses. After you have a clear understanding of who you are and where you want to go, you can formulate a plan of action.

Balance is the key to uncovering your potential. Balance involves aligning your mind, body, and spirit into a harmonious relationship with one another. When these three factors are focused on your intentions, you're able to transcend prior limitations and achieve your dreams. Most people have uneven development – one or more of these components may be functioning at a low level. Because the mind, body, and spirit are interconnected, you must address each to make optimal progress.

 5 Steps to Create Balance:

  1. 1. Prioritise your health. Use alcohol and drugs in moderation if at all. You need to be honest with yourself and decrease your use of substances if it impacts your relationships, employment, or general wellbeing.

Regulate your sleep schedule. When you sleep and wake at the same time, your circadian rhythms provide you with more energy throughout the day. Make sure you use that energy to exercise multiple days per week. Your body was built to move, so counteract your hours of sitting by going to the gym.

Do your best to stay hydrated; most people don't realise that their dehydration causes fatigue, headaches, and leads to unnecessary eating. Eat healthy foods. Spend more time on the perimeter of the grocery store than the interior, and try to increase the number of meals you cook yourself rather than eating out at a restaurant.

  1. 2. Schedule time to disconnect. In our modern world, it's increasingly difficult to step away. You have obligations to friends, families, and coworkers to be near your electronic device. While it may be important for communication, it's not great for our brains.

Staring at your screen keeps you trapped in the mind and disconnected from your body. Scheduling time to turn your devices off can help you engage in the soul-searching you need to discover your passion.

Start by taking small steps to decrease your connection by disabling notifications, moving social media apps to the back of your phone, and refraining from using your device in public. Disconnect from your smartphone and reconnect with your heart.

  1. 3. Engage in therapy. It's imperative that you don't do all of the work on your own. You may think you're strong enough to will yourself into balance, but you're missing the point. Going to therapy isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength. Having someone help you process old wounds and current issues releases stored energy you didn't know was present. This release of pressure provides you with additional energy to put towards more productive tasks and re-connects your mind to your body.

The mind-body connection is essential to finding balance.

  1. 4. Connect to your creativity. Make time for the things you love. If you enjoy writing poems or painting, schedule time to create your art. When you make time for things you love, you send a thank you card to yourself. You show that your passions and dreams matter, and this translates into other areas of your life. You activate old brain networks that haven't been used in years, and this leads to greater happiness.

The most important aspect of creativity is self-expression. When you externalise your thoughts and feelings and then share yourself with others, you open your heart to new opportunities.

  1. 5. Meditate on a consistent basis. Each time you change your focus from a thought or feeling to your breath, you're doing a meditation rep. As you learn to flex your meditation muscle, it becomes second nature. You no longer have to try; you simply relax into presence. As you become more grounded in the present moment, you'll be more attuned to yourself and your environment. When you're secure in your presence, you connect to your inner power and have confidence in your competence. This state-of-being enables you to control your mind and focus on what's really important.

Balance creates harmony. When your mind, body, and spirit are congruent, you're grounded in your potential. Many of us walk around without awareness of our imbalance, and then we wonder why we're feeling empty and dissatisfied. If you want to know your potential, then take the steps necessary to uncover your true gifts. Align your mind, body, and spirit with your intention, focus your attention, and then achieve your potential.





Meet Andrew Beltramello

Andrew is one of our Managers and has been part of the McPhail team since 2008! We thought it was time we shined the light on him and get to know a little more about his personal life! Thanks Andrew, I think we'll all be coming for dinner!


When I was little, I wanted to be a…? An accountant. Just kidding. I wanted to be an astrobiologist. Space and the possibility of life on other planets was fascinating to me.

If I came to dinner at your house, who would cook and what would it likely be? My wife Dani normally cooks marinated beef in the slow cooker along with potato’s and pumpkin.

What’s one thing your team don’t know about you yet? Growing up I was a big wrestling fan, both WCW and WWE.

I am currently watching…? Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, Suits, Banshee

At school I was known for…? Athletics high-jump. I won the event every year.

What advice would you give to a ten-year-old about money? Spend your parents money and put the money you receive and earn aside in a savings account. You will be happy you did when you are older.

Thanks Andrew, we look forward to shining the light on another valued McPhail team member soon...

Stress Less And Be Happy: 5 Game-Changing Habits

Stress is the new smoking. Nobody wants to be stressed. It’s considered almost taboo, a bad habit that we need to break—because we now know how insidious stress can be. We realize that it’s harmful to our productivity, our health, our relationships, and our peace of mind. Stress can make us feel overwhelmed, anxious, and exhausted. It can also make us physically ill, causing a spike in cortisol that leads to health problems ranging from heart disease to depression.

On Stress Awareness month and beyond, we should challenge ourselves to think about stress differently. We can’t totally banish stress. Unlike quitting smoking or shedding those pesky extra 10 pounds in the name of better health, stress will always be a part of our lives—as long as we have busy careers and busy households.

And that’s OK. Really! Some stress can be a consequence of a healthy, productive life. The crucial thing is to become aware of our stress and create lasting, positive habits that help us react in a resilient way. Instead of resorting to well-meaning generalizations—“I need to cross everything off my to-do list by dinnertime!” which only leads to more stress when you inevitably fail—we need to take realistic approaches to daily stress in order to be at our best.

Here are five ways to cope with stress, every day:

  1. Create a structure and a culture of re-charging. It’s not a one-off treat. Look, skipping dessert every so often never made anyone thin, right? It’s the same with stress. An occasional spa day isn’t going to suddenly smooth out your life.
  2. Schedule the good things, not just the drudge: Do three things you enjoy every day. Schedule happiness, whether it’s taking a walk or calling a friend. It’s ironic that we only take time out for ourselves when we’re at our breaking point. This should be a daily habit that replenishes us in the midst of the challenges and stressors we face.
  3. Practice essentialism. What does this mean? Do less! But do it better, whether that means setting aside time to sleep more or to eat properly. Whittle down your unnecessary tasks so you can dive deeply into the practices that make a lasting impact on your life.
  4. Observe your thoughts: Take your emotional pulse so that you can be aware of your negative thoughts and challenge them. If you’re in a bad mood, don’t just grab a cup of coffee and switch on your computer. Pause a moment to question those emotions. Why are you upset? How you’re feeling leads to what you’re thinking, so dig deeper to reframe your emotions so you’re thinking positively. Positivity breeds productivity; negativity turns inward on itself, sticking you in a stressed-out rut.
  5. Reach out to others. Connect. Talk to the person next to you at work. Talk to the person making your latte. Smile! Believe me, the positive energy will pay you back in spades.

It’s vital to be aware of stress. We’re not trying to eliminate it from our lives, just manage it with resilience, balance, and even some joy—every day.

Jan Bruce is CEO and co-founder of meQuilibrium, the digital coaching platform based on the science of resilience. 


How to Teach Your Child About Investing

Have you taught your children about investing? As your child becomes more aware of money and other financial concepts, it is vital that you arm them with some important investment knowledge. Read on to find out how to impart some investing smarts to your children.

Some parents are guilty of not discussing personal finance with their children, and almost all parents are guilty of not discussing investing with their children. Investing should be a family activity. Children mature at different rates, so it may take some time before your child is ready to tackle concepts like portfolio creation and asset allocation; however, the basics of investing can be taught quite young.

Risk and Reward

Before you have your kids spending Saturdays at the library using the internet to check company profiles, you will have to explain risk and reward. Risk is the possibility that an investment will lose some or all of its value. Reward is the percentage of gain that your investment experiences over time – the return on investment (ROI). Below we will sketch a brief picture of the two more common investments: debt securities and stocks.

Easy Ideas to Tell Your Kids About: Stocks

Stocks are variable risk, variable return investments. On the whole, they are categorised as high risk and high return. You have to make it clear that all the risks involved in the stock markets can’t be predicted.

Enron and other companies have proved that accounting sheets can be tampered with and CEOs can lie. But even with the unknown risks, the stock market is a strong investment because, over time, it has seen a general rise.

 Easy Ideas to Tell Your Kids About: Debt Securities

A bond is a low-risk, low-return investment. Typically, bonds pay only a small amount over the prime interest rate because they are backed by stable institutions (usually banks or governments). You can buy bonds from unstable regions of the world that offer better returns, but these countries often have unstable governments, so you can’t necessarily count on getting that return down the road.

Therefore, it may be best to start your child with stocks and explain that bonds become more important as you age and need guaranteed investments. Your child will probably not have enough money to make bonds worthwhile, and may actually lose money to inflation.

 Getting Your Child’s Attention

When you are checking your stocks, show your child the companies of which you own a small part. If you own any exciting companies that might be of interest to your children – plane manufacturers like Boeing, sports equipment specialists like Bauer, technology and video game companies like Sony – make sure that you request the company’s current investor relations package, or print it off the Internet, so that you can show your child more about those companies, including how much they earned, what they make and how many people work for them.

Then you can ask your child what company he or she would like to buy. Children have favourites even if they are not aware of them. For example, Nike, Nintendo, Sony and Disney are popular with most children. Once again, you can go to the Internet or write a letter to these companies to get a copy of the investor’s package. This will give your child something interesting to flip through, even if he or she may not understand all the papers inside. Disney, for example, has an investor relations newsletter that features a rotating cast of characters parading through their announcements.

Buying and Tracking

Once you have introduced your child to some basic concepts, you can sit down together and allow him or her to select a company. If you have the money, you can buy the stock and track it with your child. You should give the statements to him or her to keep in a financial binder (you can add his or her banking information here also and separate the two different sections with a divider). If you don’t have the money, make an artificial portfolio and track the stock for fun.

When your child is older, you can provide a more in-depth explanation of stocks and other investments Eventually, you want to let your children buy their own stocks. Your child may have enough cash diligently saved up in a savings account by the time he or she is interested in investing. Don’t put it all into a bond or the stock market, but invest a third in each and keep a third in savings. This will allow your child to compare the performance of a savings bond, stocks of his or her choosing and the interest from a bank account.

If your child doesn’t have any money, you have two options. You can use $100 of your own money to open a discount brokerage account for your child to make investments through, or you can continue to use an artificial portfolio of stocks that your child wants to buy someday. In the latter case, you will need to find ways to maintain your child’s motivation.

If you are able to pick stocks together and track them when your children are young, they will get a sense of the up-and-down cycles that stocks go through. This understanding will prepare them for riding out market fluctuations and making informed decisions when others panic.

During all this, you want to allow your child to make real decisions and take real risks. Yes, your child may lose money, but the purpose of this exercise is to familiarise your child with investing. Part of this exercise is learning that any investment has advantages and disadvantages. Your child may not make a fortune, but the experience of gaining and losing money is almost as valuable.



Meet Brian McPhail

This month we sat down with Brian McPhail. Most of you will know Brian, you may be a client of his or, you’ve seen him in the office. He’s been there for a few years! We thought it was time you had the opportunity to learn a little more about Brian. Thank you Brian for being so candid.

  1. When I was little, I wanted to be a……

A VFL footballer & play cricket for Australia.McPhain-2016-small- (4)

  1. I am currently watching…

The Golf Show. I love watching the Australians do well in the big tournaments.

  1. What I love about the team at McPhail and Partners is…..

The genuine interest in our clients’ affairs and working together to achieve benefits for our clients.

  1. What is the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Keep a To Do List and start with the hardest tasks. It’s amazing how often the hard things are not as bad as you first thought.

  1. If we came to dinner at your house, who would cook and what would it likely be?

My wife Sue is the only cook in our household and sets a very high standard may I add. We would have a roasted fillet of beef, scalloped potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, pumpkin and zucchini. Dessert would be rolled pavlova with strawberries and blueberries.

  1. How has business (in general) changed over the years?

The development of technology with amazing computer software, email & the Internet.

  1. How different are the needs of clients compared to when you started McPhail and partners?

Trusts were very new when I started and superannuation was only for public servants and executives in some public companies. Now they are both very common for many people and the legal complexity is enormous.

  1. What is one thing that your team doesn’t know about you?

I like simple food with red, white and green vegetables.

  1. What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start a small business in today’s world?

Crawl before you walk. Keep costs to a minimum. Focus on marketing & satisfying your customers.

  1. What challenges you?

Dealing with staff changes.


Tax News, Views & Clues April 2016

Dealine looming for SMSF collectables compliance
The ATO has reminded trustees of self managed super funds (SMSFs) that if they have investments in collectables or personal-use assets that were acquired before 1 July 2011, time is running out to ensure their SMSFs meet the requirements of the superannuation law for these assets. Assets considered collectables and personal-use assets include artwork, jewellery, antiques, vehicles, boats and wine.

From 1 July 2011, investments in collectables and personal-use assets have been subject to strict rules to ensure they are made for genuine retirement purposes and they do not provide any present day benefit. SMSFs with investments held before 1 July 2011 have until 1 July 2016 to comply with the rules.

The ATO says SMSF trustees have had since July 2011 to make arrangements, and it expects that they will take appropriate action to ensure the requirements are met before the deadline.

TIP: Appropriate actions may include reviewing current leasing agreements, making decisions about asset storage and arranging insurance cover.

ATO data-matching for insured ‘lifestyle’ assets

In January 2016, the ATO advised it was working with insurance providers to identify policy owners on a wider range of asset classes, including marine vessels, aircraft, enthusiast motor vehicles, fine art and thoroughbred horses. The ATO has since formally announced the data-matching program that covers these “lifestyle” assets, and will acquire details of insurance policies for these assets where the value exceeds nominated thresholds for the 2013–2014 and 2014–2015 financial years.

The ATO said it will obtain policyholder identification details (including names, addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth) and insurance policy details (including policy numbers, policy start and end dates, details of assets insured and their physical locations). The data-matching program will provide the ATO with a more comprehensive view of taxpayers’ accumulated wealth, as well as assist in identifying possible tax compliance issues.

TIP: It is estimated that records of more than 100,000 insurance policies will be data-matched. The ATO has released a list of insurers involved with the data-matching program. Please contact our office for further information.

Overseas student debts: repayment thresholds

From 1 July 2017, anyone with a Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) or Trade Support Loans (TSL) debt who is living overseas and earning above the minimum repayment threshold will be required to make loan repayments to the Australian Government, just as they would if they were living in Australia. The HELP minimum repayment threshold for 2016–2017 is $54,869.

TIP: If you have a student loan debt and are planning to move overseas for longer than six months, you need to provide the ATO with your overseas contact details within seven days of leaving Australia. You should also factor in potentially having to make repayments from 1 July 2017.

Market value of shares is not the selling price

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has ruled that the “market value” of a parcel of shares in a private company that a taxpayer sold in an arm’s-length transaction (together with the other two shareholders’ shares in the company) was not the proportion of the sale price he received from the sale of all the shares. Instead, the AAT agreed it was a discounted amount; the taxpayer was a “non-controlling” shareholder, so the market value was less than simply his one-third share of the sale price.

As a result of this AAT decision, the taxpayer passed the $6 million “maximum net asset value test”, allowing him to qualify for small business capital gains tax (CGT) concessions, where otherwise he would not have.

The Commissioner has appealed to the Federal Court against this AAT decision.

TIP: This decision demonstrates that the actual selling price of an asset may not always represent its “market value”. In this decision, the AAT agreed with the taxpayer’s valuer that “all other things being equal, the average price per share of a controlling shareholding will be higher than the average price per share of a non-controlling shareholding because of the value of control”.

Individual not a share trader

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has found that a taxpayer (a childcare worker) was not carrying on a business of share trading, and accordingly was not entitled to claim a loss resulting from her share transactions. In the year in question, the taxpayer turned over approximately $600,000 in share transactions (including both purchases and sales).

In deciding that the taxpayer was a share investor and not a share trader, the AAT considered each of the key indicators established in case law. The AAT decided that a lack of regular and systematic trade, especially in the second half of the income year, when only 10 transactions were made, went against the taxpayer’s contention that she was conducting a share trading business.

TIP: The AAT weighs up all the relevant factors in cases like this. There have been cases where the AAT has found that a taxpayer was carrying on a business of share trading, and has therefore allowed them to claim a deduction for their losses.

Tax law changes to treatment of earnouts

The Government has recently amended the tax law concerning the capital gains tax (CGT) treatment of the sale and purchase of businesses involving certain earnout rights.

Specifically, the changes provide for a “look-through” treatment. Under the amended tax law, capital gains and losses that arise in respect of look-through earnout rights will be disregarded. Instead, payments received or paid under the earnout arrangements will affect the capital proceeds and cost base of the underlying assets to which the earnout arrangement relates when they are received or paid (as the case may be).

The changes apply from 24 April 2015.

TIP: These changes to the tax law do not apply for events that occurred before 24 April 2015. However, transitional protection is provided, subject to conditions, for taxpayers who have reasonably anticipated these changes to the tax law, which were originally announced by the former Government.

Small business restructures made easier

The Government has made changes to the tax law to provide tax relief for small businesses that restructure. The tax law changes provide an optional rollover for small business owners who change the legal structure of their business on the transfer of business assets from one entity to another. The effect of the rollover is that the tax cost of the transferred assets is rolled over from the transferor to the transferee.

This optional rollover is in addition to existing rollovers available where an individual, trustee or partner transfers assets to, or creates assets in, a company in the course of incorporating their business.

The changes to the tax law will take effect on 1 July 2016.

TIP: You must meet strict eligibility requirements in order to access the rollover. Among other things, the rollover must be part of a genuine business restructure that does not change the ultimate economic ownership of the assets. There are also tax consequences you should be aware of.


8 Simple Ways to Make Your Boss Love You!

Winning your boss’s favour isn’t so hard to do! And it’s not about kissing up by complimenting their new haircut or volunteering for every single new assignment.

Instead, it’s about figuring out what they want from you and being strategic in making them feel good.

To help you ingratiate yourself with your manager, we consulted both scientific research and expert opinion. Read on for the eight most compelling insights we have learned.

1. Get to work early.

Research from the Michael G. Foster School of Business at the University of Washington suggests that employees who get into the office early are generally perceived by their managers as more conscientious and receive higher performance ratings than employees who arrive later.

And it doesn’t matter if those who get in later stay later, too.

If you feel that you’d be more productive working from, say, 10am – 6pm instead of 9am – 5pm, consider explaining the situation to your manager and confronting their potential ‘morning bias’ head-on.

2. Ask for advice.

You might be wary of asking your boss anything – whether it’s how they got to this point in their career or which marketing strategy they think you should go with.

But research from Harvard Business School suggests that asking for advice doesn’t make you look stupid – it can make you seem more competent, which is presumably how you want your boss to see you.

In one experiment, 170 university students worked on a series of computer tasks and were told they would be matched with a partner who would complete the same tasks (the partner was really a computer simulation). When they’d finish the tasks, the ‘partner’ either said, ‘I hope it went well’ or ‘I hope it went well. Do you have any advice?’

As it turns out, students who’d been asked for advice rated their ‘partner’ more competent than those who hadn’t been asked for advice.

The researchers explain that, when you ask for advice, you’re validating the person’s intelligence and experience, so they feel good about you in turn.

3. Manage up.

‘Managing up’ is a term for learning what your boss really cares about and making sure you deliver on that.

As Dave Kerpen, founder and CEO of software company Likeable Local, told Business Inside, ‘It’s about helping your manager look great to his or her manager. And ultimately by doing that you’re going to position yourself better for success.’

Kerpen expects his team at Likeable Local to manage up for him. For example, he doesn’t care that his head of marketing shows up late almost every day – as long as she’s on time Monday morning, delivering a great report at the company-wide meeting.

Kerpen recommends either asking your boss directly what’s important to them or subtly trying to figure it out on your own.

4. Set stretch goals.

Leadership development consultancy Zenger/Folkman spent more than five years collecting upwards of 50,000 360-degree evaluations on more than 4,000 individual employees.

According to their findings, there’s on behaviour that can make employees stand out (to their boss and the rest of their co-workers): setting stretch goals.

In other words, Zenger/Folkman execs write in The Harvard Business Review, top employees ‘set – and met – stretch goals that went beyond what others thought were possible.’

Interestingly, most people didn’t realise that high goals was so important, suggesting that setting stretch goals is meaningful because it’s not expected.

5. Pay attention to detail.

If you consider yourself more of a big-picture person, you’d best start attending to the small stuff, too.

Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite, wrote in a LinkedIn post that at his company ‘even what seems like a small technical glitch can end up affecting a lot of clients in a short period of time. An employee who can be trusted to catch such small errors truly begins to stand out among the crowd.’

6. Say ‘thanks’.

Expressing gratitude for your boss’s feedback – even if it’s negative – can make them feel warmer toward you, according to a 2011 study from the University of Southern California.

In one experiment, about 200 undergrads were told that they had been assigned a partner and were supposed to review a draft of instructions the partner had written about how to assemble parts of equipment. In reality, there was no partner and the instructions had been written by the experimenter.

Some participants were told they were the supervisor in this relationship; others were told they were the subordinate. In addition, all participants took a pretend test of their abilities and some were told they weren’t that competent.

When the experimenters returned notes from the ‘partners’, some said, ‘I just wanted to let you know that I received your feedback on my draft.’ Others said the same thing, along with, ‘Thank you so much! I am really grateful.’

As it turns out, participants in the supervisor position who’d been told they weren’t that competent were nicer when their partners were grateful.

When their partners weren’t grateful, the supervisors whose competence had been threatened were more likely to respond by denigrating those partners, saying they were unintelligent, incapable, and incompetent. You might say gratitude prevented the threatened supervisors from acting like jerks!

7. Take a vacation.

According to analysis by Oxford Economics for Project: Time Off, workers who take all their vacation time are 6.5% more likely to get a promotion or raise than those who leave over at least 11 days of paid vacation time.

Of course, that doesn’t mean taking a vacation directly causes you to get a promotion – it could be the case that better workers feel they’re more entitled to a vacation.

But as Shawn Anchor, author and CEO of GoodThink, Inc., writes in The Harvard Business Review, these findings do suggest that working yourself to death doesn’t necessarily lead to success.

‘The extra face time doesn’t help you’, Katie Denis, senior director of Project: Time Off, told The Boston Globe. ‘There’s something to this ‘refreshed thinking,’ too. Vacations allow you to be more creative.’

It’s hard to imagine that your boss wouldn’t appreciate your increased creativity post-break.

8. Speak up.

Got an opinion? Don’t hide it from your co-workers.

Jenna Lyons, president and executive creative director of J.Crew Group Inc., told Motto that she advises people to share their perspectives: I find it impossible to understand where a person stands if they don’t join the conversation.’

Don’t be afraid of looking stupid, either. As Lyons said, you should ‘never be afraid to pitch an idea; we all have good ones, and we all have bad ones.’