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PKF Poutsma Lemon Ltd, Keri Keri, New Zealand
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IRD Debt Scam

If you get a phone call, email or text from an IRD officer claiming to be Kenneth Mathew telling you that the IRD is going to take legal action against you for unpaid tax, then it is highly likely to be a scam. IRD won't contact you in this manner and the phone number they give you to call back on is unlikely to be the IRDs. 

This scam has been operating in Australia for the last two years and has managed to jump the ditch. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) in NZ is aware of it going around at the moment. From what we are hearing, the scammers seem to know a bit more than they should about their target, so the caller sounds very plausible. 

The smart thing to do is not to give credit card or bank details and not to respond to any emails or texts. If you are on the phone, say that you will follow this up with your Accountant and don't call them back on the number they give you. Call us, we can soon tell you what is and isn't right.

PKF Poutsma Lemon Limited


Alison Lemon, Director

A timely reminder to not make like an ostrich about your student debt. If you're planning to go overseas for less than six months, the way you pay your student loan stays the same. If you're planning to go overseas for more than six months, your repayment obligations change.   If you have concerns how this may affect your travel plans or just want to know what's happening with your student loan, please contact our office today.


Woman arrested at Auckland Airport over unpaid student loan.

A woman trying to board a flight to Australia has been arrested at Auckland Airport allegedly for an unpaid student loan debt. An Inland Revenue spokesperson confirmed the arrest and said it was "used as a last resort", The New Zealand Herald reported. She appeared in Manukau District Court on Wednesday.

Overseas-based borrowers are responsible for 80 per cent of all overdue loan repayments, causing IRD to crack down on defaulters. About 20 people who have defaulted on their repayments are currently under surveillance for possible arrest upon returning to New Zealand. 

In January, Nga Puna, a nephew of the Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna, was the first person arrested under laws introduced in 2014 to tackle an $800 million outstanding student loan problem for Kiwis overseas. Mr Puna studied at Auckland University two decades ago, racking up a loan of $40,000, which expanded to more than $120,000 with interest. Back home now after his arrest, Mr Puna said "because I got arrested people are looking at me differently now". He said he was never dodging his debt and vowed to pay it off.

 

Budget 2016 focuses on reducing debt, health, IRD and science, 26 May 2016

Budget 2016 was delivered in the House by the Minister of Finance, the Hon Bill English, on Thursday, 26 May 2016. The Budget sets out the National-led Government's economic policies and plans for spending public money in the 2016/17 financial year.

The Minister said that the Budget 2016 invests in a growing economy and supports four significant measures. He said that the largest is the $761m Innovative New Zealand package to encourage entrepreneurship, skills and economic growth. The package has the following three parts:

• increasing investment in science and innovation by $411m over the next four years
• supporting skills and employment by investing $257m in more tertiary education and apprenticeship programmes, particularly in the areas of science, engineering and agriculture, and
• supporting regional economic development by introducing a series of initiatives worth $94m that will unlock business opportunities and benefit regional communities.

The other three significant measures are as follows:

• a $2.1 billion infrastructure programme that focuses on transport, schools, and the investment needed to deliver a modern flexible tax system
• a social investment package providing $652m more to support vulnerable New Zealanders and help them live better lives, and
• a significant investment in the health sector which will receive an additional $2.2 billion over four years to ensure New Zealanders continue to have access to high-quality healthcare.

Budget 2016 tax-related announcements

The Government's Budget 2016 tax-related announcements include the following:

Reduction in income tax

A reduction in income tax is cautiously foreshadowed over the next few years "if economic and fiscal conditions allow".

Inland Revenue's business transformation

$857m has been allocated to deliver a modern tax system. This funding will enable Inland Revenue to implement a multi-year, multi-stage change programme that will modernise New Zealand's tax service to make it simpler and faster for New Zealanders to pay their taxes and give more certainty that they will receive their entitlements. Funding for this programme is offset by administrative savings from within Inland Revenue's baseline and additional forecast revenue. This funding is in addition to the $187m SME-friendly tax package announced in April 2016.

Business-friendly tax package

The key tax measures in Budget 2016 were revealed by the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon John Key, in April 2016 in a pre-Budget announcement. Presented as a "business-friendly tax package", the announcement included the following:

Reform of the provisional tax regime - removal of use-of-money interest (UOMI) for the first two provisional tax instalments, extending the safe harbour threshold from $50,000 to $60,000 and the introduction of a new "accounting income method" (AIM) that will allow taxpayers with a turnover of less than $5m to use their accounts to calculate and pay provisional tax monthly or two-monthly.

Overhaul of the rules for schedular withholding payments - giving contractors the option of choosing their own withholding rate (while having a minimum 10% rate for resident contractors and 15% for non-resident contractors), bringing labour-hire firms within the net for withholding payments, and bringing in a voluntary option for contractors not currently covered by the schedular withholding rules.

Removal of late payment penalty - the current 1% monthly incremental late payment penalty will be phased out in a staggered approach.

Greater transparency - tax debt in serious cases will be disclosed to credit reporting agencies, and Inland Revenue will share information with the Registrar of Companies in cases where a serious offence has been (or will be) committed.

Other initiatives in Budget 2016

Other initiatives announced in Budget 2016 include the following:

GST on cross-border services and intangibles: Services and other intangibles provided to New Zealand residents by offshore suppliers, such as purchases of music from offshore websites, will be subject to GST from 1 October 2016. This is consistent with Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development guidelines and international practice.

Non-resident withholding tax-related party and branch lending: A package of tax policy changes is intended to strengthen the Non-resident Withholding Tax and Approved Issuer Levy rules to help ensure that domestic borrowers and foreign lenders are taxed at a reasonable level.

Tobacco excise and excise equivalent duties: Budget 2016 increases tobacco excise by 10% on 1 January each year from 2017 to 2010, and excludes tobacco from consumers price index adjustments to welfare payments. These measures are intended to reduce smoking prevalence and help achieve the Government's goal of making New Zealand essentially a "smoke-free" nation by 2025. It is expected that these changes will raise $5m in 2016/17, rising to $280m by 2020/21.

New Zealand Customs Service: A Budget 2016 initiative will enable the New Zealand Customs Service to reshape, build and retain its operational workforce to manage future demand from increased volumes and changing risk profiles of trade and travellers crossing New Zealand's border.

The Finance Minister also referred to:

• New Zealand's recent signing of an international agreement that increases information sharing between the revenue authorities of 39 countries
• the current "John Shewan" review of New Zealand's foreign trust regime, and
• the continuing work to address tax avoidance issues that New Zealand is carrying out as an OECD member.

The Fiscal Strategy Report noted that the current tax policy work programme focuses on three areas:

• using Inland Revenue's business transformation programme to modernise policy and tax administration settings
• dealing with issues relating to international tax and base erosion and profit shifting, and|
• improving and enhancing tax and social policy within the Government's broad-base, low-rate tax framework.

Source: www.treasury.govt.nz/budget/2016

Kerikeri Sewerage Scheme

Sorting our sewerage in Kerikeri

We have had a couple of queries lately about the upgrade to the Kerikeri Sewerage Scheme. Here is some information direct from the Council about the upgrade to the Kerikeri Wastewater Treatment Plant and connecting more properties to the plant. For a full history of the sewerage story so far please see www.fndc.govt.nz/services/water-wastewater-and-refuse/waste-water/sorting-out-sewerage-in-kerikeri.

An investment in our future

The Kerikeri Wastewater Treatment Plant is 25 years-old - too old and too small. Kerikeri is growing rapidly and the plant can't handle the load. In fact, it is over capacity now. Something needs to be done.  And it is going to be done.

Kerikeri is to get an entirely new wastewater treatment plant and a greatly expanded network of pipes to connect more homes and businesses and to allow for further growth.

At this stage, the Council aims to have the new plant up and running by the end of October 2017. We must meet this deadline in order to remain eligible for subsidy funding provided by the Government. New connections will become available at about this time depending on location. As soon as the new plant comes on line we will decommission and demolish the existing plant in Shepherd Road.

The new plant will be hidden from sight at a rural location in an abandoned quarry (subject to land acquisition) and will be modular in construction to allow for growth. It will smell less and be quieter than the existing plant.

It will also have greater capacity.  The current plant is treating about 500 cubic metres of wastewater a day and often exceeds the capacity we have allowed for it.  The new plant will treat up to 1000 cubic metres, effectively doubling the number of properties able to connect to the system.

Discharge of treated effluent will be in the same location as the existing site, in the Waitangi Forest Wetlands - well away from everybody.

The project is still at a very early stage.  The Council has provided the information below to answer questions people may have and will update this page as the project develops.

Questions and Answers 

Q: What is this new sewerage scheme all about?

A: Kerikeri is to have a new wastewater treatment plant and an expanded sewerage network. The existing wastewater treatment plant near the junction of Shepherd and Inlet roads, which has reached the end of its life and is unable to accept any increase in the volume of sewage to be treated, will be decommissioned. It will be replaced by a new plant three kilometres away from the centre of town on the edge of the Waitangi Forest.

 

Q: I live in Kerikeri. Will my property be connected to the new sewerage scheme?

A: The expanded coverage of the new sewerage scheme will be generally in accordance with the plan shown in the Long Term Plan 2015-25.  We will be publishing a detailed map showing the area we will be servicing in The Bay Chronicle and on our website soon.

 

Q: Will I have to connect to the scheme if my property is in the sewerage network area?

A: Under current Council policy, properties within 30 metres of sewer pipes will need to connect to the scheme. However, Council is reviewing this requirement out of fairness to people who have recently invested in on-site effluent disposal systems.

 

Q: My on-site system is performing well. Why should I have to connect to the new system?

A: With on-site treatment systems, there is the possibility of effluent leaching into neighbouring properties and waterways, particularly if the systems are not maintained well. By decommissioning on-site systems and connecting to the network we remove that risk, and relieve owners of future maintenance issues.

 

Q: Will I be compensated for not being able to use my existing system?

A: No. The Council will not purchase existing on-site systems or offer compensation. However, as stated above, it is considering a review of connection requirements for those who have recently installed an on-site system.

 

Q: How will this be paid for?

A: Sewer schemes are funded by targeted rates on properties where the sewer is available.  We have a Ministry of Health subsidy for part of a project and this will help keep costs at a minimum. There will also be a one-off connection fee for those connecting to the network.

 

Q: I have heard about the new Kerikeri Sewerage System. I don't live in Kerikeri and I am certainly not going to be connected to it. Am I expected to pay for it?

A: No. Under the current funding arrangements, it is a user-pay scheme, and if you are not in the connection area you will not be paying for it.

 

Q: I am already connected to the network. Will I be paying more because of the new plant and piping? 

A: Yes, the sewer targeted rate for Kerikeri will be increasing in line with the Council's Long Term Plan 2015-25.

 

Q: Council is only connecting properties in the central area of Kerikeri. Are outlying areas such as Riverview going to be connected and if so when?

A: Outlying areas such as Riverview and Reinga Heights will be considered for connection after the completion of the initial programme in central Kerikeri.

 

Q: What about areas such as south-east of Shepherd Road or Inlet Road, which are both close to the treatment plant. Why are they not in the new sewerage network area 

A: Council has a limited budget and is planning this project to give the immediate benefit to as many homes as it can. Logically, that means connecting high-density housing first (zoned residential, commercial and industrial), starting in the town centre and then moving out into other areas.

 

Q: When is the new Kerikeri Sewerage Scheme going to happen?

 

A: At this point the Council is planning to have the new plant and reticulation system operational by the end of 2017.

 

Q: I represent a neighbourhood group.  Can you organise someone to come and talk to us about this new scheme?

 

A: Yes. We are happy to do that. Just phone us on 0800 920 029 or use our online contact form http://www.fndc.govt.nz/contact/email-us

 

Small Business Scam

 



Last year, there was a scam targeting small business owners. Although we were not a part of this last year, it seems they are at it again. Have a look at the letter we received here 2016 0516 NZ Companies - The Corporate Portal.pdf.

The scam comes in the form of a reasonably well-presented letter from "New Zealand Companies – The Corporate Portal". The letter threatens removal of your company due to incomplete company details and advises you to update your records online free of charge. 

However, if you wish to add further information, you are required to fill in the attached form (which has been conveniently prepopulated with your business details). Little do many know, that by completing and returning the form, you are signing up to a $1,411 annual subscription with a basic online directory, for at least three years. According to the Commerce Commission, once you sign up, the terms and conditions make it difficult to cancel and The Corporate Portal reserves the right to increase the annual fee without consultation with you.

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) recommends reporting letters from The Corporate Portal to www.theorb.org.nz.

If you are unsure about the authenticity of any correspondence you have received, contact our office for advice. 

 

PKF Poutsma Lemon Limited

Kerikeri Office



While not quite as exciting or interesting as some of our more recent blogs, here are two important updates from IRD that you need to know.

Mileage Rates reduced from 74 cents to 72 cents 

The annual review of the IRD mileage rate has been completed and resulted in a reduction to the rate to 72 cents for both petrol and diesel fuels for the 2016 income year. This reduction is largely due to lower average fuel costs during the year compared to the prior year and that vehicles are (to some extent) more efficient. Points to note are:

- mileage can only be claimed up to a maximum of 5,000kms in the income year (regardless if actual travel exceeds this threshold)

- people who meet the criteria have a choice of either using the IRD mileage rate or actual costs of travel if they consider that the IRD mileage rate does not reflect their true costs. Taxpayers that choose actual costs are required to keep records to support any expenditure claimed. 

- employers may use the 2016 vehicle mileage rate as a reasonable estimate of costs when they reimburse employees for the use of their private vehicle for business related travel. Alternatively, employers may use an alternative estimate for reimbursing employees.

- the mileage rate does not apply to motor cycles, hybrid and/or electric vehicles as these modes of transport are not commonly used for business purposes. Any self-employed persons who uses these forms of transport for business purposes will need to calculate their actual expenditure.

Use-of-money interest rates fall

The use-of-money interest (UOMI) rates on underpaid and overpaid tax will fall from 8 May 2016.

The interest rate charged by Inland Revenue on underpaid tax will drop from 9.21% to 8.27%. Great news! However, the downside is the rate for overpaid tax will drop from 2.63% to 1.62%. Rates are reviewed regularly to ensure they align with market interest rates.


 

Is your charity compliant with the new reports? ?
blog originally from xero.com/blog


If you run a charity in New Zealand, 2016 will be a year of change. A new Financial Reporting framework has been introduced that impacts some 27,500 registered charities. Because this is such a huge change for the not-for-profit sector, we wanted to highlight the benefits and opportunities this presents for your charity, funders and stakeholders.

New financial reporting standards are now in effect for over 27,000 registered New Zealand charities. As a registered charity, you must complete your annual reporting to Charity Services. Until recently, there was no framework for your financial statements. 
Profit is not the most important thing for many charities, so it can be tough to measure success. The new Statement of Service Performance lays out the objectives of the organisation and whether those objectives have been met. This provides a consistent and clear approach for all stakeholders and it also keeps the organisation on a clear path to their goals.

The key stakeholders for a charity will usually have limited visibility over the performance of the organisation. Often struggling with consistency of reporting, transparency, access and integrity. And those that govern the reports (
DIA Charities Services) will receive a set of Financial Reports from all 27,000+ charities in all types of inconsistent formats from handwritten accounts, excel spreadsheets to computer generated reports. We want to make that consistent, and to an extent, automated.

Charities can ultimately benefit from the new framework

So while many people think this is extra compliance where it is not necessary, I believe the new reporting framework will help charities make better decisions, clarify objectives, and create better ways of measuring these objectives. All this has the ultimate benefit of providing a better service to those they're trying to help. It will also mean that the charity's stakeholders will have more transparency and higher integrity information, hopefully resulting in easier access to funding.

Xero and Charities

Xero set out to assist both the charities and the DIA Charities Services by providing simple, easy to use Tier 3 & 4 reports to Xero advisors. These include a Statement of Service Performance, Statement of Cashflows & Statement of Accounting Policies in accordance with the appropriate tier. Xero has taken the stress out of the new compliance requirements.

We advise all charities to contact us to get assistance with their first year's Financial Statements. Speak to your Xero Certified Advisors at our office to discuss your charity requirements and if whether or not Xero would be suitable for your needs. 


8 crazy things small business owners tried to write-off on their taxes last year

Tax regulation is dizzyingly complex. Accountants spend their entire careers navigating the rules, helping keep their clients out of trouble and maximise their list of deductions. Nobody want to pay more than their fair share of taxes. And with the thousands of claimable items, many tax pros have seen more than their fair share of strange deduction attempts.

Surveying more than 700 small business owners and accountants, nearly 40 percent of the tax pros said mixing personal and business expenses is the most common mistake they see small business owners make that results in an IRD audit.
 While some claims are totally legit, several are absurd. Many of the accountants surveyed reported that some clients tried to write-off things like manicures, lingerie, and even child support.

Here are some of the craziest attempted deductions accountants saw this past financial year included:
1. Personal care was the most common write-off attempt. Of those surveyed, 64 percent saw line items for things like massages, manicures, plastic surgery and clothing.
2. Vacations were a biggie. Nearly half of the accountants surveyed said clients had tried to write-off holidays including cruises and Vegas jaunts.
3. Extravagant outings made the list with helicopters, boat rides and spa trips all listed as attempted deductions.
4. Home improvements, with a third of accountants surveyed listing additions like movie rooms, hot tubs, game rooms and even a kegerator making the strange deduction list.
5. Children's gifts, tuition, clothes, babysitters and even child support was attempted by some individuals, a quarter of accountants surveyed said.
6. Too tired to cook claims. Meals on business trips are a pretty common deduction, however, daily Starbucks or attempts to claim restaurant visits "because they were too tired from working", were also listed as crazy deductions that crossed accountants' desks this past financial year.
7. The cost of getting married was listed as another strange tax write-off attempt.
8. Doggy day care. Pets, pet food, pet daycare, pet insurance and pet grooming were all listed by nearly 30 percent of accountants surveyed as attempted write-offs their clients made.

When it comes to managing finances just 14 percent of small business owners were focused on separating business and personal finance expenses. Muddling up potential deductions can pose a substantial problem during tax season: Many small business owners are either missing out on potential deductions or attempting to claim write-offs that aren't allowed.

Working with an accountant and keeping clean, detailed records can take the pain out of tax time, help you avoid an IRD audit a
nd maybe even improve your take home income. If you would like to make an appointment to discuss your personal circumstances, please contact our office today.
Blog originally from xero.com/blog


First year in business? Get a tax discount

Grab a first year tax discount and other tax tips
News and updates from business.govt.nz

You're in your first year of business and it's time to look at your tax. You don't have to pay your income tax until well after the financial year-end on 31 March. But if you do pay before then - and you're self-employed or in a partnership - you could be eligible for a 6.7 per cent discount. (If you use a company or a trust in the conduct of your business you are not eligible for this discount.)

If your business made a profit in its first year, you will need to pay tax on it. But there are ways to reduce the impact on your business.

Early payment discount

You don't have to pay the tax on your first year's profits when you file your tax return at the end of your financial year. Your payment date may be months after you file your tax return.

But you can make voluntary tax payments in that first year to spread the cost. You might also qualify for this early payment discount of 6.7 per cent.

The discount may not sound like much, but it adds up quickly.

-  Danny owes $5,000 income tax. The discount saves him $335.
-  Miriama owes $20,000 income tax. The discount saves her $1,340.

If you have not been making tax payments in your first year, you must pay the tax by 7 February the following year if you have the standard 31 March year-end date. If you have a tax agent, you must pay by 7 April of the following year. 

Here are some other tax-reducing tips:

-  Claim for valid business expenses.
-  Depreciation - claim a deduction on your business assets, eg computers and vehicles, for value lost through wear and tear.
-  Pay on time to avoid penalties - online banking is quickest and easiest.
-  Hire a tax agent - their knowledge can save you time and money.
-  Don't over-pay - Inland Revenue will refund you but the interest they pay is at a lower rate than you'll get in a high-interest savings account.

To find out if you qualify for the early payment discount, or would like to know if you are claiming as many expenses against your income as possible, contact our office today for an appointment to discuss your personal circumstances.

 

Changes to Parental Leave

For the younger generations, preparing for an addition to the family can be a stressful time. Take one thing off their to-do list by being informed of the recent changes to Parental Leave. Read more here from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.


Parental leave: More of it, for more people

New laws are increasing parental leave entitlements. Find out what impact it will have on your business.

When: 1 April 2016.

What: Parental leave payments are increasing from 16 to 18 weeks.

The new law extends parental leave payments to more workers, including:

-       casual and seasonal workers

-       those with more than one employer

-       those who have recently changed jobs.

Previously only biological or formal adoptive parents could claim parental leave payments. The law change extends this to others who take on the permanent care of children aged under six, eg home-for-life and whangai arrangements.

Employment

Eligible parents of premature babies will receive parental leave payments for longer. Staff who've worked for an employer between six and 12 months will be entitled to six months' parental leave. This includes the 18-week paid period plus eight weeks of unpaid leave. The changes also make it easier for parents to stay connected to the workforce. Current rules stop anyone on parental leave from returning to work for training or planning days. This will change to give workers on parental leave more flexibility.

Why: The aim is to let parents and primary carers take more time off work to spend time with the new additions to their families, while also staying in touch with work.

What you'll need to do: If a member of your staff is about to become a parent or primary carer, make sure you both know what they're entitled to. Even if this isn't the case, staff may appreciate hearing the details from you. If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances, please contact our Kerikeri office.


 

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