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The Reserve Bank has raised its key interest rate, making Australia the first developed nation to reverse the cycle of cuts triggered by the global financial crisis. Analysts say more increases are on the way.

Today’s 25-basis-point rise pushes the central bank’s cash rate to 3.25 per cent in a move that will add $40 to the average monthly payment for a typical $300,000 mortgage if it is passed on by commercial banks. The extra cost may stretch household budgets at a time when unemployment remains on the rise.

All four of the big banks – Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, National Australia Bank and ANZ – said they have placed their variable interest rates under review.

Source  :  www.watoday.com.au

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The Tax Office today reminded Australia’s 11.8 million taxpayers to start getting ready to lodge their tax returns.                                                                                                

Tax Commissioner Michael D’Ascenzo said the Tax Office has a range of information and assistance available to help people meet the 31 October 2009 deadline.

“From 1 July, people can prepare and lodge their return online using e-tax, which is free, secure and easy to use software which in most cases processes your return within 14 days.

“As well as calculators, help screens and links to rulings, you can also download information from third parties directly into your tax return, including payment summaries, government payments such as pensions and allowances, bank interest and private health insurance details.

E-tax can be accessed free of charge 24 hours a day, seven days a week from our website at www.ato.gov.au,” Mr D’Ascenzo said.

Government and third party information will be available to download progressively from 1 July. You can subscribe to an alert service within e-tax which will let you know when the information becomes available.                                                                                                                                                                                         ato

People can still lodge using TaxPack 2009 or the short tax return for individuals 2009.

TaxPack 2009 is available from most newsagents, Tax Office shopfronts or the Tax Office website from 1 July.

If you used the short tax return last year you’ll receive a copy in the mail shortly.

Mr D’Ascenzo also reminded people to contact their tax agent as soon as possible.

“If you’re using a tax agent for the first time or using a different one from last year you need to contact them by 31 October 2009,” he said.

“Only registered tax agents can charge a fee to prepare and lodge a tax return.

“However some people present themselves as tax agents when they are not.

“Registered tax agents are regulated by the Tax Agents’ Board and have the qualifications and experience to handle your tax affairs.”

Visit the Tax Agents’ Board website http://www.tabd.gov.au or call 1300 362 829 to check if your agent is registered.

Compliance focus

We cross-check tax returns against a wide range of data including financial institution data, state and territory revenue and property sales information and Australian stock exchange data.

Help and assistance

If people have questions or need assistance they should visit the Tax Office website www.ato.gov.au or phone the Tax Office on 13 28 61 between 8.00am and 6.00pm weekdays.

The Tax Office can provide you a more personalised service if you provide your tax file number when you call.

source  :  www.ato.gov.au

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DIAC have just announced that the anyone obtaining their Contributory Parent Visa after 1 July and then planning to sponsor an existing partner will be faced with a potential 5 year wait. What this means, as an initial response, is that people going down that route who have not included an existing spouse in the application should be doing so immediately.

This is the text of the announcement:

Amendments to the Migration Regulations 1994 in relation to Contributory Parent visas and split applications

1 July 2009 Legislation Change

Client summary

From 1 July 2009, the Migration Regulations 1994 (the ‘Regulations’) are amended to prevent persons who are granted a permanent Contributory Parent category visa (Subclasses 143 and 864) from sponsoring their partner or fiancé for a Partner or Prospective Marriage visa for five years from the day of their visa grant, if they:

* were granted their permanent Contributory Parent category visa on or after 1 July 2009; and
* were in a spouse or de facto partner or fiancé relationship on or before the date their permanent Contributory Parent category visa was granted and now wish to sponsor that partner or fiancé.

This limitation may not apply in compelling circumstances which are not financially related.

Additional information:
There have been a number of instances in which couples seeking to migrate under the Contributory Parent category visa provisions have resorted to the split application strategy, whereby:

* only one member of a parent couple applies for and is granted a permanent Contributory Parent category visa; and
* once eligible (usually after two years of being lawfully resident in Australia), this parent subsequently sponsors their spouse (the other parent) under the partner visa category which has a much smaller Visa Application Charge (VAC).

Up until 1 July 2009, this strategy is not prohibited by migration legislation and it is being used in order to reduce the costs associated with migration under Contributory Parent category visa. However, it clearly undermines the Government’s policy intent of ensuring that those parents who migrate under the Contributory Parent visa category make a contribution by means of the VAC to partially offset the significant costs of parent migration to the broader community. Contributory Parent migrants are also subject to the provision of a ten year Assurance of Support (AoS) and payment of a bond.

Furthermore, those who lodge a split application benefit by by-passing the ten year waiting period for parent visa holders to access Government benefits and assistance, whilst spouse visa holders are able to access such benefits within two years of visa grant.

Amendments are being made to information products affected by this legislative change.

Source  :  http://britishexpats.com/forum/showthread.php?t=616147

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The end of financial year can be a stressful time for small business owners, and that time is now upon us once again.  For those of you who are behind and not ‘in shape’ for the end of end of financial year financial year… don’t panic, right now there is still a very small window of time for you to get prepared for the end of financial year, but that time is ticking by.

How can you get in shape?

Before 30 June make it a priority to ensure all your bookkeeping and reconciliation is up-to-date, follow up payment of overdue invoices, pay outstanding bills and pay all super contributions (this should not only be for your employees, but for yourselves too). 

With all your reconciliation up-to-date, such as your receivables, payables, bank accounts and inventory, once 30 June is here you will only have one month to reconcile and you can then move on to completing your BAS.  Getting on top of this will ease some of the stress you may feel when preparing your end of financial year documentation.

For small business owners with employees, remember that you will also need to reconcile your payroll and send out payment summaries to your employees (before 14 July 2009).

Following the completion of all your reconciliation and BAS, it’s time to run your end of financial year reports.  Having all your records and reports prepared prior to visiting your accountant will really save you time and money. 

If you’re having difficulties with these tasks, speak to your accountant or bookkeeper, or alternatively a range of online resources, and even accounting software providers, have information on completing these activities.

If you’re having difficulties with these tasks, Don’t forget to backup all your data.  You will also need to keep copies of your accounting records for at least five years (an ATO requirement).

It is also important now to prepare for the 09/10 financial year, as no doubt you want everything to be ‘AOK with the ATO’.

A number of new Federal Government compliance changes will apply from 1 July 2009 and these will affect small businesses.  Information about the new compliance requirements is available from the ATO, or your accountant will also be able to update you on the changes.

If you use accounting/payroll software, you will need software updates that address the compliance changes.  Ensure you’re scheduled to receive the compliance update from your provider, so that you’re compliant for 09/10.

This time of year is also good to consider what improvements you could make to your work practices to stay in shape and make the 09/10 end of financial year less stressful.  For example, implement work practices that ensure you stay on top of your bookkeeping requirements, keep up-to-date with inventory, cash flow and debtors and follow task lists.

Yes, the economic downturn is having an impact on businesses and the pressure is really building, but this presents you with the opportunity to select your own course.

It’s important that you take a step back and look at the ‘big picture’.  Instead of only responding to daily issues, now is the time to develop and implement a sound business plan for overcoming future challenges.

Don’t be afraid to seek specialist advice.  Talk to your accountant.  They can not only help you with tax and accounting related matters, but they can also help you with your business planning, financial goal setting, cash flow and making sure your business is running at its best.

Remember… It’s important to be prepared!

Source  :  www.livenews.com.au

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budget 09TONIGHT’S Federal Budget will be about three things – jobs, nation building and a path back to surplus.

That was the message from Treasurer Wayne Swan this morning as he again repeated the Government’s mantra that there would be “difficult decisions” and “no easy answers”.

Just hours from delivering a in Budget ravaged by a $200 billion writedown revenue, Mr Swan said he was working in the “most difficult set of circumstances in 75 years”.

But he dodged questions about the likely impact on Labor in the polls, saying: “What we have to do is the right thing in the nation’s long-term economic interests”.

Wealthy retirees emerged as the latest group to pay the price for that stance today.

The Daily Telegraph reported they could have their pensions cut to help fund a $30-a week increase for almost one million single age pensioners.

The Government is expected to tighten the taper rate on the age pension, a method by which it claws back the welfare payment from retirees with an independent income.

It is just one of a number of cutbacks the Government is expected to outline as it tries to rein in an expected almost $60 billion Budget deficit.

The 30 per cent tax rebate for private health insurance coverage will be means tested, payouts for obstetric and IVF services under the Medicare Safety Net will be cut back and the increase in the first-home owners grant will be wound back.

Wealthy Australians will have their tax break on superannuation contributions cut in half and government superannuation co-contributions for low income earners will be slashed from $1500 to $1000 a year.

The “sin taxes” on alcohol and cigarettes could be increased.

But the Budget will announce an 18-week paid maternity leave scheme.

And it is expected to include a big-spending jobs package to combat an expected increase in unemployment to 8.5 per cent as a result of the global financial crisis.

The Opposition said the Budget cutbacks were made necessary by the Government’s irresponsible big-spending stimulus packages in response to the global financial crisis.

The $30-a-week rise in the pension will go only to single age pensioners and will see the weekly pension rate rise from $284.90 to $315 a week.

It will answer criticism that the payment left in poverty those who relied solely on the pension.

The rise is also expected to be extended to single veterans and disability pensioners but will not go to single mothers.

The pension rise will cost more than $3 billion, and to help pay for it, the Government is expected to tighten means testing of pensions.

Currently, single pensioners can earn up to $41,000 and still receive a small pension payment.

They also qualify for a range of concessions on medicines, council rates, electricity bills and telephone allowances worth up to $10,000 a year.

Couples can earn up to $68,000 and still get access to these valuable concessions.

http://www.news.com.au

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