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Browse the latest accounting developments, trends, standards and opportunities in the Australian Accounting industry from accountants and accounting associations on Top4 News.
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Work in finance or accounting? Watch out for 'whaling' attacks

Work in finance or accounting? Watch out for 'whaling' attacks | Accounting Services | Scoop.it

If you work in finance or accounting and receive an email from your boss asking you to transfer some funds to an external account, you might want to think twice.


That's because so-called "whaling" attacks -- a refined kind of phishing in which hackers use spoofed or similar-sounding domain names to make it look like the emails they send are from your CFO or CEO -- are on the rise, according to security firm Mimecast.


In fact, 55 percent of the 442 IT experts Mimecast surveyed this month said their organizations have seen an increase in the volume of whaling attacks over the last three months, the firm reported on Wednesday.


Those organizations spanned the U.S., U.K., South Africa and Australia.  Domain-spoofing is the most popular strategy, accounting for 70 percent of such attacks, Mimecast said; the majority pretend to be the CEO, but some 35 organizations had seen whaling emails attributed to the CFO.


“Whaling emails can be more difficult to detect because they don’t contain a hyperlink or malicious attachment, and rely solely on social engineering to trick their targets,” said Orlando Scott-Cowley, a cybersecurity strategist with Mimecast.

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Outsourcing on the cards for regional firms, new research claims

Outsourcing on the cards for regional firms, new research claims | Accounting Services | Scoop.it

New CBA research has found that the majority of accounting firms believe that the outsourcing of services is due to increase over the next 12 months, with regional firms urged to consider outsourcing to maintain competitiveness.


The CommBank Accounting Market Pulse attempted to gauge the general consensus of the profession regarding their economic outlook, and the trends that they believe will affect the industry moving forward.


According to the statistics provided in the report, a resounding 100 per cent of large firms were of the belief that outsourcing is due to increase over the coming year, with mid-tier (57 per cent), restructuring (67 per cent), and other firms (47 per cent) issuing a similar expectation.


In regards to the frequency of outsourcing, the Market Pulse identified that 100 per cent of large firms and 71 per cent of mid-tier firms seek to outsource services overseas, whereas their smaller and restructuring counterparts are more inclined to contain their services within Australia.

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Which companies are not paying tax

Which companies are not paying tax | Accounting Services | Scoop.it

Out of 1539 of Australia's largest corporate entities, 38 per cent did not pay any tax in 2013-14.


Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan has released the tax details of corporate entities with $100 million or more annual turnover – 985 of which are foreign-owned, and 554 of which are Australian foreign entities.


The 1539 companies had a combined turnover of $1.6 trillion in turnover, $169.9 billion in profit, and paid a combined $39.9 billion in tax. 


There were 579 local and foreign-based companies that paid no tax in 2013-14 which had a combined turnover of $405.9 billion and a taxable income of $4 billion.


The nil result is either because they did not pay any tax, had offsets against profits that reduced their tax to zero, or, they made a loss, which the Tax Office reports as nil.

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ATO prepares to reveal tax secrets of 1500 companies

ATO prepares to reveal tax secrets of 1500 companies | Accounting Services | Scoop.it

Senior executives are bracing for the release of tax details for more than 1500 companies on Thursday, with the figures expected to show more than a third of large corporates paid no tax in 2014.


That's the aggregate figure for 2013, and the position was even worse for foreign companies operating in Australia, half of which had no taxable income last year, on revenue totalling $21 billion.


While the aggregate figures are no surprise, the Tax Transparency report that Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan will release on Thursday, for the first time, will identify how much tax individual companies pay.


But the selective information is confusing and companies may struggle to explain how the ATO numbers differ from their own reported tax payments.

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AccountantsIQ enters SMSF licensing space

AccountantsIQ enters SMSF licensing space | Accounting Services | Scoop.it

With the clock ticking for accountants working in the self-managed super funds (SMSF) sector to be licensed by 1 July 2016, yet another group has moved in to the licensing provision space.


AccountantsIQ said it had launched its new business offering aimed at accountants who want to remain independent and in control of their practice, as they transition into the limited licensing environment.


AccountantsIQ Director, Bronny Speed, said the service has been primarily targeted at the 10,000 accountants actively involved in the SMSF sector, providing them with a non-institutional option for obtaining and retaining their own limited Australian Financial Services Licence (ASFL).

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Chartered Accountants launches big data hub

Chartered Accountants launches big data hub | Accounting Services | Scoop.it

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) has announced an innovation initiative called CA Kairos to help small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) access big data.


The initiative includes the Predictive Accountant, the Connected Practice and an accelerator/incubation hub, and will provide a single source data through various tools, dashboards, and predictive models for different client scenarios.


CA ANZ chief executive officer, Lee White said: "There will be a huge demand for professional advisers who are commercially astute and data-savvy who can use predictive analytics to make better business decisions, particularly from small to medium enterprises".


CA ANZ will work with Microsoft and Westpac to develop the tools.  Westpac head of innovation, Ian Hill, said he was looking forward to the concept of the predictive accountant

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Will tardy accountants create licensing bottleneck?

Will tardy accountants create licensing bottleneck? | Accounting Services | Scoop.it

Accountants have been reminded that traditional compliance work is diminishing and that they need to look to new business models for their future, including the limited licensing regime to replace the accountant's exemption.


The reminder has come from the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) and coincides with further confirmation that the take-up of licensing options by accountants, while accelerating, remains comparatively slow given looming deadlines.


The ‘accountants' exemption' which allows accountants to provide advice on the establishment of self-managed superannuation funds (SMSF), without the need for an Australian financial services licence (AFS licence) will cease on 1 July 2016 and there are concerns that the tardiness of some accountants will see the Australian Securities and Investments Commission faced with a bottleneck of applications in the first six months of next year.

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Accountants ‘ready and willing’ to remain loyal

Accountants ‘ready and willing’ to remain loyal | Accounting Services | Scoop.it

More than two-thirds of accountancy professionals want to stay with an employer for more than five years, according to the latest research from recruiting service Hays.


In a recent poll of 6,537 Australian workers conducted by Hays, close to 70 per cent of respondents revealed their aspirations to stay with an employer for more than five years, which the recruiting service believes places the onus firmly on the bosses to look after their staff.


“Most Australians at heart do believe in job loyalty,” said Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays in Australia and New Zealand.


“The ‘job for life’ mentality is long gone, but so too is the mindset of job hopping regularly.”

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Accounting 'virtually does itself’, RSM claims

Accounting 'virtually does itself’, RSM claims | Accounting Services | Scoop.it

The easy availability of cloud-based and self-service accounting tools have placed accountants at risk of becoming obsolete, according to national mid-tier firm RSM.


Andrew Sykes, director of RSM, said cloud accounting has revolutionised day-to-day tasks, such as keeping track of income and outgoings as well as finding ways to minimise clients' tax burdens.


“This means that accountants now have more time to really advise clients on what will help their business grow and on planning for the future,” Mr Sykes said.


“Clients' expectations are changing. They no longer want you to provide a picture of their financial position; they want you to analyse and provide advice on what to do to improve it,” he added.

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Banks already pay GST, says KPMG

Banks already pay GST, says KPMG | Accounting Services | Scoop.it

Liberal MP Dan Tehan argued for expansion of the GST base in an editorial for theAustralian Financial Review yesterday – with financial services singled out as "where we should start".


"The financial services sector has come a long way since the year 2000, as has the technology used to record and track the financial movements," Mr Tehan said.  "We are now very close to having the ability to apply the GST to these services and it should be the first thing that is reviewed when we consider broadening the GST."


But KPMG tax partner Nick Kallinikos played down the merits of applying the GST to financial services on a number of fronts.

First, he said, it ignores the fact that banks, life insurers and superannuation funds are already paying GST though the denial of credits on their 'inputs'.


Mr Kallinikos said that banks do not pay GST on their deposits or loans – but banks' inputs (ie. building rental, computer equipment etc) are liable for GST.  And importantly, financial services companies cannot claim a credit for the GST paid on their inputs.

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Toshiba expecting to book another big loss from accounting scandal

Toshiba expecting to book another big loss from accounting scandal | Accounting Services | Scoop.it

Toshiba expects to book a large first-half operating loss as it struggles to recover from a A$1.7 billion accounting scandal, fuelling concerns that it may need more drastic restructuring.


The grim outlook also adds pressure on the embattled electronics maker to decide whether to sue former management for negligence over accounting practices in a bid to avoid lawsuits from angry shareholders.


Toshiba said its operating loss would come in roughly around ¥90 billion (A$1 billion), and that it planned a ¥70 billion writedown for one of its subsidiaries. It will release detailed first-half results over the weekend.  Their shares closed down 3.4 percent, compared with a 1.0 percent gain in the benchmark Nikkei index.  They also booked a full-year net loss of ¥37.8 billion (A$457million) in its full-year results in September.


In an effort to emerge from the scandal, the laptops-to-nuclear power conglomerate said in late October that it had agreed to sell its image sensor business to Sony and overhaul its semiconductor business.


But Toshiba has a long road ahead as its accounting irregularities padded profits across a wide range of its businesses. It is expected to announce more restructuring steps, in such unprofitable areas as home appliances and PCs, later this month.

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Accountant sentenced for role in tax evasion scheme

Accountant sentenced for role in tax evasion scheme | Accounting Services | Scoop.it

A Sydney accountant has been convicted and sentenced for his role in advising a client on how to hide funds offshore, resulting in the avoidance of $4.5 million in tax.


Following a nine-week trial by jury, Raymond Clifford Osborne, 63, was found guilty on two counts of defrauding the Commonwealth and two counts of dishonestly causing a loss to the Commonwealth.


Last week, he was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, to be released forthwith upon entering into recognisance of $4,000 without security with a condition to be of good behaviour for two years (to October 2017).


Charlie Carver, Australian Crime Commission acting executive director of operations, praised the prosecution, saying that hiding income by moving it offshore is a serious criminal offence that will not be ignored.


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Healthy subscription momentum propels Xero's numbers

Healthy subscription momentum propels Xero's numbers | Accounting Services | Scoop.it

Xero has posted a hefty net loss for the first half but the cloud accounting software maker's fanbase, particularly in the US, is showing healthy signs of growth. 


The New Zealand-based software firm posted a net loss of $NZ44.3 million ($40.6m) million for six months to September 30, an 81 per cent increase from the $NZ 24.5m($22.6m) posted in the same period the year before. According to Xero, the net loss figure reflects an increase in investment in product development and distribution channels. 


Despite the losses the firm has accelerated its subscription and revenue growth over the past year, now seeing annualised committed monthly revenues of $NZ218.2 million, an increase of 65 per cent from $NZ132.3 million at 30 September 2014.


Xero also passed the 600,000 global subscriber mark recently and said it had firmed as the cloud accounting market leader in Australia and New Zealand with 425,000 subscribers. It added it was the first small business cloud accounting company in the UK to surpass 100,000 subscribers.

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Accountants afraid to blow the whistle, claims new research

Accountants afraid to blow the whistle, claims new research | Accounting Services | Scoop.it

New research has revealed that the majority of accountants are afraid to speak out on unethical behaviour within their practices.


The Audit & Risk Recruitment Industry Survey 2015, conducted by global job board careersinaudit.com, collected responses from 1,700 auditors and tax agents and revealed that two thirds of respondents feel that they would not be protected by victimisation and/or dismissal if they were to speak out against unethical conduct.


Simon Wright, sales and marketing director of careersinaudit.com, told AccountantsDaily that the insistence on trust within the profession makes many accountants afraid to speak out.


“Accountancy is a profession into which people put a lot of trust; trust within companies and trust within individual accountants,” said Mr Wright.

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'Businesses on notice' as tough new bribe laws include jail time

'Businesses on notice' as tough new bribe laws include jail time | Accounting Services | Scoop.it

The Federal Government has introduced tough new laws targeting dodgy accounting practices in a bid to tackle bribery and corporate corruption.


Justice Minister Michael Keenan said the legislation would put all Australian businesses on notice.


"The Government is committed to ensuring that Australia has tough laws against white-collar crime," Mr Keenan said.


The proposed Commonwealth false accounting laws were introduced to Parliament in November as part of the Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2015.


The legislation is currently before a Senate committee which is due to report to Parliament by early February, 2016.

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NSW boasts of $10b in surpluses but delays reform of state taxes

NSW boasts of $10b in surpluses but delays reform of state taxes | Accounting Services | Scoop.it

NSW Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian has predicted surpluses totalling $10.4 billion over the next four years but said she will not cut inefficient state taxes until federal tax reforms have been completed.


"We are willing to look at our own tax base and how we can do things better once we have a better picture of where the federal tax reform agenda is," the treasurer said.


The mid-yearly budget review, which Ms Berejiklian released on Thursday, forecast a revised operating surplus of $3.4 billion this year, which is $863 million higher than expected in the June budget.


The improvement was thanks largely to higher than expected stamp duty revenue from the Sydney housing boom and a one-off transfer duty payment on the long-term lease of the electricity transmission firm Transgrid completed this month.

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Tax Office to spend $189m banishing the paper group certificate

Tax Office to spend $189m banishing the paper group certificate | Accounting Services | Scoop.it

Single touch payroll to hit employers in 2018.  The days of the July handout of printed group certificates could be over after the Australian Tax Office received $189 million to push ahead with its single-touch payroll agenda.


The government announced the funding for the project in its mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (MYEFO) today.


The effort aims to give employers the ability to automatically exchange payroll information and superannuation payments with the tax man via their own accounting software.


The information will then be pre-populated into individual’s electronic tax returns via the ATO database.

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Westpac accounting tip of the iceberg, experts say

Westpac accounting tip of the iceberg, experts say | Accounting Services | Scoop.it

Tax advisers and accounting experts say there is no ulterior motive in Westpac's accounting treatment of software – which is at the centre of a controversy over payments of more than $10 million in bonuses to top executives – but concede banks' uniquely defined "cash earnings" is not regulated by accounting standards and can sometimes appear to be arbitrary.


Stakeholders are right to question the appropriateness of aggressive upfront assessments of software costs eligible for capitalisation, which would affect when the expense was recorded, said Grant Thorton head of audit Andrew Archer.


Yet advisers are split on whether Westpac management should shoulder responsibility for a decision to write off $505 million in capitalised software on the balance sheet but exclude it from cash earnings.


"I don't have an issue with how they've been applied," said Aldrin de Zilva, who instructed AusNet in its recent High Court tax appeal.


The decision to exclude the item from cash earnings differs from Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank, but is consistent with Westpac's treatment of software write-downs in the past.

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The ATO moving to a paperless, digital future

The ATO moving to a paperless, digital future | Accounting Services | Scoop.it

In the not too distant future the vast bulk of Australia’s taxpayers will conduct their business with the Australian Taxation Office almost entirely online by using the ATO’s digital services.


The ATO has just opened a community consultation process on what it calls its Digital By Default initiative aimed, ultimately, at delivering a simpler, easier, more flexible and adaptable way of interacting digitally with the ATO – a process the ATO says puts the taxpayer experience at the forefront of service delivery.  The opportunity to provide feedback on the Digital by default consultation paper is open from 30 November to 15 January next year, and to provide feedback to the ATO click here to access the Let’s Talk webpage.


Deputy Commissioner Michelle Crosby said the Digital by Default initiative will require most taxpayers to use ATO digital services to send and receive information and payments, “except where they do not have the ability to do so”.

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SMSFs – Have they plateaued?

SMSFs – Have they plateaued? | Accounting Services | Scoop.it

While SMSFs remain an important part of the superannuation landscape, growth of the sector has slowed. However, what has not slowed are the changes, and Jassmyn Goh reports on what is shifting the dynamic of the sector.


While self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs) seem to be a creature of habit in terms of growth trends, the sector is facing a multitude of change.  The sector reached $571.8 billion in assets in June 2015, according to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), a slight drop from the quarter before.


This was possibly due to the drop in the establishment of new funds, 6,700 in June and 7,876 in March, and 283 wind-ups in the quarter – seven more than the previous quarter.  By the end of June 2015, Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) regulated super fund assets sat at $1.33 trillion, according to APRA statistics.

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Tax managers continue to use ‘antiquated methods’

Tax managers continue to use ‘antiquated methods’ | Accounting Services | Scoop.it

Australian businesses are being exposed to unnecessary risks as a result of outdated financial and regulatory reporting from tax managers, according to new research from Wolters Kluwer.


According to the information services provider, although the risks associated with the integrity of business systems are well documented, an annual survey and subsequent research paper have unveiled the continued use of ‘antiquated methods’ by tax managers.


The research paper, Expert Opinions on Corporate Compliance 2015, revealed that 17 per cent of tax managers have low confidence and faith in the ability of their current software to meet their requirements over the next 12 to 18 months.


In addition to waning confidence levels, 60 per cent of finance leaders surveyed agreed that there was room for improvement in their existing software solution.

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ATO continues to push myTax

ATO continues to push myTax | Accounting Services | Scoop.it

After a record year of online lodgements, the ATO has stressed to those yet to adopt myTax that they will not regret it.


According to the tax office, 1.7 million taxpayers had submitted their tax return via myTax in 2015, a year which marked the 100th anniversary of the tax return in Australia.


“The tax return may be over a hundred years old, but the technology used to lodge today certainly isn’t. We’ve worked hard over the past few years to make submitting a tax return easier, faster and more convenient. MyTax is the result of all this work,” said Graham Whyte, ATO assistant commissioner.


Figures from the ATO revealed that users of myTax and e-tax within Australia corresponded to three million taxpayers, a five per cent increase since 2014.

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CPA Australia announces new partnership

CPA Australia announces new partnership | Accounting Services | Scoop.it

CPA Australia has announced the signing of a co-operation agreement with the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI).


AHRI is the peak body for human resources and people management professionals, serving almost 20,000 members in Australia and across the globe.


Signed by CPA Australia chief executive Alex Malley and AHRI chief executive Lyn Goodear, the agreement enables the two bodies to provide support for one another.


A range of services and benefits will be made available to members across both organisations, including professional development at member rates, a professional level pathway to membership, co-branded events for senior leaders, and joint research projects.


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Accountants stalling on licensing risk losing SMSF clients: AFSL

Accountants stalling on licensing risk losing SMSF clients: AFSL | Accounting Services | Scoop.it

Many accountants are still unsure of what to do when it comes to maintaining their ability to advise on self-managed superannuation funds (SMSF), once the Accountants' Exemption expires on 30 June 2016, a financial licensing firm claims.


Joining the growing number of Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) holders offering accountants with the opportunity to become authorise representatives, Rise Standards (RS), managing director, Guy Thompson, said a large numbers of accountants have sought to join the RS network, to maintain their SMSF advice business.


"Accountants who do not adapt to the legislative changes may be at risk of losing a substantial number of clients, forcing them to downsize their practice, with small businesses in the spotlight," he said.  "Obtaining your own license can be a compliance headache and financial burden for accountants but we can offer an easier, more supportive solution via our Authorised Representative model.

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Cryptocurrencies: what to study until there's a 'bachelor of bitcoin'

Cryptocurrencies: what to study until there's a 'bachelor of bitcoin' | Accounting Services | Scoop.it

It’s liquid, stateless and major banks are investing in the technology behind digital currencies, bringing them a step closer to the financial mainstream.


Joel Emery's passion is cryptocurrencies, IT and tax law. It's dense stuff, but despite a recent senate inquiry, legal treatment of new financial technologies is in its infancy so Emery's Bachelor of Laws honours thesis at ANU is in some ways ahead of the regulators.


Bitcoin emerged in 2008 as the first decentralised cryptocurrency, a form of cash that uses encrypted records to validate transactions and generate more bitcoin and, although crypto-currencies get a bad rap at times, the industry is estimated to already be worth more than $14 billion.


The ATO regards bitcoin as an asset on which GST and capital gains tax should be paid. However, in August a senate committee recommended the Australian government amend the definition of money in the GST Tax Act to include digital currencies.  


Such a step would bring cryptocurrency closer to mainstream financial integration.   Banks are investing seed capital in the blockchain realm, which could see them one day incorporating cryptocurrencies in their business.


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