Major tax reform on ‘menu of options’ ahead of budget

Posted on 13 April 2023
Major tax reform on ‘menu of options’ ahead of budget

Maeve Bannister and Poppy Johnston
(Australian Associated Press)

Pruning back stage-three tax cuts, raising the GST and cutting wasteful spending on major defence and transport projects are among a suite of options the government could consider to rein in the budget deficit.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers is due to hand down his second budget in less than four weeks and the spotlight is on how the government plans to ease cost-of-living pressures without fuelling inflation or adding to government debt.

A Grattan Institute pre-budget report presented a number of immediate and long-term options for addressing the deficit.

Without urgent action, the institute warns, Australia is on track for 25 years of deficits, expected to be worth nearly $50 billion every year by 2030.

Among its “menu of options” to reduce spending, the report proposes undoing West Australia’s special deal on the GST and cutting back on spending on politicised grants and advertising.

To increase budget revenue, the institute also recommends re-designing the planned stage-three tax cuts to be less generous to the highest income-earners and introducing better-targeted tax concessions on superannuation.

The treasurer told ABC Radio on Wednesday the government was looking at some of the options, including the possibility of reforming the petroleum resource rent tax.

Treasury is reviewing the tax on the profits of fossil fuel extractors and Dr Chalmers says the agency is working through options to improve how the tax applies to gas producers.

The government has also committed to “modest but meaningful” changes to super tax breaks to target returns on balances over $3 million.

But Dr Chalmers also said there were some things “we won’t be coming at”, including changes to Family Tax Benefit Part B.

The institute said the benefit, designed to help parents who were not in paid work because they were caring for children, was important for supporting single parents but the case for such a benefit for single-income couple families was weaker.

The report said scrapping the benefit could save $1.3 billion a year and remove barriers to workforce participation for the second earner in a couple.

But Dr Chalmers agreed with the overall message in the report that the budget had structural issues.

“Even as the budget gets a bit better in the near-term because of high commodity prices and low unemployment, we’ve got structural challenges that come from the cost of servicing that trillion dollars in Liberal debt, combined with the NDIS and aged care and health care and national security,” he said.

Reforming capital gains tax discounts and negative gearing and increasing the super preservation age were also flagged in the report as opportunities.

As well as an array of more realistic policy options, the institute also flagged a few bolder options for the government to consider, including a carbon tax, inheritance tax and realigning the company tax rates at 30 per cent.

Posted in:News  

The Importance of Early Estate Planning

Posted on 6 April 2023
The Importance of Early Estate Planning

(Feedsy Exclusive)

Estate planning is an essential yet often overlooked aspect of financial planning. For many Australians, it is seen as something to be dealt with later in life, if at all.

However, estate planning should begin as early as possible to ensure a smooth and efficient transfer of assets to loved ones and to minimise the financial and emotional burden on them. 

As soon as you turn 18 years of age, you can begin estate planning. The next best time to do it is now.

Not sure if estate planning should be your priority? Then read on as this article discusses the reasons early estate planning is crucial, regardless of your age or financial status.

Protect your loved ones

One of the most significant reasons for early estate planning is to protect your family and loved ones.

By drafting a comprehensive will, you can ensure that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes upon your death. This not only prevents potential disputes between family members but also ensures those who depend on you receive financial support.

It’s essential to review and update your will regularly, especially after significant life events, such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child.

Minimise tax burden

In Australia, inheritance is generally not subject to taxation. However, capital gains tax (CGT) may apply to certain assets that are transferred upon your death.

Early estate planning can help you implement strategies to minimise the potential tax burden for your beneficiaries. For instance, you may choose to distribute assets with a lower CGT liability or utilise superannuation contributions to minimise tax implications.

Avoid a lengthy probate process

When you pass away without a valid will in Australia, your estate will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy. This can result in a lengthy and expensive probate process, which can cause financial and emotional stress for your loved ones.

By having a well-drafted will, you can avoid a complicated probate process and ensure a more efficient distribution of your assets.

Appoint guardians for minor children

If you have minor children, early estate planning is vital to ensure their wellbeing in the event of your death.

By appointing a guardian in your will, you can ensure that your children are cared for by someone you trust, in line with your values and preferences. 

Prepare for incapacity

Estate planning is not just about planning for your death; it also involves preparing for the possibility of incapacity.

By establishing an enduring power of attorney (EPA) and an advance care or health directive, you can nominate trusted individuals to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so.

These legal documents can provide peace of mind and ensure that your wishes are respected during difficult times.

Begin estate planning now

Regardless of your age or financial status, early estate planning can provide many benefits for you and your loved ones.

If you’re unsure about what to do, seek professional advice. Regularly review your estate plan to protect your family, minimise tax liabilities and ensure a smooth and efficient transfer of assets.

Don’t wait until it’s too late.

If this article has inspired you to think about your own unique situation and, more importantly, what you and your family are going through right now, please contact your advice professional.

This information does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any person. Before making a decision, you should consider whether it is appropriate in light of your particular objectives, financial situation or needs.

 

Posted in:News  

How parents can prepare for the cost of education in Australia

Posted on 4 April 2023
How parents can prepare for the cost of education in Australia

(Feedsy Exclusive)

Education is a vital investment in your child’s future, but it can also be a significant financial burden for those who are unprepared.

One study shows that although a large majority of Australian parents believe that education plays a significant role in their child’s future prospects, less than half of them are prepared financially.

Based on the data presented in the study, depending on their location and type of school (government, Catholic or independent), parents can expect to shell out anywhere between $68,597 (Queensland regional and remote, government) and $357,931 (Sydney, independent) over 13 years.

With education in Australia becoming increasingly expensive, saving early and considering your options to help manage these costs is important. Here are some tips to kick-start your savings and make education more affordable for your family.

1. Estimate your child’s educational expenses.

It’s crucial to do some research to come up with a rough estimate of how much you will need to save based on your child’s age and the school you plan to send them to. Be sure to consider other costs like childcare fees and debts you might be paying off concurrently.

2. Make a budget and save.

Start saving as early as possible. Decide how much you can afford to put aside each week or month after setting up a budget. Consider increasing the amount you’ll save each year to account for inflation. You can set up a direct debit from your account into a high-interest savings account or make lump-sum contributions a few times a year.

3. Pay off debt ASAP.

Paying off your mortgage as quickly as possible is a good strategy to save on interest and free up cash for school fees. To do this, you need a mortgage with a redraw facility or offset account. Be disciplined and avoid using the money for other expenses.

4. Consider investing.

Investments like insurance bonds, managed funds, and shares can also be a way to set money aside for your child’s education. However, make sure you consider investment flexibility, costs, and timeframe. If you’re new to investing, it’s best to seek financial or tax advice.

5. Practise money-saving tips with your children.

There are simple, doable ways to make education more affordable for your family. Doing these things can also help prepare your kids for future financial responsibilities.

  • Discuss money with your kids and emphasise the difference between needs and wants.
  • Consider sending your child to a public primary school if you plan to send them to a private high school.
  • Walk your kids to school instead of driving them, or apply for a concession card for public transport use.
  • Compare prices before buying school supplies, laptops and devices.
  • Buy school shoes during sales and consider trainers as an option if the school allows for their use.
  • Prepare homemade meals and snacks. This will require you to plan weekly and to be creative. However, it will also ensure your kids have access to nutritious food.

Education is a significant expense for families, but with careful planning and budgeting, you can make it more affordable.

Start saving early, consider your options, and use money-saving tips to help manage costs.

If this article has inspired you to think about your own unique situation and, more importantly, what you and your family are going through right now, please contact your advice professional.

This information does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any person.

Before making a decision, you should consider whether it is appropriate in light of your particular objectives, financial situation or needs.

 

Posted in:News  

Know the benefits and uses of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

Posted on 3 April 2023
Know the benefits and uses of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

(Feedsy Exclusive)

The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) is a government-funded program in Australia that provides eligible seniors with access to a range of healthcare services and concessions. 

The program is designed to assist seniors in managing the costs of healthcare and living expenses by providing discounts on prescription medicines, medical services, and utility bills. 

In this article, we will explore the benefits and usage of the CSHC.

Benefits of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

If you don’t have a CSHC yet but think you may be eligible, knowing the following benefits that come with having it might entice you to get one right away.

  • Access to discounted prescription medicines: CSHC holders are eligible for discounts on prescription medicines listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). 
  • Medical services: Holders of a CSHC can get bulk-billed medical services from general practitioners (GPs) who choose to participate in the program. This means that CSHC holders don’t have to pay any out-of-pocket expenses for consultations.
  • Discounts on public transport: If you commute a lot, you’ll be happy to know that CSHC holders are eligible for concessions on public transport fares across Australia, although the actual benefit depends on your state or territory. Discount offers typically include rides on trains, trams, buses, and ferries.
  • Savings on utility bills: You may be eligible for discounts on your electricity, gas, and water bills from their service providers. The amount of the discount varies depending on the state or territory you live in.
  • Free or discounted rates on dental, hearing and eye care services: Some states and territories offer additional healthcare benefits for CSHC holders. These services can include eye, ear and dental check-ups, and some minor procedures.

Eligibility Requirements and Usage of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

To be eligible for the CSHC, seniors must meet certain age and residency requirements. 

They must be of Age Pension age, which is currently 66 years, and not be eligible for a pension or allowance from Centrelink or the Department of Veterans Affairs. They must also be an Australian resident and meet the income test.

Once you’re approved for the CSHC, you can start using your card to access discounts on prescription medicines, medical services, and public transport fares. You will also need to present your card to service providers to receive discounts on utility bills.

The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card provides a range of benefits to eligible seniors in Australia. It’s meant to help them manage the costs of healthcare and living expenses, so they can enjoy a good quality of life. 

If you’re unsure whether you’re eligible for the CHSC, you can apply on the Services Australia website or inquire at a service centre near you.

If this article has inspired you to think about your own unique situation and, more importantly, what you and your family are going through right now, please contact your advice professional.

This information does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any person.

Before making a decision, you should consider whether it is appropriate in light of your particular objectives, financial situation or needs.

 

Posted in:News  

The multifaceted roles of Financial Advisers today

Posted on 30 March 2023
The multifaceted roles of Financial Advisers today

(Feedsy Exclusive)

Most people view financial advisers as investment managers whose job is primarily to select investments and ensure their clients get a certain level of returns. However, the role of a financial adviser goes far beyond this conventional notion.

These days, the value that financial adviser delivers to their clients should ideally be a balanced mix of technical and soft skills, especially during times of high market volatility.

In this post, we talk about the evolving roles of financial advisers and the skills they need to benefit their clients beyond providing investment advice.

Evolving roles – counsellor, financial expert and client advocate in one

With changing client needs that are increasingly becoming more complex over time, a financial adviser can take on various tasks.

As counsellors, they can act as advisers who’ll help handle the emotional strain of making tough financial decisions and their potential consequences.

In certain instances, an adviser may be regarded as a technical financial expert of sorts or guru, providing their own perspective or analysis and acting as the voice of reason. When necessary, a financial adviser might also serve as an advocate defending or acting on behalf of their client and their interests.

While explaining such intangible value advisers provide can be challenging, the benefits of having one are evident when clients feel more assured or secure. In turn, clients are better able to deal with the unpredictability of the market. They also have the confidence of knowing that everything is under control and that they have an expert they can depend on when things get tough.

Preventing costly emotional blunders

Investors who forsake a strong investing plan because of emotion or fear typically lock in losses and miss out on the eventual rally after periods of turbulence.

Therefore, financial advisers must have distinct expertise in gaining a client’s trust and offering sufficient reassurance. This way, clients will keep to their long-term financial plan, avoid getting emotional when the market is in turmoil and steer clear of costly behavioural blunders brought on by frustration and despair.

With a lot of Australians facing financial stress at some point in their lives, emotional support during difficult times is an important aspect of the financial adviser value offer. In fact, it’s not unusual for clients to seek advice from financial experts in times of tragedy, illness, death and financial difficulty.

Therefore, special skills such as behavioural coaching and giving emotional support can prove to be more valuable to a client than simply asset allocation. This is especially true when it comes to regulating the behaviour and emotions of a client, particularly when there’s turbulence and uncertainty in the market.

If you need expert financial advice, seek the help of a seasoned adviser with the right technical and soft skills to help you navigate market highs and lows successfully.

If this article has inspired you to think about your own unique situation and, more importantly, what you and your family are going through right now, please contact your advice professional.

This information does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any person.

Before making a decision, you should consider whether it is appropriate in light of your particular objectives, financial situation or needs.

 

Posted in:News  

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