As we enter into another busy part of the corporate season, below are some tips to maintain a clear head and good mood in the office:

1. Get Healthy Sleep

Ensure a good night’s sleep. Sleep will help you lower your stress levels and improve cognition, concentration, and performance. This includes improving your problem-solving skills and enhancing your memory performance. Not surprisingly, all these qualities are affected negatively by sleep deprivation.

2. Move around
Oftentimes when we are under pressure (e.g. a looming deadline), and we end up bolted to our desks in an effort to get the “thing” done.
Regardless of how busy you are it’s important to move around, circulating oxygen around the body and keeping a clear head. Where you can, try to get out of the office for at least five minutes and breathe some fresh air, take a walk around the block. At the very least move the around office. Doing so could prevent you from developing brain fog, RSI, fatigue or eyestrain at work.

3. Green Tea
Coffee is a staple for many and may act as a short-term energy boost. Conversely, coffee can also often leave one anxious or jittery where there are sensitivities to caffeine, or it is consumed to excess. Where possible, opt for Green Tea instead. Green Tea contains L-Theanine which may help promote relaxation, reduce the bodies’ perception of stress, and slightly improve attention.

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With the announcement that the Federal Budget will be unveiled early, in April 2019 and deliver a federal surplus, can we assume that the economy is performing as well as the federal government would have us believe? 

Announced in the midst of a tough week politically, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is hoping that the announcement of the surplus budget will alleviate some of the pressure on the Liberal party. While a Federal surplus budget looks great at face value and appears to show the 'big picture' of the economy, the influence of individual states and their budgets cannot be ignored.

Since the Australian economy exists as a common market between all 8 territories and states, any federal announcement, that focuses solely on the federal economy has the potential to mislead us and be conveniently used to shift our attention in times of political stress. 

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What is the change? The Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2016 has been passed by both houses of Parliament and is awaiting royal assent. The bill introduces a range of significant reforms to the Sponsored Family Visa program affecting both sponsors and visa applicants, including:

  • Requirement for sponsorship to be approved before the visa application can be lodged.
  • Sponsorship obligations for family sponsors and sanctions for breach of obligations.
  • The Department of Home Affairs can share personal information between sponsors, visa applicants and other government agencies.

Implementation time frame: Any time from now or within the next 6 months.

Visas/permits affected: Sponsored family visas, including partner, parent, child, carer visas and visas for other relatives.

Who is affected: Australian citizens/permanent residents and eligible New Zealand citizens who wish to apply for sponsorship of a family member, and family members who wish to apply for a sponsored family visa.

Impact on processing times: Processing times are predicted to increase due to the requirement that the sponsorship be approved before the visa application can be lodged.

Analysis & Comments: The changes will severely impact the visa eligibility of prospective family visa applicants and the timing of visa application lodgements.

For example, prospective visa applicants who are in Australia on short-term visas such as a visitor visa will no longer have access to a bridging visa if the sponsorship application is not approved prior to the expiry of their visa, because they will not be able to lodge an onshore visa application.
In these instances, the visa applicant will need to depart Australia to await the approval of the sponsorship before they can lodge an associated visa application under the approved sponsorship, or apply for a different type of visa to extend their stay in Australia.

There are additional changes that are likely to be included through regulation and this may include measures relating to mandatory refusal of sponsorship in certain circumstances, payment for debts to the Commonwealth and associated measures.

Action required: if you are considering lodging a partner/spouse visa application then it would be prudent to discuss the changes with your immigration consultant to understand how the new measures could potentially affect your prospective application. Given the announced tightening of regulations for the family visas, it would be wise to consider lodging applications prior to the Bill receiving Royal Assent.

If you have a discretionary or hybrid trust that owns residential land in NSW you may need to have your deed amended before 31 December 2018.

Duty and land tax surcharges were imposed from 21 June 2016 where residential land in New South Wales is to be acquired or is owned by foreign persons. Where the land is to be acquired or is owned by a discretionary trust, the trustee of the trust is a foreign person if any foreign persons are beneficiaries (whether or not named in the trust deed) under the trust.

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A one-off Amnesty opportunity was announced by the Minister for Revenue and Financial Service in May 2018. This 12-month Amnesty allows employers who voluntarily disclose previously undeclared SG shortfalls be able to claim a deduction for the catch-up payments made in the period.

This also allows employers not to be liable for the administration component and penalties that would otherwise apply to late SG payments.

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Westpac confirmed today (16 July 2018) it is scrapping all SMSF loans, after announcing last week its subsidiary St George would exit the market.

In an online update, Westpac has announced that effective 31 July 2018 its SMSF Investment Property Loan will be removed from sale.

Please refer to this aricle from SMSF Adviser Online for further details  Westpac scraps all SMSF Loans .

The government will amend the start date of their proposed small business CGT concessions measure. In amendments to the bill on 21 June 2018, the government has decided to push the start date back to 8 February 2018, the date the draft legislation was released for consultation. This will provide a transition period between announcement and the date of effect, a change that is also expected to bring welcome relief to tax advisers and their clients.

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The New South Wales Treasurer, Mr Dominic Perrottet, handed down the NSW Budget for 2018/19 on 19 June 2018. The only tax-related measure announced in the Budget was an increase in the tax-free threshold for payroll tax from its current level of $750,000 to $1 million.

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