Tag Archives: Centrelink

So, what’s the Government doing?

If you’re inbox is anything like mine, you’re probably deleting everything that’s coming through to do with the coronavirus!  Somehow it feels like this is just beginning, and in other ways, enough already!

The craziness, isolation, job losses, panic buying and empty shelves have given a whole new perspective to the words ‘global pandemic.’

And, with the unprecedented times facing global citizens, it’s good to know that some measures are being rolled out by federal governments around the world to assist those who need it most.

Minimising the economic damage from coronavirus is a high priority for many and strong leadership is needed now more than ever.

So what is the Australian government doing to assist?  Here’s a bit of a “highlights reel” following yesterday’s announcement:

  • The payment of a $550 per fortnight coronavirus supplement to current and new individuals on income support payments (JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance JobSeeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit) for a period of six months. Asset tests and waiting periods will not apply.
  • The payment of a second $750 payment in July to income support recipients (social security and veteran pensions) and eligible concession card holders. This is in addition to a first payment of $750 from 31 March 2020.
  • Australians in financial stress will be able to get early access to their super, with the option of applying for $10,000 in each of the 2019/20 and 2020/21 years. At this stage it is only open for the first 3 months of the 2020/21 year. These payments will be tax free. Applications need to be submitted through myGov.
  • A temporary 50% reduction in the minimum pension drawdown rates for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 years.
  • A further reduction in the social security deeming rates.  As of 1 May 2020, the lower rate will be 0.25% and the upper rate will be 2.25%.
  • Funding support for small businesses and not for profits who are continuing to pay employees. This applies to entities with aggregate annual turnover of under $50 Million, who employ workers and will take the form of a reimbursement of up to 100% of salary and wages tax withholdings with a minimum payment of $10,000 and a maximum of $50,000. It seems that there will be one payment from 28 April 2020 and a further payment made from 28 July 2020. These payments will be tax free.
  • The Government will establish a scheme to guarantee 50% of new loans to SMEs, up to a maximum of $40 Billion. This is in addition to the $90 Billion of funding being made available by the Reserve Bank to Australian Banks.
  • Temporary relief for distressed businesses, involving an increase in the threshold for creditor action and a delay in the time-frame to respond. Further protections will be made available to directors.

On a cumulative basis, the Government suggest they’re injecting $189 billion into the economy, an amount equivalent of 9.7% of GDP.

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us.  And if you’re one of the lucky ones who’s managed to snaffle a few loo rolls, be sure to share your bounty with those who need it most.

Be kind.

Checklist for new Parents

Congratulations on the arrival of your new little bundle!

If it’s your first, there’s a veritable litany of emotions going on… and yes, nothing will ever be the same again.  If it’s another new addition to your family, guess what?  Same applies!

But amongst the joy, happiness, sleepless nights, never ending nappies and the finding of a semblance of normality again, it’s easy to overlook some important things that need to be taken care of.  Here’s a few that you may want to work through…

1.  Add bub to your Medicare card.

You’ll need to complete a Newborn Child Declaration form (usually provided by the hospital) or complete a Medicare Enrollment form with supporting docs including proof of birth – and no, the stretch marks don’t count!

2. Add bub to your Health Insurance

If you have private health insurance, you’ll need to call your provider to let them know about your new addition.  They’ll let you know what’s needed to add baby to your cover.  It’s also a good time to review your levels of cover and see if you have what you need.  The couples cover that was just right for the two of you, likely wont cut it for boisterous toddlers.

3.  Review the Life Insurance!

It’s probably the last thing you want to think about, but reviewing your levels of cover is pretty important.  You may have previously taken care of debt with a bit left over for your partner, but now you have twenty years worth of health and education expenses to also account for should something happen to a parent.  Chat with an adviser if you’re unsure of how to work it all out.  Cover can be funded personally or via your superannuation plan – the options are worth considering, especially if there’s only one working for a period of time.

4.  Adjust the budget

If you haven’t already made adjustments for the loss or reduction of income, now is a really good time to review that.  With only one income or reduced cash flow it may be time to cut back on some expenses, but others will be going up.  Your fried brain may not want a reality check, but it could stop some reckless or unnecessary spending.  Babies don’t actually care if they have the latest cot or pram, but your budget should!  You may also be surprised at the level of love and hand-me-downs that head your way too.  And for those who ask what you need, be practical!  Nappies, wipes, consumables or a prepared meal all go a long way to helping out.  Family may even want to help and pitch in for the bigger ticket items.

5. Childcare expenses

At some stage, the new little love of your life will likely need care and it’s good to be prepared and know what’s on offer.  Are you happy with the services in your neighborhood?  Is family day care available?  Ask some parents with older kids in care and see if they’re happy with the centres they use… and try and get your head around the Centrelink offers if you’re eligible.

6. Education costs

And guess what, the expenses don’t stop when you’re out of childcare and heading to school.  Even if you choose state based education, you still need to fund books, uniforms, excursions, donations and tuck-shop treats.  It’s good to start stashing away for this early.

If you’re wanting a private education, you may need to put the future Prime Minister onto a waiting list from birth.  Starting to save for the costs early is vital.  Knowing what the fees are, and add ons can help you plan from now.

And do you want to mix it up?  Public school for the early years and private school later?  Who knew there was so much to prepare for?

7.  Estate Planning

And don’t forget the Will.  Chances are you might want to include the little people if something were to happen to you and your partner.  Speaking with a professional can be vital if your situation is a little complicated too.  If you’re no longer with the parent of your children but want to provide for them, make sure your Will takes care of your wishes.  That way, your voice from the grave will have a much greater chance of being heard… and acted on.  But then, there’s also assets that don’t go through the Will such as superannuation or your jointly owned family home, and you need to understand where these assets will end up too.  You also likely need to appoint a guardian for your wee bairns should something happen and that’s a decision that needs careful thought.

But don’t let it all overwhelm you.  One thing at a time and it’ll all get done… eventually.

In the meantime, enjoy every smile, treasure every cuddle and know that it’s completely ok to regularly fall apart.  Nobody else has it completely together either… despite what their Insta feed says.

The Federal Budget for Accumulators

Are you an Accumulator?

That is someone who is still stashing their wealth prior to retirement?  Chances are, you may have kids, debt and be pretty time poor!

So what did the Federal Budget 2019 include for you?

We’ve summarised the key takeouts so you can understand the tax cuts, social security and superannuation issues that may impact you.

It’s only two pages tops, so if you’d like to know more, check it out here:

Federal_Budget_2019_Accumulators.

Educate yourself on financial advice

You might be surprised to know, that working out how to achieve your financial goals is easy and you don’t have to earn a high income to do it.

Whether you’re looking to get your financial affairs in order, buy a first or subsequent home, start a family or prepare for your retirement, seeking quality advice from a qualified financial expert can help you achieve your goals sooner, and with more confidence.

So just what is financial advice?

Financial advice is about much more than just making money. It’s about creating new opportunities to help you achieve whatever you desire in life. A financial planner can help work out what’s important to you. They can help develop a plan that aligns your financial decisions to your lifestyle goals.

Priorities can change over time, as can economic conditions, government legislation and investment markets. Advisers can help re-focus your plan, track your progress and keep you accountable along the way, whether you’re starting out, building wealth or planning for retirement.

Seeking financial advice will help you identify solutions to important questions like:

  • Will I have enough income to live comfortably in retirement?
  • Is my family protected should something unexpected happen – what do I need to know about life insurance?
  • How can I make sure I have enough money to fund my children’s education?
  • How can I invest and structure my finances in the most tax effective way?
  • How can I manage my debt and pay off my home sooner?
  • How can I make my money work harder for me?
  • What’s the best structure to protect my investments and assets?
  • How can I maximise my entitlements to government benefits?
  • How does estate planning fit?

At its best, financial advice is an ongoing long-term partnership centered entirely on your goals.

If you’re weighing up whether financial advice is right for you, consider booking an initial complimentary obligation free appointment.  We’d be happy to help!

How Budget 2017 may affect families

The announcements in this update are proposals unless stated otherwise. These proposals need to successfully pass through Parliament before becoming law and may be subject to change during this process. 

  • The Medicare levy will increase by 0.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent from 1 July 2019
  • The Government will spend $37.3 billion on child care over four years
  • Additional education funding has been set at $18.6 billion over 10 years
  • University student fees will increase by 7.5 per cent by 2021
  • University graduates will start repaying their loans when they reach an income level of $42,000 a year, down from approximately $55,000
  • Family Tax Benefit Part A payments will not be indexed for two years
  • Doctors will be encouraged to prescribe generic drugs to save the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme $1.8 billion over five years
  • No changes to negative gearing

Overview

Medicare levy

In health care, the Medicare levy will increase on 1 July 2019 by 0.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent of taxable income to help fund the $22 billion National Disability Insurance Scheme. Treasurer Scott Morrison says all Australians need to support the disability scheme, even if they aren’t directly affected.

Child care

The Government will invest $37.3 billion in child care over four years to help about 1 million families, including those that need before and after school care for their children. A single, simplified, means-tested child care subsidy will provide more support for the families who need it the most from 2 July 2018.

The subsidy will introduce hourly rate caps and remove unnecessary regulation to allow providers to offer more flexible hours of care. The child care subsidy will be payable only to families with incomes below $350,000 per annum (in 2017-18 terms) from 2 July 2018. The upper income threshold of $350,000 per annum will be indexed annually by CPI from 1 July 2018.

A further $428 million will be provided to extend the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to early childhood education for the 2018 school year to allow access to a quality preschool education.

Schools funding

This Budget will invest $18.6 billion in extra schools funding over the next 10 years, in accordance with the Gonski needs-based standard. Funding for each student across all sectors will grow at an average of 4.1 per cent a year.

However, university fees will rise by $2,000 to $3,600 for a four-year course and students will have to start paying back their debt when they earn more than $42,000 from July next year, down from the current level of approximately $55,000. A 2.5 per cent efficiency dividend will be applied to universities for the next two years.

First-home buyers

First-home buyers will be able to use voluntary contributions to their existing superannuation funds to save for a house deposit. Contributions and earnings will be taxed at 15%, rather than marginal rates, and withdrawals will be taxed at their marginal rate, less 30% tax offset. Contributions will be limited to $30,000 per person in total and $15,000 per year. Both members of a couple can take advantage of the scheme. Non-concessional contributions can also be made but will not benefit from the tax concessions apart from earnings being taxed at 15%.

The States will be required to deliver on housing supply targets and reform their planning systems and a $1 billion National Housing Infrastructure Facility will aim to remove infrastructure impediments to developing new homes.

In Melbourne, Defence Department land at Maribyrnong will be released for a new suburb that could cater for 6,000 new homes. A new National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation will be established by July 1, 2018, to provide long-term, low-cost finance for more affordable rental housing.

States and Territories will be encouraged to transfer stock to the community housing sector and managed Investment trusts will be allowed to develop and own affordable housing. The incentive for investors will include a capital gains tax discount of 60 per cent, and direct deduction of rent from welfare payments from tenants.

Australians over the age of 65 will be able to make a non-concessional contribution of up to $300,000 each into their superannuation fund from the proceeds of the sale of their principal home from 1 July  2018.

Family Tax Benefits

The current Family Tax Benefit Part A payments will not be indexed for two years from 1 July 2017. Indexation will resume on 1 July 2019. A 30¢ in the dollar income test taper will apply under Method 1 for Family Tax Benefit Part A families with household incomes above the Higher Income Free Area (currently $94,316) from 1 July 2018. Entitlements under Family Tax Benefit Part A may be worked out using two income tests, with the one giving the highest rate applying. Method 1 sometimes produces a higher result for larger families.

 

What’s next?

Most changes must be legislated and passed through Parliament before they apply. If you think you may be impacted by some of the Budget’s proposed changes, you should consider seeking professional advice. A financial adviser can give you a clear understanding of where you stand and how you can manage your cash flow, super and investments in light of proposed changes.

 

If any of these proposals raise questions, concerns or potential opportunities for you, please speak with your financial adviser today. These opportunities apply to Australian consumers.