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Looking back on Smartgroup’s awesome 2015

 

-® Will Salkeld_Smartgroup Xmas_95

Celebrating the end of a terrific year with Smartgroup’s high achievers.

We recently concluded our national breakfast series for 2015, where we showcased for our clients the tremendous efforts of our team. We had such a positive reception that we thought we’d share with you some of these announcements.

  • We renewed our partnership with six-time V8 Supercars Champion Jamie Whincup as Smartleasing’s brand ambassador for a second year in 2016.
  • Smartgroup recently completed a 50% acquisition of Health-e Workforce Solutions, which provides a unique software solution that helps hospitals across the country better and more cost-effectively manage their workforce.
  • We launched our new Smartsalary website, written from the ground up and taking us one step closer to enabling our customers to manage virtually all their packaging affairs, whether on desktop, tablet or smartphone.

Aside from what we covered at the breakfasts, we achieved some significant milestones in 2015. We renewed major salary packaging contracts, including Department of Defence and Australian Tax Office, and we won additional salary packaging contracts, including Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, NSW Health Pathology, and South Eastern Sydney Local Health District.

And we ended the year with a real bang, completing the acquisition of Advantage Salary Packaging, a company we have long admired for their incredible client retention, and as we have come to learn, even more, incredible staff retention. We warmly welcome Anton Gaudry (cofounder and now CEO of Advantage Salary Packaging) and his team to the Smartgroup family.

We’ve had a terrific year, in this our first full year as an ASX-listed company (ASX: SIQ). I would like to thank everyone who has helped make it such a success: our incredibly loyal employer clients and employee customers, our innovation-minded business partners, and our supportive shareholders. I’d also like to thank the team here at Smartgroup who have continued to rise to the challenge of building a bigger and better company, year in and year out for a decade and a half now!

Best wishes for a festive holiday season to you and your families! We look forward to connecting again in the New Year.

We all need a Fighting Chance

Hello there, this is Houda Lebbos, Smartgroup CHRO, borrowing Deven’s blog to let you know we had the great pleasure recently of meeting Laura O’Reilly, CEO and co-founder of Fighting Chance.

Laura’s organisation is a non-profit which provides opportunities for meaningful social participation, employment and skill development to young people with the most significant disabilities in our community.

Laura says these are people that would otherwise, very likely, be prevented from pursuing their ambitions and fulfilling their potential simply because they have a disability. The statistics are stark – 85% of young adults with profound disabilities in Australia experience life-long unemployment and have just one-tenth the opportunity for social participation outside the home compared with the ‘average’ Australian.

Fighting Chance Australia, launched in early 2011 by Laura, her brother Jordan and a team of committed young professionals, challenges these injustices and societal exclusion by removing the practical barriers that stand in the way of workforce participation for Australians with the most significant disabilities.

For instance, some individuals may need assistance with the bathroom, meals or medication. Even for organisations with strong employment diversity practices this can simply be a barrier too far for direct employment. The genius of the Fighting Chance model is that businesses can outsource work to the team at Fighting Chance which provide the office space and practical assistance required for employees throughout the working day. It’s a win-win solution for businesses looking for scalable, outsourced support and Fighting Chance programme participants looking for meaningful employment.

Fighting Chance matches skills and provides training where necessary through its Enterprise Program. Every participant or ‘Intern’ follows an individualized program, which combines training and work tasks in a way that best suits the interests and aspirations of the individual and the needs of the employer.

A great example of this in practice is with Aon Hewitt which has outsourced a large portion of the data collection and entry associated with the Best Employer programme – providing both a scalable solution to Aon’s fluctuating administration support needs and meaningful, paid work for Australians with disabilities.

The program has a heavy IT focus, and equips and prepares program participants for IT-based roles within social enterprises in addition to data and administrative support.

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At Smartgroup we’re looking at the possibility of outsourcing some peak operational administrative tasks, in addition to providing some direct support to the IT team in their rollout of Salesforce.com modules, a system we use in-house here.

The ethos of Fighting Chance is admirable and one that we share here at Smartgroup. In their words: “we passionately believe that employment is important for giving structure, purpose and meaning to the life of any adult. Everyone should have the opportunity to contribute to and benefit from the work of a team.”

Election results in: Novated leasing to go ahead!

Savings ahead

Following the 7 September election result, Smartsalary is thrilled to be back to business as usual.

On 19 July, Tony Abbott announced there would be no changes to current Fringe Benefit Tax legislation should his party be elected to government. Further, in an open letter to the car industry dated 3 September, Prime Minister Elect Abbott and Treasurer Elect Joe Hockey again pledged that Labor’s proposed changes to FBT on salary packaged cars would be “null and void”.

Smartsalary will continue to offer novated leases to those who need it most, such as Defence members, teachers, nurses, charity workers as well everyday Australians in the private sector.

Thanks to the support of our clients and loyal staff, we’re really excited about what the future holds for us. In fact, we have been actively recruiting over the past few weeks to ensure that we are well positioned for future growth!

So what does this actually mean for you?

For existing customers with a novated lease, there will be no changes applied to your arrangements whatsoever, and you will be able to take advantage of the FBT savings available under the statutory method.  For anyone interested in getting a new lease, our dedicated team at Smartleasing is ready to help.

Visit our website to use our comprehensive novated leasing calculator for a free quote.

Welcome St Vincent’s Health Australia

Hi, this is Dave Adler (Chief Commercial Officer) borrowing Deven’s blog to share some very good news, which we are certainly very excited about.

We are delighted to welcome St. Vincent’s Health Australia (SVHA) to the Smartsalary family. SVHA employs over 14,000 people, with over 7,000 employees salary packaging.

Through a competitive (and rigorous!) tender process we were selected as the exclusive provider on the basis of our track record for service excellence.

The implementation will be carried out in 2 phases:

  • In April 2013, 3000 employees from St Vincent’s Health and Aged Care, St Vincent’s Private Hospital Melbourne and SVHA Group Office will transition over to Smartsalary.
  • In December 2014 a further 4000 employees from St Vincent’s Public Hospital Melbourne will transition to Smartsalary.

Once both implementations are complete, SVHA will be one of our top 5 outsourced clients.

Including the SVHA win, Smartsalary now has over a decade of experience in transitioning some of Australia’s most prominent organisations from either in-house arrangements or from some of the largest salary packaging companies in the industry.

*Note: SVHA Public & Private Hospitals Sydney are not part of the scheduled implementations.

Smartsalary Transition Timeline

Potential changes to the LAFHA benefit

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July 2012 update: For the latest information on LAFHA changes, please click here.

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Hello all – it’s Simon here, Senior Tax Advisor at Smartsalary…

The Federal Government has released its proposed changes to Living Away from Home Allowance benefits.

Should these be endorsed, the two points that will most notably impact salary packaging can be summarised as follows:

1. Eligibility: eligibility for the living-away-from-home (LAFH) status is going to be severely limited for temporary resident employees (i.e., those on 457 visas) – in fact, most will no longer be able to claim LAFH status.

2Substantiation: All LAFH benefits will now need to be substantiated, although food reimbursements won’t be, as long as they are paid at “reasonable” levels.

These changes will not apply until 1 July 2012; however we expect that the number of customers who will qualify to salary package LAFH benefits will drop significantly.

So if you’re a visiting foreign worker, or a business employing visiting foreign workers, you might want to start thinking about some of the other salary packaging opportunities available to employees who move from one location to another.

For example, relocation exemptions can offer significant opportunities for savings around direct relocation costs PLUS some temporary accommodation benefits for eligible employees.  Equally, if you’re relocated to a remote area there are very generous concessions available for household rent and utilities.

Smartsalary currently offers these benefits to any business that elects to add them to the menu of benefits, so if you’re interested and these benefits are not already available then you should ask your employer to add them today!

Leave a comment here.

‘Tis the season to save!

Salary packaging can help you save through the holidays. Here are some tips on how:

Go shopping with your Living Expenses Card!

Remember, if you’re salary packaging your tax-free cap, you have until 31 March to spend your funds in order to maximise your savings. Use your card over the holiday period to shop for groceries or even Christmas presents!

Use your Meal Entertainment Card at Christmas

Christmas is traditionally a time of excess, with plenty of good food on the table! So if you’re packaging meal entertainment, it’s a great opportunity to save!

If you’re headed out with family, friends or colleagues for a meal over the holiday period, you can use your Meal Entertainment Card. Depending on who you work for, a catered Christmas lunch could also be packaged (check your employer’s policy on our website).

But remember – take away meals don’t qualify as meal entertainment, so you have to be eating at a restaurant with a dine-in facility to meet the criteria defined by the ATO. One more thing – you or your spouse have to incur the cost of the meal, otherwise you can’t claim the cost as meal entertainment.

Drive your Novated Lease over the holidays

If you’re headed away for Christmas or for a summer holiday, we know many of you will probably drive your packaged car.  It’s a great way to save tax on your fuel and servicing costs – and of course, we encourage you to please take care on the roads!

If you have any questions about salary packaging over the holidays, feel free to leave them in the comments section and we’ll do our best to answer.

I’d like to wish you all a very happy holiday season and prosperous New Year!  Thanks so much for your incredible loyalty . . . we really do hope to be as good to you as you’ve been to us!

Leave a comment here.

Salary Packaging and HECS/HELP – what you need to know!


Hi Blog readers – Simon Ellis here guest posting about HECS/HELP and Salary Packaging.

Our customers often ask about how salary packaging impacts outstanding HECS/HELP debts. Let’s take a closer look.

Please bear in mind that the following analysis only relates to employees of Public Hospitals and not-for-profits who are able to access the threshold/cap benefit.

So what do you need to know?

Well, the fundamental message is as simple as this: salary packaging the threshold/cap benefit will save you money overall but will also increase your HECS repayments. This is best explained by example: the impact of packaging the $9,095 threshold by Public Hospital employees who have an outstanding HECS debt is summarised in the table below:

Taxable Salary Take-home pay without salary packaging Take-home pay with salary packaging Annual savings by
salary packaging
Increase in take-home pay Additional reduction in HECS/HELP loan balance Total savings
$35,000 $30,125 $31,626 $1,501 $0 $1,501
$40,000 $33,850 $33,885 $35 $1,915 $1,950
$45,000 $37,275 $37,595 $320 $2,381 $2,701
$50,000 $38,700 $40,960 $2,260 $606 $2,865
$55,000 $41,625 $43,530 $1,905 $985 $2,890
$60,000 $44,500 $46,336 $1,836 $1,075 $2,910
$65,000 $47,325 $49,072 $1,747 $1,164 $2,910
$70,000 $50,100 $51,757 $1,657 $1,253 $2,910

The above table shows two important things:

  1. that take-home pay increases as a result of threshold packaging activities at most salary levels even after the increased HECS payments are factored in, and
  2. that even where the HECS repayments ‘use up’ most of the salary packaging savings the packaging still means that HECS debts are being paid off faster using funds that otherwise would have gone to the taxman.

It’s win-win. Money that otherwise would have gone to the ATO as tax is instead used to pay down your HECS debt, and even after this there are still extra tax savings left over for most employees.

However it’s not all smooth sailing because the additional HECS amount is generally not collected from your salary during the year but is billed by the ATO as a lump-sum at tax year-end. This can put a serious dent in your bank balance unless you have prepared for it by setting money aside during the year.

If this sounds like something you can handle then get in touch with Smartsalary ASAP because tax savings wait for no one. Also, please keep in mind that the above information is general advice only.

Leave a comment here.


Deven Billimoria
Chief Executive Officer
Smartgroup

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