Hostage to your Salary Packaging software provider?

Salary Packaging Alternative Rout

Aytunc Tezay
Founder & Chairman – LeasePLUS Group of Companies

Recently a LinkedIn contact working in the Health industry approached me to ask what other Salary Packaging software options are available in the market.
If you currently use the same tired, inflexible and uninspiring software as many others in the market place, I recommend you read on!
For many years software providers have provided the same old and clunky salary packaging software to its clients and ignored the need to upgrade the look, feel and functionality of its product. My LinkedIn contact was told that their software was being refreshed, however it will come at a cost through significant higher licencing costs. The alternative is….. well… there isn’t an alternative because the current version which they have been using and putting up with for so many years is no longer going to be supported. Or the other alternative given to my LinkedIn contact was to have the same company providing the software, outsource the whole salary packaging administration function – how convenient!
This doesn’t seem very fair does it? Clients who have been patient and loyal over many years supporting software that hasn’t met expectations, are now being forced to pay more or get out!
If the story above relates to you, there is now an alternative – MySalPack.
The MySalPack software is a web based solution to facilitate the processing and reporting of salary packaging in the Corporate, Rebatable, Public Hospital and Not-for-Profit employment sectors. The functional aspects of the MySalPack software is to support the business by automating the processing of data efficiently and accurately while meeting all regulatory and compliance requirements.
One of the significant strengths of MySalPack is the MyKiosk customer portal that delivers live data and information to employees about their salary packaging account on both their desktops and mobile devices.
This is achieved by understanding the specific requirements of the various organisations within each industry sector. MySalPack has the capability of supporting both the outsourced as well as the in-house solutions, integrating robust security, audit and importantly flexible reporting capabilities.
Key features:

  • Ability to calculate Meal Entertainment and show the share of saving and admin as a separate line item.
  • To incorporate direct data feeds through file transfer protocol from Payroll to take into account specified factors for calculating an employee’s package.
  • Uploaded files are produced in the correct format for loading into Payroll and includes an adjustment file for any changes.
  • Automation of banking details can be loaded from Payroll to reduce manual entry, reducing error rates and improving productivity and compliance.
  • Detailed evidence register that updates automatically when a package is entered or copied from a previous year.
  • Efficient reporting tools including payroll reconciliation after each pay.
  • Easier access to updating of tax rates, benefit items, cost centre and facility lists, pay periods and banking.
  • On-line calculators for General, Novated Leasing, GST worksheets plus many more features, that can be emailed, saved and printed.
  • Form letters can be produced based on criteria, including the bulk send out of renewal letters each year.
  • Novated Leasing functionality with the ability to interface to external systems if required.

The team behind MySalPack is a Australian company called SafeCode who can provide you with further information and demonstrate the software.

website safecode.com.au
phone 1300 20 82 77

Federal Budget 2015 – Workers pushed into higher tax brackets

Hundreds of thousands of Australian workers will find themselves in higher tax brackets after [the] federal budget left tax brackets unchanged.

The failure to reset tax brackets will push the average full-time worker, earning $78,000 a year, into the second-highest tax bracket in 2015-16, with any earnings over $80,000 subject to a 37 per cent tax rate, 39 per cent including the Medicare levy. As a result, the average worker will be slugged an extra $1200 in tax a year, and the average income tax rate will rise from 21.7 per cent to 27.4 per cent over the next decade.

It’s not a pretty picture.

The picture is even less pretty for the thousands of individuals who will pushed into the top tax bracket, which kicks in at $180,000… “This makes the top marginal rate 49 per cent, giving a 10 per cent hike in the marginal tax rate, so beyond $180,000 the employee loses almost half of every extra dollar earned…” notes HLB Mann Judd Sydney taxation services partner Peter Bembrick.

For families at the lower end of the pay scale, increased earnings can also mean the unwelcome end of government benefits, such as family tax benefits.

“It is important that people know their effective tax rate and not just their marginal tax rate to determine if how hard they are working is worthwhile, especially those in the lower brackets,” says the managing director of  BFG Financial Services, Suzanne Haddan.

Prescott Securities senior economist and financial adviser Alan Hutchinson says there are a number of options for taxpayers who are in danger of jumping into a higher tax bracket.

Cutting back on the hours worked is one option, although possibly not the best if there are mortgages and school fees to pay, he says. Another strategy is salary sacrificing into superannuation.

“Salary sacrificing is the main strategy available to people wanting to avoid bracket creep, and it is the one that works,” says Hutchinson.

ipacSecurities head of technical services Colin Lewis says salary-packaging motor vehicles and laptops used for work-related purposes may be an option for some employees as a way of reducing assessable income.

Employees of public benevolent institutions such as public hospitals or not-for-profit organisations are still able to salary-package almost anything including living expenses, education costs, loan and mortgage repayments, rent, credit card payments and bills, he says.

AFR Contributor

*Source Bina Brown – Australian Financial Review

See the full report here.

RBA Maintains Run of Record Low Rates

True to economists’ expectations, the RBA has again left the cash rate untouched during September.

In his monthly statement, Governor Glenn Stevens sighted the decision to leave rates on hold was heavily influenced by the high Australian dollar and increasing unemployment.

“Monetary policy remains accommodative. Interest rates are very low and have continued to edge lower over recent months as competition to lend has increased. Investors continue to look for higher returns in response to low rates on safe instruments. Credit growth has picked up a little, including most recently to businesses. The increase in dwelling prices continues. The exchange rate, on the other hand, remains above most estimates of its fundamental value, particularly given the declines in key commodity prices. It is offering less assistance than would normally be expected in achieving balanced growth in the economy,” Stevens said.

The RBA has repeatedly stressed the likelihood of “a period” of low and stable interest rates since it met February this year, noting
the tepid improvement in investment outside the resource sector, alongside significant increases in house prices and a growing pipeline of home building.

The cash rate has now stayed at 2.5 per cent for 13 months, the longest period of interest rate stability since 2006.

2014 Federal Budget

FRINGE BENEFITS TAX AND SALARY PACKAGING

FBT rate
The FBT rate is being increased from 47% to 49% to align with the highest marginal tax rate inclusive of the Temporary Budget Repair Levy of 2%. Whilst the increased income tax rate will apply from 1 July 2014, the increased FBT rate will not apply until 1 April 2015. Further, whilst the Temporary Budget Repair Levy applies until 30 June 2017, the FBT rate is to drop again as of 1 April 2017.

Changing the FBT rate also changes the FBT gross-up rates, as follows:

2014-15 FBT year 2015-16 FBT year 2016-17 FBT year 2017-18 FBT year
FBT rate 47% 49% 49% 47%
Type 1 gross-up 2.0802 2.1463 2.1463 2.0802
Type 2 gross-up 1.8868 1.9608 1.9608 1.8868

Salary packaging
The reason for increasing the FBT rate is stated to be “To prevent high income earners from utilising fringe benefits to avoid the levy”. But you would need to salary package a lot of income to take advantage of this 2% differential. For instance, packaging $20,000 would only produce a saving of around $400.

So whilst there appears to be an opportunity in both the year ending 30 June 2015 and the year ending 30 June 2017, for high income earners to take fringe benefits in the period where the lower FBT rate applies, it would only be useful to the extent the employee earns above $180,000 and the minimal savings probably mean they are unlikely to bother.

Not-for-profit caps
In order to protect the value of fringe benefits provided in the not-for-profit sector, that otherwise diminishes with an FBT rate increase, the annual caps for concessional treatment are to be increased. Confirmation of the new amounts has not yet been provided.

FBT rebate
The FBT rebate (currently 48%) is to be aligned with the FBT rate as of 1 April 2015.

Leight Penberthy
Chief Executive Office

*Source Elizabeth Lucas – Grant Thornton Australia