WHEN YOU’RE SELF EMPLOYED you are responsible for managing your taxes and your superannuation — the latter of which many business owners let go by the wayside. It’s almost always because they don’t have the cash reserves to contribute to their super fund regularly enough.
Just as you would create a budget to make a business investment or asset purchase, you can use Xero and Excel to determine how much super you should contribute on your behalf, and then make the payments.
Run a cashflow report
You’ll learn how to run a cashflow report in our Xero training courses. This report will show you the periods when cashflow is liquid and when it isn’t. Run a cashflow report for a couple of different periods, and export them into Excel. This will give you a better idea of trends and cycles in your business.
At time of writing, the superannuation guarantee is 9.5 percent of your gross revenue, before taxes, expenses, etc. If you set your prices correctly, you should have already factored this 9.5 percent into your prices or hourly rate. If you haven’t, you ought to consider revising what you charge customers and clients.
If you were an employee of a business, your employer would be required to make super contributions on your behalf, at least each quarter. Because you’re self-employed and self-managing your super contributions, you can make them as frequently or infrequently as you like, so long as you’re contributing the correct amounts. (Speak to your accountant or financial advisor, however, if you’re salary sacrificing above the minimum amount — this may affect your tax.)
Make super contributions
Once you’ve determined how much you should contribute to your super fund each quarter, refer back to your cashflow report and to the periods where your cashflow is especially liquid. Are you able to make your contributions each quarter easily, and without compromising your business’s liquidity? Would it be easier to make smaller, more regular contributions?
The decision is yours.
Use Xero to make your super contributions. Xero is connected to a superannuation clearing house, and if you’ve been using to Xero to pay yourself a wage, it’s the easiest way to do so. If you’re not using your accounting software to pay yourself a wage, you can make the payment directly out of your bank account, however, you’ll need to track this in Xero for taxation purposes.
One of the modules we cover in our MYOB course is the tricky business of payroll, which includes the even trickier business of superannuation. Over the last 12 months there’s been a raft of changes to the superannuation guarantee, including its gradual increase to 12 percent, which came into effect this July. But super just got easier.
Super: Confusing and Consuming
Many small business owners find managing the day to day items confusing enough without having to look after payroll — a complex, but all-important aspect of any business. Fortunately, the Australian Government has recognised that the superannuation requirements are making payroll and increasingly complicated business that many small business owners struggle with.
Making super contributions for your employees is not just complicated — it’s also time-consuming. Under the current tax laws, each of your employees have the option of selecting their own super fund, which means you can be making super contributions into different super funds for each of your employees. With the Government’s new initiative The Small Business Superannuation Clearing House, those days are over.
The Small Business Superannuation Clearing House
Every small business with 19 or fewer employees is eligible for this free service that enables you to make just one secure superannuation payment to The Super Clearing House, which is then distributed among your employees to their nominated super funds.
The Super Clearing House minimises the paper work and red tape associated with superannuation for small businesses and also allows you to nominate a regular contribution amount for each of your employees, so you can easily meet the superannuation guarantee obligations.
Using The Super Clearing House won’t affect the rest of your payroll requirements in MYOB — though it does look like it’s a direct competitor for MYOB’s M-Powered Superannuation — and once you register for The Super Clearing House service online, you can access it 24/7.
It prompted a question in our think tank about the purpose of superannuation and whether it should be used as a tool for investing in equity?
The problem with equity is that there is no guarantee of return and its value is completely dependent on the performance of the company. Even things like dividends are only paid at managements discretion. Interest on the other hand must be paid and the capital returned to the investor at the end of the term. In the event of a liquidation, debt is repaid first and it is usually secured by something.
It all really depends upon your personal circumstances but we found a product on the market that seemed to fit very well with the thinking of the concept of super. It is the Commonwealth Banks Superannuation Savings Account. It earns interest which might not be as impressive as equity, but this is only 10% of your income and it goes along with the adage from the Richest Man in Babylon… Make thy gold multiply.
In the end, as Financial Planners will attest, the decision you make depends upon your risk appetite and your investment time horizon, but one thing is certain – you must have super as an employee and pay it as an employer. Stay tuned for the news about our MYOB Payroll Level 2 course where we go into more detail about how to manage the paying of staff. All new content generated for our online MYOB training courses is available to existing students as part of their lifetime access.