Beyond Covid-19

Well it has certainly been an interesting seven weeks; dealing with level 4 lockdown conditions and then easing into level 3 before finally getting back to a level of normal activity under level 2 conditions. Obviously things will never go back to business-as-usual as it was before Covid-19 raised its ugly head but we are able to get back to business and work on rebuilding our businesses.

Then we had the 2020 Government Budget announcements, a budget designed to make sure as many businesses as possible survive and are able to rebuild in a new economic environment.

Some businesses will never be the same, some will close and others will adapt and grow, taking advantage of the opportunity to revisit how they do business.

We reopen our office on Monday 18th May

with some Covid-19 restrictions in place.

While the office will be open please note Sari will still be working from home for a few more weeks. She is available for Zoom video conference meetings, on her mobile (021-548-489) or by email (sari@savage.co.nz)

Visiting our office

For us our focus will be on helping you as it always has been, the success of our clients is really important to us and to help you we need to make sure we have a workplace that is safe for you and our staff. This means if you do need to come to our office you will notice a few small changes that are designed to meet government requirements for operating under level 2 conditions.

We will have social distancing practices in place, there will be a table at reception for you to leave packages, there will be hand sanitiser readily available, there will be single-use facemasks available for you to use if you are meeting with a staff member and you will be required to register as a visitor to our office for contact tracing purposes whenever you visit, no matter how briefly.

Contact Tracing

We will be using the “I’m Here” contact tracing system, you will need to use your phone to scan a code when you arrive and depart. We have chosen this because it is a simple solution to use, however, our staff will be able to assist if you have any issues using it. There will also be a form to fill in if you don’t have a mobile phone. You can check out the system at www.imhere.nz so you know what to expect when you do visit us.

The Budget

The one Budget item that will have the most impact immediately for many businesses is the announcement of an extension to the Wage Subsidy Scheme.

If your business has suffered a 50% or greater decline in turnover for a two month period then you are able to apply for a subsidy to help you pay staff wages for another eight weeks.

Small Business Loans via IRD

Announced before the budget but included in the overall Covid-19 response package is a loan scheme for SMEs. The scheme (https://media.ird.govt.nz/articles/government-boosts-cashflow-support-for-small-businesses/) for SME’s is to be administered by IRD. This will be interest free for 12 months or low interest for up to five years with no repayments for the first two years if you take the low interest option. It will be administered through IRD and provides for loans of $10,000 per business plus $1800 per employee up to a maximum of $100,000.

While we can’t make the application for you we will give any of our clients up to an hour free time to help you with your application, just email Sari, Anna or Libby to arrange a time to talk.

We hope you are all staying safe and we’re looking forward to talking with you sometime soon.

Covid-19 update – Level 2 & Open for Business

It has been a couple of weeks since we sent you an update and a number of things have happened in that time, prime among the the announcement of the rules that will apply when we head into the Covid-19 Level 2 environment. All businesses will need to alter how they work and it’s important the changes are well thought through as these restrictions are likely to be with us in one form or another for many months to come.

Our offices will be open for business again when Level 2 restrictions come into place.

We are excited to be able to have everyone back at work, albeit with restrictions and changes to how we operate.

Because Sari has an autoimmune condition she won’t be back in the office for a few weeks yet but will still be working from home by email, mobile phone and Zoom video conferencing.

We are currently working on a Covid-19 plan for the office and the biggest impact on you will be when you visit our office, we will have social distancing rules in place you will need to observe. Because a lot of our communication with you is via phone and email our main focus is going to be on ensuring the safety of our staff when we do return.

Government announcements and support

The business environment for the foreseeable future is going to be quite different to what it was before Covid-19 raised its head, every business is going to face challenges and will have to review what it does and how it goes about its business.

The government has acknowledged there will be very challenging times ahead with much higher unemployment (especially from the hospitality and tourism sectors) and it appears to be offering assistance to SME’s (Small to Medium Enterprises) that make up a huge proportion of businesses in this country.

Small businesses that provide services and products to local regions are going to be vital to New Zealand’s economic recovery as we will be less reliant on tourism until our international borders reopen, this could be a number of years away.

Along with various tax changes and the significant wage subsidy the government recently announced a loan scheme (https://media.ird.govt.nz/articles/government-boosts-cashflow-support-for-small-businesses/) for SME’s. This will be interest free for 12 months or low interest for up to five years with no repayments for the first two years if you take the low interest option. It will be administered through IRD and provides for loans of $10,000 per business plus $1800 per employee up to a maximum of $100,000.

This is in addition to various loan guarantee schemes put in place earlier with the banks.

Looking ahead

While we may appear to be over the very worst of the Covid-19 outbreak there is every possibility it could re-emerge as a significant health threat during the winter months so it is important we all do our bit to avoid having to go back into a Level 4 lockdown situation again.

So for the next two years let’s have local and New Zealand holidays and visit places you haven’t been before, you may be surprised at what New Zealand has to offer. And of course shop local, support those businesses that have supported our community for many years and help them stay in business so they can be part of our future too.

In the next week we will be sending an update on what you will need to do if you visit our offices.

Take care and continue to do your bit to keep everyone in our community safe.

Covid-19 update – 26.04.20

This is just a quick update to recap on a few things we have put in this update email over the past few weeks.

Closed

Our office will remain closed during Level 3 restrictions.

Our senior staff are working from home so we can still provide essential support and, for those of you have already dropped your annual accounts in to us, we have logged your accounts into our workflow records and will prepare your annual accounts on a first-in, first-out basis. Unless of course you have an urgent need for financial information to give to your bank, in that case we will give you accounts priority.

Contact numbers

You can contact us as follows:

Sari Hodgson     7 days. sari@savage.co.nz 021-548-489

Neil Hodgson     7 days. neil@savage.co.nz 021-445-142

Anna Patchett   Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm anna@savage.co.nz 021-276-7393

Libby Gledhill     Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm libby@savage.co.nz 027-313-4382

Zoom

We are available for Zoom meetings (via internet). Just email the person you want to talk with and we will make a time to meet and send you a zoom link so we can chat online

Monthly Invoicing

Also as per last month, because we won’t be back in the office our monthly invoices for the end of April will be sent without the usual detail. If you require a detailed invoice please just contact us and we will send you one when we are able to operate from the office again.

And don’t forget, you are able to contact Neil to make arrangements to pay your account over time if your business and cashflow has been impacted by the lockdown.

We do understand these are challenging times for many people and businesses and we will support you in any way we can.

Free help

A reminder we are offering free help to all clients who need help putting together cash flows and other planning documents you may need during the recovery stage as we move out of lockdown. We are here to help and will give you an hour free time towards preparing these documents, pointing you in the right direction or reviewing various plans you have been working on.

Tell us what is happening

Let us know if you’re open for business so we can share the good news, we want to encourage everyone to do as much business locally as possible. This is our community and to make sure it remains a great place to live, work and play we need to make sure we support every business in the region.

Tell us about your business – are you open again? What changes have you made to be able to operate in Level 3? We want to share the good news so tell us and we will tell others.

Buy local

As above, we urge you all to buy local and support local, small businesses are really suffering in these most unusual, unexpected and unplanned for times so they need as much help as they can get, every $10 you spend locally makes a big difference to local businesses.

You don’t need to buy everything online or make every meal a delivered meal but maybe treat yourself once a week to something tasty for a great local food business.

Personally we have made a point of having things we normally buy delivered by local producers and retailers and have already ordered some meals for delivery for later in the week.

Watch this space for an email about local restaurants doing home delivery for the next few weeks.

Stay safe

Finally, we trust you have managed to stay well and have been keeping safe, don’t drop the safety standards just yet because we don’t want Covid-19 to tighten its grip again meaning we have to go back to Level 4 lockdown for another four weeks.

Covid-19 Weekly Update 20.04.20

As these unusual times continue there are a few things to remember – stay safe and shop local, shop local, shop local!

While we are in this lock down situation together we need to remember to help one another come out of it in as best shape as possible. The best way to do that is support every local business you can.

Various restrictions under Level 3 Lockdown may make it seem like Level 3.75 but at midnight on Monday 27th April some businesses will be able to start operating again, mainly without any public contact but with online or phone orders, contactless payment and similar things only.

Also if you are currently working from home you must continue to do so if it is at all possible. With that in mind we will NOT be reopening our office under Level 3 restrictions.

However Sari and our senior staff will continue to work from home. So far this has been a little frustrating at times but we are getting everything done you need us to do. We are also set up to use Zoom video conferencing so if you want to have some more personal contact then email us to make an appointment for a Zoom meeting. Anna and Libby are available Monday to Friday 9am ‘til 5pm while Neil and Sari are available seven days a week, including evenings if required.

Here’s a link from business.govt.nz for an explanation of various alert levels and operating guidelines for businesses

If you can’t find an answer to your questions here then just email or phone us, we are here to help our clients through the challenging times ahead of us as we work on re-establishing our businesses again.

Things to Remember

  • March PAYE payments were due today
  • GST returns for the periods ended 31 March are required by the 7th of May, however if you will have difficulty in making your GST payment please contact us and we will help you sort out a deferred payment arrangement with IRD. It’s important you put an arrangement in place rather than just not paying it.
  • If you have provisional tax (3rd payment for 2020 year) then this is also due to be paid. On 7th May As a result of recent government announcements about tax relief there has been some confusion around the need to pay this. If you have this due you must pay it as it is calculated on your year end 31 March 2020 figures, not current trading figures.

And of course remember to stay safe, don’t let your social distancing standards relax because we don’t want the community to be forced back into level 4 lockdown, and most of all be kind to each other.

Being kind includes supporting every local business we can so they are here for us to enjoy into the future, so look for local business offering deliveries from the 28th April, buy from them and use other local service providers – shop local!

Covid-19 update – 14.04.20

Well it continues to be an interesting time we are working our way through. The great news is that the Covid-19 lockdown appears to be having a positive effect by controlling the spread of this illness.

While all the signs are good we still have a long way to go, firstly to get through the immediate crisis and then a very long road to economic recovery. We are expecting some of the lockdown restrictions to be eased but not expecting them to be lifted totally for a few months yet.

Today’s Government Announcement re Level 3

The Government has announced general conditions for operating under Level 3 restrictions when they do drop the Covid Threat Level from Level 4 to Level 3.

It appears there will still be strict restrictions on who can open for business and how those businesses operate. The key point is the social distancing 2 meter ‘bubble’ must be retained. We’re uncertain how this will effect Savage & Savage and whether or not we are able to operate from our offices. We are expecting to not be able to operate from the office however we do want to get back as soon as we can and will be seeing if the detail in Level 3 lockdown rules allow us to. Watch this space.

Planning

With that in mind business owners need to start thinking about what their business is going to look like post Covid-19. Some of the things to consider are when will your business be able to be up and running again? Will your business clients still be in business? How will your general customer base have changed? What will your cash flow look like for the next two years? How many staff will you need? What is your tax liability for the next two years? And many other things.

There are many things to consider and every business owner is going to have to do some serious thinking and planning. We can help you with your cashflow forecasting for the next few years so we are happy to offer our clients an hour of time from either Anna or Libby, at no charge, to discuss what you need to think about when preparing a cashflow.  If you’d like us to prepare your cashflow for you we will give you an hours’ free time when preparing it.

Recent tax changes announced

The Government has announced some changes to various taxes and payments, in particular tax carry back changes (tax losses carried forward). When we get exact details about the implementation of these changes we will share those with you but in the meantime you will need to do some panning, both for your cashflow and future tax purposes.

So we can accurately estimate your future tax liabilities it’s important we have the most up-to-date information as possible so please don’t delay sending your annual accounts information to us. By having your tax position for 2020 established we can then look at forecasting 2021 for the loss carry back if you have one. The tax relief measures will be easier to use if books are up to date.

Attached is a factsheet from the Beehive – Supporting small and medium sized enterprises during the COVID-19 crisis. This is a summary of the latest support measures being rolled out by the government.

Annual Accounts

We operate on a first in – first out basis unless there are urgent business needs like refinancing business sale etc so the sooner you get your information to us the sooner we can get your annual accounts finished.

Tax payment relief

When it comes to IRD payment arrangements your tax position needs to be established first, this goes for all tax types. It’s better to get in contact with us to request an IRD payment arrangement rather than just not paying – even though IRD will be lenient and write off interest and penalties it is much better to have a formal arrangement in place.

Payment of our invoices

We understand these are difficult times financially for many businesses and we don’t want this to be a barrier to us doing work for you so if you would like to make an arrangement to pay your account with us over a period of time please contact Neil at neil@savage.co.nz . We want to make sure we help all of our clients as much as we can.

Please continue to think about your safety if you are out and about.

We’re working on how we will operate under Covid-19 Level 3 restrictions when they come into place, hopefully in the not too distant future.

Covid-19 Weekly Update – 05.04.20

Well it certainly has been an interesting week and a half as we all get used to working and living differently during the Covid-19 lockdown.

It seems that every day the government is providing more clarification as to things we can do day-to-day and, most importantly for you, how you can use the wage subsidy. There have been many conflicting pieces of advice from employment lawyers and employment relations businesses. As we have digested these varying pieces of interpretation we have taken a ‘use it responsibly and fairly’ attitude.

On Friday Minister Grant Robertson clarified that if a wage subsidy received for a part time employee is more than they would usually get paid then the balance can be used towards paying other employees. The key thing is it MUST be used to pay staff wages.

Wage Subsidy for Sole Traders, Self-Employed and Contractors

We have had many queries from clients who are sole traders, partners in partnerships, and contractors as to whether they can get the wages subsidy. The answer is yes, provided you meet the necessary criteria.

Contact Anna at anna@savage.co.nz if you need help filling in the application

Keeping wage subsidy records

You may be asked to prove you have applied the wage subsidy correctly and we will need to account for any subsidy you have received when we prepare your annual accounts at the end of the year so it is important you keep a record of how you spend the money the government gives you for wages.

We have prepared a very simple spreadsheet that will help you keep track of the money you receive and pay out.

If we prepare your payroll for you we will do this for you and can send you updated figures on a regular basis so you know how much you have left to use for wages. If you want a copy of the spreadsheet just email neil@savage.co.nz and he will send it to you

At the end of the year please email it back to us with your annual accounts information.

Minimum wage increase

If you are an employer it is important to note the minimum wage rate increased effective from 1st April. Even during the current difficult trading conditions this is the minimum you must pay all of your staff

The rate increases from $17.70 to $18.90 per hour.

7th May Provisional Tax

If Sari normally contacts you prior to provisional tax payments she will still do so as many businesses may need to estimate their provisional tax down due to low trading / no trading in March and doubt about debtor payments.

As usual we will be sending out tax notices to you during April for 7th May payment.

If you have any queries contact Sari – sari@savage.co.nz 021-548-489

Annual Accounts

If you are using Xero or MYOB on-line and would like us to get started on your 2020 annual accounts please sign client questionnaires that were previously emailed to you in March, and send them to Sari.

Your bank may need these if you are looking for further support from them during these difficult times. We have two senior accountants as well as Sari working remotely from home who can work on these during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Remember, we are here to help you if you need some advice or assistance, just email or phone us, but most importantly please be safe and stay home so we can all get back to a level of normalcy as soon as possible.

 

Covid-19 Update – 30.03.20

We certainly hope you are all well and sticking to the rules, everyone doing the right thing now will help businesses get up and running again. Having said that we are expecting the current four week lock down to be extended, to possibly eight weeks, and then restrictions to come off slowly I.E. – reverting back to level three restrictions for a few weeks then back to level two.

We have no definitive evidence of this but looking at what’s happening overseas this is what we expect. The real message here is we are in this very unusual and curious situation for many weeks to come and we need to be prepared for it.

Savage & Savage invoicing and payment

We will be emailing March invoices as usual in the next week, however these will not contain the same level of detail we normally include as we are working remotely and don’t have access to some of the information we use each month due to not being able to get in to our premises. If you require a fully detailed invoice we can send this to you when we are able to return to the office, but do note the totals won’t change.

We also understand it a difficult managing cashflow for many so with this in mind we will work with clients to make payment over time if required. We are in exactly the same position as many of our clients, we are a small business too and are subject to the same pressures of not being able to work at normal levels to generate income.

It is important we all pay our regular invoices on time so the economy keeps ticking over but as I said above, we are very happy to work with clients to arrange payment over a few months. Please just contact Neil and he can make suitable arrangements with you. His contact details are shown below.

Wage Subsidies

Many of you will have applied for and received the wage subsidy. You need to try your hardest to pay employees named in the application at least 80% of wages. If you want and are able to you could give employees the option to top it up to 100% using annual leave or sick leave. If it isn’t possible pay 80% you need to pay at least the subsidy rate. Employers are obliged to retain the employees for whom they receive the subsidy for 12 weeks.

Paying the subsidised wages

When processing the pays in payroll, work out what 80% of their normal hours would be and pay that as ordinary hours. By paying it as ordinary hours PAYE, Kiwisaver, holiday pay etc is calculated as it should. If the employees hours vary you will need to work out an average of the last 4 weeks hours. If the last 4 weeks are not an accurate picture of their usual fluctuations in hours you can average out over the last 12 months. If topping up pays with annual leave or sick leave, use appropriate pay code.

Please set up a spreadsheet or similar to keep track of how much of the subsidy is used each pay as any balance unused is earmarked for wages but can be used for other employees. If you use the full subsidy amount for each employee each pay period, then you wouldn’t need to track it.

Reconciling transactions

Sole trader

The subsidy payment received has no GST. Code to other/sundry income, change to no GST. It is taxable as it is received by the end user.

Companies that pay end of year Shareholder Salary – no other employees

The subsidy payment received has no GST. It is taxable to the shareholder when taken as drawings. As it will be used over a period of time and is a grant earmarked for wages, it should be coded to a liability account called Subsidy with Conditions.  We are more than happy to take care of coding if you’d like. We will then transfer the subsidy out of the liability account as it is used up and ensure correct coding and tax treatment.

Company or partnership with employees

The subsidy payment received has no GST. As it will be used over a period of time and is a grant earmarked for wages, it should be coded to a liability account called Subsidy with Conditions.  We are more than happy to take care of coding if you’d like. We will then transfer the subsidy out of the liability account as it is used up and ensure correct coding and tax treatment. Taxable to employees as wages.

For all employers (Sole traders excluded), the income is not taxable and it is not a deductible expense when paid, we will take care of coding and ensure correct treatment when we prepare your annual accounts.

Rent and Lease Obligations

The impact for this Covid-19 event is likely to be long and lingering,

With this in mind, we recommend you contact your landlord sooner rather than later to discuss your lease and rent situation. Many leases are based on the Auckland District Law Society form and depending on the version of the ADLS Lease form you have signed with your landlord (clause numbers may vary) you should be able to negotiate a reduction in rental to a ‘fair proportion’ of the rent and outgoings as provided under clause 27.5 (No Access in Emergency) of the lease agreement.

  • There exists an “emergency” that prevents the tenant from gaining access to the premises to fully conduct business from the premises because of reasons of safety of the public

27.5 (a)       Access is prohibited

27.5 (c)       Restriction on occupation of the premises is by a ‘competent authority’ (the government of New Zealand)

We believe that lease clause 27.5 can be relied on to enter into negotiations with your landlord.

We have seen a range of negotiated results and it is apparent landlords are prepared to share the pain everyone is experiencing, the question of what is a fair proportion of rent and outgoings is going to vary depending on your business and lease term and conditions but you should be talking with your landlords now.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Covid-19 Update 23.03.20

These are certainly curious and challenging times for everyone in the community and we know businesses will need all the support they can get to survive through the next few months.

At Savage & Savage we are being pro-active and have set up systems to allow us to operate with a similar level of service to you, our clients.

We have taken the decision to close our office effective from 5pm this Wednesday

The Government has just moved the warning level for Covid-19 to level three and expect to move it to level four within 48 hours.

This means total lockdown for all but essential businesses

You can still drop paperwork in to us using the mail slot in the wall beside the front door. Neil will check for mail every few days.

As the majority of our clients deal with most things by way of email and telephone we expect this inconvenience to have minimal impact for much of the work we do for you. We have set our senior staff up to work from home and they will have remote access to our secure servers and email so we can continue to work as normally as we can in these trying circumstances.

We do understand these are going to be difficult times as we are also a small business facing many of the same challenges as our clients.

We will help you and work with you to ensure everyone survives this challenge.

We expect the government to roll out more support for businesses and we will keep you updated on help available to businesses.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for advice and assistance.

If you have any queries please contact us either on our normal phone line that will be diverted to Neil Hodgson’s mobile if we are forced by government restrictions to close our offices.

Contact details for our senior staff are:

Sari Hodgson       021-548-489       sari@savage.co.nz

Anna Patchett   021-276-7393      anna@savage.co.nz

Libby Gledhill      027-313-4382    libby@savage.co.nz

Neil Hodgson     021-445-142        neil@savage.co.nz

Most of all please be safe, take appropriate precautions, stay in touch with lonely and vulnerable people (at least by phone) and take care of yourselves.

Kind regards to you all

IRD changes – Free seminar & webinar in March

Chamber of Commerce Seminar

The Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce is hosting an IRD seminar at NMIT on the 12th March on the IRD’s business transformation and further changes to be implemented in April. This includes changes to payroll, Kiwisaver and Student Loan accounts in myIR.

It will be a great opportunity to learn more about the changes and how to get ready and to ask IRD representatives any questions you may have. It is open to both members and non-members and is free to attend.

Follow this link to find out more and to register

IRD Webinar

IRD are also running a webinar suitable for Employers and Not-for-Profit organisations on Wednesday the 18th March. This webinar will help you prepare for the upcoming changes.

To find out more and to register click here

Residential Loss Ring-fencing

From the 19/20 year onwards losses from a residential rental property can no longer be offset against other income such as salary, wages or other business income.

The loss from one rental property can be offset against other residential rental income if you choose to use the portfolio basis (if you own more than one property the rules can be applied to all your affected properties as a single portfolio).

If you have unused losses at the end of the year they will need to be carried forward and can be used to offset future income from residential rentals including taxable income on sale if the bright line rules are triggered and depreciation recovered (if you owned the property before 2010). In some situations, any remaining losses can be released from the ring fencing rules, but more often than not they will need to be carried forward until the day you receive surplus residential rental income again to offset the losses carried forward against.

Certain properties are excluded from the ring-fencing rules including your main home, farmland, property that the mixed-use asset rules apply to, business and commercial premises, to name a few.

If you are a client of ours holding residential rental property you will hear from us over the next few weeks with more specific information.

If you have any questions, please contact anna@savage.co.nz