Virtual Assistants are Independent Contractors and the Independent Contractors Australia (ICA) is very proactive in keeping the government on track with ICs in our country. If you’re interested in seeing the stats on how many self-employed business people there are in Australia, this article from the ICA may interest you. Our current President, Kathie Thomas, is a board member of the ICA.
Once the second half of the year has begun it seems the rest of the year moves much faster. Do you find that? So much to do before the year’s end.
Here at AVAA headquarters we’ll soon be gearing up for planning AVAC 2015. We already have the venue secured and the dates set for 20-21 March 2015 at Melbourne Docklands. So if you’re travelling from the country or from interstate, or overseas, you can definitely plan your travel now, knowing the dates are locked in.
We are seeking two Victorian based AVAA members to join the sub committee to help us plan AVAC 2015. You’ll be helping us to source sponsors, speakers, conference bag donations as well as help promote the event. Closer to the event we’ll need your help to pack the conference bags and also assist during the event, perhaps on the registration table, answering questions and introducing new VAs to others. There’s always something to do in the planning and running of our annual VA conference.
In the meantime, what are you doing with your business? How are you progressing? Are you making plans for the new year already? Have you made decisions about new services you wish to provide, or the client type you want to service?
Now is a good time to think about that VA course, or perhaps a software course, to get you ready for the new year.
Perhaps you need to find a mentor? There are many people experienced in business around you, that would happily answer your questions about running a business or point you in the right direction. And there are many experienced VAs who write blogs, books, or provide some kind of guidance or training for those VAs who are just starting out.
Finally, don’t forget the value of joining networking groups, both online and offline. There should never be 100% of one and none of the other. While many VAs start out thinking they’ll only ever work online and never have to leave home, the reality is that we’re all social creatures and we need contact with other people. Going out to meet people face-to-face is both good for our businesses but also good for our mental and physical health. Even if you are shy. Meeting other business people isn’t just about finding new clients (although that helps), it’s also finding out about running a business in your local area, and getting out of your own four walls for a change of scenery. We all need that from time to time!
Happy New Financial Year! for those VAs in Australia
We have an article by a guest writer to share with you relating to taxation for Virtual Assistants. As with any articles like this one, please refer to your own accountant to ensure that your circumstances have been taken into consideration for anything you do regarding your business.
THE TOP TEN THINGS TO KNOW RE TAX FOR VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS
Congratulations on becoming a Virtual Assistant, an area that is ever-growing in these days of technological mobility and employment flexibility.
Many of you have made the jump from salaried employment to the business of being a Virtual Assistant and are therefore unaware of the things that you can claim as a deduction on your Income Tax Return.
BEFORE WE START
Before we start, we need to discuss what a deduction is.
A deduction is an amount spent on by you on a business item that can used to reduce your Net Profit and, therefore, the amount of tax that you have to pay.
A deduction is only allowable if an amount was spent to derive business income and that there is evidence to prove that the amount was spent.
Now that we have determined what a deduction is, we can now touch upon the top TEN things to know when getting your tax done.
THE TEN THINGS TO KNOW
Clothing, uniforms and footwear: The purchase of clothing, uniforms and footwear is not deductible as these items don’t have the main character of money spent to gain/make income unless the clothing has your logo on it.
Should there be a logo on the clothing, you can claim the deduction; otherwise you cannot.
Conferences, seminars and training courses: A deduction can be claimed for the cost of attending conferences, seminars and training courses to maintain or increase a virtual assistant’s knowledge, ability or skills. There must be a relevant connection with the current work activities of the virtual assistant.
A deduction is allowable for travel expenses (fares, accommodation and meal expenses), registration and conference material costs, incurred in attending work-related conferences and seminars. If these costs are only incidental to a holiday, then only the costs directly attributable to the travel costs are deductible.
Depreciation of equipment: A deduction is allowable for depreciation to the extent of the work-related use of the equipment.
Should the items of equipment is used partly for work-related purposes and partly for other purposes, the depreciation should be reduced to reasonably reflect the extent to which the equipment was not used to produce assessable income.
Should the equipment used is bought part way through the year, the deduction for depreciation should be apportioned on a pro-rata basis.
Home Office Expenses: A deduction is allowable for a portion of the expenses associated with an employee’s home given that part of the home is used for income-earning activities and has the character of a ‘place of business’
There are two types of expenses associated with the home:
a) Occupancy expenses relate to ownership or use of a home and are not affected by the taxpayer’s income-producing activities. These expenses include rent, mortgage interest, repairs to the home, municipal and water rates, property taxes and house insurance premiums; and
b) Running expenses relate to the use of facilities in the home and may be affected by the taxpayer’s income-producing activities. These expenses include: heating/cooling and lighting expenses, cleaning costs, depreciation, leasing charges and the cost of repairs to furniture and furnishings in the home office.
Should you be renting the house that you run your business from, then you can claim both groups of expenses; should you own the house that you run your business from, then you can only claim the Running Expenses.
Motor vehicle and other transport expenses (see also Travel expenses): Transport expenses including public transport fares and the running costs associated with using motor vehicles, motor cycles, bicycles, etc., for work-related travel. They do not include accommodation, meals and incidental expenses (see Travel expenses).
Given that Virtual Assistants generally work from home, a deduction is allowable for the cost of travelling directly between two places of business, provided that the travel is undertaken for the purpose of carrying out income-earning activities.
Self-education expenses: A deduction is allowable for the cost of self-education if there is a direct link between the course of education and the virtual assistant’s current income-earning activities. Self education costs can include fee, travel, books and equipment.
Stationery: A deduction is allowable for the cost of purchasing items of stationery to the level that they are used for income-producing purposes.
Telephone, mobile phone and other telecommunications equipment expenses: A deduction is allowable for the rental cost or for depreciation on the purchase price to the extent of the work-related use of the item.
Travel expenses: A deduction is allowable for the cost of travel (fares, accommodation, meals and incidentals) incurred by a virtual assistant when travelling overnight in the course of employment, (e.g., to a sales conference in another town)
Wages: A deduction is allowable where virtual assistants incur a wage expense to provide services and assistance relating directly to their income.
However, a deduction is not allowable if the expenditure is private or domestic in nature.
My name is Mark Peterson, and I run an Accounting Practice called Marked Focus (www.markedfocus.com.au). The aim of this document is to help you claim the deductions that you are entitled to and, therefore, reduce the amount of tax that you have to pay.
Should you have any questions in relation to this document, you can contact me on 0438 873 668 or e-mail me at
The advice provided on this website is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.
Before acting on this advice you should consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to your own objectives and needs.
We’ve had a couple of people ask us where is BCEC on the AGM agenda papers. Our apologies. We should have put that in full.
It’s the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Southbank, Brisbane. And it is where the Australian VA Conference is being held. If you are not attending the conference and are able to get to BCEC for the AGM, you are most welcome to attend.
If you have any queries, please do contact one of our board members on our website.
The 5th Annual Australian VA Conference is less than 3 weeks away. Can’t believe that time has passed so quickly. The speakers have sent in their materials, the handbook is almost ready to go to the printers and the gifts, goodies and giveaways are arriving at the home of one of our Qld based VAs. So looking forward to seeing our conference showbags for this year! And I bet you are too. It’s not too late to book. We’re still getting enquiries and yes, we are still open for bookings. We haven’t hit the final number yet but it’s possible that could happen very soon. Make sure you don’t miss out. Book today at http://australianvaconference.com/registration/.
We mustn’t forget to remind you to visit our sponsors who have helped make this event possible. As we are a not-for-profit, we are very dependent on sponsors to help cover the costs of our conference.
Please note: All rooms at the Mantra are now taken and we have none left for delegates. However, many have found suitable places of accommodation nearby. If you join in the chat at our Facebook page you can find out where others are staying. Or view the other suggestions on the site. See you soon!
Perhaps you’re not sure if the conference is for you?
Let us use the words of a colleague and long-term VA, Nina Feldman, who resides in the US. She was referring to IVAA’s VA Convention but her words also very much relate to any Virtual Assistant event that will be beneficial to the growth of your business. Make no mistake about that! Posted with permission. Read on…
“I have no ulterior motives for promoting the convention other than the joy I have seeing the smiling faces of other VAs there—newbies and old hands–and the chance I get to share with, and learn from, that many more of you.
But honestly, you can’t afford NOT to go. It’s not just the speakers and the topics covered, but we get so many opportunities to learn from each other while we’re there–meals, roundtable discussions, question-and-answer periods, happy hour, slumber parties, standing in line for the shuttle… It’s like having a business consultation for days at a time with everyone in your field who could inspire and help you. I didn’t start out knowing how valuable the convention would be for me.
In fact, a couple of years after I started my home-based business, there was an ABSSI* convention in San Francisco, only a half-hour subway ride from my home, but I was still too chicken to spend the money to attend—even without having to pay for any hotel or travel costs (*ABSSI = Association of Business Support Services, an organization that existed throughout the ’80s and ’90s that was a lot like IVAA). But once I finally decided to attend a convention, I wished I’d begged, borrowed, or stolen the money to go in previous years (well, at least put it on my credit card), because each year I come away with *so* much good, time- and money- saving advice that by the time I get back to my home office, it has *more* than paid for the trip!
This is all the more true when you’re first starting out. Many newer VA’s say that because their client load is low, they don’t have the money to spend on these things. I can safely say that the year following my first convention I attracted more clients, and earned several thousands of dollars more than I ever had, just by putting into practice some of the relatively easy revenue-generating ideas I got from others at the conference–from the speakers, of course, but especially from the other attendees. In my opinion, going to the convention is not an extravagance; it’s something you owe to your career. It’s an investment in your business–and it may very well be the thing that keeps it from failing.
I have seen a huge percentage of those who try self-employment give up and go back the job world because they simply didn’t know enough about how to get and keep clients. And getting and keeping clients is what is really behind most of what we learn at the conventions.
As far as investments go, you only have to save about three dollars a day during the course of the year to be able to afford to go to the conference each year—and you’ll get back *tons* more than that from what you glean there. I’ve heard of some folks who have actually put that three dollars in a jar at the end of each day, designating it especially for convention trip money.
Even though I’ve been in business for decades, it’s always an incredible “shot in the arm” for me to go to the convention. The sustenance and inspiration I get from others there has saved me from burnout more than once. This is what I wrote to the colleague I talked about in the first paragraph: <<I, too, thought I couldn’t afford a convention the first few years, so I didn’t go. But later, after I came back from my first one, I earned so much based on what I learned there that it MORE than paid for the trip, and it still does, EVERY SINGLE TIME. If I were you, I would put the whole thing on your credit card and just go. You won’t regret it. I guarantee it!!! The VAs I know who started going to the conventions “before they could afford it” are the ones who are still in business.”>>
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. Hope to see you there!”
The above has already shared the above via the VAIG forum and to the team of “A Clayton’s Secretary”. And received feedback already that Nina’s words above have allayed concerns that the conference might not be for newbies in the industry. The conference is for any and ALL Virtual Assistants, no matter where they are with their VA walk. We so look forward to seeing you attend #AVAC2014. Book today! http://www.australianvaconference.com. You will not regret it!