For many years, the low value asset threshold for depreciation had been set at $500.00. This meant that everything over $500.00 had to be capitalised and depreciated as a fixed asset. The cost of many business items has increased significantly since the rules were last reviewed. At the same time, the useful life of the items has decreased. This is why the government was reviewing the rules and planning to increase the threshold.

The pandemic came along and the under review low value asset rules were a perfect option to allow some quick action to help stimulate business investment. The updated rules were one of the first COVID-19 Business Response measures, announced in March 2020.

The New Low Value Asset Rules

From the 17th March 2020, the low value asset threshold for depreciation has been increased to $5,000.00.

This is a ten-fold increase from the previous threshold of $500.00. The governments intention for this is to spur business investment. It is hoped that businesses will be encouraged to spend more in order to take advantage of the ability to expense items costing up to $5,000.00. This was a direct reaction to the drop in business confidence as a result of COVID-19.

12 Month Time-frame for New Rules

This new threshold is strictly limited and expires on the 16th March 2021. In order to expense a low value asset costing up to $5,000.00, you must purchase it on or after the 17th March 2020 but before the end of business on the 16th March 2021.

There was initially some confusion around when the rules would come into effect. This was largely due to the chaotic situation in the early days of the pandemic and the requirement for the rules to be amended by legislation. The 12-month period is as outlined above and is not in line with the standard 2020-2021 tax year.

Low Value Asset Rules from March 2021

From the 17th March 2021, the low value asset threshold for depreciation will be $1,000.00.

This is double the old limit of $500.00 and is in line with the original uplift intentions signaled before COVID-19.

There is no time limit on this adjustment. It will remain effective until varied by future legislation.

Benefits of the Adjusted Low Value Asset Rules

Benefits for Small Business Owners

If you have been put off investing in your business because you would have to wait years to claim the full tax benefits, this may be the opportunity you have been waiting for. Need a few new computers? Now’s the time to invest. Need to refresh the workspace to make it a bit more inviting and productive? Now’s the time to invest. Need to optimise your online presence for post-covid growth? Now’s the time to invest.

If you run a small business selling to other businesses, this is a perfect opportunity to market the tax deduct-ability of your products. For many savvy business owners, it might be just the sweetner they need to convince them to spend up to $5,000.00 with you.

Benefits for Residential Property Investors and Landlords

The Healthy Homes Standards are a potentially costly burden for may landlords and property investors to bear. These changes offer the ability to implement the required expenses and claim the full tax deduction in this tax year.

This means that you can invest in the new heatpump, glazing or insulation and claim the full amount as an expense (as long as it remains under $5,000.00).

The requirement for you to include a statement of compliance with the Healthy Homes Standards has also been extended by the government. You were required to comply with this new regulation from the 1st of July 2020. This has now been delayed until the 1st of December 2020.

There will not be a better time to get the required upgrades done.

Depreciation Adjustments Announced with Same Legislation

The government also announced changes to the commercial investment property depreciation rules in the same package of tax changes. This will allow depreciation in much the same was as prior to the 0% rules which were passed in October of 2010. If you would like to view the IRD information on this announcement, click here. This depreciation rule may apply to your AirBNB properties.

 

If you would like a run-through of the new rules and how they may benefit your business, feel free to get in touch with us. You can book in a free chat with one of our team or simply flick us an email.

New Zealand’s Budget 2020 was promised to be the “jobs budget” by the Prime Minister just prior to its announcement.  Unfortunately, it is difficult to see how this budget saves or creates many jobs in the short to medium term.  Of course, it must be noted that there is $20Billion+ in COVID-19 recovery spending yet to be announced and some of this additional funding could be well-targeted.

There are a few announcements that will certainly save or create jobs in the long-term.  These include:

An existing $12Billion infrastructure fund has been increased by an additional $3Billion. This $15Billion will be used to fund soon-to-be-announced infrastructure projects.  Some 1,500 projects, totaling $136Billion, have applied for a share of this funding. This suggests we may see less than 200 projects actually break ground nation wide.

This additional $3Billion will help to plug the gap that will inevitably be left by private and council infrastructure schemes that are deferred or cancelled. So this will likely save jobs as opposed to create many new ones.  However, while changes are being made to the Resource Management Act to fast-track these projects, it is still safe to assume that it will take some time for these projects to commence. This will add to short-term pressures in the infrastructure sector with skilled workers in high demand globally.

8,000 additional public/transitional homes will be built. This will undoubtedly help save the jobs of builders as some private sector projects will likely be delayed. We have already seen some developments delayed till next year at the earliest based on the prospect of falling house prices making them less economical in the short term. Like with the infrastructure boost, this will not happen overnight. The government has already demonstrated how difficult it is to build even 1,000 homes over the past two years. This suggests we may be waiting at least 8 to 16 years to see the outcome of this announcement.

11,000 “green jobs” will be created in the regions.  These will be for the likes of pest and predator control and in upgrading DOC tracks and huts.  These initiatives will add real value to the nation, but again these jobs will not be created overnight. Many of these jobs will also not be long-term. With predator free targets in place and limited land for planting trees, once the work is done what will these jobs evolve into?

$1.6b towards training – a significant investment will be made in training.  Long-term this will definitely benefit New Zealand, but it will do little to solve the immediate problems created by the pandemic.  It is also questionable whether jobs will exist for these newly up-skilled people in a potential recessionary environment. The infrastructure spending and target of 8,000 homes will give some work. However, policy and legislative pressures on other sectors to benefit from the training boost, like farming and the primary sector, will likely see less demand for jobs in this sector over time. This investment needs to be targeted to the future of work or the government needs to change its legislative agenda towards the primary sector if it wants these trainees to have somewhere to work.

Policy consultants and bureaucrats. While very little funding has been allocated towards assisting the private sector, the Government sector has been sprayed with “helicopter money”.  This will certainly support the Wellington job market and economy.

What is in Budget 2020 for Small and Medium Businesses?

Disappointingly, there is very little in this budget in the way of near-term support for businesses. However, Government spending is stimulatory and there is certainly no shortage of new Government spending in Budget 2020! There is no doubt that this additional spending will help support the economy in the long term. However, it will take some time for the stimulatory effect of that spending to filter down into the wider economy and many small businesses are crying out for help now.

In terms of short-term relief, there really isn’t much for businesses (yet).  However, here are some of the measures that were announced:

  • An 8-week extension to the Wage Subsidy for businesses that have suffered a 50% decline in revenue for 30 days prior to applying for the extension when compared to the same 30 days last year.  See below for more detail on this.  This will be a welcome relief to the accommodation, hospitality and tourism sectors who are really hurting.
  • A $400m tourism recovery fund.  This seems to be aimed mainly at accessing advice around adapting tourism businesses towards domestic and Trans-Tasman markets. There also appears to be a focus on marketing New Zealand to Kiwi’s. Unfortunately there was limited detail in the budget announcements and it seems this fund is destined to be ‘working grouped’ over the coming weeks.
  • $150m in loans to R&D providers.
  • Additional funding for WINZ to place 10,000 primary sector jobs.
  • Financial support for businesses to retain apprentices.

Overall, the $50Billion COVID-19 recovery fund includes just $4Billion in business support. With $3.2Billion of this being consumed by the extension to the wage subsidy there is certainly not a lot to be optimistic about in the short to medium term. These announcements have simply bought the government a few more weeks to come up with some targeted, practical support for the sectors most damaged by the economic shutdown.

Extension to the Wage Subsidy Scheme

From the 10th June 2020, businesses who continue to be severely affected by COVID-19 will be able to apply for another 8 weeks of Wage Subsidy. Applications will be open for the extension for 12 weeks from the 10th June 2020.

The qualifying criteria around turnover has been substantially tightened from the first phase of the scheme. To qualify, a business must have suffered a 50% turnover reduction for the 30 days before the application is made compared to the same period last year (or a comparable period for a business that is less than 12 months old or experiencing high growth before COVID-19).

The same full-time rate of $585.80 and part-time rate of $350 will apply. At this stage, we understand that all other criteria will remain broadly the same.

Hospitality and Tourism Sectors

It goes without saying that two of the worst affected sectors are tourism and hospitality.  The shift to Level 2 is only a partial relief in these sectors so the extension to the wage subsidy will be much welcomed news for these businesses struggling for survival. While the wage subsidy scheme is not without its flaws or critics, there is no doubt that so far it has saved jobs and businesses, especially in the hospitality and tourism sectors. However, many employers in these sectors are going to need more than just the wage subsidy to survive long enough to be around for the recovery.  Presumably, there will be some more targeted relief in the coming weeks, but what these sectors need the most is some certainty about when restrictions will be loosened so that they can properly plan ahead and take necessary steps to mitigate the losses until they can begin trading again.

Tax Changes in Budget 2020

No tax changes were announced in budget 2020. However, New Zealand’s debt is forecast to balloon from $118Billion to over $317Billion in the next 4 years. Core crown debts alone will be well over $200Billion, 54% of GDP. This massive increase in Government debt and makes future tax increases a very strong possibility, if not ineviatble.

Where will the Additional $20Billion+ in Spending Go from Budget 2020?

As we mentioned earlier, there is still approximately $20Billion+ in funding to be allocated. The Finance Minister suggested that there will be further announcements in the residential housing space but hasn’t really signaled where the rest will go.

Perhaps the Government wants to stand back and get a feel for how much of a positive impact shifting to Level 2 has before deciding how to spend this money.

Considerable Room for Improvement

While the government has moved quickly with things like the wage subsidy to help save jobs in the immediate term, the recent announcements in budget 2020 have very little impact where it is most needed. We will continue to monitor announcements closely to see if some targeted, long-term relief is announced to support the hundreds of thousands of small and medium businesses across New Zealand. These businesses are a lifeline for countless families and the backbone of local communities across the country. While large organisations benefit from hundreds of millions in loans and large infrastructure projects, the government has so far overlooked the little guys in their long-term plans.

We’re Here to Help

At MBP, we’re here to help. The government’s additional COVID-19 funding for the regional business partner network has already dried up after helping less than 1% of the businesses desperately in need. That’s why we partnered with local business leaders to fully fund a range of our services that are essential for business survival and success in the face of the challenges we are presented with.

If you and your business need a hand, reach out and book in a chat with our team. We’re happy to help however we can.

As many business owners are experiencing, the COVID-19 pandemic has created serious financial difficulties for entrepreneurs. Small businesses especially are faced with cutting their budgets so they can continue to operate—even at a smaller scale—and not have to close for good. They also have to figure out how they can continue marketing themselves so once the pandemic is over, their customers and clients come back to them.

During a financial crisis, a company’s marketing budget is often one of the first areas to face cuts, but halting marketing entirely is a dangerous move.

Instead, try these tips for marketing on a tight budget.

Create video content from home

Video is increasingly becoming a popular marketing tool and it doesn’t have to be expensive. All you need is a smart phone or computer with a camera and some time to film yourself. Create a video series that can be posted on your website or social media feed. Encourage staff to create videos as well, although don’t force them to if they aren’t comfortable with it.

Depending on your business, you can post helpful tips for clients or show some behind the scenes of how your company operates during COVID-19. Hairdressers can show clients how to cut their hair at home (or how not to cut it). Personal trainers can show videos that break down different exercises. Dog groomers can show how to clip pets’ nails or wash the ears.

Host an Online Course

With people staying home and trying to stay entertained, many are looking for ways to keep their minds active. Hosting an online class is a great way to keep your business at the front of their mind, market yourself, and even continue earning money. Develop a course or class that solves your customers’ problems during COVID-19 and advertise it on your website and on social media. It’s up to you if you charge people to attend the course or if you offer it for free.

Think of the obstacles your clients face while they can’t access you and create a course to help them address that issue. Many people right now are looking for ways to keep their meals interesting with limited opportunities to shop. Restaurants or chefs could offer a class (or classes) in creating fun meals with pantry staples or mixing fancy cocktails, for example.

Keep your Social Media Going

Your social media marketing is often free or inexpensive and it keeps people aware of your business. Make sure you continue marketing with your social media posting, even it it’s just to post links to COVID-related resources or informative articles that your audience will appreciate.

Play around with your social media plan to see if there are ways to reach a wider audience without spending a lot of money. Facebook often has credits that make its sponsored posts free or almost free. Those posts reach a wider audience than your regular posts and can bring people to your website.

Divert Cash if you Can

You may have budgeted this year to spend marketing money at trade shows or networking events that will not happen. Instead, put that money in your digital marketing budget. Rather than having your marketing money spread out, focus on one or two areas that get you higher return on investment. These include areas such as search engine optimization and social media.

Final thoughts

It’s tempting to not continue marketing to save money right now, but you run the risk of not having customers when the pandemic is over. Instead, maximize your budget by diverting money into one or two focused areas. Finding ways to engage your customers through videos, online classes and social media will also ensure you’re ready to go when the social distancing is over.

Please get in touch with us if you have any questions. Alternatively, reach out to a marketing expert like The Marketing Baker.

The government has announced what COVID-19 Alert Level 2 will look like for New Zealand.  The decision to shift to Level 2 is yet to be made.  Cabinet meets on Monday to decide if, and when, the shift to Level 2 will occur.  However, all indications are that Level 2 will begin from next Wednesday, but the Prime Minister has signaled that Level 2 may be phased in over a period of time to reduce the associated risks.

The framework for Level 2 significantly removes many of the strictest restrictions of COVID-19 Alert Levels 3 & 4 which will be a much-welcomed relief for our collective sanity and a major boost for the economy.  The changes resemble a first step towards something like a return to ‘normal’. However, it isunlikely we will return to a true ‘normal’ until COVID-19 is a distant memory and a vaccine is available. The road ahead is long and we are truly only just starting the journey.

Like the shift to level 3, it is fair to expect an initial rush of people wanting to get out and spend. Be prepared to manage an influx of orders or customers, you don;t want your restaurant, cafe or store to be the reason we get kicked back into Level 3 or be shamed in the national media for any failings.

Basic Principles for Alert Level 2

Level 2 was described by the Prime Minister as a safe reopening of the economy.  The fundamental principles include:

  • People should stay at home if they are sick (as you always should!); and
  • Anyone with any cold or flu symptoms should be tested; and
  • Enhanced hygiene measures need to be in place (regular cleaning of high touch surfaces, etc); and
  • Contacts need to be traceable (i.e. a guest register will be required for somewhere that strangers can be in contact with each other); and
  • Social distancing (2m) remains for contact with strangers, but can be somewhat relaxed for non-stranger interactions; and
  • Bubbles will be a thing of the past; and
  • No gatherings of more than 100 people (inside and outside); and
  • Contactless payment will no longer be required; and
  • Borders remain closed, but domestic travel can resume.

The Government is working on a nationwide contact tracing technology that will be based on QR codes, but it does not sound like that will be ready in time for the shift to Level 2. As wit most things, you’re better to have a plan for your own business rather than waiting on the government.

What Alert Level 2 Means for Businesses

If businesses can safely trade within the Level 2 framework, they will be able to do so.   The shift to Level 2 will provide the first opportunity to trade for about 7 weeks for many businesses, including some of the hardest hit industries.

Like the shift to level 3, it is fair to expect that there will be an initial rush of people wanting to get out and spend.  Consumer confidence is extremely low, so consumer spending will almost certainly fall to far lower than normal levels at some point after this initial rush.  Therefore, businesses will want to make sure they are prepared and can reopen safely in those first few days.

The Prime Minister today described how certain industries will be able to operate.  Here is a brief summary:

Retail – can trade with enhanced hygiene measures, especially for high touch surfaces.  Numbers of customers in the store may need to be managed for larger retailers to ensure social distancing.

Hospitality – Unsurprisingly hospitality has the toughest requirements.  A hospitality venue will be subject to the “3 S’s”:

  • Seated – patrons must be seated.
  • Separated – there must be physical distancing between the tables.
  • Single server – each table must be served at the table by a single server.

These requirements may mean that it is impractical or uneconomical for certain hospitality venues to reopen at Level 2. This specifically applies to some bars and nightclubs. However, some restaurants will also not be able to seat a viable number of patrons or will simply not have the required number of staff to enable single server service per table.

Hairdressers and beauty salons – can resume seeing customers but will need to wear personal protection equipment due to the prolonged close proximity to customers. Masks or facial shields are the key items to be worn. Regular hand washing with soap and water is more practical and effective than gloves in many instances.

Sport and recreation – Gyms, pools, parks and museums etc can all reopen, subject to necessary precautions.

Sports can resume on a case by case basis.  A domestic rugby and netball competition will start as soon as possible.

Education – Can resume subject to necessary precautions.  Schools will resume the first Monday after the announcement.

Cleaning is key for all businesses. We recommend bathrooms and high touch surfaces are cleaned as frequently as possible. Tills/EFTPOS machines should be sanitised after contact payments, hands should be washed at least every 15 minutes and bathrooms should be cleaned as often as practicable given their levels of use.

Book in a Free Chat with one of our Experts

Need to discuss your plans for moving forward? Click HERE to book a free 30 minute chat with an MBP Business Partner. We can advise on everything from tax to payroll, human resources, cashflow and more.

Dealing with a sudden cash flow crisis, even if you’re working hard to avoid shortfalls, is hugely distracting. A formerly reliable customer might take much longer to pay than anticipated or a large consignment might fail to show up, leaving you out of pocket. If you’re starting a business, it could simply be taking longer than expected to turn a profit.

Red Light Warnings for a Cash Crisis

Develop red light systems to warn you automatically if something needs querying:

  • Check as early as possible if leads, orders, or sales, fall below a certain threshold, or if planned sales are delayed or a substantial customer stops buying from you.
  • Key indicators such as profit margins, liquidity ratios and stock ratios deteriorate beyond an agreed limit. Make sure you have regular feeds of how your business is performing.
  • You also need to know about any substantial invoices that are in dispute, particularly late debts and customers exceeding their credit limits.

Building productive relationships with your key suppliers is important, so they are prepared to extend extra credit to you when you need it.

If you have accounting software then it should be relatively easy to view your red flags weekly, monthly (or any period you set).

Identify the Causes of a Cash Crisis and Take Action

Below are some common causes and possible solutions of a cash crisis you may need to solve:

  • A major customer hasn’t paid on time. Implement stricter credit control and better debt collection procedures. Contact them to ensure you have the right purchase order and the invoice has been sent to the right person. Even check if your contact has gone on holiday and forgotten to pass on your invoice.
  • A rise in the cost of production has eroded your profit margin. Try and source less expensive materials or supplies or decide if you need to raise your price. Monitor your gross profit margin for any further profit slippage.
  • Your business overheads have blown out. Identify specific expenses that have increased and see how you can reduce them. Regularly monitoring your net profit margins to spot any out-of-proportion increases so you can take timely action.
  • Your business is growing faster than your capacity to fund the growth (your working capital). There’s usually a time gap between selling goods or services and getting paid by customers. Meanwhile there are bills to pay. See if you need to slow down to avoid failure through overtrading or raise the necessary working capital to get you over the temporary cash shortage.
  • Sales have been slower than predicted. Review your marketing plan and sales campaigns. Alternatively, if you can’t see any future improvement in immediate sales, consider other markets and targets.

There may be other causes such as the failure of a major contract or you bought a large asset at the wrong time and you now need that cash reserve for working capital. In each case, understand the cause and the action you’re taking to avoid a repeat, such as diversifying your customer base or using your cash flow statements and forecasts to time purchases more appropriately.

Sourcing Finance in a Cash Crisis

If you do find yourself in a cash crisis (it’s a temporary hitch and the business is still sound), there are a number of funding options to consider, ranging from self-financing or bank loans to finding a business partner. The relative attractiveness of each option will depend on the size of your cash flow shortfall and how long you’re likely to need the cash.

Internal Funds

Before you look for external sources of funding however can you free up cash from within your business? For example:

  • Offer customers a discount for early payment or ask them to pay immediately.
  • Offer for customers to pay by credit card when usually you don’t.
  • Hold a sale of surplus or slow-moving stock to raise cash quickly.
  • Ask suppliers to take back excess stock and a credit or give you longer credit terms.
  • Sell underused assets and rent the equipment instead, as and when required.
  • Downgrade or sell vehicles and lease instead.
  • Reduce your drawings from the business until revenues improve.
  • Your accountant and advisers may be able to suggest other ways to release the locked-up cash in your business.

Bank Loans

If you need a business loan and have a good banking track record, it could be little more than a formality to get a higher overdraft facility or access to a business loan to tide you over. If you’re going to need quite a lot more money, you’ll likely have to present a more detailed business plan and financial forecasts.

Invoice finance

If you have cash tied up in unpaid invoicing, you might qualify for invoice finance. This facility enables you with immediate access up to 80 per cent of the value of any unpaid invoices that your business might have. It helps free cash flow by releasing money from unpaid invoices as and when you need it.

Partners and Investors

If your business can’t afford to service loan repayments out of surplus cash flow, then it may need more capital so you could consider taking on a business partner to invest in your business. There are advantages but also pitfalls to avoid. Get expert advice first from your accountant and your lawyer – they may know of suitable investors. Be aware that you’ll need to share the ownership of your business if you go down this path.

Family and Friends

You could ask family, friends or business colleagues to help out with a temporary or longer-term loan. It’s best to put the agreement in writing and get everyone to sign it, so that both sides are clear on what has been agreed. Be aware that this sort of agreement could strain personal or working relationships if things go wrong, so treat it as a last option.

Summary

Managing cash in a crisis is stressful for any business owner, but you do have options starting with preventative measures such as cash flow statements and forecasts and sourcing finance.

Need to talk about your cashflow and options? Book in a free chat with the team at MBP here.