Blog JDW: Jobs Done Well

Cash Injection to Combat Coronavirus

Cash Injection to Combat Coronavirus

On 17 March 2020, the New Zealand Government announced a $12.1 billion support package for New Zealanders to combat the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19). In addition to additional health services funding, the Government announced financial assistance in the form of wages subsidies, leave subsidies, tax changes and welfare benefits.

green plant in clear glass with coins

Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

Wages subsidies

The wage subsidies will be available to sole traders, self-employed and employing companies that have suffered at least a 30% decline in revenue compared to last year for any month between January 2020 and June 2020. Employers must declare that they will continue to employ affected employees at a minimum of 80% of their income during the subsidy period (e.g. 4 out of 5 days of the week). Employers must also have taken steps to mitigate the financial impact of the coronavirus by engaging with their bank or financial advisor.

Applications can be made through the Work and Income portal below, for $585.80 per week for a full-time employee (20 hours or more) or $350 per week for a part-time employee. The payment will be made as a lump sum for a 12-week period, with a maximum amount of $150,000 per employer.

Work and Income MSD portal for employers -

Work and Income MSD portal for self employed and contractors -

Leave & self-isolation support

The leave payment scheme will provide support for employees, sole traders and self-employed who are unable to work because they are in self-isolation, are sick with coronavirus or caring for dependents with coronavirus. It is not available to those who can work from home when self-isolating and can be paid normally by their employer.

The payment will be $585.80 per week for a full-time employee (20 hours or more) or $350 per week for a part-time employee. The payment doesn't affect paid leave entitlements and is available even if an employee is on paid leave for part of the period. Applications are made through the Work and Income portal above.

Tax relief measures

Building depreciation

Depreciation deductions of 2% diminishing value will be re-introduced permanently for commercial and industrial buildings from the 2020-21 income year. This will encourage investment and allow owners to reduce their provisional tax payments.

Low value assets

Taxpayers will be able to claim an immediate deduction for assets coding up to $5,000 in the 2020-2021 income year, by expensing the cost rather than spreading it over the useful life of the asset. From 2021-2022 income year onwards, the threshold will be $1,000 (currently $500). This will reduce compliance costs and encourage investment.

Raising the provisional tax threshold

The provisional tax threshold increases for the 2020-2021 income year from $2,500 to $5,000. This means that many smaller taxpayers will have until 7 February or 7 April 2022 to make their 2020-2021 income tax payments, instead of paying in instalments.  This measure reduces compliance costs and allows taxpayers to hold their cash longer. (Note: this doesn't affect the provisional tax payment due 7 May 2020. If you're having difficulty making the 7 May payment, you may still need to consider estimating tax down or applying for an instalment arrangement.)

Writing off interest

Inland Revenue is being given the ability to write off use of money interest (UOMI) for late payments for amounts due on or after 14 February 2020. This includes interest normally charged for income tax, PAYE and GST. The taxpayers would need to let IRD know that they are significantly affected by the coronavirus outbreak and unable to make payments by the due date. The interest write-off will be available for two years. This will assist businesses with cashflow.

Welfare benefits increasing

The main benefits are rising by $25 from 1 April 2020. The Winter Energy Payment for 2020 will be doubled. The hours test for the In-Work Tax Credit is being removed from 1 July 2020, making more working families eligible for family assistance even if their hours are reduced by their employer.

All of these measures have been designed to keep businesses operating and keep people employed. Reach out for help from your advisors and support networks, and keep your doors open.

Download a PDF version here or contact the author by email. Like our Facebook page for regular tips.

-          Serena Irving

Serena Irving is a director in JDW Chartered Accountants Limited, Ellerslie, Auckland. JDW is a professional team of qualified accountants, auditors, business consultants, tax advisors, trust and business valuation specialists.

An Inconvenient Trust

An Inconvenient Trust

Nearly every family seems to have a trust. But do you even remember why you have a trust? Now that the New Zealand Trusts Act 2019 is requiring trustees to give beneficiaries more information, we believe many settlors and trustees will be winding up or resettling their inconvenient trusts.

Sunlight in Trees

Trusts not fulfilling their purpose

Trusts became fashionable decades ago to get around asset testing for rest home subsidies, but laws have changed to penalise people who make large gifts to trusts. Trusts for creditor protection may have been useful when a settlor was operating a business, but if the settlor has sold his or her business, then the creditor risk is no longer there to the same degree. There may still be a reason to protect assets held before entering into marriage, civil union or de-facto relationships but other steps are required (contracting out agreement or pre-nuptial agreements) for the trust to be effective.

More information for beneficiaries

From 30 January 2021, trustees will be required to inform all adult beneficiaries (18 years and over) that they are beneficiaries of a trust, how they can contact the trustees and what information they can request about the trust. Some trusts have children, grandchildren, friends of the original settlors, charities as discretionary beneficiaries. If these discretionary beneficiaries are unlikely to receive distributions while the original settlors and their children are alive, should they be beneficiaries at all?

Imagine a situation where trustees had credited income to a child beneficiary to be paid out at a future date. When the children became adults, they would see the financial statements and ask where their money is. Would they understand that the money is tied up in stocks or property? Or would they demand to be paid out immediately?

Trustee duties

The trustee duties in the Act have already been established in case law and shouldn't be considered onerous, yet some trustees are surprised by what is expected of them. Trustees should be aware of the terms of the trust, act honestly and in good faith in accordance with those terms, to the benefit the beneficiaries or to further the purpose of the trust. Trustees must exercise their power for a proper purpose.

The maximum duration of a trust (the perpetuity period) has been extended from 80 years to 125 years. At least one trustee needs to hold all the core trust documents and keep them updated.

There are also default duties which can be modified when the trust is established: duty of care, investing prudently, not to exercise power for own benefit, avoiding conflict of interest, acting unanimously. This allows the settlors more say in how the trust operates when it is turned over to the trustees.

Tax consequences for unwinding the Trust

If you decide to unwind your trust, there may be tax consequences. For disposing of property, plant & equipment, there may be depreciation recovery which is taxable income. Resettling property into new ownership will restart the clock for the five-year bright-line test. If the trust is a shareholder in a Look Through Company or partner in a partnership, there is a deemed disposal which may have tax consequences. In addition to the tax cost, there is also the legal cost of transferring property.

What steps to take

We suggest that it's important to have money conversations with your children as early as they are old enough to understand. Help them to understand budgeting and stewardship. Saving for a rainy day. Investing for growth. Then when they find out they are beneficiaries of a trust they can understand that it doesn't mean they can have the money to spend.

Review your trusts with your accountant and lawyer. Why do you have them – for asset protection from creditors, from relationship partners? Do they still achieve their purpose? Do you need to make your beneficiary criteria narrower? If you are a trustee, are you aware of your duties? Are the trustee duties and terms of the deed in line with the new Trusts Act? Consider the tax consequences for unwinding the trust. Don't wait until 30 January 2021 to do something about your inconvenient trust.

Download a PDF version here or contact the author by email. Like our Facebook page for regular tips.

-          Serena Irving

Serena Irving is a director in JDW Chartered Accountants Limited, Ellerslie, Auckland. JDW is a professional team of qualified accountants, auditors, business consultants, tax advisors, trust and business valuation specialists.

Coronavirus Preparedness for Business

Coronavirus Preparedness for Business

Elbow bumps

Like many other businesses, we have been watching warily as the news of the coronavirus (COVID-19 virus) spreads closer to home.

If employees have been travelling overseas or are planning to travel, what are our responsibilities to all employees? How do we manage health & safety risks? What if our supplies are disrupted or people are quarantined? Is there financial relief for businesses affected by the coronavirus?

We've dusted off our crisis management plan, and asked our employment and financial advisors for their take on how businesses can cope with the pandemic. Here are our tips to help your business get through.

Keeping Employees Safe

The Ministry of Health recommends basic hygiene measures to stop the spread of infections: regular hand washing, staying at home if sick, covering coughs and sneezes and cleaning surfaces regularly. Have plenty of soap, cleaning products, paper towels available and encourage their correct use.

Each business has its own risk factors, which you will need to assess as an owner/manager. If you have a retail outlet, then a bottle of hand sanitiser by the EFTPOS keypad would be a reasonable precaution. Avoid face to face meetings with people who have recently travelled. Maintain a social distance (1metre / 3feet) when meeting others. Encourage employees to stay home when sick. If social distancing is not practical, have disposal gloves and face masks available and train employees to use them correctly.

Glen and Serena bump elbows

Our favourite alternatives to handshakes are: the Thai greeting "Sawadee" with palms together, steepled fingers and a warm smile; or the playful elbow bump suggested by our client John. Not finger guns though!

Provide employees with seasonal flu vaccination, if they want it. Contact your local GP or pharmacist for more information. Make use of mental health services if employees are anxious or stressed.

Leave Obligations for Employers

Employers and employees are obliged to act reasonably and in good faith, in accordance with the employment agreement, Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and the Holidays Act 2003.

At the time of writing, people returning from China, Italy, South Korea and Iran have been recommended to self-isolate for 14 days.

While self-isolation is not mandatory, it is important for the health & safety of your other employees. You could require a medical clearance before allowing that person to return to work. Could that person work from home for that period?

Who pays for the self-isolation when the person is not sick? Employment New Zealand suggests that if that person is not working from home, then you first treat the self-isolation period as sick leave. If there is not enough sick leave, then by agreement you could pay from annual leave or grant them leave in advance. EMA says if a person is fit to work and the employer refuses to allow them to work, the employer must pay that person for that period (such as suspension).

Getting financial relief

Coronavirus has impacted tourism and education industries, due to a sharp decline in demand. It is likely to impact hospitality and events industries if people become anxious about going out. Other businesses have been impacted due to: supply shortages from import delays; tightening demand, both here and overseas; or customers paying slower than normal. Nick Tuffley, ASB Bank's chief economist recommends making sure you are in regular contact with your key suppliers to understand their supply chains and obvious weak points. (ASB Economic Note "Thinking about coronavirus impacts on business" 5 March 2020)

If your business has been impacted financially by the coronavirus, contact your insurance advisor to see if your situation is covered for business interruption insurance. Contact your bank to move to interest-only repayments to reduce the cashflow burden. If you need help preparing cashflow projections, we can assist you. Talk to us about a fee instalment plan.

There are a number of ways that you can get tax relief. For income tax, you can estimate your provisional tax down before the third provisional tax due date (7 May for most taxpayers). If you've overpaid provisional tax you can ask for a refund.

If you need more time to pay any of your tax obligations, you can apply for an instalment arrangement. Under certain circumstances you can ask for remission of late filing and late payment penalties. IRD will also consider a write off for serious hardship.

The Government has released its Business Continuity Package  ( which includes a targeted wage subsidy scheme, training and re-deployment options for affected employees and working with banks for working capital support for businesses. They have opted not to stop the increase in minimum wage from $17.70 to $18.90 on 1 April 2020, and we think they missed a chance to help all NZ businesses and employment rates.

Planning for the Worst, Hoping for the Best

How will widespread illness, school closures, loss of key customers affect your business?

If you're worried about the future, then your employees probably are too. Showing leadership, being proactive and communicative at this time, will do a lot to reassure your team. Ask them for input into identifying the risks and your emergency planning. We can also help you with contingency planning.

Have a communication plan. Do you know how to reach your employees, suppliers, and key customers if your IT goes down? If you can't be reached, can someone else access this information? How do you reach families of staff?

Back up your data, offsite or in the cloud. Not just your accounts, but any vital information that you need to run your business. Assess if remote working is possible and test your systems. How quickly could you be operational if you couldn't access your workplace? Practice retrieving your data, so it becomes a familiar process.

Examine your processes and decision-making methods. Could the business continue without you or your key people? Have multiple ways of accessing key information so that business can continue, despite disruption or staff absences.

Take care of your own health and your employees. Make your business more resilience by reviewing systems and mitigating risks. Seek financial help if cashflow is tight. Plan ahead to ensure that your business survives the coronavirus.

Download a PDF version here or contact the author by email. Like our Facebook page for regular tips.

- By Serena Irving, JDW Chartered Accountants

Serena Irving is a director in JDW Chartered Accountants Limited, Ellerslie, Auckland. JDW is a professional team of qualified accountants, auditors, business consultants, tax advisors, trust and business valuation specialists. 

Useful Links:

Ministry of Health

Employers and Manufacturers Assn

Employment New Zealand

National Emergency Management Agency

Inland Revenue


Death Knell for Cheques

Death Knell for Cheques

When was the last time you wrote a cheque? With EFTPOS, electronic banking and direct debits, I haven't written a personal cheque in over a decade. But that's not true for everyone. For some, it's going to be a challenging time when cheques are no longer accepted. Especially if they don't currently have a computer or smart phone. The death knell is ringing for the cheque, and JDW has tips to help you adapt.


ACC and IRD will stop processing cheques for payments from 1 March 2020. IRD Commissioner Sharon Thompson's media release says: "Cheques are part of a paper-based world and don't mesh with the increasingly digital world we now operate in. The number of cheques being used is spiralling down and will continue to trend that way. Electronic payments are simpler, easier and safer."

IRD recommends that tax payments be made electronically via internet banking (using your bank's website or app) or direct debit in MyIR (IRD's website). In MyIR, you can also schedule regular direct debits. IRD's website also accepts payment by credit card or debit card, but a transaction fee is charged when you use this service. You can also pay your tax payments by cash or EFTPOS at your local Westpac branch. Some chartered accountants, like JDW, also have trust account services to help clients manage tax payments.

Kiwibank will stop issuing bank cheques from 28 February 2020 and will stop accepting cheque deposits on that date. Kiwibank customers have been asked to stop writing cheques on that date, as they may not be honoured. The Kiwibank website says, "There are a number of ways we can help you get prepared for this change including Stepping UP digital banking workshops, Kiwibank Tech Teas or our digital support hub."

 "The cheque is in the mail" used to be a convenient excuse when suppliers called to find out why customers' payments were delayed. With electronic payments, this is a phrase that has been consigned to history, as are paper invoices (see E-invoicing sidebar). Electronic payments are less susceptible to theft or tampering, and the funds are available instantaneously or overnight, depending on the bank. They aren't fool proof though, so take extra care if you are relying on someone else to set up payments for you. Do you have appropriate invoice approval measures, security measures such as two-factor authorisation and bank account checks for your business, to protect against theft or fraud?


Direct electronic invoicing between suppliers and business customers, using the PEPPOL standard invoicing framework, is on the way. This is going to be a huge time-saver and cost-saver for businesses: no printing and mailing paper invoices on the supplier side, no re-keying or scanning invoice data on the customer side. Higher accuracy, better security, fewer opportunities for fraud and fewer delays. When e-invoicing is teamed with electronic payment services, suppliers will be paid faster. 

To make sure that you get the most out of e-invoicing, make sure that you have a New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) and your accounting system is PEPPOL-compliant. New Zealand companies are issued a NZBN when they are registered. The major accounting system providers, Xero, MYOB and Reckon, are due to make announcements about e-invoicing in early 2020.

Cheques are being phased out and this is welcome news for anyone who has had to balance a cheque book. But for some payers, alternative methods of payment are beyond their current abilities or resources. If you find the removal of cheques a challenge, contact your banker or chartered accountant to discuss how you can make payments easier.

Download a PDF version here or contact the author by email. Like our Facebook page for regular tips.

- By Serena Irving, JDW Chartered Accountants

Serena Irving is a director in JDW Chartered Accountants Limited, Ellerslie, Auckland. JDW is a professional team of qualified accountants, auditors, business consultants, tax advisors, trust and business valuation specialists.


Setting up as a Freelancer

Setting Up as a Freelancer

 You are a highly skilled professional, providing services to other businesses such as graphic design, marketing or IT consulting.  You are now a contractor or freelancer, a self-employed business owner. It doesn't matter if you employ just yourself or a large team, have few resources or huge capital, have lots of clients or just starting out, you are still a business owner.

Here are my brief answers to the most common business questions I have been asked by new freelancers. Each paragraph is a topic in its own right, so do ask us for more information. If you want more confidence on your business journey, start here.

Pink Rosebud

Should I Form a Company?

When deciding whether you should operate as a company, partnership or sole trader, consider these factors: ownership, commercial risk, credibility, administration, income allocation.  A Look Through Company is a hybrid company-partnership structure, with the legal status of a company, but treated as a partnership by Inland Revenue for income allocation and tax.


How many working owners? Will there be non-working investors? If it's just you, then sole-trader would be simpler. If there's outside investment or unequal personal effort between owners, then a company would be advisable. Partnerships are simpler structures than companies, but if a partner leaves or joins, you have to register a new partnership.

Commercial Risk

Sole traders and partners in a partnership take on the risk for business losses. Companies are separate legal entities, so shareholders are not personally responsible for company debts unless they have provided personal guarantees. Directors may still be liable if they have been careless, negligent or trading recklessly.


Some suppliers and customers prefer to deal with a company.


Companies must be registered at the Companies Office, and file an annual return confirming addresses and other company information in the same month each year. Registered companies are issued a company number and New Zealand Business Number. Companies also have stricter reporting requirements, so company accounting fees are generally higher. Companies need an IRD number, which is different from the IRD number of the shareholders.

Partnerships and sole traders need just an IRD number, but it's a good idea to get a New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) to store your contact details. Sole traders use the same IRD number for all their personal income. Partnerships can have their own IRD number. The Government is working towards using the NZBN for e-invoicing, which will make it easier for businesses to send out invoices and get paid.

Income Allocation

For a sole trader, the business profits (losses) belong to the individual. For a partnership, business profits (losses) are allocated evenly between partners, unless you have a partnership agreement which specifies a different allocation. For a company, the business profits (losses) after deducting shareholder salaries remain in the company unless it is a Look Through Company (LTC) or personal services attribution applies.
For a sole trader, the business profits (losses) belong to the individual. For a partnership, business profits (losses) are allocated evenly between partners, unless you have a partnership agreement which specifies a different allocation. For a company, the business profits (losses) after deducting shareholder salaries remain in the company unless it is a Look Through Company (LTC) or personal services attribution applies.

What Records Do I Need to Keep?

Your business needs its own bank account. It is easier to track income & expenses that way. If you need to use money for private expenses, then transfer the funds to your personal account (this is called Drawings).

You'll need to keep copies of invoices (customer & supplier), till receipts and other accounting records for over 7 years. Many accounting apps allow you to scan or photograph invoices or till receipts so that you don't have to retain the paper copy. Keep your GST workings attached to copies of the GST returns you lodged.

There are a lot of accounting apps available for freelancers, to send out invoices and track your business transactions. Our favourites for freelancers include invoicing and bank reconciliation: Xero Starter, MYOB Essentials, Wave, Reckon One.

Don't just look at cost, look at ease of use and what you want to do with it. Choosing a suitable accounting app depends on how many invoices, bank transactions a month; whether you employ staff, sell goods, manage projects with milestones; whether you charge GST. 

Keep copies of important contractual agreements, like service performance agreements. You'll need these if you have a dispute with a client. If you form a company you will also need to keep a register of shareholders and directors.

Every year you will need to lodge a tax return with IRD. Sole traders will lodge an IR3 individual return. Partnerships and LTCs will lodge an IR7 return, and the partners/LTC owners will lodge an IR3. Companies will lodge an IR4 return, and shareholder-employees will lodge an IR3.

Do I need to register for GST?

If you are GST registered, then you add 15% GST to your service fees, and pay the GST you collect to IRD. You can also claim back the GST you have paid on your business purchases and expenses.

If you expect your business to earn income (before deducting expenses) of $60,000 or more, then the business must register for GST. If you expect it to earn less than $60,000 then you can voluntarily register for GST. Voluntary GST registration may be helpful if you are buying a vehicle or expensive equipment for the business, because you can claim back the GST. It may also be helpful to register early if you are near the $60,000 threshold, so you don't have to adjust your fees.

If you are freelancing for clients based offshore, you may be able to zero-rate the fees (charge 0% GST) , as you are exporting your services. Check with us if you think this applies to you.

You can lodge GST returns on a 6 monthly, 2 monthly or 1 monthly frequency. You can choose invoice, payments or hybrid basis, which determines if you disclose GST when invoiced or when paid. Most of our freelancers choose to file GST returns 6 monthly on a payments basis.

What Expenses can I Claim?

You can claim a variety of expenses for GST and income tax. This is not an exhaustive list and there are some limitations, so it pays to check with your tax advisor. Some suppliers may not be GST registered, so you can only claim those expenses for income tax and not GST.

  • ACC levies, professional indemnity insurance, other insurances. Life insurance and some disability insurance premiums are not claimable for GST and income tax.
  • Accounting, legal, business coach and other professional fees.
  • Bank fees and interest on business borrowing (no GST).
  • Courses for professional development.
  • Depreciation - gradual write down of equipment or vehicle cost. (No GST on depreciation, but you may claim GST on equipment and vehicles used for business.)
  • Entertainment - coffees with clients and prospects (50% claimable) or meals while travelling.
  • Home Office – Proportion of house costs related to your office, studio, workshop and storage space. Rent (no GST), interest (no GST), water, rates, power, gas, repairs.
  • Marketing – paid advertising, branding.Mobile phone, business landline, internet.
  • Motor vehicle expenses - Either keep a logbook and claim some mileage for income tax (no GST). Or claim the business portion of expenses for income tax and GST.
  • Rent, parking, travel.
  • Software licences.
  • Stationery and printing.
  • Subscriptions e.g. professional associations, networking groups.

What are Schedular Payments?

Schedular payments are made to contractors, usually individuals, for certain activity types. The payers deduct tax at a set rate, usually 20%. You can apply to IRD in MyIR for a tailored rate (10% or more) or a certificate of exemption to manage the taxes you pay more closely. The tax deductions are passed by the payer to IRD on your behalf, and offset against the income tax you have to pay for that year.

What is Provisional Tax?

Provisional tax is a regular payment of income tax to spread the amounts across the year that the income is earned. Most taxpayer have a March year end (balance date) and pay provisional tax three times a year: 28 August, 15 January and 7 May (after balance date). If you are GST registered on a 6 monthly basis, then provisional tax is due on the same dates as GST: 28 October and 7 May (after balance date).

Terminal tax is the final instalment of income tax and reduces by the amount of provisional tax you have paid. Terminal tax for 31 March 2020 balance date is due on 7 February 2021 or 7 April 2021 if you have a tax agent.

Setting up as a freelancer/contractor/self-employed business owner can be easy, once you know the answers to these initial business questions. Please contact us if you need any help.

 Rose pair

This information in this article is for general information purposes and should not be relied on without additional advice specific to your circumstances. If you require advice in relation to your specific circumstances please contact the author for a consultation.

Download a PDF version here or contact the author by email. Like our Facebook page for regular tips.

- By Serena Irving, JDW Chartered Accountants

Serena Irving is a director in JDW Chartered Accountants Limited, Ellerslie, Auckland. JDW is a professional team of qualified accountants, auditors, business consultants, tax advisors, trust and business valuation specialists.


Scaling Up

Scaling Up

Petronas Twin Towers

A Cautionary Tale

When to scale and how fast? Sales are booming for the first time, so is it time for fancy new offices, more staff and more powerful equipment? I know of a tech company which grew too fast: hired more salespeople and developers, got into an expensive lease and then lost its major client a few months later. The company used up its cash reserve as month after month of trading losses took their toll. The company had to shed two-thirds of its workforce, sell its expensive "toys" and negotiate with the landlord to return to profitability. 

What are you basing your decision to scale on? Is your turnover reliant on the continuing support of one major client? Is current growth rate sustainable? Be conservative with your revenue forecasts. See our article on Key Metrics for help. 

How to Scale Up

  • Reinvest profits – leave money earned in the company
  • Invest your own capital or make loans to the company
  • Borrow from the bank, other lenders
  • Invite new investors

When you are looking beyond self-funding options, with its greater potential for growth on a grand scale, you take on greater responsibility to others. Don't over-promise results. Start fundraising early enough so that you have the funds when you are ready to move to the next stage.

Clear Strategic Purpose

Have a clear strategic purpose for each round of fundraising. For instance:
- Seed rounds: concept into prototype
- Series A: commercial viability
- Series B: viable product, scaling up
- Series C: scaling up including capital expenditure (capex)
- Series D+: preparing to exit via acquisition or initial public offering (IPO)

By having clear purpose for each round, you can set realistic timelines. If you meet your deliverables on the first round, it will give investors and lenders more confidence to support you in future rounds. If you over-promise and fail to deliver, you will have tighter constraints in future rounds.

Make sure that you invest for the best return. For each new hire or new equipment or marketing campaign, can you justify it with projected increase in revenue or reduction in costs? Don't indulge in luxuries of first-class travel and sensory deprivation chambers, especially when you have outside investors.

Pay Yourself Realistically 

Ask for enough funding to get the job done. As founders and initial employees, you may be willing to pour in sweat equity, but eventually you and they may burn out if you haven't hired enough people. Or you may take on a paying gig and then be too tired to focus on your business.

Fundraising Takes Time

How long is your funding runway? That is, how many months will your funding last before you run out of cash? Build an extra three-month buffer into your projections.

Start raising funds about 12 months before you need it. This allows 3 months to plan, 6 months to promote and start conversations and 3 months to complete serious conversations. 

Diluting Capital

New investors want to protect their investment and will negotiate for better terms for themselves. Make sure that you get good legal advice in terms of the contractual arrangements, share rights and how that affects your control of the company and returns you can expect from your founding investment.


Scaling up should be a strategic decision. Planning involves clear goal posts, budgets and timelines. Meet or exceed performance targets to keep your investors and lenders supportive of your business. Start fund raising early. Engage professionals to put together your fund raising proposals, so that you can wow the investors and show your business is a serious contender for their money. 

Download a PDF version here or contact the author by email. Like our Facebook page for regular tips.

- By Serena Irving, JDW Chartered Accountants and Jing Seth, Kahu Partners

Serena Irving is a director in JDW Chartered Accountants Limited, Ellerslie, Auckland. JDW is a professional team of qualified accountants, auditors, business consultants, tax advisors, trust and business valuation specialists.

Jing Seth is a partner in Kahu Partners Limited, a boutique business strategy consultancy. A quantitative analyst who also has deep experience in taking complex propositions to market, Jing has sold to high-tech start-ups, national defense agencies and Fortune 100 corporates. He has codified winning processes, and designed and led specialist sales teams. In his most recent role he rebuilt the growth engine from scratch and closed deals that ended a 12-month sales drought for the company.

Research and Development Tax Credits

Research & Development Tax Credits



Would you like a refund of your tax losses? If your business is an innovator, then you may qualify for a refund. Most normal businesses can't get refunds for tax losses, they can only carry tax losses forward, so you need to be able to prove that you qualify for this special tax refund. Each project has to be evaluated on its merits, so some of your activities may qualify while others don't.

On 7 May 2019, the Taxation (Research and Development Tax Credits) Act 2019 received Royal Assent. This means more entities will qualify for refundable tax credits under the new scheme and now there are two tax credits to consider. 

Research & Development Loss Tax Credits (from 1 April 2015)  

"Cash out" (have refunded) up to 28% of any tax losses associated with eligible R&D activity if your company is resident in New Zealand. The maximum claimable value in 2019-2020 is $476,000.

The amount you can claim as a tax credit will be the lesser of the company's:

net loss for the year x 28%, or

total R&D expenditure for the tax year x 28%, or

total R&D labour expenditure for the year x 1.5 x 28%.

Are you eligible for this wonderful windfall? There are three areas to consider:

- Corporate eligibility

- R &D Activities

- Wage intensity

Corporate Eligibility (2015 credits)

Is your entity:

A NZ resident private company

Not foreign resident or dual resident under double tax agreement.

Not a look through company (LTC)

Not listed on a recognised exchange

Not majority owned by public authority, local authority, crown research institute or state enterprise

Not established by or subject to:

- the Education Act 1989, or

- the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000, or

- the Crown Entities Act 2004

R & D Activities Explained

Research is original, planned investigation with a view to gaining new scientific or technical knowledge and understanding. Development takes place when a project uses research findings to produce new, innovative or substantially improved materials, devices, products, processes, systems or services. 

Innovation is a key part of R&D and so is having a clearly defined project. If you are reverse engineering an existing process or product, replicating a competitor's product, or adapting your product to a new customer's needs, it won't be R&D. 

Data capture & analysis may be R&D only if it requires new technical solutions.

Specific development activities are excluded for the purpose of the R&D Loss Tax Credit, such as pre-production tooling, trial runs, commercial production, debugging and software maintenance.

Wage Intensity Explained

You must spend 20% or more of your total labour expenditure on R&D to be eligible. Total labour expenditure includes salary or wages, shareholder-employee salaries, 66% of contractor payments excluding GST. (The 66% is intended to exclude the profit & overhead portion of the contract price.) This means that you will need to keep good time records of what activities each person does for each project.

How to Apply

There is a one-off registration to complete:

Loss Recovery Events

When your company trades into profit, you gradually repay your tax credit. So there is no increase in imputation credit account balance until you have repaid the R&D loss tax credit. 

If you have cashed out loss tax credits, you will need to repay the credits in full if one or more of these events occur:

- Disposal of intellectual property

- Appointment of a liquidator

- Company migration from NZ or no longer a company

- Sale of shares greater than 90%

Research & Development Tax Credits (from 1 April 2019)  

Eligible entities will receive a 15% tax credit from the beginning of a business's 2020 tax year. Up to $255,000 refundable in 2020. The minimum R&D expenditure is $50,000 per year up to $120m cap. These tax credits replace the Callaghan Growth Grants over time.

The new 15% tax credit can be claimed as well as the R&D Tax loss credit of 28%. The definition of eligible R&D is different for both credits, and the definition of eligible entities is also different.

Core R&D activity must:

be performed and managed on a day to day basis in New Zealand. Up to 10% of R&D can be performed overseas.

have a material purpose of creating new knowledge or a new or improved process, service or goods. The test of "new" is on a worldwide basis.

use a systematic approach, and

have a material purpose of resolving scientific or technological uncertainty (scientific or technological uncertainty exists if knowledge is not publicly available or deducible by a competent professional).

Having a material purpose means that the required objective must be significant or important. This requirement is intended to disqualify new knowledge or applications that are discovered by accident. It is not a requirement that the R&D is successful and results in something new or improved. All R&D increases knowledge and activities that are unsuccessful can qualify. Similarly, a new or improved process, service or good does not necessarily qualify for the tax credit just because science or technology were used in its creation.

The entity must have a fixed establishment in NZ and have control over core R&D directly or within the corporate group. 

How are Tax Credits Applied

R&D Tax credits are applied firstly against income tax liability for the year the credits relate to, then applied to current income tax or provisional tax liability for a future tax year. You may apply to have the credits applied to a different tax period or tax type. Remaining tax credits may be carried forward subject to continuity rules or cashed out.

How to Apply

An application form will soon be available to complete after Year 1 alongside the 2020 income tax return. An in-year application process is in development for year 2 onwards. 

Record Keeping Requirements

General records of income, expenses, assets and liabilities just like any business.

Records to show you are eligible for the tax credit: structure, the scientific or technological uncertainty you are trying to resolve state of knowledge at the start of the project.

Additionally, to show you have a systematic approach, you require:

R&D project plans, resource allocations, start and end dates

Progress and status reports

Advice or Research documents to show that knowledge sought was not readily deducible by a competent professional

Basis for apportioning expenses

Expenditure on employee time on eligible activities should be recorded either through a time recording system or other project documentation such as log sheets or project reporting.

For the new tax credit, the records used to relate expenditure to the R&D activities and record keeping must be occurring at the same time as the eligible activities and not retrospectively treated, for example at the end of the tax year or at the end of the project.


The new R&D tax credits will be more accessible to a wider range of entities, particularly SMEs, and therefore promote more research and development in New Zealand. The strict interpretation of R&D and the level of record-keeping required to track expenditure may still make it difficult for SMEs to access these tax credits. In the 2019-2020 year, the cashflow effect is less beneficial than a growth grant, as businesses need to pay their expenses and lodge a return before they can apply for the refund. The gradual introduction of in-year approval from Year 2, may help to ease the cashflow burden for innovative businesses. 

UPDATE 5 July 2019: IRD has issued guidance that the R&D supplementary return for 2019/2020 must be filed within 30 days after the income tax return due date (30 April 2021 for standard date taxpayers). For the following year, general approval must be sought by the 7th day of the second month after the balance date (7 May for standard taxpayers).

This information in this article is for general information purposes and should not be relied on. If you require advice is relation to your specific circumstances please contact the author for a consultation or go to: for IRD discussion on the tax changes.

Download a PDF version here or contact the author by email. Like our Facebook page for regular tips.

Serena Irving is a director in JDW Chartered Accountants Limited, Ellerslie, Auckland. JDW is a professional team of qualified accountants, auditors, business consultants, tax advisors, trust and business valuation specialists.

What to Measure

What to Measure – Key Metrics for Start-ups

Manage What You Measure

Traditional accounting methods and timescales don't work for start-up businesses. A lot of start-up businesses are not well-funded. Those which are well-funded can still hit financial trouble if they don't have warning signals in place.


An annual reporting cycle is too long. Even quarterly may be too long, if funding is tight. Some metrics need to be measured daily and weekly so that founders can show investors that they are tracking well.

Profit vs Cashflow

Profit and cashflows are not the same. If you have a subscription model with customers paying 12-months on signing up, for cashflow purposes you have the cash inflow up front. For tax purposes, some of that income is in advance. If your balance date is March and the customer signed on at the start of January, then you have received 9 months in advance. Your profit is not as high as your cashflow because you still have to provide 9 months of services to that customer.

Conversely, if you buy stock upfront or employ staff to fulfil services and invoice on completion with payment on the 20th of the month following, you'll have cash flowing out of the business even if you are profitable.

Traditional Metrics

Here are some metrics which we use frequently with established businesses. Some of these may be useful for start-ups but not all start-ups will find these relevant.

Revenue or TurnoverSales, expressed in dollar amounts or percentage increase. Are your sales reliant on one or two large customers? Consider broadening your customer base, to spread the risk of losing your biggest customer.

Gross profit­Revenue - Cost of sales. Analyse gross profit by customer or by project. What if you were losing money every time you made a sale to your biggest customer because of the big discounts they received?

Net profitGross profit – Operating expenses. Expressed before or after tax.

Return on investment – Net profit / Owners' equity. This measure tells you how well your investment is performing.

EBITDA (Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation & amortisation)Net profit + Interest + Depreciation/Amortisation. Takes the source of funding out of the picture when considering profitability.

Stock turn – Cost of sales / Average inventory. Slow moving stock (a low number) is inefficient as it ties up money that could be used elsewhere. It may point to having the wrong stock or obsolete stock.

Accounts receivable daysAverage receivables / Revenue x 365 days. How long it takes to receive payment.

Accounts payable daysAverage payables / Cost of sales x 365 days. How long it takes to pay bills. A high number may suggest that a company is struggling to meet its obligations. But on the other hand a low number may suggest that suppliers are unwilling to allow trade terms, so this might also be a warning sign.

Current ratioCurrent assets / Current liabilities. Should be higher than 1 to show that a company is able to pay debts as they fall due.

Liquidity ratio or Quick ratio(Cash or equivalents + Accounts receivable) / Current liabilities. More conservative than current ratio, as it recognises that it can be difficult to sell inventory in a hurry to pay bills.

Start-Up Metrics relating to Customers

Monthly recurring revenue (MRR) – For subscription services, the sum of the monthly fees paid by your customers. Could be calculated as average fee per customer times the number of customers. Net New MRR = New MRR + Expansion MRR – Churn MRR

Customer lifetime value (LTV) – Ave purchase value x frequency x lifespan. How much revenue they can expect one customer to generate over the course of the business relationship. The longer a customer continues to purchase from a company, the greater their lifetime value becomes.

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) – total marketing and sales cost to gain a customer over time. Direct costs such as Facebook or Google AdWords, sales commissions, but also indirect costs such as overheads.

Compare LTV with CAC to assess the effectiveness of your marketing spend.

Customer Churn Rate – the percentage of customer who cancel or don't renew their subscription. It's generally cheaper to retain existing customers than to attract new ones so this is an important measure.

Start-Up Metrics when you don't have Customers

Some metrics like gross profit are reliant on sales. What if you're not selling anything yet? Profitability and return on investment are not as important as subscriber numbers, conversion rates and cashflow.

If you can track and measure these, you can prove whether you are performing, even without a sale.

User Engagement – How often they open your app, number of interactions inside the app, how long they spend using it, how many recommend to friends.

Conversion Funnel ratio – How many potential customers move from one stage in your sales funnel to another, expressed as a percentage. For instance your sales funnel may be made up of various stages: website visit, selecting products, adding them to a cart, paying for the goods. This may help you to identify friction, such as difficulties completing a signup form or abandoning a shopping cart because it took too long.

Retention Analysis – How many users return to your app without a given timeframe. See cohort analysis below.

Forecasting and budgeting is critical to making sure that a business survives until the next cashflow injection. Budget your spending in advance and keep to your budget.

Burn rate – How much money you spend a month.

Runway – how long before you run out of money in your bank account based on your burn rate. Compare this with your investment cycle, how long it takes to obtain another cash injection.

Vanity Metrics

Vanity metrics should be avoided in reporting. Vanity metrics are measures which make you look good, but don't help you with decision-making. E.g the number registered users vs the number of users who engage regularly. Just about any measure could be a vanity metric if they aren't driving decision making.

Making Useful Comparisons

Using cohort analysis and AB testing you can provide a truer picture of a start-up's progress. Cohort analysis might be grouping users who started using your app at the same time and comparing the retention rate against an earlier group of users. Ideally you should be seeing a higher retention rate with each cohort.

AB testing might be showing one version of your website to half your visitors and another version to the other half. Then you can see which version is more successful at converting visitors to customers.

You can only manage what you measure, according to Peter Drucker. Make sure that you are measuring the right things on a regular basis, so you can manage your start-up effectively.

Download a PDF version here or contact the author by email. Like our Facebook page for regular tips.

Serena Irving is a director in JDW Chartered Accountants Limited, Ellerslie, Auckland. JDW is a professional team of qualified accountants, auditors, business consultants, tax advisors, trust and business valuation specialists.

End of Year Housekeeping

End of Year Housekeeping

As another financial year rolls around, it's time for a little accounting and tax housekeeping. For most taxpayers the year end is 31 March, but even if your year end is 30 June or 31 December, you would still be advised to read on.

Figure 1: Waterfalls in Bali - Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash

Trading Stock (Inventory)

Inventory is valued at the lower of cost or market selling price. If you sell an item below cost just before balance date, then you can value the remaining items at that price. Dispose of stock that is unsaleable before your stocktake.

Inventory should be counted as close to balance date as possible. Remember to include stock in transit, if the purchase cost has been paid or included in creditors. If your turnover is $1.3m or less for the year and you estimate your inventory on hand is less than $10,000, you don't have to do a stock take; you can use your opening stock figure for your closing stock figure.

Prepaid Consumables and Expenses

If you estimate your consumable aids on hand cost less than $58,000 then you don't have to make a prepayment adjustment at year end. Source: IRD technical tax

Similarly, you can claim these expenses invoiced in one income year even if they are for the next income year. Just remember, you still need to pay for the invoices, so don't go incurring costs you don't need:

Accounting costs (mandatory) and audit fees

Advertising (under $14,000, up to 6 months)

Insurance (contract under $12,000, up to 12 months)

Periodic charges (under $14,000, up to 12 months)

Postage and courier tickets

Professional subscriptions (under $6,000, up to 12 months)


Rent (under $26,000, up to 6 months)

Services (under $14,000, up to 6 months)


Subscriptions for newspapers, magazines

Telephone maintenance (up to 2 months)

Travel and accommodation (under $14,000, up to 6 months)

Vehicle registrations, road user charges

Warranties or equipment service contracts as inseparable part of the asset

Repairs and Maintenance

With the ring-fencing of rental losses from 1 April 2019, many landlords will be trying to ensure their repairs are done before 31 March. Expenditure on an asset may be a repair or an improvement. Chat with us about any major work you have done, so that we can appropriately analyse the costs.

Write off Bad Debts

To claim a tax deduction for bad debts, they must be written off before the end of the financial. In your accounting software raise a credit note to clear the debt or write Bad Debt across the invoice in your invoice book. To decide whether a customer balance (debtor) is a bad debt or merely doubtful, consider the age of the debt, how much effort has gone into chasing the debt and the likelihood of the debt being collected. Writing off bad debts give a more accurate reflection of the business's financial results but does not prevent the business from continuing to seek recovery of the debt.

Holiday Pay

Note any holidays (except for public holidays) taken by staff within 63 days of balance date, so that you can claim a tax deduction.

Property, Plant & Equipment

Purchases of assets costing less than $500 (excl GST if registered) can be automatically expensed, unless they are part of the construction of a larger asset. Review your depreciation schedule from last year. Assets which have been disposed of or put in a dingy corner because they are too costly to dump can be written off from the books so that a loss on disposal can be claimed.

You may want to defer the sale of a significant asset until after balance date, to push the depreciation recovery income into the next tax year.


Retentions on building contracts are generally taxable in the year the contractor becomes legally entitled to receive them. Let us know of any retentions so we don't include them in income.

Preparation for 2019-2020 year

If you're changing accounting software, the start of a new year is a good time to do it. Set up now, so your bank feeds start from 1 April.

Have you checked that your payroll software is ready for payday filing? All major software companies claim to be ready, but desktop versions require a software upgrade at your end. The first time you sign in, you will need to allow the software to access IRD with your MyIR login and password.

The minimum wage increases to $17.70 per hour on 1 April 2019. Review all wages and salaries, not just those on minimum wages.

Consider how changes in your business will affect your income tax and talk to us about estimating your provisional tax or spreading your tax payments differently across the year.


It's time for some housekeeping: tidy up your end of year accounts and prepare for the year ahead. If you have any questions or concerns please contact us at JDW, so we can help you.

Download a PDF version here or contact the author by email. Like our Facebook page for regular tips.

Serena Irving is a director in JDW Chartered Accountants Limited, Ellerslie, Auckland. JDW is a professional team of qualified accountants, auditors, business consultants, tax advisors, trust and business valuation specialists.

Business Strategies to Overcome Wage Increases

If one-third of your costs rose by 20% over three years, would your business survive?


My first employer doubled my wages every year until Prime Minister, Sir Robert Muldoon, instigated a wage and price freeze to curb inflation. My employer was my Dad, I was aged six, and an increase from five cents to ten cents a week wasn't going to hurt his dairy's finances. The minimum wage increases are a different story.

On 1 April 2019 the minimum wage will rise to $17.70/hour, rising to $20/hour by 1 April 2021. Source: Workers on higher wage rates will want to keep relativity to the minimum wages. ANZ analysts suggest that a typical hospitality business could see an overall wages & salaries increase of 20% between March 2018 and April 2021. Sales would need to increase by 7%, or other costs decrease to compensate.

Your businesses already struggle with skilled labour shortages, and stress for overworked owners. Now is the time to prepare for change.

Values, Purpose & Uniqueness

If your values, purpose and uniqueness resonate with your customers, they will be back time and again. The right business strategies will incorporate these.

Your business's core VALUES are at the heart of what you do. It provides clarity and makes decisions easier. When your actions align with your values, you feel confident and at peace. If a behaviour annoys or upsets you, it may be that it is conflict with your core values. It reflects in the look and feel of your establishment and the food you serve (E.g. Fast and Fresh, Tranquil, Family Friendly).

If your customers and employees relate to your PURPOSE, they will remain loyal. According to Simon Sinek, the Wright Brothers were the first team to achieve motorised flight because their purpose was inspirational. Source:  Your purpose may be to share your signature style of cuisine with the world, to feed families with wholesome food or it may be to build neighbourhood communities.

If you offer a UNIQUE experience, then you can price accordingly. Dans Le Noir at Rydges Auckland has a blacked-out restaurant, with blind wait staff. Customers are led into the restaurant in single file, cannot see to eat and have a few giggles when a neighbour spills a drink. They leave with more empathy for the visually impaired.

Business Strategies

Two-thirds of hospitality employers told the Restaurant Association they would raise prices. But raising your prices too high will cause customers to go down the road or dine at home. Look at the table of strategies and compare it with your values. Which strategies align? If you adopt one strategy, what is the flow-on effect? What else would need to change?


Basic Business Strategies

Sell more

Increase prices


Flexible menu pricing

More advertising

Increase capacity

More tables

Breakfast service

Extra dinner service

Additional services

Rent space and equipment

Customer experience

Reduce food costs

Flexible menus

Seasonal produce

Reduce portion sizes

Supplier agreements

Reduce overhead costs

Better utility plans

Negotiate interest terms

Cut Staff Hours

Owner works longer hours

Reduce other staff benefits

Improve Efficiencies

Automate booking and/or ordering systems

Improve workflow

Cut wastage


Forecasting and budgeting

With business strategy in hand, how will you pay for it? Will you see a positive return from the effort? With the help of your accountant or bookkeeper, create a monthly or weekly budget of your expenses and capital expenses. Forecast your expected revenue considering seasonal fluctuations. Work out how much extra investment and borrowings you will need.

The minimum wage is rising and with it your labour costs, so the impact for your business will be huge. Increasing menu prices and working longer hours are not the only answers to this problem. Will you be ready with a clear strategy that aligns to your values, purpose and uniqueness?


First published in Savour magazine, March 2019 edition, alongside a Restaurant Association workshop "Business Strategies to Overcome Wage Increases".

Download a PDF version here or contact the author by email if you would like a copy of the workshop booklet. Like our Facebook page for regular tips.

Serena Irving is a director in JDW Chartered Accountants Limited, Ellerslie, Auckland. JDW is a professional team of qualified accountants, auditors, business consultants, tax advisors, trust and business valuation specialists.


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