You need a will. Do you have one?

Ben Fletcher - Friday, April 11, 2014

It is important to have an up-to-date and valid Will because if you die without one (that is, intestate), your assets will be divided according to government legislation and not according to your unspoken wishes.

Stop evil uncle [insert name here] from getting his hands on your assets. Speak with a lawyer today.

For more information, head to this super handy government website:

Why use a corporate trustee?

Ben Fletcher - Monday, April 07, 2014

When setting up a trust you'll be faced with the question - corporate trustee or individual? This is a question that gets asked a lot. There are numerous benefits and only one real negative being the cost (setup and ASIC filing fees each year). The following points should serve as a general guide and note they apply to trusts rather than SMSFs (which have their own special set of benefits from using a corporate trustee).

1. A key principle in asset protection is to create a separation between a person (that may be open to litigation) and the ownership of their assets – a company can go some way to providing this. Also note the more directors/shareholders of a corporate trustee, the harder it will be to prove who ultimately controls the trust,

2. Further to point 1, it might be seen as pointless to sue a company that only has $2 worth of assets,

3. Change of control – if a client’s situation changes (gets married/divorced or business partners change) then changing individual trustees will be a costly affair (new deed of appointment, changes to asset holdings – potential issues with changing land titles, stamp duty, etc.). Having a corporate trustee simply means adding/removing directors/shareholders which is a very simple and cheap process,

4. Longevity – a company can live forever, an individual does not. This could avoid potential resettlement issues that may arise from the death of an individual trustee.


The above is a general guide only and is not to be taken as advice. Please contact your accountant or lawyer if you require any advice specific to your situation.

FREE business advice for creative industries

Ben Fletcher - Friday, April 04, 2014

If you run a creative business and live in the Sydney area you're entitled to one free guidance session designed especially for creative businesses. The NSW government and SmallBizConnect have started a pilot program to support creative businesses, and funding has been provided through Clearly Business to provide guidance and advice to creatives in Sydney.

 If you have an ABN, your first session will be fully funded by the NSW government.

Please get in touch with Monica Davidson to make an appointment on monica AT or 02 9212 0555

For more information about Monica please visit

Media Law for Non-Lawyers

Ben Fletcher - Monday, March 31, 2014

Media Law For Non-Lawyers offers a plain English guide to all aspects of media and entertainment law for film/TV producers, government administrators, ad agency staff, investors, agents, media accountants, creatives and more. 

Media Law for Non-Lawyers has been updated for 2014 with a chapter from our very own Jane Corden. Here is what the editor Lyndon Sayer Jones has to say about Jane:


"In this country (and NZ) Jane Corden is unquestionably the most respected and experienced media accountant. That is precisely why she was selected to contribute to MEDIA LAW for NON-LAWYERS being the only professional who was not a lawyer. The choice was frankly a no brainer - not just because she is the leading accountant in this very specialized area but because Jane has terrific communications skills with producers and I knew her “can do” positive attitude would translate into a well written chapter everyone would understand. She didn’t disappoint and I think readers generally are rating her chapter as one of the best which is a real accolade when you consider the high calibre of her co-contributors. Her experience is really quite extraordinary having worked alongside producers in Australia and internationally for some thirty years. She has a wealth of understanding and is currently taking cloud based paperless financial solutions to new levels with particular attention to the next generation of new film makers with digital management for online projects. I know too she has the respect of both Federal and State government funding bodies and when a project’s books of account are signed off by Jane Corden it is considered the gold standard – that must be a massive advantage for her clients."


Buy your own copy for $39 via Paypal from


MusicNSW & AIM Present: Book It In! The Ins & Outs of Booking Agents

R Reyes - Thursday, March 13, 2014

Are you a musician looking to expand your audience and increase your performance opportunities? This free workshop will teach you how booking agents work, how they can benefit your music career, what strategies they employ to increase an artist’s fan base, plus they will discuss tips and tricks on how to negotiate terms and agreements with promoters and venue bookers. Our speakers will also be sharing their stories about artists and bands they have worked with, providing an informative discussion which will interest any aspiring booking agent.


DATE: Wednesday 26th March

TIME: 6.30-8.30pm

VENUE: John Painter Hall, Australian Institute Of Music, 1-55 Foveaux St, Surry Hills NSW, 2010

PRICE: All ages and FREE! Simply RSVP to by 12pm Wednesday 25th March.


Topics include:

• At what point in your career do you need a booking agent?

• How do you find and approach a booking agent?

• How can a booking agent boost your audience?

• What is the difference between a booking agent and a manager?

• Can you sustain a successful music career without a booking agent?

• How do you become a booking agent?


Panelists for “Book It In: The Ins & Outs of Booking Agents” are:

ANDY GUMLEY (Village Sounds)

For the past three years Andy has been an Agent at one of the country's leading boutique domestic booking agencies, Village Sounds. Working alongside some of Australia's most exciting artists including Vance Joy, Courtney Barnett, Dune Rats, Violent Soho and Palms, just to name a few, Andy is responsible for booking his artists national tours, securing major festival plays and scouting the agencies new talent. Village Sounds has offices in Byron Bay, Sydney, Melbourne and Singapore.

DANIEL SAINT (The Harbour Agency)

Daniel Sant’s career in music began with a degree in Audio Technology. After deciding he wanted to have a more defining role in an artist’s career, he changed his path within the music industry, leading him to The Harbour Agency’s front door. Daniel has been with The Harbour Agency since 2008 and has been an agent for the last 5 years. Daniel currently works with a large and diverse range of artists which includes Lorde, Missy Higgins, Oliver Tank, Gossling, Papa vs Pretty, Deep Sea Arcade, Tigertown, The Superjesus, The Griswolds, Little May, sleepmakeswaves and more.

REBECCA YOUNG (Artist Voice)

Artist Voice is one of Australasia’s leading talent agencies and represents the best in local and international live music, with offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Singapore and Auckland. Rebecca is a booking agent at Artist Voice and since joining in early 2011, has signed the likes of Chet Faker, D.D Dumbo, Hermitude, Husky, Meg Mac, Snakadaktal, The Rubens, The Trouble with Templeton and more.


Rob Giovannoni has over 20 years experience in the music industry. Rob has worked with Severed Heads, Itch E & Scratch E, Custard, Sidewinder, Swervedriver (UK), Aphex Twin (UK) and with companies such as Trading Post Agency, Hype and Underground Promotions. Successfully promoted club nights such as Underground Radio, Bleach & P*A*S*H. Currently he is the Co- Director of Select Music Agency, booking acts such as Ball Park Music, Bluejuice, The Jungle Giants, Dustin Tebbutt amongst others. He is also the Co- Director of Select Touring, working with acts like Crystal Castles and Public Enemy.


For more information email:

Ph: (02) 9281 1600

ATO FBT updates from Knowledge Shop Feb 2014

Ben Fletcher - Monday, March 03, 2014

Why the ATO is looking closely at you this FBT time

Almost half of all tax collected flows through about 800,000 employers. In an environment where tax revenues are falling, Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) is of particular interest to regulators. The simple reason is that the ATO can rely on the fact that many employers simply fail to recognise their FBT obligations - it is low hanging fruit.

To save you from the virtual equivalent of a knock on the door from the ATO, we’ve devised our list of the key things to watch out for pre and post the end of the FBT year on 31 March:

iPad vs Laptop...what’s the difference?
The answer is not a lot any more.  A few years ago the ATO considered that an iPad and a laptop were two different items with different functions.  But now the ATO is being forced to keep pace with evolving technology and has revisited the issue.

So why is this important? The distinction is important because under FBT law, an employee can for example, salary sacrifice one portable electronic device each year FBT free as long as that device is also used in their job.  So, that means that as long as you use the device for your work (for example working from home), you can pay a lot less for that device than if you just walked into the shop and bought it.  But wait there’s more.  You can also salary sacrifice more than one electronic device each year as long as those devices have different functions.  So, you could salary sacrifice a laptop and an iPad in the same year FBT free if the laptop and iPad had different functions.  

With technology melding the functionality of electronic devices, the ATO have now said that employers need to look at the function of the device to make sure there is only one FBT free device with that function each year.  If the function is effectively the same, then only one device can be FBT free.  Something to watch out for.

Cars & FBT: what you should be on the look out for

Every year the ATO tells us what sort of things they’re looking out for and they are always interested in cars! The ATO’s view is that there are probably plenty of situations where FBT should be paid but isn’t.

One of the ways the ATO figures out if there is an FBT liability is by looking at companies claiming car expenses but are not lodging FBT returns and not reporting employee contributions on the company tax return.  This doesn’t mean there is a problem but in some cases the ATO might ask you to prove that the car expenses don’t trigger FBT.

Car fringe benefits: Rudd Government changes now six feet under
Before the election, the Rudd Government sent the car and finance industry into a spin by announcing that they would scrap the Statutory Formula Method used to calculate fringe benefits tax on cars.  The Abbott Government has now formally stated that they will not proceed with this measure.

If the statutory formula method had been scrapped, there would be an adverse effect on the taxable value of car fringe benefits where the car was mostly used for private use or the employer failed to keep an eligible log book.  When using the statutory formula method, the taxable value of car fringe benefits is a flat 20% of the base value of the car, regardless of the distance travelled by the employer (note there are transitional rates in certain circumstances).  

Travelling or living away from home. What’s the difference when it comes to tax?
Over a year ago, significant changes were made to ‘living away from home’ allowances to tighten up the rules.  But the ATO has a view that not everyone is playing by the new rules.  

Part of the problem comes down to defining whether someone is actually living away from home, or just travelling.  The ATO is looking closely at Australian taxpayers claiming LAFHAs to make sure they are not incorrectly claiming exempt LAFHA.

If somebody is living in Sydney but travelling to Melbourne every other week for work, they are simply travelling.  They may be entitled to travel deductions but cannot claim an exempt LAFHA.  If the person relocates temporarily to Melbourne, keeps their home in Sydney for their use (can’t be rented out), then it’s more likely they can claim a living away from home allowance.  You need to double check to get the distinctions right.

Is it possible to salary sacrifice your spouse’s car?
It’s not all bad news on the FBT front - there are still some opportunities out there.  One area we are often asked about is associate leases.  An associate lease is where you salary sacrifice the car repayments for an associate’s car, for example your wife’s car.  In effect, your spouse leases their car back to your employer for you to use.  This arrangement does not have to be just for new cars, it can work well with existing cars.  And, it works best when your spouse is on a lower tax bracket than you or is not earning an income.

While these arrangements sound good because they ultimately reduce the tax paid by the higher earning spouse, they may fall foul of the ATO’s anti-avoidance rules.  It’s important to make sure that the appropriate documentation is in place to support these arrangements and the non-tax reasons for having an associate lease are clear.

School teachers & retail employees beware: In-house benefit rule changes
If your employer lets you salary package the goods and services that they sell, then this is an in-house fringe benefit.  Common examples include retailers who provide discounted clothes to employees or private schools discounting school fees for the employee’s children.

Back in the 2012/2013 ‘mini Budget’ (the Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook) the Government announced that they would scrap the concessional treatment that applied to in-house fringe benefits.  The old treatment allowed employees to only recognise 75% of the lowest publicly available cost of the goods or services reduced by a further $1,000 in their salary sacrifice agreements.

The transition period for this change that allowed people with pre 22 October 2012 salary sacrifice agreements to keep receiving the concession, ends on 31 March 2014.  If you are an employer with these agreements in place and you have not reviewed them, you need to do this quickly as it might significantly change the remuneration of your employee.  If you are an employee receiving the concessional FBT treatment, you need to understand what the change will mean to you.


Reproduced with thanks from Knowledge Shop.

MusicNSW Present: Digital Marketing 101 Workshop

R Reyes - Tuesday, February 11, 2014

In today’s music world every artist needs to incorporate the digital sphere into their career. This workshop will explore strategies for creating and executing successful digital marketing campaigns, how artists can increase revenue using online tools, and how to cut through the online clutter.

DATE: Thursday 27th February
TIME: 6.00-7.30pm
VENUE: Café Lounge - 277 Goulburn Street Surry Hills
PRICE: FREE! Simply RSVP to by 12pm Wednesday 26th February 2014.

• The art of creating the perfect musician’s website
• Advanced PR tools for the digital world
• Getting your music ready for digital distribution
• How to use social media to fill your shows
• Intergrating the online experience

Panelists for “DIGITAL MARKETING 101” ARE:

DANNY YAU (Digital Consultant/Music Foxtel)
Danny Yau has been working in the music industry for 15 years. He has worked for major record companies in Marketing and Digital Marketing in Australia, UK and US. A former FBi board member, journalist and musician, he currently heads the digital department of Foxtel's music channels. He also consults independently and teaches Digital Marketing at the Australian Institute of Music.

JAI AL-ATTAS (Director, One Meaning Communicated Differently)
Jai Al-Attas is a digital strategist & producer with over 13+ years experience in the digital and entertainment industries. Jai spent 8 years running an indie label under which he signed bands such as Kisschasy, The Scare, Brand New, Yellowcard and Something With Numbers. After a stint in LA, Jai returned to Australia and started One Meaning Communicated Differently; a social marketing company that specialises in digital, social and mobile solutions for Entertainment, Sports and Lifestyle brands. Since starting ONE Jai worked with Disney Pixar, Activision, KR3W Denim, Icehouse, Ministry Of Sound, Coles, Network Ten, The Presets, Sony Music and Taj Burrow to name a few.

JAKE CHALLENOR (Managing Director, Jaden Social)

Jake Challenor is the Managing Director of digital marketing agency, Jaden Social, and indie record label Social Family Records. Over the past six years, Jake has developed artists for major labels Universal Music, Sony Music and EMI. He also co-manages the multi-platinum and ARIA award winning Aussie rock band, Baby Animals, and indie soul music outfit, Electric Empire, who are representing Australia on world stages including Glastonbury, Royal Albert Hall and Blue Note, with sellout headline shows in Europe, Asia and the UK. Jake has worked on digital campaigns for big brands like Foxtel, Sony Music, National Breast Cancer Foundation, Yahoo, Universal Music, Sydney Ferries and Telstra.

VANESSA PICKEN (Founder, Comes with Fries)
Vanessa has been at the coal face of the creative digital scene throughout her career. Having worked at Nokia, T-Mobile, Westpac and EMI before creating her own business in 2011 and cementing her future in the creative industries digital sphere. Her career in brand, marketing, music and digital has allowed her to devised a modular services company called Comes With Fries to empower and enable the Australian creative industry. Comes with Fries has worked closely with artists, labels, festivals, touring agencies, food brands, fashion houses and agencies from all over the country including Tailormaid Communications, Spender, Bento, The Cat Empire, Eskimo Joe, The X Factor Live Tour, Butler & Bentley, The Photo Diner and many more. Vanessa also has embarked on Artist Management by teaming up with Melbourne instrumentalist, singer, producer, artist and song writer Spender who has just released his debut EP Modern Pest that features Gotye and Clairey Browne

For more information

Ph: (02) 9281 1600


Double tax on super contributions for high income earners

Ben Fletcher - Monday, February 03, 2014

As part of the 2012 Federal Budget it was announced that, broadly speaking, all individual taxpayers earning over $300,000 will pay an additional 15% on concessional superannuation contributions. This takes the total tax rate to 30% rather than the normal 15% rate.

This came into effect on 1 July 2012 and the ATO will start issuing Notices of Assessment in relation to this increased tax in February 2014 based on information provided to them by the super fund and the information included in your individual tax return. The additional tax will be payable by the individual, however, much like Excess Contributions Tax, the ATO will allow you to sign an authority to have the super fund release the funds to cover the tax so you are not personally out of pocket.

There is more information available here on the ATO website. If you have any questions specific to your situation, please contact your accountant to see how these changes may affect you.



Are you a jeweller?

R Reyes - Friday, January 31, 2014

If so, there are some common problems that the right lawyer can solve for you. Questions such as:


  • I provide my jewellery on consignment to a shop/gallery.  The law has changed so what do I do now to get it back if the shop/gallery goes under?
  • Tiffany jewellers protects its brand.  How do I protect mine?
  • I am one of a couple of shareholders in his business and we need a shareholders’ agreement: where should we start?
  • How do I make an insurance company pay out my claim?
  • How do I protect my jewellery designs?


These thought-provoking questions kindly provided by Cara at

Are you an author or an advisor of an author?

R Reyes - Friday, January 17, 2014

If so, there are some common problems that the right lawyer can solve for you:


  • A fair publishing agreement
  • Do I own the rights to copywriting?
  • Securing my accreditation as author
  • Protecting my book title
  • Ownership of book illustrations
  • Securing my royalty payments
  • Using the quotations of others
  • How could I be at risk of charges of defamation?
  • How do I protect my ideas and materials from plagiarism?
  • What can I do if misrepresented by journalists?
  • How can I avoid charges of plagiarism?


These thought-provoking questions kindly provided by Cara at