ATO Cracks Down on Small Business Tax Debts: Here’s What You Need to Know

In the wake of the Covid era, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) adopted a lenient stance toward small businesses with GST, PAYG tax, and income tax obligations. However, the ABC recently reported that this period of leniency has come to a screaming halt and the ATO is now aggressively pursuing small businesses that owe tax debt, implementing stringent debt collection measures and shutting down businesses unable to comply.

The Current Situation

Rob Heferen, the new commissioner of the Australian Taxation Office, recently highlighted the severity of the issue. According to ABC News, small businesses collectively owe the ATO about $24 billion relating to their business activity statements (BAS). Heferen expressed concern over the growing trend of businesses falling behind on these payments, noting, “We are seeing an increasing number of businesses fall behind on these types of payments, from which point it is very difficult for businesses to get back on top of their obligations and remain viable.”

The numbers are alarming. Small businesses account for 65% of all collectable debt owed to the ATO, which amounts to $32.5 billion. Over the past four years, the total collectable debt, from businesses and individuals, has surged from $26.5 billion in June 2019 to $50.2 billion in June 2023 — an 89 percent increase. This sharp rise highlights the escalating pressures on small businesses across the country.

Aggressive Debt Collection

In response to the mounting debt, the ATO has intensified its debt collection efforts. Businesses with unpaid tax debts face the risk of being shut down if they fail to settle their obligations. The ATO’s hardline approach is a stark contrast to the leniency shown during the pandemic, and it serves as a brutal wake-up call for small business owners.

While the ATO is offering payment plans to help businesses manage their tax debts, these plans aren’t a get out of jail card and currently carry a general interest charge of 11.36%. Not only are you paying a high interest rate, these loans also have short repayment terms so your monthly payments can be astronomical. For many, meeting these repayment conditions may prove to be an insurmountable challenge, potentially crippling their operations.

What Can Businesses Do?

We reached out to Antony Resnick, insolvency expert and partner at DVT Group to get his thoughts on what businesses can do if they are burdened by ATO debt. He cautioned not to drown in the sea of debt but to raise your hand and ask for help. Companies that lodge their BASs but do not have the money to pay their bill are far better off from a personal liability standpoint than those who don’t lodge and don’t pay.

One option for businesses is to refinance the ATO debt through private lenders. TrailBlazer Finance is one of the few lenders willing and able to step up to the plate offering refinancing options that allow businesses to spread out repayments over five years, providing much-needed cash flow to continue operating and growing.

Take the First Step Toward Tax Debt Relief

If you’ve got ATO debt to pay don’t ignore it, raise your hand and ask for help.  We understand the pressures small businesses face and are here to help you find a solution that fits your unique situation. We invite you to set up a complimentary call with our experienced team to discuss your specific circumstances and explore how our refinancing options can help you. Reach out to us today at 1300 139 003 to clear the decks and get square with the ATO.

 

Understanding the market dynamics of trail book acquisition costs

Understanding the factors influencing trail book valuations is not just important but pivotal for making well-informed decisions in the acquisition process. These valuations encapsulate a complex interplay of multifaceted variables that can significantly impact the value and viability of an acquisition. Determining the factors influencing trail book valuations is crucial for making informed decisions. TrailBlazer Finance can help you understand the intricacies of trail book pricing across various sectors:

Mortgage Trail Books

Historically, mortgage trail books have traded at multiples ranging from 1.5X to 3X annual trail revenue. However, pricing varies significantly based on the quality of the asset. Just like buying a used car, factors such as client retention, revenue consistency, and asset quality play pivotal roles in determining the price. It’s essential to conduct external valuations to accurately assess the value of the asset being acquired.

Financial Planning Books

The valuation of financial planning books is typically based on a multiple of annualised recurring revenue (CSR), with historical norms around 3X. However, market sophistication has led to variations in pricing based on revenue streams, client base stickiness, and service offerings. Conducting detailed valuations and analysing revenue breakdowns are essential steps in determining the fair price for financial planning books.

Real Estate Rent Rolls

Rent rolls, representing real estate rentals, typically trade within the range of 2.5 to 3.5 times annual revenue. Factors such as client retention, vacancy rates, and rental reliability influence pricing. The focus is primarily on management fees and the quality of underlying properties.

Accounting Practices

Accounting practices are usually valued at 0.8 to 1.2 times annualised revenues, with considerations for achievable EBITDA. Client base stickiness, service availability, and eligibility of potential acquirers significantly impact pricing. Conducting thorough due diligence is essential to accurately assess the potential value of accounting practices.

Navigating trail book acquisitions requires a nuanced understanding of market dynamics and valuation principles

Taking into account elements such as asset quality, revenue streams, and client retention empowers you to make well-informed decisions and negotiate equitable prices. Engaging with experts like TrailBlazer Finance and conducting thorough valuations are indispensable components for a prosperous acquisition journey.

For finance professionals gearing up for an acquisition, our team offers confidential consultations customised to your unique circumstances. Alternatively, immerse yourself in our comprehensive eBook, “Acquisition Ready,” to acquire a deeper comprehension of the acquisition process and arm yourself with invaluable insights for achieving success.

 

Interested in gaining insights into the crucial aspects of a prosperous acquisition? Our comprehensive eBook, “Acquisition Ready: The 10 Things Finance Professionals Must Cover,” meticulously crafted by our specialist funders, offers valuable guidance to navigate the process effectively. Download today.

A comprehensive guide to navigating legal documentation in acquisitions

Embarking on an acquisition journey entails navigating a maze of legal documentation essential for a successful transaction. Let’s delve into the key legal documents required and their significance in the acquisition process:

2nd Level: Reference ability Checks

Delving deeper, it’s essential to scrutinise the character and reputation of the vendors involved. Conducting reference ability checks by reaching out to business development managers, partnership managers, and individuals associated with the target acquisition provides invaluable insights. Identifying any red flags regarding the vendor’s integrity or reputation is crucial, as acquiring an asset tainted by poor character can prove detrimental to your business. TrailBlazer Finance has numerous methodologies to delve deep.

3rd Level: Legal Searches

Lastly, thorough legal searches are indispensable to ensure a seamless acquisition process. These searches encompass verifying ownership, clearing titles, and identifying any encumbrances or outstanding debts associated with the asset. By meticulously conducting these searches, you safeguard against potential legal entanglements that could impede the acquisition’s success.

Although every acquisition journey may unfold with its own set of nuances, certain foundational principles persistently stand firm. With the expert assistance of TrailBlazer Finance, meticulously addressing these aspects of due diligence empowers you with the optimal opportunity for success in your acquisitions endeavours. 

Interested in gaining insights into the crucial aspects of a prosperous acquisition? Our comprehensive eBook, “Acquisition Ready: The 10 Things Finance Professionals Must Cover,” meticulously crafted by our specialist funders, offers valuable guidance to navigate the process effectively. Download today.

How to complete a thorough due diligence when acquiring a business

In the ever-evolving realm of business expansion, acquisitions emerge as powerful drivers of success. They present a thrilling opportunity to instantly double your business, skipping the lengthy process of organic growth. Through acquisitions, you not only achieve increased scale and efficiency but also gain the freedom to delegate day-to-day operations. Furthermore, your margins, purchasing influence, and market share undergo swift enhancement, marking the dawn of a prosperous new era.

However, the road to successful acquisitions is paved with layers of due diligence. Successful acquisitions hinge on meticulous due diligence across asset valuation, reference ability checks, and legal searches. By prioritising these critical steps and leveraging the expertise of TrailBlazer Finance, you pave the way for transformative growth and prosperity in your business ventures.

1st Level: Asset Valuation Due Diligence

At the outset, it’s imperative to conduct due diligence on the true value of the asset you’re acquiring. Engaging a third-party expert to perform a detailed valuation ensures accuracy and transparency in assessing the asset’s worth and its potential for leveraging. While some may possess the expertise and resources to undertake this task internally, most opt for the objectivity and proficiency offered by external valuers.

2nd Level: Reference ability Checks

Delving deeper, it’s essential to scrutinise the character and reputation of the vendors involved. Conducting reference ability checks by reaching out to business development managers, partnership managers, and individuals associated with the target acquisition provides invaluable insights. Identifying any red flags regarding the vendor’s integrity or reputation is crucial, as acquiring an asset tainted by poor character can prove detrimental to your business. TrailBlazer Finance has numerous methodologies to delve deep.

3rd Level: Legal Searches

Lastly, thorough legal searches are indispensable to ensure a seamless acquisition process. These searches encompass verifying ownership, clearing titles, and identifying any encumbrances or outstanding debts associated with the asset. By meticulously conducting these searches, you safeguard against potential legal entanglements that could impede the acquisition’s success.

Although every acquisition journey may unfold with its own set of nuances, certain foundational principles persistently stand firm. With the expert assistance of TrailBlazer Finance, meticulously addressing these aspects of due diligence empowers you with the optimal opportunity for success in your acquisitions endeavours. 

Interested in gaining insights into the crucial aspects of a prosperous acquisition? Our comprehensive eBook, “Acquisition Ready: The 10 Things Finance Professionals Must Cover,” meticulously crafted by our specialist funders, offers valuable guidance to navigate the process effectively. Download today.

Navigating the Approval Process in Acquisitions

A successful acquisition has the potential to transform your business, offering immediate scalability, improved efficiency, and the ability to delegate day-to-day operations. Moreover, it can result in instant enhancements in margins, purchasing power, and market share, propelling your business towards unprecedented success.

However, when venturing into the world of acquisitions, understanding the intricacies of the approval process is paramount. Before proceeding with an acquisition, thorough familiarisation with all relevant legal documentation outlining future payment rights is essential. Let’s delve into what you need to know:

Aggregator, Dealer Group, or Franchise Approval

In the acquisition landscape, securing approval from your aggregator, dealer group, or franchise is often a prerequisite. This step is vital as it grants you the legal right to take ownership of the acquisition target. However, it’s essential to note that approval procedures can vary significantly depending on the entity involved. Trailblazer Finance can guide you through this process. 

Restricted Approval

Approval may come with certain constraints. For example, some aggregators restrict acquisitions to their existing members, while specific mortgage managers may impose prerequisites such as specific guarantees and qualifications. Similarly, franchises typically require acquirers to become franchisees to access acquisition opportunities.

Failing to obtain the necessary approvals poses a significant risk, potentially resulting in the nullification of the acquisition and the loss of deposits or payments made.

Poorly executed acquisitions can spell disaster. Inadequate preparation and due diligence can devalue both the acquired asset and your existing business. Compliance issues further exacerbate the risks, potentially causing irreparable damage.

At Trailblazer Finance, we specialise in guiding clients through the acquisition process, ensuring optimal outcomes every step of the way. From conducting due diligence to negotiating agreements and securing financing, we provide comprehensive solutions tailored to your unique needs. With our expertise by your side, you can navigate the complexities of acquisitions with confidence and achieve your business objectives. Trust Trailblazer Finance to be your partner in success.

Eager to gain in-depth insights into the crucial elements of a successful acquisition? Download our comprehensive eBook, “Acquisition Ready: The 10 Things Finance Professionals Must Cover,” crafted by our specialist funders.

Three crucial questions every buyer should ask before engaging in an acquisition

In the world of acquisitions, there are three fundamental questions every prospective buyer should ask themselves before engaging in any transaction. At TrailBlazer Finance, we specialise in guiding clients through the acquisition process, leveraging our vast experience to ensure optimal outcomes. Let’s delve into these crucial questions and how TrailBlazer Finance can assist you at each step of the journey:

Capacity Assessment:

Before diving into an acquisition, it’s essential to assess your capacity to manage and maximise the value of the acquired assets. Many trail book buyers, especially brokers and planners, overlook the importance of nurturing and transitioning acquired clients. At TrailBlazer Finance, we offer expert guidance to help you evaluate your capacity and develop strategies for effectively managing and growing your newly acquired assets.

Timing Evaluation:

Timing is everything in acquisitions. It’s crucial to assess whether you’re at a stage in your personal career and business development where you can capitalise on the acquisition. Our team at TrailBlazer Finance can help you evaluate the timing of your acquisition and determine whether it aligns with your goals and objectives. With our specialised knowledge and insights, we ensure that each acquisition translates into the greatest potential for client conversion, upselling, and the acquisition of recurring revenue.

Skill Suitability:

Acquiring a book requires more than just financial resources; it demands the right skills and expertise to effectively service acquired clients. Whether you’re dealing with sophisticated property investors or first-time homebuyers, having the appropriate experience is crucial. TrailBlazer Finance provides personalised support to help you assess your skill suitability and bridge any gaps in expertise. With our guidance, you can confidently navigate the complexities of the acquisition process and ensure a seamless transition for your clients.

By evaluating capacity, timing, and skill suitability, you can approach acquisitions with confidence and maximise opportunities while mitigating risks. At TrailBlazer Finance, we are committed to empowering our clients with the knowledge and resources they need to succeed in their acquisitions. Whether you’re exploring trail book acquisitions or opportunities in other domains, our team is here to support you every step of the way. For those interested in trail book acquisitions, try the FREE Trail Book Valuation Calculator to assess the potential value of your investment and make informed decisions.

From conducting due diligence to negotiating agreements and securing financing, TrailBlazer Finance offers comprehensive solutions tailored to your unique needs. With our expertise by your side, you can navigate the acquisition landscape with confidence and achieve your business goals.

So, if you’re a professional who’s looking for support from a funder that understands your business and is willing to back you while so many are turning their backs, then reach out to the team at TrailBlazer for a free confidential discussion about your circumstances. Click here to make an enquiry.

Blazing Our Own Trail: We’re Expanding Our Offering While Others Are Retreating

At a time where things feel uncertain, many lenders and businesses are choosing to play it safe, laying low in the face of rising costs of living, higher interest rates, and inflationary pressures. However, at TrailBlazer Finance we’re charting a different course—one of expansion, innovation, and total commitment to our clients.

Investing in Talent for Growth

Key to our expansion strategy is our investment in top-tier talent. We’re thrilled to announce the addition of several new team members to further support you.  These include: Hayden Gomer – new Head of Operations, Pam Grevler – new Marketing Manager; and Kristy Coonan (who previously worked for TrailBlazer since its inception) is rejoining the team as a Lending and Special Projects Consultant. With their expertise and fresh perspectives, we’re taking our capability and efficiency to another level.

Empowering Borrowers with Lower Rates and Enhanced Products

Despite market conditions, we’ve taken the bold step of lowering our rates making our loans even more competitive in the market. And we’re excited to unveil a range of new products over the coming months, designed to empower you to qualify to borrow more for longer periods.  Watch this space as they will roll out progressively.

Are You Acquisition Ready? Introducing Our Free eBook

Acquisitions are all the rage right now and for good reason.  Successful acquisitions can fast-track business growth and improve efficiency overnight. At the same time, acquisitions can be fraught with danger. If you don’t know what you’re doing, or don’t take the necessary steps, you could be making a big mistake and jeopardising not only the business you acquire but also the business you already have and worked so hard to create. We’ve created an eBook called Acquisition Ready: The 10 Things Professionals Must Cover For A Successful Acquisition to help set you up for acquisition success. Click here for a complimentary copy.

Join Us on the Journey
Yes, the economic landscape is shifting (or has shifted), but we know now is a time when professionals and business owners need our help more than ever. We’re doubling down on our efforts to provide exceptional solutions to you. We’re committed to delivering the funding and support your business needs to thrive. 

So, if you’re a professional who’s looking for support from a funder that understands your business and is willing to back you while so many are turning their backs, then reach out to the team at TrailBlazer for a free confidential discussion about your circumstances. Click here to make an enquiry.

The ATO’s $60B Debt Collection

The ATO’s $60B Debt Collection – The Times They Are A-Changin

When the pandemic hit we saw a new lender enter the market. This lender was reasonably priced, had great terms and fast turnaround times.

Unfortunately, this lender is now starting to call in its debts.

The ATO’s $60B debt collection has begun and it’s time to get your ducks in a row so you’re not subject to the ATO’s “firmer action”.

During the pandemic the ATO placed a freeze on debt collection which gave relief to SMEs who were affected by the lockdowns, supply chain breakdowns, loss in consumer confidence and more. This approach was accommodative and necessary at the time but in the words of the immortal Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-Changin’.

Of course, the ATO is not out to hurt anyone and they will help you if you put your hand up and don’t in their words, “stick your head in the sand”.

But, in the post-pandemic world (at least in theory…) it’s time for the ATO to start collecting their debts and get back to their core business of collecting taxes and not deferring payments.

If you have ATO debt, what’s the best approach for you and your business?

Do not ignore the problem.

CreditorWatch Chief Executive Patrick Coghlan has said “our data shows that court actions are back to pre-COVID levels and the ATO has also stated that it is ramping up legal action for outstanding debts.”

The July CreditorWatch Business Risk Index (BRI) shows that external administrations and court actions are up 50% since April and 46% year on year, while court actions are up 54% year on year.

Not all funders see ATO debt refinancing as a sign of weakness or distress.  Mortgage brokers in particular are finance professionals who know a good opportunity when they see it.  So, we understand that many availed themselves of the ATO’s accommodative stance – because they could.  But now that game is over.

How to unwind your ATO debt in a structured way

Credit conditions still allow you to refinance and consolidate all your debts (including credit cards and other business related loans) into one loan so the principal and interest are paid down over a longer timeframe.  This relies purely on your recurring trail, fee or commission income. This gives you the peace of mind that you won’t incur any additional charges or penalties, but in many cases, you may even qualify for a refund of interest.

At Trailblazer our turnaround times are fast, it takes only 3 weeks from enquiry to settlement. Loan amounts start at $30,000 and go up to as much as $1,300,000 for selected borrowers.  Loan terms are flexible ranging from 2-5 years.

What you need is a clear plan to clear your ATO debt and unlock the working capital your business needs to grow and prosper. Set up your business for success this financial year and for years to come.

If you’d like a confidential discussion about clearing your ATO debt, you can reach out to Daniel Cordukes by calling him on 0416 062 572 or send him an email at:
danielc@trailblazerfinance.com.au.

Sincerely,

Jeff

Jeff Zulman is the Founder and Managing Director of Trailblazer Finance, a specialist financial services lender offering business loans, valuations and M&A buy/sell advice, specifically tailored for Mortgage Brokers.

How To Protect Your Practice

How to protect your practice in a rising Interest Rates environment. 

On the 3rd of May 2022 the RBA finally increased the cash rate by 25 basis points to 0.35%.  Let’s get a little perspective here – Interest Rates in Australia averaged 3.89 percent from 1990 until 2022, reaching an all-time high of 17.50 percent in January of 1990 and a record low of 0.10 percent in November of 2020.

This was the first rate hike since November 2010.  I am not a betting man, but an educated guess tells me this is just the beginning. We can expect many more interest rate increases over the next 12-24 months as the Government tries to get on top of inflation.

The official inflation rate is 5.1% but anyone who buys food, houses, cars or petrol (i.e. everyone) knows the real inflation rate is much higher.

In an inflationary environment the cost of living rises way faster than wages meaning the money you have simply buys you less and sadly many people can’t afford the basics of life like food and shelter. Something must be done to slow down inflation. So, interest rates look set to rise.

What can you do in the face of rising interest rates to distinguish yourself?

Have an informed view – clients, particularly older clients, or investors relying on income, are going to be concerned.  This is going to be a front-of-mind topic.  Many will call you as their trusted advisor.  After all, you deal with money don’t you? Therefore, they will look to you for insight and guidance (note, not that naughty word “advice”, but rather guidance and reassurance).  Take time to read and gather some insights that resonated with you which you can share.  Very few of my readers are economists – and even economists get it wrong more often than not!  The important thing is to have a position and long after that is forgotten, you will be remembered for your considered approach and understanding manner.

Mortgages and loans are likely to get more expensive. – so, if you are a finance broker, refinancing existing loans to save customers an easy 1% will no longer be part of the playbook. But, locking a variable exposure to fixed at the right time may be a smart and very defensive play, or even a part into different duration fixed products can cushion the blow.  Start to scour the market for lenders who offer fixed rate offerings that may not have moved. Our rates have not yet, but they probably will from July when the full impact of borrowing costs are passed on by the primary funders, so you may even be able to move quickly in some cases.

If you are a planner, or work with a planner or accountant, take stock of how much interest rate cover your client has.  It may be that they are ahead on payments and have plenty of headroom, and simply quantifying this will give the priceless reassurance that is required that they can ride this through a series of increases.

What will it mean for your practice, brokerage or business? Deal flow will likely slow and you will need to accelerate new client prospecting because existing clients may be locked-in or only refinanced in the past couple of years.  If property prices stagnate or possibly reduce, then the average size of loans may shrink and commensurately so will your commissions and fees if you have assets under management.  So, time to start tightening the belt.  The banquet table is not as plentiful, and the feeding frenzy is going to ease up.

But it’s not all doom and gloom.

As in all areas of life, the cream will rise to the top and the advisors and brokers who are smart and committed to adapting to rising interest rates will do well.

If you’re looking to profit from rising interest rates, here’s what you can do:

Early movers will get a jump on the rest and increase their volume over the next 6-12 months meaning they’ll make up for lower refinancing volume down the track. Plus, you’ll build loyalty with your clients meaning they’ll stick around for longer.

Acquire more new customers than ever before. Right now, interest rates are on everyone’s mind and clients are shopping around. This is the perfect time to increase your marketing. You don’t only need to grow “organically”.  Some will see the change in monetary policy as the time to call it quits and having ridden the downward cycle, they will dismount from their ponies and sell.  Here could be that golden opportunity to make sensible offers to acquire books and with them more new customers than ever before.

Invest in your own future now – you may be able to borrow money today while it’s still relatively cheap and particularly before the SME backed Government loans are set to expire on 30 June. The specialist fixed rate loans we offer are still available for brokers, advisors and planners looking to purchase trail books or hire more staff. An investment in your business now while money is cheap will stand you in good stead as interest rates rise and rise, because you can create a little war chest to go shopping.

Top Mortgage Brokers have systems in place to action the above with ease. For them it’s like switching sails on a sailing boat. The downwind sail is packed away and now it’s time to ‘tack’ their way through the headwind.

If any of the above feels like a challenge for you that’s ok, you can learn how to implement systems that make your business profitable in both declining and rising interest rates.

If you want to discuss how you can prepare for rising interest rates, reach out to our Head of Sales & Business Development Daniel Cordukes for a confidential discussion, you can reach him at danielc@trailblazerfinance.com.au.

Good luck,
Jeff

Jeff Zulman is the Founder and Managing Director of Trailblazer Finance, a specialist financial services lender offering business loans, valuations and M&A buy/sell advice, specifically tailored for Mortgage Brokers.

Start with why: Launching the TT Foundation

All great organisations start by answering the fundamental question, ‘Why?’.

At TrailBlazer Finance we provide specialised cashflow lending solutions to recurring revenue-based businesses, harnessing the value of reliable, stable and predictable cashflow.

While there is no shortage of businesses that understand the value in what we do, chances are, hearing our elevator pitch isn’t going to leave you personally inspired to “change the world” either.

This isn’t to say that we aren’t passionate about cashflow lending, we are, however our ‘Why’ runs much deeper…

At Trailblazer, we have tried to create a company culture of giving back.

Not only does the team engage in self-led social workdays each year – that finish with a WhatsApp frenzy of happy selfies and stories at the end of each day, but we’ve been supporting a number of charities since our inception. Our major partners in this area have been ‘Room To Read’ a non-profit organisation, and the ‘Humpty Dumpty Foundation’.

To further our mission, we are excited to announce the launch of the TT Foundation.

This charitable arm of TrailBlazer Finance has been set up as a vehicle to drive our impact further, allowing us to give even more to the causes that we support. Going forward, 100% of the Discharge Fees paid by clients at the maturity of their loans will be credited to the TT Foundation and distributed to a range of Australian registered charities, where we want to help to make a difference.

This significant milestone in TrailBlazer Finance’s timeline adds an equally great, tangible commitment to our ‘why’.

To kick things off we made the TT foundation’s first donation of $10,000 to the ‘Humpty Dumpty Foundation’. This has since seen the purchase of medical equipment that is already supporting babies in need at Bankstown Hospital (NSW).

We are honoured to be able to combine our passion for cash flow finance with our passion for giving back, and are looking forward to watching the foundation grow in impact over the years to come.

If you are interested in finding out more, please feel free to e-mail us at TrailBlazer Finance or call us on 1300 139 003 for a discrete conversation and insight. 

Whether you’re a mortgage broker, financial planner, rent roll business owner, accountant or other cashflow business, we can understand and support your specific business goals and needs.

Contact us

Suite 401, Level 4,
59-75 Grafton Street,
Bondi Junction NSW 2022

1300 139 003

info@trailblazerfinance.com.au

Giving Back