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I trust you are well and have had time to enjoy the beautiful weather we are having as we transit into winter. A few short weeks ago we were wet and cold as storms rolled across Perth and the southwest. And now there is no sign of rain in the sky and our days are sunny and warm.

Quick quiz question for this week: Which of the four partners of Dry Kirkness wear glasses? Keep reading for the answer.

This week I have an appointment with my eye specialist. Like those who wear glasses we use them to try and get clearer vision to help us in our daily lives. Without glasses my vision is blurred and unclear. At this time of coronavirus our community is searching for clear vision on the way forward. It’s like when you take your glasses off, the view is blurred and unclear. As we enter Phase 2 of our recovery process across Australia, we can’t be certain of the path ahead and whether we can keep the R score < 1. Last week we grappled with the lack of a clear sight into the future as we worked out how to reopen our office in Phase 2. I want to let you know about our plans and a little of the thought process, as this may be helpful in your business if you have also closed down. Firstly we found re-opening a much harder process than closing down. So we encourage a little time for thinking and planning before deciding to throw the doors open in your workplace. Heidi Leaver, our Practice Manager began researching the measures we need to comply with a few weeks ago and has refined them as new material was available from our government agencies. We now have a set of instructions for our team that will guide how we act safely as people resume working in our office. Secondly we don’t need to rush the process. We value the understanding and support of you our clients as we have worked remotely, what we call 'working in the home'. Our technology has allowed us to continue to serve you and we trust you are happy with the continuity of service we have provided. So, while we have access to this technology, we are of the view we don’t need to rush to have everyone back in West Perth. For this reason, we have given our staff the choice to return to our office when we reopen next Monday 25th May or continue to work from home while we remain in Phase 2. We know that many larger professional offices in Perth are also going to stagger the resumption of working in their offices, so we are not alone. The point is that each business needs to work out what is best for them, their employees and the customers or clients they serve. Thirdly our office will be different to what it was when we closed. Our procedures have changed to ensure the safety of our staff and those visiting our office. We will have increased cleaning procedures in all our common areas and will have seating set apart in our meeting rooms to achieve a minimum 1.5m distance between people. Fourthly we encourage you our clients to continue to meet with us using technology. We are available for phone, Teams or Zoom meetings and can facilitate all these formats with you. If a face to face meeting is essential for you, please understand that we will need to record your details as we need to monitor anybody having contact with our staff. And in our reception area we will have distancing marked on the carpet to ensure you can measure the minimum 1.5m between people. And lastly because we have given our staff a choice of where they work, some of our people may not be available if you happen to drop into our office. Please understand this is not to cause upset to our clients. Our decision to provide choice to our staff is designed to ensure those who need to commute on public transport can choose not to be exposed to the increased risks of being on buses and trains in their daily commute. Wearing my glasses is not giving me a clear view on the way forward, but we are prepared to adapt to whatever arises as we transition into the resumption of our client services. We don’t know what the future looks like, but we are open to the best advice and will try to manage our services to you our clients in the best and safest way possible, as with our community we try to keep R<1.0. We will review our decisions above when Phase 3 is announced and communicate any changes with you at that time. And we appreciate the leadership of our elected officials in Australia and WA as they guide us through these unprecedented times in our lifetimes. And a little bit of technical information for those employees who have been working from home. The tax law allows deductions for expenses that you incur in earning taxable income. Normally this is done by keeping records of the costs of your home office, with expenses such as heating, phone, internet, depreciation of furnishings, books and resources in your library all deductible. You can’t claim mortgage payments or interest on your home loan as this will trigger capital gains tax on your home, which is normally tax exempt. To make a claim for costs you will need to maintain detailed records and a diary of home use with many claims being computed on a pro rata basis using the area of your office to the total area of the home. In breaking news… the ATO have realised this is a difficult process in these times when many employees have had to work in their homes. As a concession a simpler method to calculate your claim has been released. It’s very straight forward: take the number of hours of work in the home and use the rate of 80 cents per hour. Why not begin getting your records in place now to use this method of calculation in time for the end of the financial year, a few short weeks away. And the answer to my question: all 4 partners wear glasses. It’s not uncommon in the accounting profession when we spend our early careers focused on numeric detail in spreadsheets.

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