How To Claim Home Office Expenses

When working from home, it is important to know what you are eligible to claim at tax time and what percentage of that cost you are entitled to have returned. Even if your home office is not used entirely for work purposes, there are ways of calculating how much you should claim.

According to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website, things you will often use in a home office and that you may be eligible to claim include:
•The depreciation of home office equipment. This includes computers, telephones, printers and other devices. These items have a limited lifespan and the depreciation on these is therefore tax deductible. If you spend less that $300 on an item, you are able to claim a full deduction on the work related portion of that cost.
•Work-related phone calls. This includes calls from mobiles.
•Work-related phone line rental. For this, you must prove that either you are on call, or you are required to call your clients or workplace regularly when away from the workplace.
•Work-related internet charges.
•Costs related to heating, cooling or lighting. You can claim the amount over what you would normally spend if you did not work from home. Alternatively, through keeping a diary of these expenditures, you are able to claim up to 34.0 cents per hour on these costs.
•Repairs to home office furniture or fittings.

Keep in mind that working from home does not exclude you from claiming incidental costs you may incur, meaning, costs which may not be exclusive to those working in a home office. These may include subscriptions or memberships to professional associations, or professional seminars, workshops and courses.

In order to claim these expenses, certain records must be kept. These are:
•Receipts or proof of purchase for depreciating assets.
•Diary entries for small expenses. Small expenses are ten dollars or less, totalling no more than $200. Often these will be purchases you cannot prove, such as stationary.
•Telephone bills. Itemized bills on which work-related calls can easily be identified. Should you not have access to such bills, diary entries kept over a four week period is sufficient to make an estimate on costs over a financial year period.

It is important to keep written records of deductible items for five years. For depreciating assets, this figure is five years beyond the final claim made on the item.

Unfortunately, when working from home, you are not eligible to claim for occupancy expenses. These are things like rent, mortgage interest etc. You are also unable to claim on work-related items like laptops, printers and mobile phones if your employer has provided them, or even if your employer reimburses you for them either partially or entirely.

When keeping home office records, be as thorough as possible. The devil is in the details, and the more proof you have of tax-deductible purchases, the more you can claim.

Further detail can be found on the ATO website regarding precisely how much you can claim or you can try the Home Office Expenses Calculator online.

Improving Productivity through IT Systems

The IT infrastructure within your business is the backbone of everything you do, and all of your day-to-day tasks will need to be tailored so that they fit within this system. A problem with your IT setup or a bottleneck in the system can reduce productivity dramatically, and leave you unable to make the most of your business.

Improving your IT systems will naturally increase the productivity of your company and set you on the path to higher profits. Here we consider how to improve productivity through your IT systems.

Upgrading hardware

The hardware within businesses is often quite outdated, and there are clear reasons for this. Updating your computer hardware is an expensive process and one that will significantly impact the return that you make from your business in the year. However, using dated equipment will mean that you are wasting significant amounts of time waiting for programs to load and process simple information.

This wasted time may seem insignificant, but the downtime saps the productivity of staff. While the computer is loading your employees can easily lose focus, and the resulting loss of productivity can be costly. Updating your hardware is an investment that must be made to ensure efficiency in business.

Updating software

The software that you are using in your business is also of very significant importance. While a software update will rarely increase the speed of production, in most cases it should increase the quality of production. New pieces of software will always come with new features that will enable your business to offer a better service, so it is worth investing in the latest editions.

It is also important to update your IT systems so that you can keep pace with the competitors in the market, as otherwise they will be able to offer services that you cannot provide with your dated software.

Training staff

Training for staff can be provided online, and this will make up a significant part of your IT systems within a business. Training is essential to keep staff up to date and ensure that they are using the programs in the most efficient and effective manner. Through online training systems, you can dramatically reduce the cost of training your staff, and you will be able to track their progress by monitoring their scores within the system.

With properly trained staff you will be able to benefit from a far more productive and effective workforce.

Online sales

Online sales are a potential means through which you can greatly increase the efficiency and productivity of your business. Setting up a website is a relatively simple process, but adding an online sales feature to your business will require some complex IT systems. Despite this, the productivity of your business can be greatly improved with online sales because it will enable you to generate many more sales and a higher profit.

By removing the need for person-to-person interaction, the time it takes to get from customer interest to a converted sale will be greatly reduced.

Common Uses for Computer Servers

DatacentreMost people outside of the IT industry do not understand what servers are used for. This even applies to most business owners; most never bother finding out about what a server is or what it does. That is, until their company suddenly needs to conduct a major migration or the like.

Here is a short guide on some of the common uses for computer servers:

What a Server Actually Does

First off, let’s look at what a server is. Yes, it is an important piece of computer equipment, but for a lot of people that’s the full extent of their knowledge.

A server doesn’t need to be a scary and mysterious piece of equipment nor does it need to be confusing. Its purpose is in fact very simple: it is a computer that connects to other computers in the “network”, providing much needed resources and services.

It’s that central computer to which all other computers connect to in order to access stored information and shared programs. What exactly it shares and stores is determined when you first set it up.

Types of Servers

There are database servers, print servers, web servers, mail servers, gaming servers, file servers, dedicated servers, shared servers and many more. Servers range widely in price, size and processing power according to the tasks they are designed to perform.

Servers at Home

If you have an old computer at home that you’re thinking of getting rid of, you should consider turning it into a home server. You could use this home server to store your music and videos so that they may be accessed all around the home on any computer on the network, or even as a media computer in your games room or living room.

You can also use a home server to send and receive email messages and store files that can be accessed throughout the home. You could even load your server security onto the server so that all of your computers are protected.

Servers at Work

If you’re running a business, severs will perform similar tasks but on a much larger scale. With a business you are likely dealing with large amounts of data that needs to be stored, so the server acts as a central secure storage location so that employees don’t need to back up their work every day.

Emails and other important information are stored on the server instead of on individual computers, which allows you to purchase equipment with smaller hard drives. Furthermore, it allows all employees to access the information through file sharing. As the business grows, each new computer that is purchased can be easily set up by accessing the information on the network server.

Servers are the unsung heroes of the workplace. Most people would be surprised to find out that servers perform such a wide range of critical tasks, from data storage to hosting websites. It is even more surprising to find out how useful a server can be to your small business, or even in your home. To fully utilise your service, seek the advice of an IT Consulting firm.

Who Can You Trust When Buying Online?

2879955156_221541a8ae_mThough the internet brings with it a number of wonderful advantages, it can sometimes serve as a breeding ground for deceitful users and fraud. Online shoppers have to be increasingly tech-savvy in order to ensure that they are getting a good deal that’s also from a trustworthy source. But how does one go about acquiring such wisdom, you might ask. Thankfully, there are a few ways that you can ensure that you don’t get conned by a false salesperson online. Here are some great tips to keep you in the know.

– Don’t send bank or card details via email. A legitimate exchange online is made via secure payment methods such as PayPal, BPay or by credit card. Any sellers asking for an email with these details is likely to have malicious intent. It’s also important that you avoid money transfers and direct debit payments, as these methods can potentially be abused.

– Know the seller. Any website should provide enough information about the merchant that you can give them a call or even visit them in person, so if you come across a seller that provides none of this information, it’s worth checking why first over email. Find out about their policies regarding returns, and check user reviews of their services, if there are any.

– Check if the site is secure. Online merchants with a legitimate reputation will use encryption technology when handling your financial information. The most common type that you will come across is Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). Any sites using this software will be trustworthy, so if in doubt, turn to these secure sites, even if a less reliable source is offering a better deal. Always seek advice from an IT consult if in doubt.

– Be wary of offers that seem too good to be true. The sad truth about these kind of deals is that if they seem impossible, they probably are. Malicious merchants will reel in other users with a deal so blindingly good that they eagerly give away compromising information. If a deal on a shopping site is simply irresistible, contact the seller via phone or email to discuss the possibility of paying in cash. That way, you can prevent any fraudulent sellers from abusing your financial information.

– Print off records of transactions. In the event of any transaction going horribly wrong, it’s good to have files on who-what-when to help any law enforcement that might get involved in the matter further down the line.

– Keep strong passwords. A user that can deceive you online is also likely to be able to infiltrate insecure accounts to their advantage. Though it might seem like a fairly simple step, a strong password can be one of the most effective barriers against hackers. You can never be too careful.
Ultimately, the more you shop online, the more experienced you’ll become at spotting potentially misleading merchants, so shopping safely online can become in itself quite rewarding. Despite the scares around internet security, online shopping is actually more reliable than things like mail order, especially when one is well-versed in the ways of the web-based market. Go forth and purchase!

How to Install Ubuntu 12.04

ubuntu12Ubuntu 12.04 is one of the most eagerly awaited Operating Systems and it is finally out now.

An advantage using this OS is that it comes absolutely free and you can download it from the Internet. However, the problem arises only when you don’t know how to install it. Installing is not really hard and it requires just a few steps. Installing the 12.04 version is not really different from the previous versions of Ubuntu as only the interface of the GUI has been changed.

If you wish to install the Operating System, you need to have a minimum space of 10 GB. The installation process I am about to give is only to dual boot the 12.04 and on a Windows 7 system. To dual boot or change your Windows Operating System, you have to empty all the drivers in your computer to make a minimum of 10 GB space after which you have to format your device to keep it clear. The OS can be dual booted with three of Windows’ versions including Vista, XP and 7. Here are the steps to install Ubuntu:

Firstly, you have to boot it using a bootable USB or through a CD or preferably, a DVD. A screen stating ‘Preparing To Install Ubuntu’ will appear. Uncheck the third party installation software as it is not mandatory and you can install it any time you want. After you uncheck, click ‘Continue’.

You’ll be taken to the next window, which is ‘Installation Type’. You can either choose ‘Erase Disk to Install Ubuntu’ to clear your device and to start installing the OS or you can choose ‘Something Else’ to start the process. When the process is underway, you have to choose the kind of disk drive through which you are planning to install the Operating System. The page also prompts you to choose a drive with free space, and once you choose the drive, click ‘Change’. You have to then select the Master hard drive of your system and click ‘Change’ again.

In the new partition page, choose the type of partition you require, the new partition size (preferably 8 GB or more), location for the new partition, mount point (/) and click OK. Ensure you have all the options you have chosen in the selected Drive and click ‘Install Now’.

You will be prompted next to choose a Time Zone and the desired layout for the keyboard of your system. In the final window, you can enter the username and password you wish to give your system. After giving the necessary details, click ‘Next’.

You have installed the Operating System. All you have to do now is re-boot your system. Now, you will get a prompt when you open your device which will ask to choose an Operating System. According to the nature of your work, you can choose the Operating System you wish to boot. If you have any problems with the above steps, try installing all over again, otherwise, get professional help from an IT consultant.