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I shared a flat with a secondee from Denmark (Vy). Our stay in Perth has allowed us to explore some of the many sites of Perth. Here are a few we enjoyed:

  • King’s Park – one of the nicest/cleanest parks we have seen. Stop here for a beautiful view of the city and a stroll on the elevated walking bridge (Federation Walkway).
  • Fremantle – Fremantle is a hip town in Perth that has heaps of restaurants, bars and shops. We bought fruits and vegetables at the markets, went on a night tour of the Fremantle Prison and had to stop by Little Creatures Brewery for dinner and drinks.
  • Perth1Rottnest Island – About 20km from Perth, an island tour would include cycling to pristine beaches, snorkeling in clear water, and a chance to meet a few of the 10,000 quokkas that live there. The quokka is a cousin of the kangaroo and is one of the most photogenic animals on the planet.
  • Lancelin and the Pinnacles – Our first time sandboarding in Lancelin produced a few funny videos and even the best accountant wouldn’t be able to count all of the rocks at the Pinnacles.

Perth2

Perth3

  • Swan Valley – Wine tours are a must if you travel to Perth! The vineyards and wineries were beautiful and the river cruise back to the city was all smiles.

The work and the sites of Perth were new and exciting, but the people we encountered, conversations we had, and the lifelong friends and colleagues we made outweigh any of the pictures we put up on Instagram. The secondment program allowed us to step out of our comfort zones, jump into a new environment and experience a new life for four months.

By Lonnie Bloom, MBA | 609.520.1188 | lbloom@withum.com

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I’ve never really heard about Perth until getting the opportunity to live here through the HLB secondment program. Here are some things I’ve learned during my stay:

  • No tipping at restaurants – don’t expect to add an extra 20%. Tipping is not expected and there is usually no line on the receipt for it anyway.
  • The average minimum wage in Australia is over A$17 per hour (which explains why there is no tipping).
  • Crossing the street – pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way here in Perth. I’ve learned this after many honks directed towards me. Jaywalking is the only way to survive.
  • Coffee – Dunkin Donuts does not exist and Starbucks has not made its way to Perth yet. Essentially, all you can get is a “Flat White” or a “Long Black.” There’s a coffee/espresso shop on every corner in the city and the menu always looks the same.
  • The sushi is not good – they put chicken and steak in their sushi rolls and call it “gourmet.”
  • Kangaroos – Yes, there are as many kangaroos here as there are deer in New Jersey. The little ones are cute and friendly.

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  • The Lingo:
    • Biscuits = cookies
    • Lifts = elevators
    • Macca’s = McDonalds
    • Chips = French fries
    • Rubbish = garbage
    • Australians abbreviate everything
  • Common terms
    • Massive
    • Heaps
    • Reckon
      • (i.e., “I reckon the concert will be massive with heaps of people” – Mindy)
    • No worries
    • No stress
    • Cheers mate
  • No Australian has ever said, “Let’s throw some shrimp on the barbie.” Australians call shrimp “prawn” anyway.
  • Perth is the second most isolated city (with over one million people) in the world. The next closest city to Perth is Adelaide which is 2,138km away (approximately a three-hour flight).
  • Everything in the city of Perth closes early during the week. Most retail stores close at 5:30pm, except Friday when they are open late (9pm). Only about a year ago is when Perth started opening its stores on Sundays from 11am-5pm.

 

By Lonnie Bloom, MBA | 609.520.1188 | lbloom@withum.com

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Lonnie BloomThis summer I had the amazing opportunity to work in Perth, Western Australia for four months as a secondee for HLB Mann Judd. My role as senior auditor included planning, conducting and finalizing all aspects of new and reoccurring audits. I also assisted managers with substantive testing and additional procedures necessary to complete their jobs.

Even though I was using new audit software (CaseWare) and worked on clients in a new industry (Exploration & Mining), I felt a sense of similarity when setting up workpapers, documenting analytics and completing long checklists and audit programs. The biggest change for me was getting familiar with the exploration industry and Australian accounting standards. Some interesting facts I noted during my experience were the following:

  • Mining is huge part of Western Australia’s economy. The major commodities include Iron ore, petroleum, gold, alumina, and other various minerals
  • During the mining boom, the mining and the petroleum industry accounted for almost 90 percent of the State’s income from total merchandise exports. In 2009, the industry had a value of $A61 billion. During this time, mining companies held large amounts of cash to pay their employees and on any given mining site, janitors, cooks, and bookkeepers could easily earn over $100k per year
  • Those that have to fly into their mine site are considered Fly in Fly out (FIFO) workers. These miners would fly to their work site for the duration of their roster then fly home when they are off duty. This is typical in the mining industry.
  • The mining industry has been on the decline for the past few years due to unstable resource prices and has caused job cuts and increased unemployment rates. This has also led many companies to seek additional funding and capital raisings to continue their exploration activities
  • An entity is considered a “Mining” company when an exploration and evaluation asset has reached a point when the technical feasibility and commercial viability of extracting a mineral resource are demonstrable. Companies that have not reached this point of technical feasibility but maintain rights to explore the land are considered exploration companies
  • Mostly all of the clients I dealt with were exploration companies listed with the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX). All of my clients were unique but generally had some similar characteristics. Some activities these companies were facing include the following:
    • Revenue – since these exploration companies have yet to “strike gold”, they only reflected minimal revenue (i.e. interest revenue)
    • Capital raisings – exploration companies listed on ASX are selling shares for pennies. It is common to see companies issue millions of shares in order to raise funds which they would use to continue their exploration. Larger companies and wealthy individuals would purchase these shares also in hopes to “strike gold”
    • Large balance sheets – money spent on these exploration sites (tenements) would be capitalized according to the standard, which would be reflected on their balance sheets
    • Impairment – exploration and evaluation assets are assessed for impairment when facts and circumstances suggest that the carrying amount may exceed its recoverable amount. Triggers for impairment include expiration of their rights to explore, substantive expenditure on further exploration is not budgeted or planned, or the entity has decided to discontinue operations since the exploration of specific areas has not led to the discovery of commercially viable quantities of mineral resources. Large impairments were common with my clients
    • Going concern – all exploration clients I dealt with had going concern issues. I grew used to reviewing cash flow forecasts and documenting that the companies would need to seek additional funding in the coming year in order to meet its planned exploration expenditure

Working with new faces and learning the quirks of each manager and partner reviewing your work made things interesting. HLB Mann Judd welcomed me with open arms and made me feel like I’ve been working with the team for years. I am forever grateful for the opportunity and will always remember my experience with a new firm in a foreign country.
The industry was different and the work was challenging at times, but my experience in Australia extends beyond the cubicle walls at HLB Mann Judd, as you will hear about in my next few blog posts.

By Lonnie Bloom, MBA | 609.520.1188 | lbloom@withum.com

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kangarooNo, I didn’t have any ‘shrimp on the barbie,’ or sparring sessions with any kangaroos…so what exactly did I do in Australia for three months?

The boring response would be that I audited different clients during their busy season. While this is true, I also had an amazing experience seeing many new sites, sounds and culture. A typical day in the office wasn’t much different then checking your mail in the morning, analytical procedures, making a client phone call to explain to a controller how to use the equity method of accounting, going through some lengthy yet necessary checklists and praying you can get a cash flow statement to reconcile at the first attempt. However, throughout the day you take notice of subtle things through conversing, such as learning that South Africans refer to traffic lights as robots or hear the gents bicker over last night’s rugby match. Even though English is their language, the Aussies have a tendency to truncate words and use lingo that can catch you off guard at times. Hint: thongs are flip-flops and Zed is just the letter “Z”. Also, I heard more Iggy music than I could put up with.

austraIt’s no surprise that Sydney is one of the most desirable places to live with the moderate winters, long summers, beaches and plenty of parks. The landscape and weather promotes outdoor activities like a walk through the ‘bush,’ a swim on a lunch-break or a game of netball (the most ridiculous knock-off of basketball ever {http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgr2zmq9CUk}). There are many waterways throughout the Sydney metro area which makes water transportation a means of commuting. I was one of approximately 4,000 people who took the Manly to Circular Quay service daily. I’d say the 30 minute ferry ride was one of the most memorable aspects because, aside from people watching, I got a daily dose of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Some days had high seas which was a thrill. Despite being a former penal colony where the British shipped, Sydney has a lot to offer which is why many British and other expatriates, relocate to the 6th largest country on Earth.

Oh, and they do say ‘mate’…excessively.

By Dan Richardson, CPA, MBA | 609.520.1188 | drichardson@withum.com

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  1. three sistersECHO POINT/SCENIC WORLD – Approximately a two-hour bus ride from Sydney’s Central Business District (CBD), the Blue Mountains are a magical place any time of the year. Here, you can see one of Australia’s most famous natural landmarks, Three Sisters rock formation, take a ride on the steepest passenger railway in the world (52 degree incline) or hike along the numerous trails that will lead you to the beautiful Katoomba Falls. If you have extra time, make sure you visit the Waradah Aboriginal Centre to learn about Australia’s Aboriginal culture. Don’t forget about those hand-painted boomerangs or aboriginal art – very cool.
  2. SYDNEY HARBOUR BRIDGE – One of Australia’s most famous landmarks, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is known to be the largest steel single-span arch bridges in the world. Although a bit pricy, I would highly recommend the “Bridge Climb” – it is an experience you will never forget.
  3. sydneySYDNEY OPERA HOUSE – Known as one of the most famous performing arts centers in the world (over 40 shows per week), the Opera House is definitely a place you should visit. The Opera House Tour takes you through the interior, giving you facts and figures that make up the incredible story behind how the iconic structure came to be. If you have the time, make sure you see a show – tickets are not too pricy and if you did the tour, you can get show tickets at a discount. Make sure you check out the Royal Botanic Gardens, which are located just outside the house – simply beautiful!
  4. SYDNEY FERRIES – Providing transportation from Circular Quay in the CBD, the Sydney Ferries serve as one of the main means of transportation and trace back to 1789. There are eight routes; I managed three of the eight during my visit to Australia. The route to/from Manly (approximately a 30 min ride) is very beautiful as the Sydney Skyline, Harbour Bridge and Opera House are all easily able to be in one photo.
  5. TARONGA ZOO – Take a ferry and travel on the Safari Cable Car to arrive at one of the largest zoos in the world. The Taronga Zoo overlooks the Sydney skyline and is a very popular tourist spot, as well as a preserve for endangered species. Pay attention to the feeding schedules of the various animals and you may be fortunate enough to see the Sumatran Tigers in action.featherdale
  6. FEATHERDALE WILDLIFE PARK – Want to pet a koala, hand feed a kangaroo or walk among the wallabies? If so, the Featherdale Wildlife Park is where you want to go. Approximately a one hour bus ride from Sydney’s CBD, you can interact with various native animals up close – definitely a worthwhile experience!
  7. SYDNEY OLYMPIC PARK – The location of the 2000 Winter Olympic Games, Olympic Park is just a train (or ferry) stop away from Sydney’s CBD. While visiting, I attended a rugby match in ANZ Stadium where the South Sydney Rabbitohs defeated the Brisbane Broncos. Although I wasn’t familiar with the rules of rugby, it was easy to catch on and a fun night out.

By Nicole DeRosa, CPA, MAcc | 732.828.1614 | nderosa@withum.com

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FATCAOn April 28, in Canberra, the United States and Australia signed an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) to implement the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). FATCA, enacted by the US Congress in 2010 and, taking effect on July 1, 2014, is intended to ensure that the US obtains information on accounts held at foreign financial institutions (FFIs) by US persons.

Failure by an FFI to disclose information on their US clients will result in a requirement to withhold 30 percent tax on payments of US-sourced income. To address situations where foreign law would prevent an FFI from complying with the terms of an FFI agreement, US Treasury has developed model IGAs. Under the terms of the Model 1 IGA between Australia and the US, Australian FFIs will be required to report their information to the Australian Commissioner of Taxation, who will then automatically exchange the information with the US Treasury. The automatic exchange of information will be reciprocal, and data will therefore also be available on accounts held in the US by Australian residents.

In a statement, the Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey said that: “The conclusion of this treaty-status IGA will help Australian financial institutions comply with FATCA. It reduces the overall burden on Australian business, minimizes costs by simplifying due diligence requirements and broadens arrangements between the Australian Tax Office and the US Internal Revenue Service. The IGA will also improve existing tax information-sharing arrangements between Australia and the US, for the purpose of preventing tax evasion. This will help to enhance the integrity of both countries’ tax systems.”

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Check out the below table to learn what holidays people are celebrating around the world this month!

International Holidays in September

 

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