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Applying for small business income tax concessions

Businesses looking to save on tax for the financial year may consider applying for income tax concessions.

Businesses classified as a small business entity are eligible for income tax concessions. Since 1 July 2016, businesses are considered small business entities in the case that they:

In the event that you meet the above requirements as a small business entity, here are the income tax concessions available to you.

Small business structure rollover
Small business entities can change the legal structure of their business and transfer active assets from one entity to another without incurring any income tax liability. Assets such as capital gains tax assets, trading stock, revenue assets and depreciating assets are eligible in this rollover. The rollover is also only available in the case that it is part of a genuine restructure and there is no change to ultimate economic ownership.

Simplified trading stock rules
Under the simplified trading stock rules concession, you can estimate the value of your trading stock at the end of the financial year when reporting in your tax return. However, small businesses will also need to show how they calculated their estimated trading stock value. Businesses which choose not to use an estimate will need to account for value changes in their stock and conduct a stocktake. Stocktakes do not need to be conducted if there is a difference of $5,000 or less between the value of your stock at the start of the income year.

Immediate deductions for prepaid expenses
Payments which cover a period of 12 months or less that are ending in the next income year are eligible for immediate deductions. Prepaid expenditure is also immediately deductible when the period ends no later than the last day of the income year following the year in which the expenditure was incurred.

Two-year amendment period
Small businesses receiving a notice of assessment from the ATO have a two-year time limit for reviewing an assessment.

Posted on 7 August '20, under tax. No Comments.

What types of income do you need to include in your business’ tax return?

Due to changing economic circumstances, businesses may be receiving income from sources they have never received from, and may be unaware of their tax implications. In the event that they are listed below, you will need to include them in your business’ tax return.

Government payments
Due to COVID-19, many government grants and payments have been made to businesses this year. Businesses receiving the following grants will need to report them as part of their assessable income in this year’s tax return:

Keep in mind that COVID-19 cash-flow boost payments are non-assessable and non-exempt income, meaning they do not have to be included as part of your assessable income.

Crowdfunding income
Crowdfunding refers to the usage of the internet or social media platforms, mail-order subscriptions, benefit events or other methods to find supporters and raise funds for your business’ projects and ventures. Profits made through crowdfunding are considered part of your business’ assessable income in the case that you have:

Income from online activities
The current pandemic may have also forced you to move your business operations online for the first time. The ATO provides a clear distinction between online selling as a business or hobby. In the event that you meet the following circumstances while selling online, you will need to report your earnings as part of business’ assessable income:

Other basic income streams such as cash income, investment earnings and capital gains and losses also need to be reported in tax returns as usual.

Posted on 30 July '20, under tax. No Comments.

Common tax mistakes that businesses make

Meeting tax obligations as a business owner can be stressful and potentially expensive if done wrong. Certain mistakes warrant severe action, so you can expect the ATO to take a closer look at them if you’ve failed to identify these errors before lodging tax returns for your business. Most mistakes made with regards to tax filing often revolve around poor administrative knowledge of tax laws. Ensure that you are aware of potential mistakes you could be making that might cost you your business.

Inconsistent declarations

The ATO gathers data from numerous businesses across a particular industry to create a benchmark showing a band of percentages within which businesses in that industry should typically fall under. Businesses that fall outside this band can expect delays and a closer look from the ATO inspecting reasons for inconsistencies within your business’ declarations. However, these can also be sources of mistakes from the ATO’s part as some inconsistencies can be very real – such as demographics or personal situations – that can cause variations in data. Ensure that you are declaring all your sales, and that any inconsistency can be justified to the ATO.

Poor bookkeeping

A majority of tax mistakes committed by small businesses revolve around poor bookkeeping. Businesses are required to maintain all financial transactions made – but forgetting to put the purchase through the register or taking money out of the register for personal use without replacement of the difference can show varying cash register tapes that can be problematic when filing your tax returns. You may be missing out on valuable tax credit claims by not keeping proper records of your financial transactions.

Employee payments

Businesses may assume that superannuation payments need not be made if they are employing subcontractors. This can be an expensive mistake, as if the worker has standard hours and is expected to work consistently for your business under your direction, they need to be treated as employees. Businesses may leave superannuation guarantee payments until the end when cash flow becomes restricted – but avoid late lodgements to prevent penalties from the ATO.

Posted on 23 July '20, under tax. No Comments.

Common tax mistakes that businesses make

Meeting tax obligations as a business owner can be stressful and potentially expensive if done wrong. Certain mistakes warrant severe action, so you can expect the ATO to take a closer look at them if you’ve failed to identify these errors before lodging tax returns for your business. Most mistakes made with regards to tax filing often revolve around poor administrative knowledge of tax laws. Ensure that you are aware of potential mistakes you could be making that might cost you your business.

Inconsistent declarations

The ATO gathers data from numerous businesses across a particular industry to create a benchmark showing a band of percentages within which businesses in that industry should typically fall under. Businesses that fall outside this band can expect delays and a closer look from the ATO inspecting reasons for inconsistencies within your business’ declarations. However, these can also be sources of mistakes from the ATO’s part as some inconsistencies can be very real – such as demographics or personal situations – that can cause variations in data. Ensure that you are declaring all your sales, and that any inconsistency can be justified to the ATO.

Poor bookkeeping

A majority of tax mistakes committed by small businesses revolve around poor bookkeeping. Businesses are required to maintain all financial transactions made – but forgetting to put the purchase through the register or taking money out of the register for personal use without replacement of the difference can show varying cash register tapes that can be problematic when filing your tax returns. You may be missing out on valuable tax credit claims by not keeping proper records of your financial transactions.

Employee payments

Businesses may assume that superannuation payments need not be made if they are employing subcontractors. This can be an expensive mistake, as if the worker has standard hours and is expected to work consistently for your business under your direction, they need to be treated as employees. Businesses may leave superannuation guarantee payments until the end when cash flow becomes restricted – but avoid late lodgements to prevent penalties from the ATO.

Posted on 23 July '20, under tax. No Comments.

Amending fringe benefits tax return and updated exemptions

The Government has updated fringe benefits tax (FBT) exemptions to include travel in ride-sourcing vehicles under the existing taxi travel exemption. In the case that your business has been providing employees with such travel options and would like to amend your FBT returns to include the new exemption, the ATO has also updated 2020 FBT return amendment instructions.

New FBT exemption
Ride-sourcing vehicles are now included in the FBT taxi travel exemption. Business owners will be eligible for the exemption for travel provided to their employees in a single trip to or from the workplace:

Ride-sourcing FBT exemptions also apply to travel in relation to the sickness or injury of an employee.

Amending your FBT return
In the event that you have already lodged your FBT return but are eligible to be exempt from FBT due to the addition of ride-sourcing vehicles, there are a number of ways you can amend your FBT return.

An amendment to your FBT return can only be made if it is requested within three years from the date the FBT return was lodged. In the case that tax has been avoided, the amendment can be made within six years of lodgement. You can amend your FBT return by:

Posted on 16 July '20, under tax. No Comments.

Are you eligible for the small business income tax offset?

The small business income tax offset can be used to reduce the tax you pay by up to $1,000 a year. Also known as the unincorporated small business tax discount, the offset is worked out on the proportion of tax payable on your business income.

The rate of offset is 13% for the 2020-21 financial year and 16% for the 2021-22 financial year and onwards. The offset is only available to entities with an aggregated turnover of less than $5 million (from 2016-17 financial year onwards) and is capped at $1,000.

The ATO will work out your offset based on your income tax return and uses your:

Conditions for sole traders

The offset is calculated based on net small business income for sole traders (which is the sum of your assessable income from carrying on your business, minus any deductions). Sole traders are not entitled to the offset in the event that their net small business income is a loss.

Income and deductions that you need to include in your net small business income include:

Conditions for partnership and trust distributions

You may be eligible for the tax offset if:

Keep in mind that there are income and deductions that you cannot include when working out your net small business income for the small business income tax offset. Such income amounts include wages, government allowances and net capital gains you made from carrying on your business. Discuss with a financial advisor or accountant for more information on the offset conditions for your business.

Posted on 9 July '20, under tax. No Comments.

COVID-19 factors to remember when filing your tax return

The end of the financial year has rolled around again, but this time, COVID-19 may affect the way you fill out your tax return. The ATO has released a range of methods to make tax time easier for businesses and individuals experiencing unprecedented circumstances.

How JobKeeper will affect tax returns

Sole traders receiving JobKeeper payments on behalf of their business are required to include these payments as assessable income for the business. Employees receiving JobKeeper will see that those payments have been automatically filled out in their tax return.

Individuals who have had their wages increase due to JobKeeper should identify whether they have been bumped into a higher tax bracket as a result. If an individual is working multiple jobs and receiving JobKeeper at one of these positions pushes them into a new tax bracket, they may be faced with a higher tax bill on their return if their other employers had continued deducting tax at their original lower rate.

How JobSeeker will affect tax returns

JobSeeker payments are considered taxable income. The ATO will automatically upload JobSeeker details in the ‘Government Payments and Allowances’ section of recipients’ tax returns. However, recipients are advised that there may be a delay in these JobSeeker details being updated, potentially until the end of July. The ATO recommends delaying tax return lodgements until these details are finalised. Recipients that wish to complete their returns prior to this must ensure they include these details themselves, as leaving out assessable income can slow down the return process or result in a bill later.

COVID-19 protective equipment

Occupations that require public interactions may be able to claim personal protective equipment (PPE), including:

This would typically apply to industries such as healthcare, retail and hospitality. Many workplaces now have this PPE available for employees, however, employees who must pay for their own COVID-19 PPE and are not reimbursed for it will be able to make a claim.

Working from home

The ATO has introduced a new ‘shortcut method,’ which applies from 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2020. Under this new method, employees working from home as a result of COVID-19 can claim expenses incurred at a rate of 80 cents for each hour worked from home. Employees must keep a record of the hours they worked from home as evidence to support their claim.

Deductible running expenses include:

Posted on 2 July '20, under tax. No Comments.

Cars and taxes for 2020-21 financial year

New car threshold amounts will be implemented from 1 July 2020. Understanding the new thresholds and how they may affect your small business operations and vehicle usage will be important in preparing you for the financial year ahead.

Income tax:

There is an upper limit on the cost you use to work out the depreciation for the business use of your car or station wagon (including four-wheel drives). The maximum value you can use for calculating your depreciation claim is the car limit (irrespective of any amount you were paid for a trade-in) in the year in which you first used or leased the car.

For the 2020-21 financial year, the upper cost limit is $59,136 including GST.

Goods and services tax (GST):

Businesses registered for GST with motor vehicles used solely for business purposes are entitled to claim a credit for the GST included in the price of the vehicle, provided they have a tax invoice.

In the event that you purchase a car and the price is more than the car threshold, the maximum amount of GST credit you can claim is one-eleventh of your car limit amount. Keep in mind that you cannot claim a GST credit for any luxury car tax you pay when you purchase a luxury car, regardless of how much you use the car in carrying on your business.

Luxury car tax (LCT):

You are required to pay LCT if you’re registered or required to be registered for GST and you sell or import a luxury car.

LCT applies to motor vehicles designed to carry a load of less than two tonnes and fewer than nine passengers. LCT also applies to a car purchased by a person with a disability even if the car is GST-free. However, disability-related modifications are not subject to LCT. The LCT value of a car includes the value of any parts, accessories or attachments supplied or imported at the same time as the car.

Cars with LCT over the LCT threshold attract an LCT rate of 33%. From 1 July 2020, the LCT threshold will increase to $68,740. Additionally, the LCT threshold for fuel efficient cars will increase to $77,565 for the 2020-21 financial year.

Posted on 25 June '20, under tax. No Comments.

Landlord tax obligations under COVID-19 circumstances

Property investors may have a number of tenants that have temporarily paused their rent payments or are not paying the full amount of rent owed due to being impacted by COVID-19. Regardless of rental income changes, landlords are still entitled to claim deductions on rental property expenses if they are still incurring regular rental property expenses.

Landlords who receive a back-payment of rent, or an amount of insurance as a result of a decrease in rental income, will still need to include these amounts in their assessable income for the tax year that they receive the payment.

Additionally, landlords may be faced with deferred loan repayments as a result of COVID-19. In this case, if your loan accumulates interest it will be considered as an incurred expense, meaning that you will still be able to continue claiming a deduction on your loan interest.

It is likely that landlords of short-term rental properties have had their situation compromised by COVID-19 due to cancelled bookings and low demand. If your property is used both privately and for renting out short-term accommodation, you will be able to continue deducting property expenses in the same proportion as you were entitled to prior to COVID-19. If you had begun using the property differently in the period after your latest tax return and before COVID-19, the proportion of expenses you can claim may vary. This can include situations where:

Posted on 18 June '20, under tax. No Comments.

Claiming self-education expense deductions

Individuals upskilling and educating themselves during these down times may be eligible to claim a deduction for their self-education expenses. The deductions apply to self-education activities that are directly related to an individual’s work as an employee.

In the case that individuals are looking to claim self-education expenses based on a course’s relation to their work, the relation must mean:

There are many types of expenses you can claim as part of your self-education deduction, including:

Work-related self-education expenses cannot be claimed as part of a deduction. These expenses include travel expenses, child care costs related to attendance of courses and capital costs of items (e.g. computers, desk) acquired for self-education purposes.

Keep in mind that self-education courses which enable individuals to get new employment are not eligible for deduction claims. Some expenses also need to be apportioned between private purposes and use for self-education such as travel costs and depreciating assets. You will need to estimate your apportions and provide information on such expenses to be eligible to claim.

For more information on what you claim as self-education expenses, visit the ATO website or consult with a financial advisor.

Posted on 11 June '20, under tax. No Comments.

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