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Tax tips for small business

by Melanie Dankel

Editors SA invited Lauren Thiel from the Real Thiel back for an encore Zoom presentation on navigating tax returns, focusing on simple tips for small businesses. The meeting was filled with great advice, such as whether you should claim running expenses or occupancy expenses on your home office; when you need to keep records of use for items such as cars and phones to claim work expenses; and whether you need to pay yourself a wage and log it. 
 
Lauren’s number-one tip is to keep a separate bank account where all business-related payments are deposited and withdrawn. She also advises putting time aside each month to keep on top of your business and tax admin. It’s a lot less pain than having to resolve 12 months’ worth of admin come 30 June. 
 
While we were all very keen to talk about deductions for people working from home, you need to be careful how you structure this, especially if you own your home and want to avoid paying capital gains on those tax savings if you sell your house. 
 
Top tips for tax: 
  • Lodge anything overdue. The ATO might be able to help out with payment plans.

  • Tax is not based on just salary and wages income; it’s based on business profit too (income – deductions + profit = assessable income). Come up with a ballpark figure and plan for it. (See the handy resources below for help with this.) 

  • Make sure you keep your receipts — even if they are in a shoebox. (A spreadsheet is better, but accounting software is best.) 

  • PAYG-I (instalments paid throughout the year towards tax) is a good way to stay ahead when it comes to tax. Best-case scenario: there’s a healthy refund coming your way; worst-case scenario: you’ll avoid a nasty shock. 

  • If you’re registered for GST, you need to be aware of separate rules around this. 

  • A good test is to ask yourself, ‘Would I incur this expense if it weren’t for my business?’

 

Handy resources

Melanie Dankel is an Editors SA branch committee member and a Professional Development Officer. Contact her at edsa.events@iped-editors.org.
 

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