Small business tax accountant Melbourne

When considering whether or not to start a new business, there are a variety of taxation obligations which need to be considered. Most of the income generated by your business would be classed as assessable income – this means that it’s subject to tax and you will need to declare it on your tax return.

There are tax deductions which you can claim for most expenses incurred whilst running your business, but exceptions exist. You are not able to claim tax deductions for domestic or private purposes. Fines, entertainment, and some other specific expenses are also excluded.

Depending on the structure of your business, the rules for income and deduction will vary. Also taken into account is whether or not you hold/trade stock, and the nature of your expenses and income.

What to include as assessable income

Assessable income is any income that is subject to tax. Generally, to calculate the assessable income for your business, you are required to include any amounts you earn or receive in the ordinary course of operating your business, such as by providing services or selling stock.

Usually, you are also required to include the following:
– Commission income
– Amounts originating in isolated transactions outside the ordinary running of your business, where you intended to make a profit
– Amounts which exceed their written value if selling depreciating assets
– Compensation, including worker’s compensation or payments for trading stock losses, contract cancellations, or business interruptions
– Excise brewery refund
– Wine equalisation tax producer rebate
– Fuel tax credits, cleaner fuels grant and product stewardship (oil) benefit
– Franking credits (credits from company tax already paid), dividends on business investments
– Incentive payments, such as cash payment for a lease
– Grants, such as an amount received under the Apprenticeship Incentives Program
– If you are an Australian tax resident, income earned outside Australia
– Payments for selling know-how
– Interest on business investments and interest on early payment or overpayment of tax
– Hire changes and lease payments
– Net capital gains made from selling capital assets such as buildings or land
– Awards or prizes for your business, such as a money prize for winning a business competition in your region
– Personal services income (PSI) if PSI rules apply to you
– Recovered bad debts which you have received a tax deduction for
– Royalties, such as payments received for authorising other entities to use your intellectual property
– Rental income from properties owned by your business
– The value of goods you take from your business’s trading stock for your own personal use
– Subsidies for running a business
– The market value of transactions not involving money, including barter transactions
– The value of stock on hand at the year’s end if its value is greater than at the start of the year.

As exemplified by this list, you usually need to declare your gross proceeds and earnings, not just profit.

Amounts you should exclude when determining your assessable income

Some amounts, including the following, are not assessable. So you don’t need to include these when declaring your assessable income:
– Prizes that are not related to your business
– Amounts earned from a hobby
– Gifts or amounts given to you
– Goods and services tax (GST) collected by your business
– Any borrowed money
– Gambling or betting wins, unless your business is a gambling or betting business
– Payouts from personal income protection insurance policies (in most cases)

Record keeping and tax

As a business owner, you are legally required to keep complete and accurate records of all assessable income and any deductions you claim. Making misleading or false statements in these records or reports can result in the ATO doing the following:
– Applying penalties
– Determining your income based on other information, such as industry benchmarks, and issuing an amended tax assessment
– Prosecuting you in court

Keeping records for your business

You are required to keep records of all your business transactions, and these records must be stored by you in full for five years after the date on which the records were prepared or the relevant transaction completed.

These records are required in order to evaluate any expense claim you may make. Failing to keep records may result in an expense claim being denied or reduced, and can even result in penalties being applied by the ATO.

Examples of records which you are required to keep include:
– Cash register tapes
– Sales and expenses invoices
– Sales and expense receipts
– Credit card statements
– Bank account statements
– Bank deposit books and cheque butts
– Employee records, such as tax file number (TFN) declarations, time sheets, superannuation records, and wages books

The ATO has created a specific Record Keeping Evaluation Tool, which is hosted on their website. You can use this tool to identify what records you need to keep, and how to assess and/or improve your record keeping.

As well as those listed above, there are some other records which may need to be kept depending on the nature of your business. These income tax records also may need to be kept each financial year:
– Stocktake records
– Debtors and creditors lists
– Records of depreciating assets
– Records of any private use of business assets or purchases
– Records of assets for the purposes of assessing capital gains tax
– Motor vehicle expenses (includes logbooks)

All your financial records can be stored either in electronic or hard-copy form. But they all must be written in plain English and readily accessible. Bookkeepers often specialise in setting up book keeping systems for business records such as those required to be kept for tax purposes.

Accounting methods

The amount you should include as your assessable income depends on whether you account for income on a cash or accruals basis.

Cash basis

This refers to payments received during the year and does not require you to know when the work was done. If you are accounting on a cash basis, your assessable income only includes income which you have actually received during the income year.

Accruals basis

Accrual refers to income which has been earned during the year, even if the payment for this has not yet been received. If you account on an accruals basis, you need to include everything you earned during the income year, even if you are yet to receive payment.

Some people confuse these two assessable income accounting methods with the cash and non-cash goods and services (GST) accounting methods. Assessable income refers solely to income and has nothing to do with GST.

Concessions for small businesses

If your business has an aggregated annual turnover of less than $2 million, you may be able to receive certain concessions which reduce your taxable income. Aggregated annual turnover refers to the total sales made by your business and associated businesses during the financial year.

Examples of small business concessions include:
– Simpler trading stock rules
– CGT concessions
– Immediate deductions for prepaid expenses
– Simpler depreciation rules

Foreign income

As an Australian tax resident, you must include any income you have earned from foreign sources as part of your assessable income. Even if your income was already taxed in its country of origin, you must report it to the ATO. If your income has already been taxed, it may be eligible for Australian tax exemptions such as the foreign income tax offset.

You are required to convert foreign deductions and income into Australian dollars at the exchange rate which was current at the time the income or deductions were earned. You may also use an average exchange rate to convert your income as long as that rate is similar to the rate which applied at the time the income was earned.

Personal services income

Businesses involved in consulting or contracting may earn a type of income called personal service income (PSI). For these businesses, PSI tax rules apply and may alter the amounts included as assessable income, as well as eligible deductions.
The purpose of the PSI rules is to ensure that people earning PSI are taxed in a way which is comparable to employees performing similar roles to them. This ensures that they do not claim excessive deductions.

What is PSI?

PSI can be described as income which is generated through the application of your personal skills or efforts. Examples where PSI may be earned include:
– By professional practitioners operating a sole practice
– By consultants who provide personal expertise
– By professional entertainers and sportspeople
– Under contracts which are principally for your services or labour.

PSI generally does not include income earned by:
– Giving permission to use legal property
– Selling or supplying goods
– Through a business structure, such as a company or firm as opposed to a sole practitioner or trader working under a contract
– Using an asset, such as a truck, to generate income (these assets are known as income-producing assets)

Sole traders

Sole traders are subject to PSI rules which limit deductions they are able to claim. Examples of expenses where deductions are limited include:
– Mortgage interest, rent, rates, land tax on personal residences
– Car expenses for a spouse
– Super payments and wages for associates

Partnerships, companies, or trusts

These types of businesses are also limited in the deductions they can claim. If you operate one of these businesses, its income (minus some reductions) will be treated as your personal income, so you must report it on your tax return. In addition, your business will be subject to pay as you go (PAYG) obligations on your personal income.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a rapidly evolving industry and is subject to changing taxation regulations due to its growing popularity and value. Crowdfunding has different tax implications for individuals involved at different stages of the crowdfunding process.

Generally, there are three parties involved in crowdfunding arrangements:
– The promoter, who initiates the venture or project for which the funds are being sought
– The intermediary, which is the organisation or platform providing the crowdfunding services. These are usually websites
– Funders, individuals and entities who contribute money to the project

Each party can potentially have tax obligations as part of a crowdfunding arrangement.
If you happen to receive or earn money through crowdfunding, it may be assessed as taxable income. This means that you need to declare any money received via crowdfunding arrangements on your tax return.

If you are a small business owner it is highly advisable you utilise a qualified business accountant Melbourne, like Kingston and Knight Accountants to monitor your accounts. Contact us today on (03) 9863 9779 or email us on admin@kingstonknight.com.au.