By Tracy Miller
May 30, 2023
| News

Navigating the complexities of business tax can be challenging, leading many companies to make costly mistakes. Here are five common errors made by Australian businesses when it comes to business tax and how you can avoid them.

Inadequate record keeping

One of the most significant mistakes businesses make is failing to maintain accurate and organised records of their financial transactions. Sound record keeping is crucial for business tax compliance and enables businesses to claim deductions and credits appropriately.

ATO requires businesses to keep records for at least five years, including income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. Without proper documentation, businesses risk overpaying or underpaying taxes, and may face penalties during an audit. Implementing a robust record keeping system, typically through using robust accounting software like Xero optimally, can streamline this process and ensure compliance.

Misclassification of workers

Another common mistake is misclassifying workers as contractors instead of employees, or vice versa. The Australian tax system actually treats employees and contractors the same in terms of particular tax obligations and/or the payment of superannuation.

Misclassifying workers can lead to significant tax implications, as businesses may be liable for unpaid superannuation contributions, payroll taxes, and other employment-related taxes. It is crucial for businesses to understand the distinction between an employee and a contractor based on the criteria outlined by the ATO. Seeking professional advice or referring to ATO guidelines can help avoid misclassification and associated penalties.

Ineffective business tax planning

Many businesses fail to engage in effective business tax planning, resulting in missed opportunities for deductions and tax savings. Failing to identify and utilise available tax concessions, offsets, and incentives can lead to overpayment of taxes. Australian tax laws offer various provisions that can significantly benefit businesses, such as the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Incentive or small business concessions.

However, businesses often lack awareness or understanding of these provisions, leading to missed opportunities. Seeking advice from tax professionals can help identify business tax planning strategies and optimise business tax outcomes.

It’s also important to be on the front foot for this process, and not leave it too close to tax time, otherwise you won’t have allowed for sufficient time to maximise any opportunities.

Ignoring Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT)

The Fringe Benefits Tax is an often overlooked area of business taxation. FBT applies to non-salary benefits provided to employees, such as company vehicles, entertainment, and employee loans.

Businesses frequently underestimate or fail to properly report these benefits, leading to FBT liabilities and potential penalties. It is crucial for businesses to understand their FBT obligations and implement systems to accurately track and report fringe benefits. Seeking advice from tax experts can help ensure compliance and minimise FBT liabilities.

Neglecting superannuation obligations

Superannuation, or retirement savings, is an integral part of the Australian employment landscape. Employers are required to make superannuation contributions on behalf of their employees and any contractors who for the purposes of superannuation are classified as an employee.

Many businesses struggle with keeping up with changing superannuation laws and payment deadlines. Failing to meet superannuation obligations, such as late or incorrect payments, can result in penalties and interest charges.

Implementing automated systems or outsourcing payroll and superannuation processes to experienced providers can help businesses avoid compliance issues and meet their superannuation obligations effectively.

In summary, being proactive about avoiding common business tax mistakes will ensure you’re compliant and protected in the case of an audit. Seeking professional advice from tax experts on business tax planning and staying updated on changes in tax law can help with staying on top of your business tax obligations.

Looking to optimise your business tax planning? We can help. Keeping Company can ensure you’re avoiding any business tax pitfalls and taking advantage of business tax opportunities. Contact us today to find out more.

At Keeping Company, we’re not just accountants, we’re business people too. With our counsel, your business can reach its full potential. 

We have a team of experts; Cloud Accountants, Business Advisors, Finance Specialists working together and ready to help, contact us today.

1300 533 787

For all media enquires please contact Tracy Miller, CMO, Keeping Company 0414 898 452.

The material and contents provided in this publication are informative in nature only. It is not intended to be advice and you should not act specifically on the basis of this information alone. If expert assistance is required, professional advice should be obtained.