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What are the tax implications for different business structures?

The structure of your business determines how you would pay tax and other business obligations you would need to consider. Whilst you are able to change your structure as your business develops, business owners must keep up with the changing tax responsibilities that may occur as a result. There are four major business structures in Australia that come with different tax implications.

Sole trader:
An individual running a business will declare revenue received from the business as part of their personal income tax return and will be taxed at the same rate as an individual. This means the more the income the business earns, the more tax the sole trader will have to pay. If their income is $18,200 or under for the 2018-19 financial year, then they are under the tax free threshold and do not have to pay tax. They can also receive a discount on Capital Gains Tax (CGT).

Partnership:
When more than one person runs a business and distributes income or losses between themselves, each partner must pay tax at the individual tax rate on their share of the business’ net income. They also need their own Australian Business Number (ABN) and Tax File Number (TFN) to use when lodging their annual business income tax return. An annual partnership return showing the income and deductions of the business must also be lodged.

Company:
A company is a separate legal entity with higher set-up and administration costs. They must apply for a company TFN and ABN if they are registered under the Corporations Act 2001. They must also be registered for GST if the annual GST turnover is $75,000 or more. There is no tax free threshold and no discount on CGT. Companies are responsible for paying income tax on their profits at the company tax rate, which is currently 30% under 2019-20 tax rates, or 27.5% for base rate entities.

Trust:
Businesses run through a trust must also have their own TFN and ABN, and register for GST if annual GST turnover is $75,000 or more. They are are not liable to pay tax because their beneficiaries who receive the trust net income are individually assessed for tax. If the trust generates net trust income and does not distribute it, they are assessed on this accumulated income at the highest individual tax rate. Each year, all the revenue earned by the trust and the income distributed to each beneficiary must be shown on their tax returns.

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Your First Tax Return: What You Need To Know

June 15, 2021

Tax return season is quickly approaching for individuals. You may need to begin thinking about the process sooner rather than later to ensure that you have everything ready for your accountant. If you’ve never had to complete a tax return before (and it’s your first time) or are still uncertain about what you need to do, this process can feel a bit like a Mount Everest you need to climb.

Putting it simply, if you are earning or will earn more than $20,542 this year, you will need to lodge a tax return. However, if you haven’t made that amount but your employer has taken tax out of your pay, you should lodge a return anyway to receive some (if not most) of that money back.

How much money you receive back from the tax return will be affected by how much income you have earned. Some debts (such as HECS or HELP) will begin to take money out of your return after reaching a certain income threshold level (currently set at $46,620).

A tax return is where you report all of your income earned over the past financial year. It should include ATO-reported income (which you generally won’t have to worry about as we have access to it automatically) such as salary or non-ATO reported income. This income may be income that has not been sent to the ATO and could include tips, any income you’ve earned while working under an ABN or payments from a family trust. You need to work out all of the income that you have earned and report it to remain compliant with the ATO.

In a tax return, you will also be entitled to make tax deductions on certain items if they apply to your situation. This means that you may receive a greater amount in your tax refund.

You will be entitled to tax deductions on items such as:

If you want to make sure that you understand precisely what you need to do to lodge your tax return, keep this in mind:

For assistance during the lodgement of your tax return, you can seek advice from us. We’re here to help ensure you meet your tax obligations by reporting your income correctly for this financial year.