Small Business Glossary


Tax is the required government levy on business and individual income or transactions used to fund public services and projects.

Taxation, in the context of small businesses, is a fundamental aspect of running a successful enterprise. It is the financial obligation that businesses, like individuals, must pay to the government to fund public services and infrastructure. The world of tax can seem overwhelming, but understanding its intricacies can significantly benefit your small business.

As a small business owner, it is crucial to understand the different types of taxes, how they are calculated, and when they are due. This knowledge can help you plan your finances better, avoid penalties, and even find ways to minimise your tax liability legally. Let's delve into the fascinating world of tax.

Types of Taxes

There are several types of taxes that a small business in Australia may be liable for. These include income tax, goods and services tax (GST), payroll tax, and fringe benefits tax (FBT), among others. Each of these taxes has its own rules and regulations, which we will explore in detail.

Understanding the different types of taxes can help you better manage your business finances and ensure that you are meeting your legal obligations. It can also help you identify potential tax benefits and deductions that you may be eligible for.

Income Tax

Income tax is a tax on the profits that your business makes. It is calculated by subtracting your business expenses from your business income. The remaining amount is your taxable income, which is then taxed at the relevant rates. In Australia, small businesses may be eligible for various tax offsets and concessions, which can reduce their income tax liability.

It's important to note that as a small business owner, you may also be liable for personal income tax on any income you draw from the business. This is separate from the business's income tax and is calculated based on your personal income tax rates.

Goods and Services Tax (GST)

Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a broad-based tax of 10% on most goods, services, and other items sold or consumed in Australia. If your business's annual turnover is $75,000 or more, you are required to register for GST. Once registered, you need to include GST in the price of your taxable sales and regularly report and pay the GST amounts to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

On the flip side, you can claim GST credits for the GST included in the price of goods and services you buy for your business. This system of GST credits and payments ensures that the tax is effectively paid by the final consumer, but collected at each stage of the supply chain.

Tax Planning

Tax planning involves making strategic decisions and taking actions that can help minimise your business's tax liability. This can include choosing the right business structure, taking advantage of tax deductions and offsets, and timing your income and expenses strategically.

Effective tax planning can significantly reduce your tax liability and free up more funds for you to reinvest in your business. However, it's important to note that tax planning should always be done in accordance with the law. Engaging in tax evasion or aggressive tax planning can lead to severe penalties and damage your business's reputation.

Tax Deductions

Tax deductions are expenses that you can subtract from your taxable income, effectively reducing the amount of tax you need to pay. In Australia, you can claim a deduction for most expenses you incur in running your business, as long as they are directly related to earning your business income.

Common tax deductions for small businesses include operating expenses, business travel expenses, home-based business expenses, and the cost of managing tax affairs. It's important to keep accurate records of all your business expenses to substantiate your claims.

Tax Offsets

Tax offsets, also known as tax rebates, are amounts that reduce the tax you need to pay on your taxable income. In Australia, there are several tax offsets available for small businesses, including the small business income tax offset, the research and development tax offset, and the early stage investor tax offset.

These offsets can significantly reduce your tax liability, but they often have specific eligibility requirements. It's important to understand these requirements and ensure that you meet them before claiming an offset.

Tax Compliance

Tax compliance involves meeting all your tax obligations in a timely and accurate manner. This includes registering for the appropriate taxes, keeping accurate records, lodging tax returns and other reports on time, and paying all your tax liabilities when they are due.

Being compliant with your tax obligations is not only a legal requirement, but it can also benefit your business in many ways. It can help you avoid penalties and interest charges, maintain a good relationship with the ATO, and enhance your business's reputation with customers, suppliers, and lenders.

Record Keeping

Good record keeping is a crucial part of tax compliance. You are required by law to keep accurate and complete records of all your business transactions, including income, expenses, GST, and payroll. These records must be kept for five years from when they are prepared, obtained, or the transactions are completed, whichever occurs latest.

Keeping good records can help you monitor your business's performance, make informed decisions, and prepare accurate tax returns. It can also help you respond effectively if your business is audited by the ATO.

Lodging and Paying Taxes

Lodging your tax returns and other reports on time is a key aspect of tax compliance. Depending on the types of taxes you are registered for, you may need to lodge monthly, quarterly, or annual reports with the ATO. It's important to be aware of these reporting obligations and the associated due dates to avoid penalties.

Similarly, paying your taxes on time is crucial. If you are unable to pay your tax on time, it's important to contact the ATO as soon as possible. They can help you set up a payment plan or discuss other options to manage your tax debt.

Getting Help with Taxes

Understanding and managing taxes can be complex, especially for small business owners who are juggling many responsibilities. Fortunately, there are many resources and services available to help you navigate the world of tax.

These include the ATO's website and helpline, tax agents and advisors, professional associations, and government-funded business advisory services. Don't hesitate to seek help if you're feeling overwhelmed or unsure about your tax obligations.

ATO Resources

The ATO's website is a treasure trove of information on all aspects of tax for small businesses. It offers detailed guides, tools, and calculators to help you understand your tax obligations, calculate your tax, and lodge your tax returns. The ATO also offers a helpline for small businesses, where you can get personalised advice and assistance.

Additionally, the ATO offers a range of educational resources, including webinars, videos, and workshops, to help small business owners improve their tax knowledge and skills. These resources are free and can be accessed at any time, making them a convenient option for busy business owners.

Tax Agents and Advisors

Tax agents and advisors are professionals who specialise in tax law and practice. They can provide expert advice on your tax obligations, help you plan your taxes effectively, and assist with lodging your tax returns and dealing with the ATO. Engaging a tax agent or advisor can be a worthwhile investment, especially if your business has complex tax affairs.

When choosing a tax agent or advisor, it's important to check their qualifications and registration with the Tax Practitioners Board. It's also a good idea to ask for references and discuss their fees upfront to avoid any surprises.


Understanding tax is an essential part of running a successful small business. While it can seem daunting at first, with the right knowledge and resources, you can navigate the world of tax confidently and effectively. Remember, you're not alone in this journey. Don't hesitate to seek help when you need it, and always strive to learn more about tax. Your efforts will pay off in the form of a healthier, more successful business.

So, let's embrace the world of tax with enthusiasm and curiosity. After all, it's not just about paying your fair share. It's also about understanding how the system works and using it to your advantage. Here's to your success in business and beyond!

Why waste time on financial admin when Thriday can do it for you?

Already have an account? Login here
Thriday Debit Card