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11 ways to make the most of government assistance for businesses

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
08 July 2020 2 minute readShare
government assistance for businesses

Tax savings don’t need to wait for the end of the financial year, believes SilverChef’s hospitality expert, Ken Burgin. With governments now regularly offering COVID-19-related business support grants and concessions, Mr Burgin shares his tips on getting the maximum benefit from what’s available.

According to Mr Burgin, businesses should watch for tax deductions and government handouts throughout the year, and to help them do so, he has compiled a handy list for struggling business owners.

11 tips to help you beat COVID-19 

  • Small-business grants: Watch for direct grants for small business from state governments — most states have offered these already, and some (like New South Wales) are on a second round. The application forms are detailed, but when you’ve done it once, you’ll have the hang of it. They want to see a comprehensive financial statement and how you will spend the grant on equipment or services that will strengthen your business. Applying for grants is a new and handy skill that most small operators have not needed before, and many of the sections can be used again, such as the business history and range of services offered.
  • BAS payments: Look out for changes to BAS payments and additional refunds — your bookkeeper or accountant will know the best way to take advantage of these.
  • Local concessions: Check the concessions available from your local council. Some have made direct business grants, and most have reduced or delayed a wide range of fees. Visit their website and subscribe to the council’s newsletter to stay on top of this.
  • Equipment write-off: The $150,000 instant asset write-off for equipment is well worth using — the entire cost is deductible if spent before 30 December 2020, instead of depreciating the value over several years.
  • Rent, try, buy: Renting to buy is another option for new or used equipment — this will also be a tax deduction and helps to preserve your capital. The COVID crisis has taught everyone about the importance of having savings and working capital available.
  • Stay organised: Keep your bookwork in order. These figures aren’t just needed for BAS and JobKeeper applications, but can also be used to prove eligibility for grants. Generous grants and subsidies make governments nervous, and they may want to audit your figures.
  • Bookkeeping: Is it time to upgrade your bookkeeping system so you can track expenses more easily? DIY systems like Xero or MYOB are popular and easy to use, but need to be set up professionally — classification mistakes are common and could mean you pay more tax.
  • Payroll: Invest in online rostering and payroll systems so that you can track wage costs to the minute — it’s your most significant single expense. These systems cost very little compared to the cost of flabby rosters and untracked hours.
  • F&B ordering: Add online food and beverage ordering to your systems and integrate this with your bookkeeping — it’s your second-largest expense, and most suppliers are ready to deal with you online.
  • Upskill: Self-education can be claimed as a personal expense if it’s directly connected to your work. There are plenty of short online courses in business and time management, now more relevant than ever.
  • Vehicle: Are you claiming everything for your vehicle’s depreciation and running costs? There are different ways to claim motor vehicle deductions for a car that’s part-private and part-business use. Find out which method gives you the best tax savings, and work with your accountant to maximise the benefits.

Mr Burgin’s parting tip is to remember to stay friendly with your accountant — they usually like calling in for coffee! Keep up the conversation throughout the year for plenty of money-saving advice.

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11 tips to help you beat COVID-19 

  • Small-business grants: Watch for direct grants for small business from state governments — most states have offered these already, and some (like New South Wales) are on a second round. The application forms are detailed, but when you’ve done it once, you’ll have the hang of it. They want to see a comprehensive financial statement and how you will spend the grant on equipment or services that will strengthen your business. Applying for grants is a new and handy skill that most small operators have not needed before, and many of the sections can be used again, such as the business history and range of services offered.
  • BAS payments: Look out for changes to BAS payments and additional refunds — your bookkeeper or accountant will know the best way to take advantage of these.
  • Local concessions: Check the concessions available from your local council. Some have made direct business grants, and most have reduced or delayed a wide range of fees. Visit their website and subscribe to the council’s newsletter to stay on top of this.
  • Equipment write-off: The $150,000 instant asset write-off for equipment is well worth using — the entire cost is deductible if spent before 30 December 2020, instead of depreciating the value over several years.
  • Rent, try, buy: Renting to buy is another option for new or used equipment — this will also be a tax deduction and helps to preserve your capital. The COVID crisis has taught everyone about the importance of having savings and working capital available.
  • Stay organised: Keep your bookwork in order. These figures aren’t just needed for BAS and JobKeeper applications, but can also be used to prove eligibility for grants. Generous grants and subsidies make governments nervous, and they may want to audit your figures.
  • Bookkeeping: Is it time to upgrade your bookkeeping system so you can track expenses more easily? DIY systems like Xero or MYOB are popular and easy to use, but need to be set up professionally — classification mistakes are common and could mean you pay more tax.
  • Payroll: Invest in online rostering and payroll systems so that you can track wage costs to the minute — it’s your most significant single expense. These systems cost very little compared to the cost of flabby rosters and untracked hours.
  • F&B ordering: Add online food and beverage ordering to your systems and integrate this with your bookkeeping — it’s your second-largest expense, and most suppliers are ready to deal with you online.
  • Upskill: Self-education can be claimed as a personal expense if it’s directly connected to your work. There are plenty of short online courses in business and time management, now more relevant than ever.
  • Vehicle: Are you claiming everything for your vehicle’s depreciation and running costs? There are different ways to claim motor vehicle deductions for a car that’s part-private and part-business use. Find out which method gives you the best tax savings, and work with your accountant to maximise the benefits.

Mr Burgin’s parting tip is to remember to stay friendly with your accountant — they usually like calling in for coffee! Keep up the conversation throughout the year for plenty of money-saving advice.

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11 ways to make the most of government assistance for businesses
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Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic is the editor of My Business. 

Maja has a decade-long career in journalism across finance, business and politics. Now a well-versed reporter in the SME and accounting arena, prior to joining Momentum Media, Maja reported for several established news outlets in Southeast Europe, scrutinising key processes in post-conflict societies and enabling citizens to influence decision-making.

You can email Maja on [email protected] 

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