Tax Season Guide for Companies: Accounting Strategies for Success

Tax Accountant for Company Business Structure

Tax season can be a significant source of stress for many businesses with a company business structure. Whether you’re managing a tech startup, running a construction business, or operating a consulting firm, the complexities of corporate tax obligations can be overwhelming. This blog provides essential insights into effective tax preparation for companies, helping everyone from startups to established businesses navigate tax season with confidence.

Company tax rates

In Australia, companies are taxed at a corporate rate, which is distinct from the individual rates applied to sole traders and the flow-through taxation applied to partnerships and trusts. The corporate tax rate varies depending on business classification and size:

  • Base Rate Entities: Companies with an aggregated turnover of less than $50 million are taxed at a rate of 25%.
  • Other Companies: Those with a turnover of $50 million or more are taxed at 30%.

For a more detailed description of classification criteria, visit the ATO website here

Corporate Tax Return Deadlines

In Australia, the financial year ends on June 30th, and the due date for companies to lodge their tax returns without a tax agent is October 31st of the same calendar year. However, when a company is represented by a registered tax agent, the deadlines are extended and can vary significantly.

For companies that are up to date with their tax returns and are not classified as large or medium taxpayers, the extended deadline can be as late as May 15th of the following year. For larger companies, earlier deadlines in the year may apply, such as February or March.

It’s important to engage with a tax agent early to benefit from these extended deadlines and to ensure your company complies with all taxation obligations efficiently. Always confirm the specific due dates applicable to your company with your tax agent, as these can vary based on your company’s tax history and compliance status.

Understanding Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT)

Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) is a tax paid by employers on certain benefits they provide to their employees or their employees’ associates (typically family members) in place of, or in addition to, salary or wages. This tax is separate from income tax and is based on the taxable value of the various fringe benefits provided.

FBT was introduced to ensure that benefits provided in the form of non-cash compensations are subject to tax, just like cash salary. The idea is to level the playing field so that all forms of compensation are treated fairly under the tax system. Examples of fringe benefits include company cars, low-interest loans, paid school fees, and employee accommodation.

Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) Year and Requirements

The Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) year runs from April 1st to March 31st. This differs from the standard financial year, requiring companies to track and report fringe benefits within this specific period. Companies must file their FBT returns by May 21st, following the end of the FBT year, with the FBT rate set at 47%. 

Proper record-keeping and compliance with this unique timeline are crucial to avoid penalties and ensure accurate reporting of fringe benefits provided to employees.

Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) Table

This table describes various fringe benefits and their corresponding FBT rates, indicating which benefits are exempt from FBT:

Company Cars
Up to 47%
FBT applies unless the car is primarily used for business purposes. Exemptions apply if private use is minor and infrequent.
Entertainment Expenses
Up to 47%
Includes meals, events, and other entertainment costs. FBT depends on the nature and frequency of such benefits.
Housing Benefits
Up to 47%
Applicable when providing housing or accommodation. FBT applies unless the housing is necessary for the employee’s duties.
Employee Loans
Up to 47%
Taxable based on the interest rate benefit provided to the employee. Lower rates may apply if conditions are met.
Living Away from Home Allowances
Up to 47%
Compensation for employees who temporarily need to live away from their usual residence for work. Conditions for reduction apply.
Work-Related Devices
Includes devices primarily used for work, such as smartphones and laptops. Fully exempt if usage complies with business-only policies.
Training and Education
Costs related to training directly connected to an employee’s duties are exempt. Must be job-related and not for personal growth.
Employee Benefits
Up to 47%
Includes health insurance, and gym memberships. Subject to FBT unless purely business-related or minor benefits apply.
Travel Benefits
Up to 47%
Covers travel and accommodation for business trips. Exempt if strictly business travel; personal travel portions may incur FBT.

Reducing FBT Liability

To reduce FBT liability, consider these strategies:

  • Minor Benefits Exemption: Providing benefits valued at less than $300 that are given infrequently may be exempt from FBT.
  • Employee Contributions: Employees contributing to the cost of benefits reduces the FBT liability.
  • Salary Packaging: Employees receiving benefits as part of their salary package can help reduce FBT.
  • Work-Related Devices Exemption: Smartphones, laptops, or tablets used predominantly for work are typically FBT-exempt.

The 2024-2025 Federal Budget

As we approach tax season, it’s crucial for companies to stay informed about the latest changes and updates. The Federal Budget 2024 introduces several new measures that could impact your tax planning and obligations. From increased asset write-off thresholds and expanded compliance programs to enhanced cybersecurity support and superannuation changes, these updates are designed to support businesses in a dynamic economic landscape. To understand how these updates may affect your company, visit our comprehensive summary of the Federal Budget 2024.

Navigating Corporate Tax Deductions and Concessions

Companies can access a range of tax deductions and concessions to reduce their tax liability. Here’s what you should know:

  • Business Expenses: Deductible expenses include salaries, rent, utilities, marketing, travel expenses, software costs, and employee training.
  • Depreciation and Capital Allowances: Companies can claim depreciation on business assets like vehicles, machinery, and office equipment, spreading the cost over time.
  • Instant Asset Write-Off: Companies with an aggregated turnover of less than $500 million can write off eligible assets in the year they are first used or installed.
  • Research and Development (R&D) Tax Incentive: Encourages innovation by offering a tax offset for companies engaged in R&D activities.

As tax season approaches, it’s beneficial for companies to review their year-end strategies. This includes making last-minute purchases or investments that can qualify for deductions, deferring income to manage tax liabilities, or cleaning up accounts receivables and payables. Strategic timing of these actions can significantly affect the taxable income for the year. For more insights on optimising your financial strategies and staying ahead in tax planning, download our 2024/2025 Tax Guide for You and Your Business.

Incorporating small business tax concessions into your tax planning can significantly benefit your company if it meets certain criteria, such as having an aggregated turnover of less than $10 million. These concessions are designed to ease the administrative load and provide financial relief through measures like the instant asset write-off and simplified depreciation rules. Staying informed about your eligibility and understanding how to apply these concessions effectively can lead to substantial tax savings and support the growth and sustainability of your business. Speak to us to determine which concessions apply to your situation and how you can maximise your benefits.

Record-Keeping and Compliance for Companies

Proper record-keeping is critical for accurate tax filing and compliance with ATO regulations. Companies should focus on:

  • Comprehensive Documentation: Keep detailed records of business transactions, including invoices, contracts, payroll records, and financial statements.
  • Accurate GST Reporting: Ensure GST records are complete and up-to-date to avoid issues with Business Activity Statements (BAS). Accurate tracking and claiming of GST credits are crucial for offsetting the amount of GST payable, enhancing cash flow management.
  • Preparation for Audits: Comprehensive audits are mandatory for publicly traded companies and those seeking investment, ensuring the integrity of financial statements for stakeholders. Efficient audits require systematic record-keeping of receipts, invoices, contracts, and other documents. Properly organised records can significantly reduce the time and cost involved in conducting audits.
  • Engaging a Professional Accountant: Given the complexity of corporate tax obligations, having a professional accountant can be invaluable.

Navigating Complex Tax Requirements with Our Professional Help

Navigating tax laws can be complex, but professional assistance from our accounting firm can help:

  • Compliance Assurance: Our accountants ensure your company meets all ATO regulations, helping you avoid penalties and fines. We keep track of tax changes to protect your business from risks and penalties.
  • Tax Planning and Forecasting: We provide personalised tax planning tailored to your company’s specific needs. Our strategic advice helps minimise future tax liabilities and optimises your tax position as your business evolves.
  • Efficient Bookkeeping: We enhance your bookkeeping practices to ensure accuracy and efficiency in your financial management. By refining how you track and manage transactions, we help free up your time so you can focus on what you do best—running your business.
  • Proactive Advisory Services: Consider us an extension of your team. We’re here to support you through major financial decisions and everyday challenges, offering advice that makes a real difference.
  • Audit Support and Preparation: We prepare your financial statements for audits, ensuring accuracy and transparency. Should an audit occur, we stand by your side, providing the necessary support and representation.

Tax season doesn’t have to be daunting. With the right tools and professional support, you can prepare effectively and ensure compliance with ATO regulations. If you operate a company, reach out to our accounting firm to ensure your tax preparation is thorough, compliant, and optimised for your financial success.