How Much Tax Does a Small Business Pay in Australia?

February 3, 2024

Embarking on a business venture is thrilling, but it’s not without its complexities. Especially when it comes to taxes. 

Whether you’re just starting or you’re already in the thick of business operations, understanding your tax obligations is vital for your success.

In this article, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about small business taxes in Australia. 

What is a Small Business in Australia?

A business that employs less than 20 people is considered a small business and is a tax law category of its own. 

According to the Australian Small Bureau of Statistics, 97% of all businesses in Australia are in this category.

4 Size Qualifications of Businesses in Australia

There are typically four types of business sizes. 

Non-employing businessesSole proprietorships and partnerships without employees
Micro-businessesBusinesses employing between one and four people, including non‑employing businesses
Other small businessesBusinesses that employ between five and 19 employees
Nano businessesBusinesses that earn under $75,000

Depending on the size of your business, you’ll have different tax consequences and tax concessions. 

As a small business, you’re eligible for several tax benefits, including lower company tax rates, simplified procedures for paying tax, and opportunities for instant asset write-offs.

4 Types Of Tax Obligations for Australian Small Businesses

Small businesses in Australia have to pay different types of taxes depending on their income, business structure, and activities. These include income tax, company tax, GST, and PAYG instalments. 

Income tax for small businesses in Australia can be complicated and involves quarterly payments, various thresholds, and tax rates. 

Manage your GST obligations with ease. Find a bookkeeper near you for a free consultation! 

Additionally, each Australian state, territory, and local government may implement specific tax regulations that differ from neighbouring states. 

Small business owners are responsible for reporting and paying various taxes, including income tax, GST, and payroll tax.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these taxes:

1. Understanding Small Business Goods and Services Tax (GST)

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a significant aspect of small business tax in Australia. 

It is a broad-based tax of 10% imposed on most goods, services, and other items sold in the country. 

You must include GST on your sales and remit it to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) periodically, usually through your Business Activity Statement (BAS). 

When Do You Have to Pay GST? 

If your business has an annual turnover of $75,000 or more, you must register for GST and charge it on your taxable sales.

2. Income Tax: Paying Your Fair Share on Business Profits

Income tax is a significant aspect of small business taxation in Australia. It refers to the tax paid on your business’s net income or profits in a financial year. 

As a sole trader in Australia, how much tax you pay depends on your income (profit minus your allowable tax deductions on your tax return).  

How Much Income Tax Do Australian Businesses Pay?

According to PWC, Except for ‘small or medium business’ companies, which enjoy a reduced tax rate of 25%, all companies in Australia are liable to pay a federal tax of 30% on their taxable income.

Sole trader tax rates for the 2023-24 financial year in Australia: 

How much tax you pay depends on your income range. 

Let’s explore below: 

Taxable Income RangeTax Rate
Up to $18,2000% (Tax-free threshold)
$18,201 to $45,00019 cents for each $1 over $18,200
$45,001 to $120,000$5,092 plus 32.5 cents for each $1 over $45,000
$120,001 to $180,000$29,467 plus 37 cents for each $1 over $120,000
Over $180,000$51,667 plus 45 cents for each $1 over $180,000

3. Understanding Payroll Tax: PAYG Withholding and PAYG Instalments

Payroll tax is levied on employee wages, and the threshold varies by state and territory. 

  • Pay As You Go (PAYG) withholding is the tax businesses withhold from employee payments and report to the ATO regularly. 
  • Pay As You Go (PAYG) instalments are advance payments toward your expected income tax liability for the year and must be paid if your income exceeds a certain threshold. 

4. Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT)

Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) is a tax paid on certain benefits provided to employees or their associates, such as cars, entertainment, or loans.

If you offer fringe benefits to your employees and the total taxable value exceeds $2,000 in an FBT year, you must pay FBT. This tax is separate from income tax and is applied to the value of the benefit. 

Reporting and paying FBT to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is typically done annually through your FBT return.

Streamline Your Tax Affairs with Expert Bookkeeping. Contact us for a free consultation. 

What are the Tax Differences Between Sole Traders and Companies?

As a sole trader, you report your business income and expenses on your personal tax return and pay tax at individual rates. 

This means that your business income is combined with your personal income, and you’re taxed accordingly. 

On the other hand, companies are separate legal entities with their own tax obligations. They file a separate income tax return and pay tax at the corporate rate. 

The corporate tax rate is generally higher than individual tax rates.

Another key difference is liability. 

As a sole trader, you have unlimited liability, which means you are personally responsible for the debts and obligations of your business. If your business incurs debts, your personal assets may be at risk. 

Companies have limited liability. This means that the company is a separate legal entity, and the owner’s personal assets are generally protected from business debts.

Additionally, there are specific tax benefits and concessions for each structure. Sole traders can access the small business income tax offset, which reduces their tax liability. 

Conversely, companies can benefit from the lower company tax rate available for small businesses.

Here’s a table for comparison of paying taxes as a sole trader versus a company: 

AspectSole TraderCompany
Tax RateIndividual tax rates, generally lower than corporate ratesCorporate tax rates, generally higher than individual rates
LiabilityUnlimited liability (personal responsibility for business debts)Limited liability (owner’s personal assets generally protected)
Tax BenefitsAccess to small business income tax offsetBenefit from lower company tax rate for small businesses

Streamline Your Tax Affairs with Expert Bookkeeping

Navigating the complex tax landscape is a critical component of managing a small business in Australia.

One of the most challenging aspects can often be keeping your financial records organized and compliant. This is where the role of a professional bookkeeper becomes invaluable.

A skilled bookkeeper ensures that all your business financial documents are meticulously managed, making tax time less daunting. 

For many small businesses, the detailed attention provided by a bookkeeper is more than sufficient, negating the immediate need for an accountant.

Don’t Overpay Your Taxes

With accurate and up-to-date records, you avoid overpaying on your taxes, and you also gain clearer insights into your business finances, allowing you to make more informed decisions.

Remember, keeping accurate records is the first step to staying ahead of tax regulations and is key to your business’s success. 

Ready to take the stress out of managing your books? Focus on what you do best – running your business. Reach out to us and find the perfect bookkeeping partner today.

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