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Working out whether you are a small business entity

Last updated 11 August 2021

Depending on your circumstances, you can use one of the following three methods to work out whether you are a small business entity in the current year:

Method 1 – Use your previous years aggregated turnover

If your aggregated turnover for the previous income year was less than $2 million, you will be a small business entity for the current year.

Method 2 – Estimate your current year aggregated turnover

If your estimated aggregated turnover for the current year is less than $2 million, you will be a small business entity for the current year. However, you can estimate your turnover only if your aggregated turnover for one of the two previous income years was less than $2 million.

About estimating your turnover

If you are estimating your turnover, you need to determine whether your aggregated turnover is more likely than not to be less than $2 million.

You must estimate your turnover based on the conditions that you are aware of at the beginning of the income year or, if you are starting a business part way through the year, at the time that you start your business. Factors to consider when estimating your turnover include:

  • your turnover in previous income years
  • whether you plan to reduce or increase staff in the current year
  • whether your business operating hours are increasing or decreasing
  • whether previous extraordinary sales or product lines will be available in the current income year
  • whether your business will face increased competition in the current income year
  • whether your business activity will increase or decrease because of changing conditions.

Method 3 – Use your actual current year turnover

If your actual aggregated turnover is less than $2 million at the end of the income year, you will be a small business entity for that year.

You must use the same method (either prior year; estimated current year; or actual current year) for calculating the annual turnover of your business and all your relevant entities.

How to calculate your aggregated turnover

Step 1 – work out your annual turnover (for your previous or current year) 

Your annual turnover includes all ordinary income earned in the ordinary course of business for the income year, for example, turnover is your gross income or proceeds, rather than your net profit.

If you operate multiple business activities, either as a sole trader or within the same business structure, you must include the income from all your activities when working out your annual turnover, for example, a sole trader operating a part time consultancy and a retail shop would include the income from both business activities when working out annual turnover.

Here are some examples of amounts included and not included in ordinary income.

Include these amounts:

  • sales of trading stock
  • fees for services provided
  • interest from business bank accounts
  • amounts received to replace something that would have had the character of business income, for example, a payment for loss of earnings.

Do not include these amounts:

  • GST you have charged on a transaction
  • amounts borrowed for the business
  • proceeds from the sale of business capital assets
  • insurance proceeds for the loss or destruction of a business asset
  • amounts received from repayments of farm management deposits.

Special rules for calculating annual turnover

Business operated for part of the year

If you start or cease a business part way through an income year, you will need to work out your turnover using a reasonable estimate of what your turnover would have been if you had carried on the business for the entire income year. This rule applies for all three methods of working out whether you are a small business entity.

Retail fuel sales

Do not include retail fuel sales when calculating your turnover. This is a special rule because sales of retail fuel are characteristically high in sales volume with low profit margins.

Non-arm’s length business transactions

Any income from transactions with an associate should be included in your turnover. If the dealing was not at arm’s length (that is, the goods or services were sold at a discounted price because of their association with you) you must use the market value of the goods or services when calculating your annual turnover.

However, you may take into account any discounts that would have been offered had the dealing been at arm’s length.

Associate has the meaning given by section 318 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936. As an individual, your associates include, but are not limited, to:

  • your relatives, such as your spouse or children
  • a partnership that you are a partner in
  • another partner in that partnership, and that partner’s spouse and children
  • a trustee of a trust that you, or your associate, are a beneficiary of
  • a company that you, or your associate, control or influence.

There are similar rules to determine who is an associate of a company, partnership and trustee.

If the aggregation rules do not apply to you, your aggregated turnover will be the same as your annual turnover. You do not need to read any further.

However, if you must consider the aggregation rules, or are not sure whether they apply to you, go to step 2 below.

Step 2 – consider the aggregation rules

You must include the annual turnover of a relevant business entity with your annual turnover when working out your aggregated turnover.

A relevant business entity is a business entity that, at any time during the income year, is:

If you have a relevant business entity, repeat step 1 for each relevant business entity to work out their annual turnover. You must use the same method for working out your annual turnover and the annual turnovers of all your relevant businesses entities.

Step 3 – work out your aggregated turnover

To work out your aggregated turnover, add the annual turnovers of relevant business entities to your annual turnover.

When working out your aggregated turnover, do not include income:

  • from dealings between you and a relevant business entity
  • from dealings between any of your relevant business entities
  • of an entity when it was not your relevant business entity.

If your aggregated turnover is less than $2 million, you are a small business entity for the current year.

If you are not a small business entity in an income year, you may still be able to access the capital gains tax concessions if you pass the $6 million maximum net asset value test.