Small businesses with an aggregated turnover of less than $2 million are called small business entities and may qualify for a range of tax concessions.
Eligible businesses can choose to use the concessions that best suit their needs. It is not necessary to elect to be a small business entity each year to access the concessions, however eligibility must be reviewed each year.
A small business entity may be eligible for the following concessions:
- CGT 15-year asset exemption
- CGT 50% active asset reduction
- CGT retirement exemption
- CGT rollover provisions
- simplified depreciation rules
- immediate deduction for certain prepaid business expenses
- simplified trading stock rules
- choice to account for GST on a cash basis
- annual apportionment of GST input tax credits in certain circumstances
- paying GST by instalments
- FBT car parking exemption
- PAYG instalments based on GDP-adjusted notional tax.
Many of these concessions have additional eligibility conditions that must also be satisfied.
The trust will be a small business entity if it is carrying on a business and has an aggregated turnover of less than $2 million. This is known as the small business entity test.
Business is defined broadly to include ‘any profession, trade, employment, vocation or calling, but does not include occupation as an employee’. Carrying on a business is not defined in the tax law, and so takes its ordinary meaning. An entity is taken to be carrying on a business for the purposes of the small business entity test in an income year if:
- the entity is winding up a business it formerly carried on
- it was a small business entity in the income year that it stopped carrying on the business.
Aggregated turnover is the annual turnover of the trust, plus the annual turnovers of any entities that are connected with it or that are its affiliate.
Note: Eligibility must be reviewed each year
Turnover includes all ordinary income the trust earned in the ordinary course of business for the income year. The following 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 the trust has 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.
There are special rules for calculating the annual turnover if the trust has retail fuel sales or business dealings with associates that are not at market value.
Special rules called the aggregation rules will determine who the trust is connected or affiliated with.
These rules prevent larger businesses from structuring or restructuring their affairs to take advantage of the small business entity concessions.
An entity that is connected with the trust or that is its affiliate is referred to as a relevant entity.
When calculating the aggregated turnover of the trust, do not include income from:
- dealings between the trust and a relevant entity
- dealings between any relevant entities of the trust
- a relevant entity when it was not a relevant entity of the trust.
If the trust carries on a business during the current income year and has an aggregated business turnover of less than $2 million under the aggregation rules discussed above, then the trust is a small business entity.
Business operated for only part of the year
If the trust, or a relevant entity, carries on a business for only part of the income year, annual turnover must be worked out using a reasonable estimate of what the turnover would have been if the trust, or a relevant entity, had carried on a business for the whole of the income year.
Satisfying the aggregated turnover threshold
There are three ways (previous year turnover, estimate of current year turnover and actual current year turnover) to satisfy the $2 million aggregated turnover requirement, but most businesses will only need to consider the first method.
Previous year turnover
If the aggregated turnover of the trust for the previous income year was less than $2 million, it will be a small business entity for the current year.
This is regardless of its estimated or actual aggregated turnover for the current year.
Estimate of current year turnover
If the estimated aggregated turnover of the trust for the current income year is less than $2 million, it will be a small business entity for the current year.
If you are estimating your turnover, you need to assess whether you are more likely than not to have less than $2 million aggregated turnover as at the first day of the income year or, if you have started a business part way through the year, as at the time you started your business. You should estimate your turnover based on the conditions you are aware of at the beginning of the income year or, if you have started a business part way through the year, at the time that you started your business.
Trusts that commenced carrying on a business in the current year need to make a reasonable estimate of what their turnover would have been had the business been carried on for the entire year.
This method cannot be used if the aggregated turnover of the trust in each of the previous two income years was $2 million or more.
Actual current year turnover
If the actual aggregated turnover of the trust is less than $2 million as at the end of the income year, it will be a small business entity for that year. This method is only needed if the first two tests cannot be met.
If the trust is a small business entity by means of this method only, it cannot use the GST and PAYG concessions for that income year, as those particular concessions must have been chosen earlier in the income year.
Former STS taxpayers
There is a transitional rule for former STS taxpayers that deals with the continued use of the STS accounting method.
There is also a special rule that applies if the trust is winding up a business this year that it previously carried on and it was an STS taxpayer in the income year it ceased business.