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Let’s Talk: Understanding business taxes and regulations

Running a business is a thrilling adventure, but let’s be honest, taxes and regulations can feel like a confusing roadblock along the way. 

Whether you’re facing a specific tax question or simply looking for a refresher on current regulations, this discussion will equip you with the knowledge to make informed financial decisions and keep your business on the right track.

In today’s edition of “Let’s Talk” session our experts break down the essentials, from filing taxes to staying compliant with industry rules. 

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Miao Liu, Founder & Training Provider at Qianmo Accountants

Miao Liu
Miao Liu, Founder & Training Provider at Qianmo Accountants

“Tax may not be the most loved topic. But businesses are built on a shared societal infrastructure, both tangible and intangible. This includes transportation, city planning, and education which ensures a constant supply of human resources, as well as maintaining common codes of conduct and more. Taxes are used to maintain this shared infrastructure, allowing businesses to thrive. This, in turn, reduces costs and increases efficiency overall.

“It is worth noting, however, that small businesses in Australia are eligible for a multitude of tax concessions. These concessions apply to various phases of the business, including year-to-year operations, business restructuring, and the sale of the business. For instance, small businesses can benefit from the instant asset write-off, simplifying the process of claiming deductions for asset purchases. They also enjoy concessions on capital gains tax (CGT), which can significantly ease the financial burden during the sale or restructuring of the business.

“Tax laws in Australia include both the legislation and case law. Overall, they aim to ensure a fair and thriving business environment in Australia. Businesses must comply with various regulations, such as the Goods and Services Tax (GST), PAYG withholding, and superannuation obligations. Understanding these regulations is crucial for maintaining compliance and taking full advantage of the benefits available to businesses.”

Ross Hocking, Special Counsel at Holding Redlich

Ross Hocking
Ross Hocking, Special Counsel at Holding Redlich

“Understanding business taxes and regulations is crucial for any business leader, especially those in small to medium companies, for whom taxes and regulatory requirements are added to an increasingly long to-do list. When faced with tax compliance, reviews, audits and disputes, how you engage with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) can significantly impact the outcome.

“The ATO typically looks for robust evidence supporting tax positions and adherence to governance standards. Having and relying on a tax risk governance policy and framework is paramount to reducing negative tax outcomes.

“Identifying tax risk, engaging with the ATO early and often, seeking professional advice and gathering contemporaneous evidence to support tax positions taken are key strategies to avoiding disputes or achieving the best outcome from any reviews or audits. The ATO can also issue private, public, product and class rulings to provide certainty on tax treatments, helping businesses navigate a complex tax system and reducing the potential for reviews or disputes.

“Being familiar with ATO processes and expectations and understanding their own risks and obligations allows businesses to quantify their legal, commercial, tax and reputational risks, enabling informed decision-making and reducing the likelihood of ATO activity.”

Robyn Jacobson, Senior Advocate at The Tax Institute

Robyn Jacobson
Robyn Jacobson, Senior Advocate at The Tax Institute

“This year’s recent federal budget contained only a few tax measures that affect Australian businesses. The proposed extension to the $20,000 small business instant asset write-off (IAWO) for a further 12 months to 30 June 2025 marks what will be the seventh change to these rules in less than a decade. This measure is not yet law.

“This proposed change adds an extra layer of complexity to an already confusing landscape. The government proposed in last year’s federal budget it would temporarily increase the IAWO to $20,000. This measure is also not yet law, so businesses need to carefully monitor updates to ensure they apply the correct threshold to depreciating assets first used or installed ready for use during 2023–24.

“With legislative changes often not enacted until well into the year of operation, the backlog of announced but unenacted measures creates uncertainty for businesses.

“Working with a tax practitioner, especially a CTA, ensures a high level of professional competence and skills to support businesses to comply with the law.”

Rolf Howard, Managing Partner at Owen Hodge Lawyers

Rolf Howard, Managing Partner at Owen Hodge Lawyers

“Business regulation can feel overwhelming. To understand what laws your business is governed by, these nine areas of law are a good place to start:

  1. Australian Consumer Law: Covers unfair contract terms, consumer guarantees, product safety, misleading conduct, and false advertising.
  2. Competition and Consumer Act 2010: Covers competition, fair trading, anti-competitive conduct (e.g., cartels, price fixing), misuse of market power, and mergers and acquisitions.
  3. Employment Law: Covers minimum wages, working hours, leave entitlements, workplace health and safety, workers’ compensation, anti-discrimination, and unfair dismissal.
  4. Privacy Law: The Privacy Act 1988 governs how businesses collect, use, disclose, and store personal information.
  5. Taxation Laws: Covers income tax, goods and services tax (GST), payroll tax, and fringe benefits tax (FBT).
  6. Environmental Regulations: Covers pollution control, waste management, and resource conservation.
  7. Industry-Specific Regulations: Look into any specific industry law your business is subject to.
  8. Intellectual Property Laws: Protect inventions, trademarks, designs and copyright-protected material.
  9. Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Laws: Ensure the health and safety of workers and others in the workplace.

“To ensure compliance, these areas of law are a good place to start, but talk to your solicitor to ensure you’ve covered all bases.”

Shannon Karaka, Country Leader AUNZ, Deel

Shannon Karaka
Shannon Karaka, Country Leader AUNZ, Deel

“For HR teams, navigating global business taxes and regulations can quickly become a compliance nightmare, especially with ever-changing international tax laws. Keeping up with regulatory changes isn’t just about avoiding fines – it’s about financial stability and stakeholder trust. Outdated tax knowledge puts your business at risk of penalties and erodes both stakeholder and employee confidence.

“Investing in automated payroll solutions designed for global expansion can be a game-changer. These solutions seamlessly sync employee data from onboarding and automatically integrate tax regulations for different business structures. The result? Accurate tax payments for both the company and its employees – all with minimal effort.

“What’s more, adding a comprehensive global payment processing service can further support a growing and expanding business managing diverse tax regulations. Leveraging global payroll solutions like Deel enables a proactive approach to not only staying compliant with regulations but also to freeing up resources and redirecting focus to other critical areas of the business.”

Karan Anand, Chief Strategy Officer & Managing Director Australia at Hnry

Karan Anand
Karan Anand, Chief Strategy Officer & Managing Director Australia at Hnry

“The independent economy is thriving, growing by 50,000 every year as more Aussies seek out the financial and lifestyle benefits of being their own boss. Our Hnry Sole Trader Pulse survey found that 70% of independent earners are self-employed by choice, and 68% enjoy the freedom and work-life balance it affords – however the prospect of navigating the complicated tax system by themselves can be a real deterrent for prospective entrepreneurs.

“Alongside the day-to-day work of growing their business and delivering work to their clients, a sole trader is also responsible for managing all of their own tax and financial admin – things like invoicing, expense management, BAS lodgments, and regular tax payments. This is in stark contrast to many SMEs, who are able to have a finance manager or accountant on staff to manage the tax component of the business. Our research shows sole traders lose on average 7 hours a week on tax and financial admin – and these hours spent on admin are both non-billable and unrewarding.

“We’ve seen firsthand the challenges sole traders face in navigating tax obligations and staying compliant.  Simplifying these complexities is crucial in allowing them to focus on building thriving businesses, without being bogged down by administrative headaches. This is what we do at Hnry; we automate all the painful tax admin that makes sole traders anxious, so they can focus on what’s really important – their businesses.”

Nicole Kelly, Founder and CEO of TaxTank

Nicole Kelly
Nicole Kelly, Founder and CEO of TaxTank

“Sole traders and micro-hustlers face mounting challenges in ensuring tax compliance due to the ATO’s increasing automation and data matching capabilities. Manual bookkeeping, while cost-effective, is prone to errors and often results in costly audits and penalties. Traditional accounting software, although effective, is often too expensive for sole traders with basic needs.

“Going digital is essential to navigate these complexities. Affordable solutions like TaxTank’s Sole Tank, at just $9 per month, provide critical features such as real-time tax calculations, automated invoicing, BAS reporting, and depreciation tracking. Custom-built for sole traders, Sole Tank also manages non-commercial losses and allows you to handle other income streams from work, property, and trading on the same platform, calculating your tax position in real time year-round.

“Embracing digital solutions is not just about compliance; it’s about efficiency and peace of mind. Digital tools transform the approach to tax management, making it easier to meet regulatory demands and focus on growing the business.”

Konstantin Klyagin, Founder of Redwerk

Konstantin Klyagin
Konstantin Klyagin, Founder of Redwerk

“For many, the thrill of starting a business can quickly wear off when taxes and regulations enter the picture. Even though there are fantastic resources available, from government websites to industry associations, you’ll likely need to hire consultants to avoid some rookie mistakes and penalties.

“A  basic understanding of this area is crucial to effectively communicate with your advisors. First off, you need to know your business structure. Is it a sole proprietorship, a general partnership , or a limited liability company? The way you structure your business has significant tax implications.

“The next thing to research is tax incentives. Many governments offer tax breaks and incentives specifically for startups. For example, governments in Australia, the USA,  and some European countries offer tax relief on commercial research & development to foster innovation.

“Your hiring decisions will also impact your taxes. Will you hire locally or globally? Hiring employees in the same country as your business simplifies things. Hiring globally opens access to top talents but introduces complexities, such as the risk of double taxation or permanent establishment resulting in a corporate income tax in another country.

“The world of taxes and regulations isn’t static. Subscribe to alert services, connect with other entrepreneurs, and be proactive about staying informed.”

Julian Fayad, Founder and CEO of LoanOptions.ai

Julian Fayad
Julian Fayad, Founder and CEO of LoanOptions.ai

“Navigating the labyrinth of business tax and regulations can feel overwhelming, but it’s a non-negotiable aspect of running a successful business of any size. Having the right practices in place in this realm is the cornerstone of a business’s health and longevity.

“Business owners must ensure they are across the types of taxes their business is liable for, which may include income tax, goods and services tax, Pay As You Go withholding, employee superannuation contributions, and more. Keeping accurate records is not just good practice—it’s a legal requirement. Investing in a robust accounting system or software that can track finances effortlessly is a good idea.

“It’s also important to be aware of regulatory changes. Tax laws and business regulations are subject to change, and staying informed can save you from costly penalties. Businesses should subscribe to updates from the authorities like the Australian Tax Office or consider hiring a knowledgeable accountant.

“Compliance isn’t just about avoiding fines; it’s about fostering trust and credibility. Businesses must ensure they adhere to local, state, and federal regulations, including licensing and permits.

“Shortcuts in tax and regulatory matters rarely work. They can lead to audits, penalties, and even damage your business’s reputation. I encourage everyone to prioritise transparency and accuracy in all financial dealings. By staying informed and proactive, you pave the way for sustainable success.”

Andrii Bezruchko, CEO and Founder at Newxel

Andrii Bezruchko
Andrii Bezruchko, CEO and Founder at Newxel

“Running a business is already challenging, but navigating the maze of taxes and regulations can feel overwhelming, especially as remote work and global talent become the new norm. As a business owner, I’ve seen firsthand how vital it is to understand these complexities to stay compliant and truly thrive in today’s interconnected world.

“As companies expand their reach and engage with remote teams, they face a myriad of complex legal and compliance issues, from tax obligations and labor laws to intellectual property rights. Worker classification, payroll tax compliance, and data privacy regulations vary significantly across jurisdictions, making it essential for businesses to stay informed and adaptable.

“The potential pitfalls of non-compliance, such as fines, legal disputes, and reputational damage, highlight the importance of thorough legal and compliance practices. Intellectual property rights must be clearly defined to protect company assets and reduce risks.

“One of my biggest lessons is the value of partnering with experts who can handle these intricate details. Outstaffing companies like Newxel are a game-changer. They specialize in managing the legal, tax, and compliance aspects of working with remote teams, allowing businesses to focus on what they do best. With the right support, it becomes a strategic advantage that drives your business forward.”

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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