‘Don’t miss incentives’: How SMEs can understand the budget in one hour

Standard Ledger founder Remco Marcelis. Source: supplied.

As a small business owner or startup founder, you don’t have time to wade through the federal budget papers. Here are our hacks to make sense of it, quickly.

First things first: don’t read the budget when it comes out on May 11.

But, do take an hour to understand it so you don’t miss incentives designed to help startups and small businesses, and — conversely — changes that could increase your obligations as taxpayers and employers.

We’re not going to predict what the 2021 budget will include (that’s already been done), but we will give you some simple hacks to understanding the budget quicker than you can spell Frydenberg backwards.

Read the (not just for) media release

Sure, it’s the government’s spin on the budget, but the media release is the quickest way to get an overall view of it. Despite the name, you don’t have to be from the media to read the release. You can find it here on budget day.

Dig a little deeper online (not too far)

Next, it’s worth seeing what the media is focusing on. With the budget, individual tax changes usually grab the headlines. Remember, these are generally good for business, too. More money equals more consumer spending — so the general economic stimulus principle goes.

For a more business-focused budget wrap, head to your go-to media for business news [such as SmartCompany]. Then, head to budget.gov.au and use two of the filters in the ‘My Budget’ section:

  • In the ‘business’ filter, look out for anything relevant to tax, the R&D Tax Incentive and grants, such as the Export Market Development Grant (EMDG). The last budget made significant changes to the EMDG minus many details, which might follow in this year’s one.
  • In the ‘jobs’ filter, look out for changes to superannuation, paid parental leave, JobMaker and so on— anything that makes it easier or harder to hire people and manage staffing costs. You’ll know it when you see it.

Leave the detail to the experts

That’s probably enough of your time spent on the budget, right? For sure, except to say that the budget is often more about the big announcements than the finer detail. So you might need to wait for the government departments entrusted with bringing budget reforms to life to flesh out the details, or you might need to call your accountant to clarify any impacts on your business.

Lastly, don’t forget sleeping giants

The budget is a news machine, and with an election year in 2022 the government will be looking to make as much noise as it can with this one.

As that swirls around, don’t forget about impactful changes already announced that haven’t yet come into effect. For example, the superannuation increase from 9.5-10% (unless it’s rolled back, which is looking increasingly unlikely) due to start on 1 July this year, and the news that it’s set to increase incrementally to 12% over the next few years. Don’t forget to budget for these increases in your staffing obligations. They can make a big difference to small businesses, especially if you don’t plan for them.

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