tax tips for retailers


With the end of the tax year approaching, it’s time to take action to minimise the tax liability for your retail business. Mark Chapman from H&R Block shares his top tips for end of year tax planning.

Defer income

If you have invoices set to go out just before the end of the year, it makes sense to defer issuing those invoices until the start of the new tax year. Although the tax rate next year is the same as this year, you will defer the income tax liability by 12 months.

Prepay expenses

You can get an immediate tax deduction for certain pre-paid business expenses. The basic rule is that a deduction is available for expenses that cover a period of no more than 12 months. This includes expenses such as insurance premiums, telephone and internet services, subscriptions to trade or professional bodies, rent or leasing charges on your retail premises, and bookings for seminars, conferences or business trips.

Write off bad debts

No business owner wants to be in a position where they can’t recover outstanding debts, but we have to be realistic and acknowledge that it does happen sometimes. The good news is that if your business has to write off a debt, a tax deduction is available for the amount of the debt written off.

A debt that is unpaid and deemed to be a bad debt is an allowable deduction provided it was included as assessable income in the current or a previous income year.

At this time of the year, it makes sense to go through your debtors list. If there are any debtors who you believe can’t or won’t pay, write off those debts by 30 June to claim the deduction this year. The business must keep a written record to document that the debt has been written off.

Pay superannuation

Employers have to pay superannuation contributions for within 28 days of the end of the quarter. Ensure all June quarter superannuation contributions are paid by 30 June to accelerate the tax deduction.

Note that contributions must be actually paid, cleared in the business bank account, and received by the employee’s super fund before 30 June for a tax deduction to be available. Any other outstanding amounts should also be paid before year end.

Get the right trading stock valuation

Trading stock can be valued using different methods for taxation purposes, either at cost, market value or replacement value. The only requirement regarding changing methods is that the closing stock value at the end of one tax year must become the opening trading stock value for the next year. The provisions allow a choice to be made for each individual item of trading stock.

Changing the valuation method at year-end for tax purposes can either bring forward or defer an amount of taxable income, so it pays to look closely at the method adopted.

Businesses with an aggregated turnover of less than $10 million can also choose not to do a stock-take where the value of their trading stock has not changed, either up or down, by more than $5,000. In that case, include the same stock value at year-end as at the start of the year—that is, as if no change had occurred.

Damaged and obsolete stock can be written down or written off entirely and a tax deduction claimed.

Take advantage of the small business $20,000 asset write off

One of the best tax breaks for small business remains the $20,000 instant asset write off, and with many businesses offering end of financial year promotions, now is the ideal time to take advantage by acquiring some much needed capital assets to build your business and, at the same time, reduce your taxable profits.

The items you can claim include:

  • Cash registers and other POS devices
  • Delivery vans
  • Store fittings and fixtures
  • Computers, laptops and tablets
  • In-store security systems
  • Accounting software

Pay employee bonuses

If your business is looking to pay bonuses, put in place a properly executed bonus plan by 30 June to claim the deduction this year. Typically, a deduction will be available for employee bonuses if the expense has been incurred before the year-end, i.e. if the business has definitively committed itself to the payment (for example by passing a resolution) or has incurred a quantifiable legal liability to pay the bonus. If the amounts of any bonuses are not calculated and authorised until after the end of the income year, no deduction is available.

Mark Chapman is the director of tax communications at H&R Block.


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