Federal Budget for SMEs: Advising small businesses on skills, training and digital adoption incentives

On Tuesday, 29 March 2022, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg handed down the 2022-23 Federal Budget, the last before the looming Federal election. Tax and accounting professionals should in particular observe the skills, training and digital adoption incentives announced in the Budget when advising their clients, which are discussed below.

The following information is a curated version of the Weekly Tax Bulletin by the Thomson Reuters Tax News Division.

Executive summary of the Federal Budget

The Treasurer announced a range of cost of living measures, including a one-off $420 cost of living tax offset for low and middle income earners, and a $250 payment for pensioners and welfare recipients. The fuel excise will also be reduced by 50% for six months, starting from midnight on Budget night.

For small businesses, a Skills and Training Boost will provide a new 20% bonus deduction for eligible external training courses for upskilling employees from Budget night. In addition, businesses will receive a similar 20% bonus deduction for expenditure on digital technologies (eg cloud computing, eInvoicing, cyber security and web design) for investments of up to $100,000 per year.

The Treasurer announced that economic growth forecasts have been revised upwards, driven by stronger-than-expected momentum in the labour market and consumer spending. The unemployment rate has also fallen to 4%, and is expected to reach 3.75% in the September 2022 quarter.

Since the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) in December 2021, the underlying cash balance has improved by $103.6bn over the 5 years to 2025-26. Nevertheless, the Government is expected to record a deficit of $79.8bn for 2021-22 and $78.0bn for 2022-23 (down from $134.2bn in 2020-21). Net debt of $714.9bn for 2022-23 is forecast to rise to $864.7bn in 2025-26.

Deduction boosts for small business: skills and training and digital adoption

The Government announced two support measures for small businesses (ie those with aggregated annual turnover less than $50 million) in the form of a 20% uplift of the amount deductible for expenditure incurred on external training courses and digital technology.

External training courses

An eligible business will be able to deduct an additional 20% of expenditure incurred on external training courses provided to its employees. The training course must be provided to employees in Australia or online, and delivered by entities registered in Australia.

Some exclusions will apply, such as for in-house or on-the-job training.

The boost will apply to eligible expenditure incurred from 7:30pm (AEDT) on 29 March 2022 until 30 June 2024.

The boost for eligible expenditure incurred by 30 June 2022 will be claimed in tax returns for the following income year. The boost for eligible expenditure incurred between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2024, will be included in the income year in which the expenditure is incurred.

Digital adoption

An eligible business will be able to deduct an additional 20% of the cost incurred on business expenses and depreciating assets that support its digital adoption, such as portable payment devices, cyber security systems or subscriptions to cloud-based services.

An annual cap will apply in each qualifying income year so that expenditure up to $100,000 will be eligible for the boost.

The boost will apply to eligible expenditure incurred from 7:30pm (AEDT) on 29 March 2022 until 30 June 2023.

The boost for eligible expenditure incurred by 30 June 2022 will be claimed in tax returns for the following income year. The boost for eligible expenditure incurred between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023 will be included in the income year in which the expenditure is incurred.

Source: Budget Paper No 2 [p 26-27]

This material was prepared by the Thomson Reuters Tax Division. Visit Thomson Reuters for further information about our services for Tax and Accounting Professionals.

Ian has worked at Thomson Reuters for over 15 years as a senior tax analyst with expertise in income tax and GST. He has been involved in tax publishing for over 25 years.

Prior to his tax writing career, Ian worked as a manager for a Big 4 accountancy firm and then with a firm which provided specialist tax advice for the music and recording industry.

Ian holds a Bachelor of Economics degree, is a Chartered Accountant and a registered tax agent. Among other things, Ian is the author of the Australian GST Handbook, the GST Commentary Service, the Australian Financial Planning Handbook and the specialist income tax commentary services, as well as being a regular contributor to the news services.

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