It may be a stretch to classify the following as ‘fun’, but after consulting with us normal people about the way they communicate information, the ATO now has a varied range of ways to learn about taxation and interact with their support services.
The Business page of the ATO website is here:
and to get the full run of what’s available, visit
The Small Business Newsroom is a weekly newsletter distributed every Sunday, and allows you to be informed in advance of what’s coming up in the world of tax. It’s important to get your tax past sorted out when you’re in business, of course, but being able to peer into your tax future allows you to better prepare for possible bills and deductions.
The ATO have also flung themselves into the 21st Century and created an App. It has a whole bunch of features including:
- A way to record and manage your car trips and other work-related expenses using the myDeductions tool
- A calculator to hep you work out the amount of tax to withhold from salary and wage payments;
- A link to ABN Lookup so you can easily check on an Australian business number (ABN), including your own;
- Access to a number of other useful tools and calculators;
- The Business performance check tool, so you can compare your business with similar businesses in your industry using the latest Small business benchmarks.
- A way to work out key dates and, depending on your device, and set important reminders and alerts for tax and super obligations.
You can also search for your super, watch videos, and a whole bunch more. You can watch more about the myDeductions tool here.
Small Business Assist is a simple question tool that easily allows you to search the ATO database using simple language. You can also play with Alex, the ATO’s new virtual assistant. You can ask Alex questions about tax in typed conversational language, and she can access the information you need. Currently Alex can only help with very general questions about personal tax, but the ATO hopes she’ll be capable of much more soon. Ask her how old she is to test her sassy personality!
The days of waiting on the phone for a response are also over. The ATO now has Web Chat, which is available for small businesses in the afternoons and evenings Monday to Friday and all day Saturday. You can also book an after hours call back for small business support, and the ATO prides itself on calling everyone back in the exact time frame requested – so test them out!
The ATO have also (thankfully) dumped their super-long and awkward tax videos in favour of something more story-based and creative. The Tax Basics for Small Business video series shows the start-up tips for new business by following a few small businesses, including creatives! “Fiona” and “Greg” are two web designers in a partnership, and they help the audience to understand some basic tax and superannuation obligations.
The Small Business Tips videos then cover more complicated matters, like the differences between being an Employee or contractor, and working from home.
If you’ve got more time and want more in-depth information, pour yourself a lovely cup of tea (or a glass of wine, choose your poison) and attend one of the small business webinars. There are 11 in total, the sessions run for approximately 45 minutes, and topics include deductions, home based business, motor vehicle deductions, GST, record keeping and super obligations. You can attend the webinars live and interact with the presenter, or listen to previously recorded sessions.
Finally, the ATO’s Small Business Consultation Panel is a curated list of small business operators who help them to deliver improved services for small business by providing practical business and industry expertise. They’re currently looking for new members, and you can sign up here:
Attendance at the panels is paid for, and you’ll have a chance to have your opinion heard and encourage even more people-friendly changes at the ATO.
Now, Happy EOFY, time to buy some deductions!