The Instant Asset Write-Off scheme could be a huge boost for your cash flow. By using this tax deduction, you can decrease your tax payable, which means you can spend up to on as many assets as you’d like and reduce your taxable income by that same amount. You can claim this on tools, equipment, office furniture, air conditioners, work vehicles, IT hardware, signage, and more.
If that sounds too good to be true and you haven’t taken advantage yet, you’re not alone. Nearly two-thirds of Australian businesses are under-utilising the scheme, most likely because of a lack of capital and a lack of clarity around how it works. We’ll show you how to unlock the full potential of this opportunity as we demystify this great little tax break and how the instant asset write-off has been updated in 2020.
So how exactly does the instant asset write-off work?
For any asset that decreases in value over time (vehicles, work tools, or any office equipment), most people usually can claim some depreciation on that asset each year. If that asset is expected to last for ten years, you can claim depreciation for 10% of its cost each year. With the Instant Asset Write-Off scheme, you claim depreciation as a one-off lump sum instead of claiming smaller tax deductions each year.
According to business.gov.au, “It means that you can reduce your taxable income, and your tax payable, in the financial year that you bought and installed them”. Not only is it one less thing you need to remember during tax season, it’s also a smarter way to invest in tools or equipment for your business and decrease your taxable income.
Are you eligible for the instant asset write-off?
When it was rolled out, the scheme was available to businesses with annual turnover up to $2 million. In 2020, that was changed to be more inclusive so businesses with up to $500 million annual turnover can now use it. That means any business turning over less than $500 million per year can claim the instant write-off, including sole traders.
What assets are eligible?
Assets you claim as part of the Instant Asset Write-Off can be second-hand or new. Before you embark on some retail therapy, it’s worth checking if the business assets you’re eyeing are eligible for the scheme. We recommend you speak to your tax accountant for a full list of eligible assets, or read the ATO’s general depreciation rules. Some of the assets eligible for the Instant Asset Write-Off scheme include:
- Work vehicles
- Tradie tools and machinery
- IT hardware (desktop computers, printers, photocopiers)
- Office, studio and shop furniture and fittings
- Equipment storage (sheds and storage containers)
- Kitchen equipment
- Air conditioners.
How can you unlock this tax break’s full potential?
By writing off the assets in the same year they’re purchased, the money you’re investing in your business equipment comes directly off your taxable income, which decreases your tax payable. By purchasing business assets, you are decreasing your taxable income by that same amount.
The challenge for many businesses is the cash flow delay between purchasing the assets and receiving the benefit of a lower amount of tax payable. You’ll need to fork out for the initial expense, which will impact cash flow if you don’t have the extra funds available. This is where a short-term business loan can help unlock this tax break’s full potential. A short-term business loan can help ensure you don’t miss out on this opportunity before the end of financial year. And an unsecured loan is quick, easy and will leave you more time to purchase assets and claim them before the EOFY.
When thinking about whether you should make the most of this tax deduction, ask yourself this question: would you rather decrease your taxable income in a lump sum now, or draw it out over five to ten years? It certainly seems smarter to make the most of the Instant Asset Write-Off scheme now.
The nit and grit of it
As with most tax incentives, there are many things to consider before moving ahead. We recommend you consult your tax accountant to confirm whether this is right for your business. Here are some of the finer details we’ve uncovered:
- The asset can be secondhand or new, it just needs to be ‘new’ to your business.
- The deduction needs to be made in the same financial year the asset is first used or installed for use in your business.
- You can only claim for the ‘taxable purpose proportion’. So if you buy an asset but only use it for business purposes 50% of the time, you can only claim 50%.
- It’s worth noting that there’s no limit to how many assets you can claim the deduction for.
Here's an example
Here’s an easy example of how to utilise this deduction. If you purchase a car for $44,000 and you use it 50% of the time for business purposes, you can claim $22,000 off your taxable income. You could also claim more than one asset if it falls under the threshold. You would have to deduct it under general depreciation rules over several years. Some types of assets can be depreciated more quickly under the Backing Business Investment scheme. All types of businesses are eligible for the instant asset write off, including sole traders.
Why should you care?
We get it. Tax is about as exciting as peak hour traffic, but the Instant Asset Write-Off scheme can be great for businesses, especially SMEs. By purchasing business assets, you are decreasing your taxable income by that same amount. If you don’t have the cash immediately available to make the most of this tax break, a business loan can help bridge the cash flow gap in the short term. Read more about how you can use a short-term bank loan to unlock this tax break.
Here's what to do next for the instant asset write-off
It’s important to remember that the write-off isn’t as instant as advertised. The ‘instant’ in the scheme’s name relates to lumping the depreciation claims into one claim, but that doesn’t mean you’ll see the benefit of this tax deduction straight away. This could lead to a cash flow bottleneck, especially if the time between purchasing the asset and receiving the benefits of a lower tax payable extends into months or years. That’s where a business loan can help. By taking out a short-term business loan, you can bridge the cash flow gap between investment in your business assets and the benefits of your decreased taxable income.
Being fans of working smarter not harder, we suggest you speak to your tax accountant to check that the Instant Asset Write-Off scheme is right for your business. You can discuss with them whether they think a business loan is a viable option for your business.
Have questions? We have answers. Read our FAQs here, or speak to a human on 1300 885 893 or email@example.com.
Instant asset write-off was extended until 30 June 2022
As part of the Federal Budget, the instant asset write-off was extended until 30 June 2022. The asset value limit was also removed.
To write off an asset, it needs to be purchased, first used, or installed ready to use by the end of the financial year to apply to that tax year. So if you purchase a new asset on 30 June 2021, but don’t have it delivered and ready for use, you will have to write it off in the next year. For more information, visit the ATO website.