How to Unlock the Full Benefit of the $20k Instant Asset Write-Off Scheme
Tax breaks are few and far between, and this one’s a ripper. See how you can invest in business equipment without affecting your cash flow.
The $20,000 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 $20,000 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.
So how exactly does it 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?
When it was rolled out, the scheme was available to businesses with annual turnover up to $2 million. Recently, that was changed to be more inclusive so businesses with up to $10 million annual turnover can now use it. That means if your business turns over less than $10 million a year, you can claim the instant write-off on any business asset whose total value is less than $20,000.
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 $20k 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 up to $20,000, 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 $20,000 available. This is where a business loan can help unlock this tax break’s full potential. A business loan can help ensure you don’t miss out on this opportunity before the end of financial year.
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. However, each asset must cost less than $20,000.
Here’s an example
Here’s an easy example of how to utilise this deduction. If you purchase a second-hand car for $18,000 and you use it 50% of the time for business purposes, you can claim $9,000 off your taxable income. But if you purchase a truck for $21,000 you cannot claim it as part of this scheme, as the value is over $20,000. You could also claim on two (or more) eligible assets of $19,000 each.
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 up to $20,000, 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.
Here’s what to do next
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.