Simplified depreciation rules for small business July 29, 2013
If you need to buy depreciating assets in your business – computers, machinery, cars, etc., - then the new rules that came into effect on 1 July 2012 provide some significant tax advantages for businesses with turnover of less than $2 million.
Simplified depreciation rules for small business
If you need to buy depreciating assets in your business – computers, machinery, cars, etc., - then the new rules
that came into effect on 1 July 2012 provide some significant tax advantages for businesses with turnover of less
than $2 million.
Small business owners often ask about the best way to acquire different types of depreciating assets, particularly
plant and equipment, that are purchased for use in the business. The new rules mean that, in some cases, a
small business can claim the whole amount of the asset purchased as a tax deduction in the year of
purchase. Normally, assets purchased in a business are depreciated over a number of years, or their effective
To access these simplified depreciation rules the entity needs to be in business (i.e. trading rather than just
holding investments) and has an aggregated annual turnover of less than $2 million. Bear in mind that the
aggregated turnover test not only looks at your turnover but the turnover of any entities connected to you, such
as a trust.
Buying assets under $6,500
If your business qualifies as a small business and can access the simplified depreciation rules, any depreciating
assets you purchase below $6,500 can be written off in the year of purchase. If your business is registered for
GST the $6,500 is GST exclusive, if not, the $6,500 is the GST inclusive amount.
Let's say your office computers are getting a bit old and need replacing. You buy 3 new computers this financial
year (2012/2013) at a cost of $4,500 each (GST ex). As each laptop costs less than $6,500, they can be written
off immediately. The total deduction that can be claimed in the 2013 tax return is $13,500.
The $6,500 threshold applies on an asset-by-asset basis, so you can claim the immediate deduction on more
than one asset.
As well as being able to claim an immediate deduction for assets with an initial cost of less than $6,500, in some
circumstances it is also possible to claim an immediate deduction for additions or improvements to these assets
in a later income year.
For example, lets say you run a printing business and buy a digital printer for $6,200 in 2012/2013. In the
following financial year, 2013/2014, you buy a component to improve the printer at a cost of $2,000. The initial
purchase of the printer is deductible in 2012/2013 and the printer component is deductible in the 2013/2014
However, it is only possible to claim an immediate deduction for the first additions or improvements. Any
additions or improvements beyond the first component are not immediately deductible but depreciated over a
period of time.
Buying motor vehicles
If you need to buy a motor vehicle you can claim an immediate deduction for the first $5,000 on new and second
hand vehicle purchased from 1 July 2012. The balance of the vehicle's cost price is depreciated at 15% in the
A motor vehicle is any motor powered on-road vehicle including four wheel drives. Graders, tractors, harvesters
etc., don't qualify as their primary purpose is not on public roads.
Let's say you run a landscaping business. You buy a dual cab 4WD ute for $46,000 (GST ex) in March 2013 and
only use it in the business. In the businesses next tax return, you can claim a tax deduction of $5,000 for the ute
with the remaining $41,000 depreciated at 15% in the same year.
Limits apply to the deduction you can claim for the vehicle you buy. If it's a luxury vehicle, regardless of how
much you paid, the cost for depreciation purposes is reduced to $57,466 - the luxury car limit.
What does 'immediate deduction' mean?
An immediate deduction means that you can claim the full tax deduction when your business lodges its next tax
return. So, it's not immediate in the sense that you get to make the claim straight away and the tax office sends
you a cheque, but immediate in that the tax deduction is available all at once and not over a number of years.
The deduction is offset against your assessable income and reduces the overall tax you pay. The deduction will
be at your applicable tax rate – so, 30% for companies and your applicable marginal tax rate for unincorporated
entities. Like all other tax deductions, keep in mind that even if you get a 100% tax write-off, you still need to be
able to fund the after tax cash cost.
What about other assets?
What happens if the asset you need to buy is over $6,500 (and is not a car)? Small businesses are able to pool
all other assets at 15% for the first year the asset is in the pool and 30% for each subsequent year. If the value
of the pool drops to below $6,500, then the whole pool can be written off.
Before you go on a spending spree….
Before going on a spending spree it's important to take a look at the cash flow of the business.
Know your cash position and whether or not you have sufficient cash reserves to commit funds to capital
purchases. If not, you may need to finance the purchase. Never purchase an asset simply for the tax
benefit. Buy what you need to operate your business and manage your purchases to achieve the best tax
It's important to ensure that your business is in a strong cash flow position before committing to buying assets for
your business. Contact us on 02 9279 4376 or email us if you're considering buying plant and equipment under