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Small business urged to use ATO courses to learn tax, boost compliance


The government says the program is one of many initiatives that make it easier for businesses to do taxes in a bid to tackle the $50 billion collectable debt book.

By Christine Chen 12 minute read

Small businesses should use the ATO’s free education platform to build their knowledge of tax and super, Small Business Minister Julie Collins says, as the government vows to make it easier for businesses to comply with their tax obligations.

It comes after new Commissioner Rob Heferen issued a fresh warning last week to small businesses that continue to be over-represented in the ATO’s $50 billion book of collectable debt.

Minister Collins urged businesses to use the ATO’s “Essentials to Strengthen Your Small Business” website, featuring more than 20 courses and a calendar of key lodgment dates.


“I encourage small businesses to take up this great opportunity from the Australian Taxation Office, which has been specifically designed for the needs of small business,” she said.

“This training will be a huge help for business owners,” she said, with the government committed to reducing the time small businesses spent doing taxes.

During the website’s launch in February, deputy commissioner Will Day said a variety of learning styles would be accommodated with videos, case studies, audio content and written information all available for business owners.

“It also includes tips on areas where we see small business owners make mistakes, like GST and business deductions,” Day said.

“We know that a lot of small businesses don’t have time to attend courses during business hours so the beauty of our new platform is that you can do it at a time that suits you, save your progress, and then pick it up again later.”

Minister Collins said the tax modules were “just one way our government is supporting Australia’s small businesses.”

Other measures included trialling the small business independent review, a service focussing on the early resolution of disputes of ATO audit decisions.

The independent review complements the review options under the objections process.

According to the ATO, the process involves independent officers reviewing facts and merits of audit positions to which small businesses have objected.

Reviews would be completed before any assessment or amended assessment is issued, it said.

Longer time limits for amending tax returns and greater access to free advice through the National Tax Clinic program would also ease tax administration workloads, the government said.

The push to help small businesses comes after Commissioner Rob Heferen warned last week that they were falling behind on tax debts.

In one of his first public appearances since becoming the ATO chief in March, Heferen told audience members at the COSBOA National Small Business Summit that of the $50 billion in collectable debt, 65 per cent was related to small businesses.

Of the debt owed, around three-quarters related to activity statements.

“This means a significant portion of the amount going unpaid is GST collected from consumers or PAYG withholding, withheld from employees pay,” he said.

“We are seeing an increasing number of businesses fall behind on these types of payments, from which point it is very difficult for businesses to get back on top of their obligations and remain viable.”


Christine Chen

Christine Chen


Christine Chen is a graduate journalist at Accountants Daily and Accounting Times, the leading sources of news, insight, and educational content for professionals in the accounting sector.

Previously, Christine has written for City Hub, the South Sydney Herald and Honi Soit. She has also produced online content for LegalVision and completed internships at EY and Deloitte.

Christine has a commerce degree from the University of Western Australia and is studying a Juris Doctor degree at the University of Sydney. 

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