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Autumnal greetings from CGH Accounting Services. We trust 2022 is treating all our customers well so far. With summer done & dusted, we are into that busy, busy Autumn period. This is when things get done, isn’t it. We get organised, stock up and prepare for hibernating in winter (not a bad idea if you’re in Ballarat. Torquay is definitely preferable during the cooler months we think!).

Autumn’s a great time to get all your affairs in order, in the lead up to the End of the Financial Year, in June. So, get your paperwork sorted, and let us know if you need assistance at this pre-emptive stage. It’s prudent to be prepared early, so that we’re not all running around like headless chooks in June. Speaking of June, here at CGH HQ, we are still on track to have our smart new office (version 2.022!) up and running by then. We are super excited about that. See progress image attached.

One of the questions we get asked a lot is “Can I take money from my business?” The answer is not straight forward, but the implications of breaking the rules around this can be very serious. So, we thought we would give you a run down here all about using company funds. This time around we are looking at smaller enterprises. Perhaps next time we’ll talk about the ins and outs for larger companies.

This is an issue which is particularly confusing for business owners who are relatively new to the game and running a very small business, with themselves as proprietor and boss. And people assume you’ll already know all about stuff like this, right? But you don’t. Don’t worry, we’ll explain. If you have additional questions, get in touch, we’re here to help.

It mainly comes down to the nature of the business you operate, and its structure:

SOLE TRADER

If you’re a sole trader, it doesn’t really matter what you do with company money. You and your company are one and the same, essentially. A sole trader is entitled to ‘personal drawings’ from their business funds. Technically these withdrawals are taxable income and should be declared. Many new sole traders just use the same account they have had for years – their personal savings or cheque account. We do advise our sole trader customers to create a separate account for their business(es). This is better business practice, and also helps with accounting issues. But that’s a discussion for another day. Suffice it to say, you can pretty much do what you want with your company money if this is your situation. But do make sure you keep the account nicely in the black. Unexpected costs can crop up, and you don’t want to be broke and behind the eight ball and have your operations grind to a halt because you spent everything! Use your common sense with this.

LIMITED COMPANY

If you are a one-man band but running a limited company, things become more complicated. You are now two separate entities, as far as the Australian Taxation Office is concerned. Furthermore, you may be the only person in your company, but you in fact have three roles: director, shareholder and employee. All three get treated differently around tax time. Which means that taking money from this company is not so simple. Now don’t you wish you could go back to those carefree days of sole trading?

So, what can you do?

PAYROLL

Put your employee hat on and pay yourself! But you need to do it formally; officially. Run the payroll and attend to the pertinent admin accordingly. You should do this even if you don’t need to pay yourself the next month. As the director of the company, it is assumed that your salary will fluctuate, so this is only looked at annually.

DIVIDENDS

As the one and only shareholder (lucky you!), you can expect rewards in the form of your share of the business’ profits, yay. These payments are an after-tax benefit though, even if from previous years. Dividends should be issued pro rata to shareholders of course. It’s not difficult to juggle dividends and salary in order to be as efficient as possible – tax wise – and this will allow for optimal cash flow. We can help you achieve this. Talk to us today to find out how.

I JUST WITHDREW CASH; NOT FROM PAYROLL OR DIVIDENDS; AM I IN TROUBLE?

If you’ve been carrying on like a sole trader; re-living those good old days – you’re not alone – it’s common!

Maybe you haven’t organised structure around payroll and dividends yet. You were getting around to it, right? Best to get your friendly local accountants to sort this out. But in the meantime, you can call these types of borrowings ‘director’s loans’. This facility exists because your business was built by you, right? You paid for it – with your own money – so the company owes you.

This is all well & good; however, what if you actually spend all the company’s money and more – and you wind up owing it? From the ATO’s perspective, you have taken a spin down company money highway without travelling through tax central, and they’re not happy. They want you to stop and buy a coffee there, at least!

If this has happened to you, it’s best that you speak to us; it can be sorted out fairly easily usually. Basically, you will have to pay back the business, and possibly something to the tax office, but we’ll see what we can do to make the latter payment as painless as possible.

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