Prepaying expenses before tax time

We asked an accountant for their tips for when to consider prepaying expenses prior to tax time.

At a glance

Here’s a snapshot of the article’s insights:

  • Prepaying for an expense relating to the next financial year could help reduce the money you pay at tax time.
  • Prepayments can be useful when purchasing insurance, assets under $1,000 or stationery in bulk
  • Remember that prepaying can impact your business’s cash flow – so consider if you have enough cash in reserve.
  • Talk to an accountant or adviser to see if a prepayment could suit your circumstances.

Ahead of the end of the standard tax year on 31 March, it may be possible for small business owners to prepay certain expenses before the new tax year begins. Prepaying expenses can be an opportunity to reduce your tax bill for the current year.

When, and when not, to prepay

Although making a prepayment means cash leaves the business in the short term, if the expense relates to the next financial year it could save you money at tax time.

According to Stuart Ruddell, Director of JBM & Associates Limited, the expenses best suited to being paid before tax time include insurance and rent.

“For most clients, I’d recommend looking at their insurance and requesting to pay six months’ worth at once, and also ask for a discount,” he says. “Consumables, such as stationery or small, non-stock items, and assets that are under $1,000 are also a good idea.”

“If you need to upgrade a phone, for example, and find one for under $1,000, then go for it. If there’s minor equipment you need to buy, that’s another good option.”

The farming and agricultural industry is a good example of the type of industry where prepayments can come in handy, says Stuart.

And making sure you secure an invoice in advance can be especially helpful.

“If you have any upcoming repair commitments on a vehicle, for instance, clients to source a supplier who will give you good terms,” he says. “Then request an invoice. If you start those repairs before the new tax year begins and claim those repairs this financial year, that can save you hundreds of dollars at tax time.”

This example assumes that cash flow isn’t currently a concern for your business, adds Stuart. He recommends considering the potential impacts on your business’s cash flow before launching into prepaying expenses.

“It won’t perfectly fit every business,” he says. “It really depends on your individual circumstances. Generally there are a lot of outgoing payments coming up to tax time, so you might want to consider if you have enough money in reserve.

Staying on top of cash flow and working capital is part of good financial planning and management.

“Any business owner considering prepaying expenses should meet with their accountant and talk about your tax and financial goals, so you can build an accurate picture of your business going into the new financial year,” says Stuart.

Stuart’s top takeaways for prepaying expenses

  • Do your research. “The number one thing is not to jump into it. Prepaying expenses still means you have to pay tax – because you just bring the expense forward. So make sure it makes sense commercially for your business before you start prepaying.”
  • Be tax-conscious. “Some clients pay tax based on estimated provisional tax, or wait for their accountant to tell them how much to pay. We try to get our clients in the mindset that every dollar they earn accrues tax, and to set aside the money accordingly.”
  • Talk to an adviser. “Talk to your accountant to make sure that it will be a tax deductible expense, because everyone’s situation is different. For example, sometimes an insurance prepayment won’t be possible to claim. And make sure your accountant doesn’t charge you for talking to them – it should be a free service.”

If you would like to understand these tips better or are unsure about how they might apply to you, reach out to a qualified tax adviser.

If you’re considering prepaying expenses, consider how a Prospa Line of Credit can help boost your cash flow. Contact a Prospa specialist today.

The information on this website is provided for general information only and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from financial, legal and taxation advisors. Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of the information as at the date of publication, Prospa, its officers, employees and agents disclaim all liability (except for any liability which by law cannot be excluded), for any error, inaccuracy, or omission from the information for any reason, including due to the passage of time, or any loss or damage suffered by any person directly or indirectly through relying on this information.

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