The end of the financial year is fast approaching, a time that many small business owners find a little daunting, as they don’t have the resources to devote to this important task, or (eek!) haven’t got their books in order throughout the year.

We often find that SMEs rush through their returns as a result, which means deductions are missed, or they claim for things that aren’t relevant or appropriate… Which can ultimately lead to queries from the Australian Tax Office (ATO).

What is meant by a ‘claim’ at tax time?

Firstly, let’s delve into what claiming means in the context of small business.

Essentially it’s a deduction on your company’s tax for the financial year. This means you inevitably pay less tax, as a portion of the income you earned before tax was reinvested into your company.

So, what can you claim?

According to the ATO: You can claim a tax deduction for most expenses you incur in carrying on your business, if they are directly related to earning your assessable income.

So, if you can prove there’s a direct link between the expenses you incurred and the operation of your business, they might be claimable as a deduction.

For small business owners examples may include:

  • The products or services you need to purchase to service your clients and customers.
  • The depreciation on equipment or machinery you use in your business.
  • The rent you pay for your office or co-working space, and furniture you purchase for it.
  • Electricity and gas that’s required for your office, equipment and machinery.
  • Subscriptions, such as to customer management tools, the accounting and bookkeeping software that you use for invoicing, payroll and so forth
  • Stationary and other supplies of this nature.
  • Travel expenses.
  • Staff wages and payroll.

Creative and marketing

If you’re a graphic designer, run a marketing or social media agency, or create products such as art or jewellery, examples of what you could claim include subscriptions to design programs, social media management platforms and e-commerce providers, and the tools you use to fulfil client services, such as laptops, monitors, paint brushes and machinery.

Access our free download Achieving Financial Success In The Creative Industries: A Guide for more helpful insights.


Examples for healthcare SMEs may include patient and practice management tools, the costs you incur when travelling to visit those you care for, and courses or training you purchase to remain up to date with the latest developments in, and changes to, your specific profession.

Check out our resource, Embracing Tech in Healthcare: How It Can Help You Take Control of Your Numbers for further sector specific tips.


Things that may be claimable include the cost, repair and insurance of the tools and equipment you use to fulfil your duties, licence and permit renewals, safety equipment and clothing such as steel-capped boots, and travel expenses, especially if you’re visiting multiple sites or homes in one day – such as if you’re a plumber, builder or electrician that carries out maintenance and repair visits to homes and offices.

What isn’t claimable at tax time?

Examples of this include entertainment – such as a ticket to a music performance, the theatre or the movies, traffic or parking fines, and anything you use in a wholly private nature.

If an expense is part business and part private related, you can only claim the business part for tax purposes.

Ensuring you claim the right expenses

What you can and can’t claim are many and varied, and will depend on the nature of your business and your situation.

This is why we always recommend looking to experienced experts, as they live and breathe these matters every day, and will be able to provide you with tailored advice.

The best option is to enlist the support of a bookkeeper, as they’ll analyse your profits and losses (or expenses), and prepare the relevant reports for you. These can then be passed on to your accountant, who will outline what’s claimable, and prepare and lodge your returns for you, ensuring compliance.

Ready to prepare for tax time?

Get in touch with our team today, and we’ll talk you through the next steps. We work with a range of experienced accountants too, and will provide you with referrals depending on your size, sector, budget and goals.

Simply book your complimentary discovery call here.

*The contents of this blog are designed to be used as a guide only. It’s always best to seek the support of an experienced professional when it comes to bookkeeping, deductions, tax time and more.


Ready to go from hot mess to flaming success?

You’re wearing too many hats in your business! So, put your hands in the air, and step away from the bookkeeping-hat. Let us wear the stress and boredom of compliance and accounting.


Ready to go from hot mess to flaming success?

You're wearing too many hats in your business! So, put your hands in the air, and step away from the bookkeeping-hat. Let us wear the stress and boredom of compliance and accounting with our remote bookkeeping services.