The federal budget is almost upon us once again, and the government has been dropping hints — and full blown statements — about what we can expect to see in the papers.
Here are six small business and tech measures we know about so far.
Tax breaks for greener farmers
The government is set to introduce additional tax benefits for farmers that generate revenue from selling carbon credits and biodiversity certificates.
In total, the measure is expected to provide farmers with $100 million in tax benefits.
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The tax credits are intended to play a role in the Coalition’s commitment to hit net-zero emissions by 2050.
In a statement, Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor the idea is to encourage more farmers to take part in — and earn revenue from — the Emissions Reduction Fund.
“The government is ensuring Australian farmers are rewarded for bringing down emissions,” he said.
Tax offsets for games developers
As part of the Digital Economy Strategy, a new digital games tax offset will offer a 30% refundable tax offset to Australian digital games developers.
The tax offset will be available to businesses that spend $500,000 per year or more on “qualifying Australian development expenditure related to the development of new games, or the expansion of existing eligible games”.
It will be capped at $20 million per year.
Draft legislation and an explanatory memorandum on this measure can be viewed online now, and Treasury has opened a consultation into the legislation.
Tax excise on draft beer
The government is also set to cut tax on draught beer, in a bid to ease pressure on hospitality businesses and help create jobs in the industry.
According to a report in Sky News, the move follows lobbying from at least 20 Coalition MPs, who have called for a 50% cut in excise on draught beers.
The size of the cut being considered has not been revealed. But a 50% cut would reportedly cost the budget about $150 million per year, and shave about $0.35 off the price of a schooner.
This announcement comes as hospitality businesses struggle to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and grapple with serious staff shortages.
An extension to COVID-19 write-offs?
Over the weekend, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was reportedly quizzed as to whether the government would extend the so-called immediate expensing scheme, introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic — and he didn’t rule it out.
It’s not a certainty that this will be in the budget papers next week. The current scheme is not set to end until June 30, 2022.
However business groups have called for the measure to be made permanent, and for eligibility criteria to be extended.
The scheme allows SMEs to immediately claim a tax deduction for the full cost of new asset purchases, with no limit on the value of new assets. It is currently available to businesses with a turnover of less than $5 billion per year.
Extra funding for recycling
The budget will pledge an additional $60 million to the Recycling Modernisation Fund, with the new funding focused on advancing recycling technology for ‘problematic plastics’ such as chip packets and soft plastics.
According to a statement, the funding is intended to increase plastic recycling rates and help keep plastics out of the ocean, by fast-tracking access to advanced and innovative technology.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said is “demonstrates our determination to invest in Australian industry, to growing the recycling sector and to creating a stronger economy and stronger future for Australia”.
The federal government is working towards a target of having 70% of plastic packaging either recycled or composted by 2025.
Cost of living relief
Last week, Frydenberg confirmed the federal budget would include “temporary targeted measures” to tackle increasing costs of living in Australia.
While he did not commit to extending the low and middle income tax offset for another year, the Treasurer did say the government will introduce “further measures to support families to meet the cost-of-living pressures, in a targeted and proportionate way”.
This could come in the form of one-off payments to low- and middle-income earners, pensioners and welfare recipients.