The Tax Institute and the Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA), will host a roundtable meeting in May to develop a better definition of small businesses for tax and legal purposes. Why is this important?
Academically, it is crucial to be able to classify and define subjects in order for future research. Taxonomy in the natural sciences is important because it allows for the identification, name and classification of organisms. This will allow for improved measurement in future research. The problem with small business research lies in the lack of consensus on how to classify and define this type of organization.
There are many ways to define small- to medium-sized businesses around the globe. In many regions of Asia, a small business means a company with fewer than 50 employees. It is a business that employs fewer than 50 people and has a turnover below EUR10million annually. In the United States, however, a small business is define as one with less than 500 employees.
Researchers trying to compare businesses from different countries face significant difficulties due to the wide range of small business classifications.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, a small business is one that employs less than 20 people. The business will be operate and own by the owner. Owner-managers of the business will often be the main decision makers. They will contribute to and control all or most the company’s operating capital.
There are many types of small businesses. Micro-businesses with less than five employees are also recognize by the ABS. This allows us to separate them into those that employ or those that have only the owner-managers working for them. Medium-sized businesses can also have 20 to 200 employees.
The graph below shows an interesting pattern in the distribution of such businesses across the entire spectrum of Australian businesses. The first is that the percentage of large companies with over 200 employees is lower than 1%. However, they account for around 35% of all employment. The rest of businesses make up 99%. They split into 33% employing micros, 33% small, and 0.5% medium.
This means that 96% of our businesses employ fewer than five people, and that the majority do not employ any employees at all. These micro-firms are not business organizations. They are entrepreneurs who want to make a living from their entrepreneurial endeavors. There are approximately 1.2 million self-employ Australian business owners who aren’t sub-contractors. The majority of them (79%) support their families through this business activity.
You might wonder why COSBOA or The Tax Institute believe it is important to create a better definition, given that the ABS already defines and measures our small business sector https://qqonline.bet/.
This is because, despite the ABS’s work, the way that small businesses are defined by government to different purposes is not related to the statistical agency’s classification system. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO), for example, focuses on annual revenue and not employment. A small business is defined as one with a turnover of less than 2 million dollars (excluding GST). The ATO may use “aggregated turnover” to determine whether a business is part of a group, or has subsidiaries. It may also consider the firm’s total net assets, which must not exceed $6 million.
Fair Work Australia (FWA), defines a small business in the context of employment as one with less than 15 employees, whether they are full-time or part-time. This definition allows the owner-manager to simplify the process of dismissing employees. The 12-month limit for unfair dismissal claims is not applicable if the employee has been working less than six months.