ATO commits to supporting small ECEC services to be healthy
The Australian Tax Office (ATO) “understands that the pressure of meeting tax and super obligations can contribute to mental health issues for small business owners and offers a range of support to businesses who are struggling,” ATO Deputy Commissioner Deborah Jenkins said at a recent small business forum.
Ms Jenkins made the statement while present at a Small Business Mental Health roundtable forum, chaired by Senator Michaelia Cash, Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education, at Parliament House this week. The forum had the aim of demonstrating the ATO’s support for small business.
With 82 per cent of Australian early childhood education and care (ECEC) services being small businesses, Ms Jenkins’ statement is of relevance to those within the sector who have responsibility for superannuation and taxation matters for their employees.
“More and more small businesses are telling us that they are under stress. We understand that long hours, cash flow pressures, endless paperwork, staff issues and the blurring boundaries between work and family life can take a toll on mental health,” Ms Jenkins said.
“That’s why we are working together with organisations such as Beyond Blue, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO), small businesses and their associations as well as tax practitioners to develop initiatives to better support small business owners with their tax and super obligations when they are experiencing mental health issues.”
Ms Jenkins said the ATO had rolled out training for all frontline staff to assist them in understanding mental health issues, and showing empathy for taxpayers who are struggling, with over 5,000 staff having completed the training thus far.
The ATO, Ms Jenkins said, also offers a range of services designed to assist businesses to “stay on track” with their obligations, and manage any tax debts incurred. In 2017–18, the ATO negotiated 790,000 payment plans with small businesses.
“Payment plans allow small businesses to manage their tax debts and take the pressure off when other bills are due. But our primary focus in 2019 will be on early engagement and support before debts are due,” Ms Jenkins said.
Services to support small business include a small business live chat service and an after hours call back service, which is available Monday to Thursday. Small business owners can also subscribe to the ATO Small Business Newsroom to get information and alerts.
For those small business owners who may be experiencing mental health issues, the ATO has a collection of resources to support, which is available here.
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