The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is encouraging women to play a more pivotal role in the small business sector, which employs almost 70 per cent of the workforce and contributes $133 billion in taxes each year. 

    To mark International Women’s Day in mid-March, ATO assistant commissioner for small business, Judy O’Connell, highlighted a number of initiatives to help women overcome barriers to business success. They include:

    • Small business assist, an online interactive question and answer tool.
    • An app which provides instant smartphone or tablet access to Small business assist, tools and calculators, YouTube videos, answers to frequently asked questions, news and updates anytime, anywhere.
    • Assistance visits, where the ATO visits premises and provides hands-on advice on record-keeping, registering for an ABN (Australian business number) and GST, how to complete and lodge your BAS (business activity statement) on time and understand pay-as-you-go withholding, fringe benefits and capital gains taxes.
    • An after-hours call-back service you can book on 13 28 66 for a time that suits you.
    • The superannuation clearing house and super stream, so it’s easier to fulfil your employee super obligations.
    • The small business newsroom that provides tax and superannuation news and alerts.

    Currently, women in Australia earn around 17.5 per cent less than men over their working life, so the first disadvantage they face is lower levels of financial stability and, as a consequence, less access to “seed” capital to get a business underway.

    On top of this, there is balancing child-birth, child-rearing and family responsibilities with the dynamics of running a business. However, O’Connell said that women have very good time management skills, which are actually a huge advantage when it comes to running a business with limited resources.

    “The number of women starting and/or running small businesses is increasing, due in part to greater levels of independence than a generation ago,” she said.

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