What small firms should be doing post-budget

14 April 2022 By Lauren Croft
Pallavi Sinha

Post-budget, small firms should be looking to adapt to the times and engage in more innovative practices, argued this principal lawyer.

Pallavi Sinha is the principal of Lawyers with Solutions in Sydney. Speaking recently on The Boutique Lawyer Show, she reflected on the recent budget announcements and the SME measures attached to them.

Among the biggest announcements for SME and boutique firms in the 2022 budget was that for every $100 a small business spends on training their employees, they’ll get a tax deduction of $120. And for every $100 those small businesses spend on tech, they’ll also get a $120 tax deduction.

These tax deductions are “pretty important” for small businesses, said Ms Sinha.

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“For my firm and other firms that I know of, which are trying to embrace the digital revolution, I think it’s really good that the federal government, and through the Treasurer, is recognising small businesses, and they do, after all, employ nearly 8 million Australians and often are referred to as the engine room of our economy.

“From my understanding, the 2021 Thomson Reuters legal market report actually said that there had been a decrease in firms investing in new technology in the last financial year, so providing some sort of rewards or ways to help business firms, smaller businesses like myself, to embrace digital technologies, is a good thing, I think. They’ve kept it for investments of up to $100,000, so again, for a smaller firm like mine, that’s reasonable. I don’t see myself going over $100,000 at this stage, so that’s a good thing,” she said.

“Also, the fact that they’re helping with the spending on training for every $100, you get $120 tax deduction, I think that’s also a good thing in terms of everyone wanting to skill up their workforce. I guess, the counter to that would be depending on the size of the boutique law firm, so if they don’t have a lot of employees and they don’t invest a lot in training, it’s not as relevant to them. But I think trying to build a blueprint for the future in terms of trying to get more firms to become digitised and invest more in training their employees, in whatever areas they see are important for the present and the future, is a good thing.”

The tax breaks in the budget also mean that business owners will not only be able to free up more of their time, but also potentially pass on savings to their clients.

“It makes a firm more competitive when they can absorb more costs or have some way in which they’ve been able to offset the cost and they don’t have to pass it on to the client. And on that note, I’d also mention the reduction in fees, such as removal of some company search fees, company annual late review fees,” Ms Sinha explained.

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“Sometimes, firms may have either had to bear this themselves, or they’ve passed it on to the client. In both of those circumstances, whether they absorbed it themselves or passed it onto the client, if that now can be avoided, then it can help them become more competitive and operate better in the market.”

Post-budget, smaller firms can and should be taking practical steps to innovate and adapt, Ms Sinha added.

“Particularly for someone like me who operates a lot as a notary public, and a notary public has to see people face to face, there is no option for being able to see clients via Zoom. But through that, you do find new ways of adapting and new ways of seeing clients. And that’s, I think what a key take-home message is, it’s about looking at new ways to innovate your practices and to adapt to the times,” she said.

“I’m sure there may have been firms who never used to have staff meetings via Zoom, but now they have them via Zoom. And who’ve been able to, in some ways, harness their employees’ productivity more by allowing more work from home arrangements, which were not possible before, or were not permitted before. Ultimately, we’re all looking at ways to increase productivity, and if that is helping, then that’s a good thing. In that way, whether it’s technology or looking at different ways of practising and then improving your competitiveness in the market, that’s what I think one of the key take-home messages is from the budget.”

The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full conversation with Pallavi Sinha, click below:

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What small firms should be doing post-budget
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