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Sky Update – February 2023


The EMDG program is aimed at helping Australian SME businesses to develop export markets through promotion of their goods & services globally.

Specifically, the EMDG is a cash grant for expenditure on eligible export market development activities.

As the name suggests, the program operates to support exports of goods & services to international markets.  However, it also supports exports of intellectual property (eg software), inbound tourism and events.

Applications for Round 3 of the EMDG are opening at 9am AEST on the 15th of March 2023 and close on the 14th of April.

The EMDG is an eligibility based, demand driven program. This means all eligible applicants will receive a grant from the available funds.  However, the grant amount each applicant receives depends on the total number of eligible applications in the grant round.

If your business is currently investing (or planning to invest) in developing export markets, we recommend that you investigate eligibility for the EMDG.


Where a person works from home, they are entitled to claim a tax deduction for additional running costs incurred as a result.

These expenses include electricity and gas as well as items such as telephone and internet costs.

For many years, the ATO have endorsed a ‘fixed rate’ method whereby a claim of $0.52 per hour could be claimed for electricity and gas usage whilst working at home.

Other costs such as telephone and internet could then be claimed in addition to the $0.52 per hour.

With the COVID-19 pandemic driving a dramatic increase in WFH, the ATO initiated a ‘short cut’ method for claiming WFH deductions for the 2019/20 to 2021/22 years.

This method is based on $0.80 per hour and is all inclusive off all WFH costs.  Ie it includes electricity, gas, telephone, internet, etc.

From the 2022/23 year, the ‘short cut’ method will no longer be available and taxpayers can use only the ‘fixed rate’ method.

Additionally, the ATO has revisited and revised their position on ‘fixed rate’ WFH claims and has published Practical Compliance Guideline PCG 2023/1 on the 16th of February.

PCG 2023/1 explains the ATO’s new position on ‘fixed rate’ claims from 1 July 2022 onwards.  In short, the ATO will allow a deduction of $0.67 per hour which covers:

  • electricity & gas usage;
  • mobile & home telephone usage;
  • home & mobile internet/data usage; and
  • stationery & computer consumables (printer ink, paper, etc).

The ATO have also updated their website content with a simple, plain English explanation of the new ‘fixed rate’ method.

We note that the record keeping obligations remain largely unchanged and that those seeking to claim using the ‘fixed rate’ method need to maintain records of the hours worked from home.

Additionally, we note that the ‘actual cost’ method remains available both pre and post 1 July 2022.

If you would like to know more about the options for claiming WFH deductions, please get in touch.


On the 7th of February, the RBA Board met and decided to increase the cash target rate by a further 25 basis points.

This decision is the 9th straight increase in the cash target rate since May 2022 and has seen the rate increase a full 3% from 0.35% to 3.35%.

These increases are really starting to hit both households and businesses at a time where high inflation is also a source of considerable angst.

The RBA Governor, Philip Lowe recently fronted two separate Senate Estimates Hearings in the same week to answer questions and provide insights on what is happening with rates and inflation.

Governor Lowe made it abundantly clear that the RBA sees inflation as a big problem and they are focused on using rate hikes to reign it in.

In the statement accompanying the latest decision, the RBA has flagged that further increases in the cash target rate are likely in the months ahead.

In this environment, it is important that borrowers review their rates to ensure that they are getting a good deal.

Many lenders are offering competitive rates to new customers.  We have also seen several examples of lenders offering lower rates when they are asked to review by existing customers.

If you need help to review your interest rate and to assess your options, please get in touch.


From 1 February 2023 full-time and part-time employees of non-small business employers (15+ employees) can access 10 days of paid family & domestic violence leave in each 12 month period.

Employees of small businesses (<15 employees) will have access to the paid leave from 1 August 2023.

The full amount of the leave is available to employees upfront.  It does not need to accrue in the same way that annual leave or personal/carer’s leave does.  However, it does not accumulate and the entitlement re-sets every 12 months.

There are specific rules about when and how the leave can be taken, payslip reporting and notice/evidence requirements.

The Fair Work Ombudsman updated their website content on the 17th of February with additional information to help employers and employees get up to speed with the new rules.

Family & domestic violence is a very serious issue and it is important that employers understand their role in supporting those it affects.

We recommend that employers take the time to review the information on the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website to ensure that they are across the detail.

Additionally, employers need know how to respond appropriately to help affected employees to access the support they need.  A good place for employers to start is to check out the resources available from the national domestic, family & sexual violence counselling, information and support service – 1800RESPECT.

If you have any questions about the new paid family & domestic violence leave, please get in touch.


The Energy Efficiency Grants for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises Round 1 will open for applications at 10am AEST on the 6th of March.

Grants from $10,000 to $25,000 will be available to SMEs to cover up to 100% of eligible project expenditure.

Eligible expenditure items are:

  • an energy audit of a site/ part of a site;
  • purchase or hire of equipment to measure, monitor and record energy use or to monitor a process, where this facilitates optimisation or energy management;
  • purchase of equipment to replace existing equipment, where the new equipment is higher energy efficiency;
  • costs to decommission, remove and dispose of the old equipment that is replaced;
  • purchase of equipment or components to help an existing system run more efficiently in regard to energy;
  • design, and reasonable installation costs of eligible equipment, including any necessary wiring or other electrical work required to enable the project;
  • commissioning or tuning of equipment installed or modified as part of the project, and any related equipment that is affected by the project;
  • building permits or approval costs to install equipment, where required; and
  • the cost of suppliers, consultants and contracted labour undertaking eligible project activities.

The grant is ‘demand driven’ meaning that grants will be awarded on a first come, first served basis until the funding budget is exhausted.

As such, interested businesses are encouraged to look at submitting an application as soon as possible after they open on the 6th of March.

If you have any questions about this grant opportunity, or need support to apply, please get in touch.


Sometimes good quotes come from the most unlikely people.  And sometimes they are not the best examples of grammar and articulation either.

But….. they do contain some insight and wisdom that are worth taking note of.

This month’s quote is one of those quotes coming from the late Joe Strummer who found fame in the British punk rock bank the Clash.

Mr Strummer is quoted to have said “when you blame yourself, you learn from it.  If you blame someone else, you don’t learn nothing, cause hey, it’s not your fault, it’s his fault over there”.

In most instances, playing the blame game is not terribly productive.  Seeking to lay blame just gets in the way of taking responsibility for the actions that are necessary to create better outcomes.

If you don’t want to be a victim of life, you have to take responsibility and ask, what can I learn from this situation and do differently next time to get a better result?

Sky Accountants Ballarat

Phone: 03 5332 8855

Office Address: 902 Howitt Street, Wendouree, Victoria 3355, Australia

Postal Address: PO Box 2234, Bakery Hill, Victoria 3354

Sky Accountants Gisborne & Macedon Ranges

Phone: 03 5428 1400

Office Address: 45 Hamilton Street, Gisborne, Victoria 3437, Australia

Postal Address: PO Box 270 Gisborne Victoria 3437