Too Broke to Go Broke


Dear Scott,

I am one of those ‘bastard bosses’ you talk about — I am still about $40,000 behind on my employees’ super (including mine — I have not paid myself any super, ever). I am also going broke. After six years of trying everything to stay afloat, including selling all my personal assets, my company ceased trading at the end of last month.

Now I am trying to work out what the hell to do from here. By the time I liquidate what’s left, there should be enough to pay out the employees’ super, but there will still be about $150,000 in debt, mostly to the ATO.

I’ve been advised to hire a liquidator, to do things correctly and end up with more to pay to their super, but I have been told it will cost about $15,000. I know it’s all on me — but do you have any advice on what I should do next?


Scott's Answer

Hi Simon,

I don’t think you’re a bastard boss — you gave it a go and you couldn’t make it work.

Fact is, more than 1,000 small businesses go broke each week in Australia, according to data analysts Illion.

One option you have is to pay your employees their super, directly into their funds, with any money you have left.

As for the ATO, there are two ways to go: appoint your own (expensive) liquidator, or wait for the ATO to eventually appoint their own. And if it works out that you’re personally liable, then really your only option is to negotiate a settlement with the ATO, or declare bankruptcy.

My take?

The person who told you to see a liquidator was bang on. If you don’t, there’s a risk that you’ll open yourself up to even more trouble. It’s time to let the nightmare play out.