Under a new ATO plan, small business owners who are battling mental health issues may be allowed to delay some tax debts.

The Australian Taxation Office has released a new mental health plan that is designed to reduce the stress felt by small business owners at tax time.

As part of the plan, small business owners with mental health difficulties may be able to restructure or defer some tax payments.

Small business ombudsman Kate Carnell welcomed the initiative, saying that one in four Australians will experience mental health problems at some point in their lives.

“For small business people, conditions such as anxiety and depression can often be compounded by the pressures they’re facing at work, and can significantly affect their ability to run their enterprise and meet their various obligations, including tax and super contributions,” she said.

“Faced with these circumstances, tax time can become an incredibly stressful period, so it’s vital there are mechanisms in place that take this into account.”

Ms Carnell said that some business owners are fearful of telling the ATO about their financial problems, which can make their problems worse and affect their mental health.