Tax reform for small business takes a step back in government’s “moral” budget repair challenge

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has designated repairing the budget deficit a “moral challenge” as the government pushes its budget savings omnibus bill into public view on the first sitting day of government – but help to small business is not at the forefront.

Australian politicians return to Canberra today and the Coalition is starting work on their $6.1 billion worth of budget savings over the next four years. The Budget Savings (Omnibus) Bill 2016 contains 24 measures for budget repair that it wants Labor to sign off on as quickly as possible, but promised tax cuts for small business will not be included in this first part of cost saving measures.

“The omnibus bill will bring into force Single Touch Payroll reporting from July 2017, which is a positive for small business, but beyond that this bill mostly contains savings measures in other areas,” CPA Australia chief executive Alex Malley told SmartCompany.

Measures included in the bill include lowering the minimum threshold for HECS repayments, changes to backdating for carer’s allowance payments and freezing the indexation of family tax benefits for the next three years.

Council of Small Business Australia chief executive Peter Strong says the government has the rhetoric right on budget repair, but he believes political leaders need to stop talking about plans to attack the welfare sector and instead focus on big business tax collection and job creation.

“If it’s a moral challenge to repair the budget, you have to pick up on the other moral challenges around that and how you actually act to fix it,” Strong says.

“The general population will look and say ‘good, you’re making the cuts’, but how about you spend what you’re spending better, especially around training and employment services.”

Treasurer Morrison will introduce the omnibus bill, after last week delivering the first of three speeches on Australian economic reform, in which he took aim at the divide between the “taxed and taxed nots” in Australia.

But while the 2016 federal budget focused heavily on the narrative of empowering small businesses and startups, the nuts and bolts of business tax reform still are yet to take centre stage and many of the omnibus measures instead making amendments to welfare payments.

“Like the rest of the business community we await the introduction of legislation dealing with business tax cuts. The glide path concept introduced in the Budget last May is far too long. It is not the step-change Australian business needs to be competitive,” Malley says.

“Meaningful budget repair requires more than just savings measures and must address the other side of the ledger – the need to engage in holistic reform of the tax system.”

The omnibus bill is slated to enter the parliament on Wednesday. The Coalition is eager to point out that all changes included in the document have been assumed by the opposition in their own policy costing documents. However, Labor has said it is waiting to receive all of the details of the proposed policies before signing off on the full package.


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5 years ago

We really need to focus on law changes that get large corporations to pay company taxes on profits that are generated in Australia. Both major parties need to take the bull by the horns. I was looking forward to Joe Hockey getting this done when he started talking about it but he was cut down by a lot of different factions. No-one else seems to have the guts to tackle the issue now. You cant leave the small business sector to do the bulk of the company tax payments.
Also I was appalled when I read how much the head of the ABS is paid. $705,000 is a pretty disgusting amount for a Government sector head. How this person is paid more than the Prime Minister is mystifying. It just makes me wonder how much wastage can be cut in the public sector.