Basking in a small business spotlight

What a week for small business! Every day we seem to wake up to headlines on the front of The Australian and the Australian Financial Review that have small business at the centre of the political world.

After starting the week as a sort of political football in the Government’s push to get the mining tax through, a strange thing happened – politicians started to unveil real, meaningful changes to the way the sector operates and started to debate further improvements, particularly tax reform.

First we had the announcement of a federal small business commissioner. While we’ve received plenty of sceptical comments about this from our readers, we are choosing to be more positive – the more representation small business can get in Canberra, the better.

If we can have the new Small Business Minister pushing the sector’s views in Cabinet and the new small business commissioner pushing the sector’s views in government agencies, that is a great result. And a huge step forward from where we were just a month ago.

There’s even been some good news on who will receive the company tax cut, after the threats earlier in the week to lock thousands of mid-sized businesses out by blocking the cut – from 30% to 29% – for companies with more than $2 million in turnover.

The Government now appears willing to look at raising the threshold for a small business from $2 million to $5 million, something that was recommended by the Henry Review but presumably written off as being too expensive.

As well as increasing the number of businesses that could access the tax cut, increasing the threshold would also increase the number of businesses eligible for instant $6500 tax write-off for investment assets, which comes into effect for assets purchased after July 1.

Now today there is talk that the Government is open to looking at the creation a special small business entity that could cover the majority of the businesses in the sector without them having to incorporate. This would allow them to access big business benefits – such as a lower corporate tax rate – without the accompanying red tape.

It’s a really interesting idea and one that needs plenty of detailed examination and consultation, particularly with all this nation’s accounting bodies and tax experts.

I don’t expect this entity will appear soon, but it’s fantastic to see this idea being talked about – and, more importantly, elevated above the usual lip service that small business gets in Canberra.

How long will all this small business attention last? No idea, but let’s seize this opportunity for serious debate and real reform.

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