Budget 2014: SMEs call for easier tax reporting

Few businesses succeed without support. Whether it is the support of friends, family, staff, suppliers or customers – all business owners appreciate those that assist them in growing their business, those who recognise their efforts, those who assist them with difficult decisions or those who point them in the right direction.

While I don’t believe it is appropriate in most circumstances for the government to offer direct support to any one specific business, I do believe they play a critical role in creating and nurturing an environment that is conducive to business success.

To this end, at MYOB we recently undertook some research to better understand what policies or initiatives that Australia’s hard-working small and medium business owners would vote for, in preparation for the upcoming budget. We surveyed 1032 businesses, from sole traders to medium size companies. The answer: to make doing business less complex, to invest in infrastructure and to encourage business investment. Specifically:

1.  Policies that significantly simplify the GST/BAS reporting process – 64%

2. More federal government investment in transport infrastructure in our major states and cities – 61%

3.  Keep the $6500 instant asset tax write-off in play – 58%

4. Keep the accelerated initial deduction for motor vehicles that allows small businesses to instantly write off $5000 on motor vehicles – 58%

5. Increased federal government funding for skills, training and apprenticeship programs – 57%

6. Government-backed loans to small business start-ups – 57%

7. The abolition of the carbon tax – 55%

8.  Increased government funding for innovation, research & development – 53%

9.  Provide free government-funded training to all small businesses on how to use the internet to enhance and grow their business – 52%

10. A proportion of government procurement contracts being assigned to small businesses – 50%

Time and again, business operators continue to call for tax reform, deregulation and reduction of red tape.

The significant level of paperwork and compliance required by the government is a common pain point and for a number of surveys now, simplification of the GST and BAS reporting processes continue to top the list of initiatives. With fuel prices always the top SME pressure point, it’s no wonder 61% would favour the party that proposed more investment in city transport infrastructure.

Interestingly, the abolition of the carbon tax has moved down the list to seventh from second spot, while government support initiatives – such as the instant asset tax write-off and accelerated deduction for motor vehicles – continue to increase in preference.

I hope to see the government devote more resources and funding to innovation, R&D, skills, training and apprenticeship programs – all of which have the potential to transform the economy. 57% of small business operators would welcome an increase in government funding for skills, training and apprenticeships, and government-backed loans to small business start-ups. 53% would support increased government funding for innovation and R&D. And in an increasingly digital economy, 52% would support free government-funded training on how to use the internet to enhance and grow their business.

At MYOB we actively support, recognise and celebrate small business and the contribution they make to the local economy. We urge the government and larger businesses to strengthen their focus and support, as we continue to strengthen ours. In this budget, the government has the potential to make a real difference to the growth and development of local businesses by focusing on the areas that underpin increased productivity. This has the potential to make a difference to our economy.

Tim Reed is the chief executive of MYOB.

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