Tax

Billson flags tax admin changes to ease the burden for SMEs

Eloise Keating /

Federal Small Business Minister Bruce Billson has used a speech in Melbourne this morning to flag several tax changes aimed at easing administrative burdens for small business.

Speaking at the G20 SME Conference, Billson said the changes are part of the government’s ongoing efforts to reduce red tape.

Under the proposed changes, Billson said 32,500 small businesses will no longer be required to lodge business activity statements (BAS) when reporting pay-as-you-go instalments (PAYG).

And the reverse will also apply: companies filing BAS can take filing PAYG instalments off their check lists. Billson said this change will benefit 340,000 small businesses.

Overall, the changes to the PAYG instalment reporting requirements are estimated to save $56 million per year.

David Knowles, business advisory and assurance partner at Pitcher Partners, told SmartCompany the proposed changes are “definitely” a good move for the SME community.

“Most small businesses will welcome these changes,” says Knowles, who says the tweaks will ultimately mean businesses will have fewer reports to file.

Knowles says the companies who will no longer need to lodge BAS will be those that do not have other BAS reporting requirements, such as GST, but who still have employees and therefore are reporting PAYG instalments.

“The reality is there is lots of red tape in lots of areas and the only way to tackle it is to remove one regulation at a time,” says Knowles.

And from a business point of view, “the less regulation, the better”, says Knowles.

Billson has also hinted at other administrative changes, with News Corp reporting the government will double the investment income threshold to $4000, make changes to the balance of assessment threshold and remove the requirement for businesses to be registered for GST if the company has a zero instalment rate.

Billson said in his speech the government will encourage the take-up of Standard Business Reporting software, which allows businesses to funnel the bulk of their reporting requirements directly from their accounting or payroll systems, as well as encouraging the use of digital platforms for employees to send their payroll details to their employers, and for employers to streamline their payroll functions more generally.

Billson also referred to a “new single business service initiative to streamline the way businesses access government information and services”, which is linked to the government’s budget commitments to fund the Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman and the Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Program.

He said the initiative will include “a streamlined and consolidated one-stop-shop web presence, call centre and face-to-face business facilitations network to advise businesses on the most appropriate solution for their needs”.

Speaking more generally, Billson said “governments should do everything they can to eliminate obstacles for small enterprises”.

“Any obstacles to starting a new business – whether finance, registration or tax – should be scrutinised. If regulation is unnecessary, we should remove it,” said Billson, who said the government has particular interest in three ways of doing that: reducing regulatory burdens; improving access to finance; and facilitating employee share schemes.

Billson said small businesses play a vital role in the success of all economies and Australia should be proud of its SME community.

“Australian SME owners are optimistic, motivated, diligent and hardworking,” said Billson. “I applaud and encourage their continuing work and risk-taking enterprise.”

“When the mining boom in countries with large resource sectors such as Australia moves into a production phase, people will wonder what is next,” said Billson. “At this point, many will realise what we here already know, SMEs will be the ones to drive the economy.”

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Eloise Keating

Eloise Keating is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Eloise was news editor at Books+Publishing, the trade press for the Australian book industry.

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