Don’t be alarmed by visits, taxman tells struggling SMEs

From today the Australian Taxation Office will begin meeting with struggling small businesses in an effort to help them meet any future tax obligations, but it warns SMEs not to be alarmed. The meetings will be used to discuss how businesses are coping with issues such as lodgement, record-keeping and superannuation obligations. The tax office says it will offer information on the Small Business Assistance Program along with assistance with PAYG installments.

Assistant commissioner Greg Topping says the visits are part of the tax office’s response to the downturn, and that the office is “providing practical help to small businesses to assist them in meeting their obligations”.

“Tax officers experienced in dealing with small business taxation matters will meet with small business operators, personally, to provide assistance for those showing early signs of difficulty in meeting their obligations.”

But Topping says businesses shouldn’t be worried. “These visits are not a matter for concern. The tax office is using them to offer guidance to small business on solutions that may support them better in the current economic climate.

“No specific preparation is required. Visits focus on a range of taxation obligations and how the tax office can provide support for a viable business to remain on track.”

Topping says the visits allow the tax office to examine what type of support can be offered, including payment arrangements to help with cashflow.

“As another example, the Australian Government recently announced that… it would reduce by 20% the quarterly pay as you go (PAYG) installment due for the December 2008 quarter for eligible small businesses. We will be helping businesses to understand how this works.

Topping says the businesses being targeted for visits are those showing “early signs of difficulty”, such as delays in lodgement of activity statements or increases in debt levels.


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