ABN takeup still a concern

THE Australian Society of CPAs is encouraged that more than half a million businesses, out of a potential two million, have already applied for the Australian Business Number.

There are serious consequences if businesses fail to register in time.

The comments come after months of widespread community concern that businesses would fail to recognise the urgency and importance of the new system.

CPA executive director David Edwards said the Society was particularly concerned that businesses would be slow to register and prepare for the new tax system and encouraged its 90,000 members to support businesses with the transition.

Mr Edwards said businesses that failed to register an ABN would be unable to claim back sales tax paid on stock on hand at 30 June, would not receive a refund of GST paid on business inputs and would be subject to a 48.5 per cent withholding tax on payments received from business customers.

“While half a million is a good result so far, we still have a long way to go and a very small window of opportunity,” he said.

“Businesses that fail to prepare in time run a high risk of not making the grade and surviving the GST.”

To help businesses get ready, the CPAs have called for funding for the GST Start Up Office to be extended until 30 June 2001 to provide essential services and a continuing information flow.

“We also want the expiry date for the $200 vouchers and the tax deductibility of GST expenses for small business extended until 30 June 2001,” Mr Edwards said.

“Deferring the GST start date is not an option. If we defer the start all we do is shift the problem to another date. We must maintain vigilance, otherwise we’ll end up with more of the same problems and business uncertainty, including extended buyer strikes.

“Instead we must do everything we can to help businesses with the transition now.”

The Society supports the Australian Tax Commissioner’s recent announcement that the ATO will focus on helping businesses get ready.

“This is the best way to help businesses prepare,” Mr Edwards said.

“Wielding a big stick is not the solution. The transformation to the new system is a major change and businesses need lots of support,” he said.

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