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ATO considers simpler BAS form

SMALL businesses may face an easier Business Activity Statement form by the time their next quarterly BAS is due.

The Australian Tax Office is considering feedback from quarterly BAS remitters with a view to modifying the form.

The majority of respondents to the Small Business Development Corporation’s Ready Response Network, a group of small business owners who provide an indication of sectoral attitudes, found the first quarterly BAS difficult.

SBDC managing director George Etrelezis said only 15 per cent found it fairly straightforward. Respondents said it took an average of 13 hours to complete their first quarterly report.

This represented a significant time and cost component to small business.

About half used an accountant to help them complete their quarterly BAS. In those cases, an average of four hours was spent on the statement costing small business operators around $600.

Even Prime Minister John Howard admits the form needs work.

He told Queensland radio listeners the Government would be “looking to see whether it can be simplified”.

Combined Small Business Organisations of Australia chief executive Rob Bastian wants the next quarterly BAS deadline extended by a month – perhaps permanently – because it falls due just after Christmas.

The next quarterly BAS was due on January 21 but the ATO extended the deadline to February 4.

“Accountants were hard enough to find for this BAS just gone and they’ll be harder to find for the next one,” he said.

“And most traders are going to be tuckered out after the Christmas trading period.”

Mr Bastian said the February 4 BAS would pose an additional problem for businesses because there would be no Wholesale Sales Tax credits flowing through.

The credits refunded the WST businesses had paid on stock bought before July 1.

“Those credits made most of the quarterly BASs positive. Next time around that might not be the case,” Mr Bastian said.

According to the SBDC’s ready response network, small businesses expect the BAS process to become easier over time.

Those who have already completed monthly BASs support this sentiment.

Two thirds of them found their last BAS somewhat easier than their first and said it took less time to complete.

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