Audit fears dog BAS date

SOME small businesses claiming refunds on their Business Activity Statements are likely to get a visit from the Australian Tax Office.

This is growing concern among the small business community as Friday’s deadline for most to have their BAS in nears.

Some tax agents have been given until November 30 to remit up to 50 per cent of their clients’ BAS remittances.

An ATO spokesman said rumours that it would conduct audits of businesses claiming a refund on their BASs were unfounded.

“Where a business’ refund claims look anomalous, we will check it out,” the spokesman said.

“It may be fixed by a phone call or a letter.”

The refund anomalies seem to be centred on Wholesale Sales Tax refund claims.

Fallon Group director Tony Ince said the ATO had been quite open about keeping a close eye on WST refund claims.

In New Zealand, the error rate on WST claims was about 64 per cent.

“I know the ATO is going to see a lot of clients with an anomalous BAS,” Mr Ince said.

One of his company’s clients, which remits its BAS monthly, received a visit from the ATO because its two statements contradicted each other.

“One visit picked up the error and fixed it,” Mr Ince said.

“We’ve had a number of clients in a net credit BAS situation and they have not had an audit.”

Combined Small Business Associations of Australia chief executive Rob Bastian said he found it hard to believe an audit would be necessary when most small businesses relied on their accountants to produce their BAS.

Mr Bastian said problems with the BAS could be the final straw for small businesses struggling with compliance issues.

“The Government is not keeping its promises. The tax system is not as simple as it said it would be and we’ve not had the 50 per cent reduction in red tape the Government promised,” he said.

“I don’t think small business is getting a fair go.

“From day one the ATO has told us it will treat small businesses reasonably.

“If the ATO’s treatment of small businesses is judged to be hard, there will be an explosion.”

Mr Bastian said many small business operators were struggling with the BAS.

“Some people are putting an extraordinary amount of effort into getting their BAS right,” he said.

“It’s not a simple matter of getting an invoice from the phone company and typing a few numbers in.

“There are glaring inconsistencies in some of the BAS instructions.

“Small business has turned itself inside out to get this right.

“I get the feeling the Government is still in denial over the issues we’ve been raising.”

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