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BAS changes ‘gone too far’

SMALL business has been heard, winning simpler Business Activity Statements and Pay As You Go tax forms.

Most accounting industry and small business groups have welcomed the changes but believe they should have been made sooner.

However, there is a feeling among some accountants that the changes may have gone too far.

And some small business owners believe the Federal Government’s move masks the real problem facing small business – the effect of the GST on their turnover.

WA Retailers Association CEO Martin Dempsey said the simplified tax arrangements were a “marked improvement”.

“But the Government hasn’t admitted the GST has affected the market,” he said. It’s sucked liquidity out of the market and been a blight on consumer confidence.

“The Feds have realised the GST is not a vote winner but there needs to be an acknowledgment of the reasons why. The BAS form is not solely the problem.

“The dollars coming in are down and when you have to do extra compliance work for less turnover it is pretty depressing.

“I’ve had to organise vouchers from FAL to help some small business owners keep food on their tables.”

Institute of Chartered Accountants spokesman and Barrington Partners tax partner Roger Sullivan said the BAS should never have been so complicated.

“It’s good to see after nearly two years of lobbying that the Government has realised the accounting and business lobbyists had interests beyond tax avoidance,” Mr Sullivan said.

Small Business Development Corporation managing director George Etrelezis said the changes vindicated small business concerns that the forms could have been designed better.

“No doubt after two BASs there was a clear cry from small business,” he said.

“The Government was asking for too much information on a quarterly basis.

“The extension of time on the remittance dates will be valuable to both small businesses and professional service providers.

“Our workshop on the GST will go from two hours to about 20 minutes.”

However, Fallon Group partner Tony Ince said the simplification had gone too far.

He said accountants he had spoken to felt allowing businesses turning over less than $2 million to remit annual returns was a retrograde step.

“The businesses that will take it up are the ones that were benefiting from the regular accounting disciplines imposed by the BAS.

“Those businesses had a spin-off benefit because it made them stay on top of their accounts.

“I fear they will go back to the old shoe box system and dump the lot back on their accountant once a year.

“This will increase accountants’ workloads because they will have to do two separate tax returns at the same time – one’s a transaction-based return and one’s income-based.

“I’m very concerned because Kim Beazley reckons the changes haven’t gone far enough.”

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