STATE taxes such as stamp duty and payroll tax are causing substantially more concern among business advisers in Western Australia than in any other State, a survey has found.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia surveyed 500 accountants nationally to identify key issues affecting small to medium sized enterprises.
Of the survey respondents in WA, 88 per cent said stamp duty was a major concern for SMEs, a higher response than in any other State and well above the national average figure of 66 per cent.
Similarly, 80 per cent of WA respondents said payroll tax was a major concern, compared with a national figure of 68 per cent.
Land tax was not causing the same degree of concern, although the WA figure of 68 per cent was still higher than all other States except NSW.
The State Government’s tax policies have generated concern across a wide spectrum of business groups, which have criticised increases in tax rates over the past three years and the aggressive application of tax laws by the treasury. Next week’s State Budget, the last before the next state election, is expected to feature tax cuts, most likely for first home buyers.
The survey found that the cost of complying with Federal Government taxes was an even greater concern than State taxes.
The ICAA’s SME spokeswoman, Sue Prestney, said it was alarming that 88 per cent of the survey respondents expressed concern about Federal tax compliance costs, with 56 per cent of them ‘extremely concerned’.
Specific issues causing concern include goods and services tax administration, the superannuation surcharge and capital gains tax concessions for small business.
Ms Prestney said legislators tended to focus on the big end of town, leaving SMEs to deal with the same complex laws and disproportionate compliance costs.
“What we are also seeing is that regulation impact statements designed to protect SMEs when new business regulations are being considered are just not achieving their objective,” she said.
Other concerns highlighted by the survey include access to equity capital, access to loans, workers’ compensation insurance and ability to attract required staff.
A positive finding for WA is that business advisers are more positive about the economic outlook in this State than in any other State.
In WA, 37 per cent of respondents expect a stronger economic outlook (31 per cent nationally) and 41 per cent expect no change (45 per cent nationally).
The biggest threat to the national economy was seen to be higher interest rates.
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