Western Australia’s peak business group has challenged both sides of politics to permanently increase the payroll tax threshold, hand over control of energy prices to an independent regulator and cut red tape for small businesses ahead of the March 9 state election.
Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA chief executive James Pearson said governments had become addicted to the increased revenue payroll tax provided, as the chamber launched its Vote 1 Business website.
The chamber has called for the threshold at which payroll tax kicks in to be doubled from $750,000 per year to $1.5 million per year.
“No political leader who wants to be taken seriously as the next premier in this state can afford to ignore the fact that the payroll tax is a tax on jobs,” he told reporters.
“The last time it was moved, a business employing up to around two dozen people a year was exempt from paying payroll tax. Now, businesses in WA employing only a dozen or less people are having to pay payroll tax.
“Small businesses in this state are actually putting off hiring people, denying jobs for young West Australians, because of payroll tax.”
The Barnett government announced a $128 million payroll tax rebate in the 2012-13 state budget, allowing small businesses with payrolls of up to $1.5 million to receive up to $41,250.
Mr Pearson said if the government wanted to relieve small businesses of their tax burden, it should permanently increase the payroll tax threshold.
Opposition treasury spokesman Ben Wyatt told WA Business News payroll tax reform was something the Labor party was “always keen to do”, but added that it would depend on budgetary constraints.
“What the last 10 years has shown in Western Australia is that the Labor party has always been a stronger friend of small business than the Liberal party, who tends to take the small business sector for granted,” he said.
Mr Pearson also called for the government of the day to hand responsibility for setting power prices to an independent regulator free of political interference, and said both parties would have to consider the “balancing act” of major spending promises and pressures on state finances.