GST biggest hurdle

THE GST is the biggest challenge facing small businesses, according to the May 2000 Small Business Opinion Survey.

More than 40 per cent of respondents identified the GST as the top challenge to be faced in the coming year.

A further 14 per cent highlighted the cost of operating, 10 per cent are concerned about the level of consumer demand and 9 per cent worried about changing economic conditions.

Small Business Development Corp-oration managing director George Etrelezis said small businesses had a lot of preparation to complete before the 1 July tax changeover.

“There is a very tight time frame when you consider the GST legislation only passed through Parliament in the latter half of 1999,” Mr Etrelezis said.

The majority of small business operators expect to spend up to $5,000 and thirty hours preparing for the GST.

Mr Etrelezis said, to date, 67 per cent of small businesses had spent less than $999.

However, 40 per cent said they would have spent between $1,000 and $4,999 by the time the new tax was implemented.

Mr Etrelezis said staff time spent on preparing for the GST was also tipped to increase as 1 July drew nearer.

“Considering the limited time frame, small business operators have a lot of work to complete before the end of June,” he said.

“So far, 48 per cent of businesses have spent between one and ten hours on GST issues. The majority expect this to increase to up to thirty hours.”

The SBDC’s GST Transition Centre has already handled about 5,000 enquiries and staff there expect hundreds more as the financial year draws to a close.

SGIO Business Insurance state manager Garry Moore said, as part of GST preparations, small businesses needed to review their insurance to make sure they were properly covered.

The survey also found reporting and payment obligations were a major concern for small businesses – particularly those in the finance, property, insurance and business service sectors.

The second top concern was the new tax implementation cost.

A special GST luncheon is being held on 22 May with guest speaker is Parliamentary Secretary for Small Business Mal Brough.

Tickets for the luncheon are $25 and can be obtained by phoning Monica Klohn on 9220 0216.

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