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GST collectors want compensation

SMALL businesses should be compensated for acting as tax collectors for the GST, says WA Retail Association chief executive Martin Dempsey.

Mr Dempsey said small business operators were being forced to work longer hours for reduced turnover.

“Small retailer turnover in the big centres was down between 5 per cent and 30 per cent in July,” he said.

“On top of the turnover drop is an increased cost of compliance.

“It is a bad business deal made even worse by falling consumer confidence and economic uncertainty.”

Mr Dempsey said his association had been working with the Queensland-based National Federation of Independent Business to devise a compensation program.

The organisations have come up with a sliding compensation scale.

Businesses that collected between $5,000 and $20,000 in GST, would receive a minimum of $2,000 in compensation.

Those that collected between $20,000 and $50,000 would receive 10 per cent to a maximum of $4,000.

From $50,000 to $200,000, the businesses would retain 8 per cent to a maximum of $6,000. From $200,000 to $1 million businesses keep 3 per cent to maximum of $8,000.

Mr Dempsey said the compensation was necessary to stave off the 15 per cent jump in small business bankruptcies expected to come from the GST.

“In New Zealand, business bankruptcies jumped 17 per cent when its GST came in,” Mr Dempsey said.

Labor Small Business spokesman Clive Brown said small business operators were spending massive amounts of time to comply with the new tax regime.

“Retailers say the Federal Government’s claim that it takes just 30 minutes a week to complete the GST-related paperwork is a ‘sick joke’,” he said.

Mr Brown said Small Business Minister Hendy Cowan had dismissed the concerns of small business people, saying in Parliament the Business Activity Statement was easy to fill out.

Mr Cowan said in Parliament that the introduction of the GST had been designed to reduce ongoing compliance costs for business.

He said there should be some real cost reductions for small businesses as a result of the GST, including lower corporate and individual taxes and the ability to claim back business input tax.

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