GST plans explained

BUSINESSES should already have a GST implementation strategy in place, says chartered accountant and Entrepreneur Business Centre GST expert Anton Gaudry.

Mr Gaudry said large companies, with resources and budgets to match, began planning for the GST six months ago.

“Small to medium business should begin preparing for the GST now,” Mr Gaudry said.

Mr Gaudry said small to medium business may benefit from attending basic GST training.

“Unless you have a coordinated approach on how to comply with the GST, you may get lost in the detail of the matter,” he said.

“In New Zealand, many businesses that did not prepare for the GST went broke. Businesses should buy a GST implementation guide to avoid this pitfall.

“It is also advisable to hold preliminary discussions with an accountant or industry association on GST issues.”

Mr Gaudry said businesses were already being affected by the GST.

“For example, if a business enters into a lease for a company car, an office or a computer, and this lease continues after 1 July 2000, then GST will apply to the lease after that date,” he said.

“Similarly, if a business has an existing long term supply contract which continues after 1 July, GST will impact on this transaction.

“Take, for example, a recent New Zealand case. A couple who sold an $800,000 commercial property were liable to pay $80,000 GST.

“The GST could not be charged to the buyer because the sale contract did not have a GST clause.”

Mr Gaudry said the GST was not just about tax.

“It will impact on the whole of business – computer systems, administrative procedures, pricing, marketing, long-term contracts and invoicing will all change,” he said.

“As one tax specialist has commented, GST is only 20 per cent of the task – procedure is 80 per cent.

“Businesses will need to consider the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission pricing rules, tax invoice regulations and software upgrades to name a few,” he said.

Mr Gaudry said businesses should follow these basic steps:

• Identify a person in your organisation to handle GST. This person should attend basic GST training and obtain information on the GST

• Complete and lodge the ABN registration form. Determine whether the business must register for the GST system as well

• Conduct a preliminary review on how the GST may impact on the business. Focus on revenue items, purchases, software and administrative procedures

• Review long term contracts

• Seek advice on the GST transitional provisions. This is the most complex area of the GST and specific rules exist on the phase-in of the GST in July 2000

• Consider delaying any unnecessary expenditure.

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