GST registration concerns

Concerns have been raised over businesses’ tardiness in

taking up Australian Business Numbers.

Up to the Christmas period only 95,000 businesses had registered for the ABN. The Australian Tax Office expects a total of 2.3 million to register.

There have, however, been reports of an upsurge in registrations post-Christmas.

The ABN is a crucial part of GST registration.

It is also pivotal to the Federal Government’s planned single

window to government, where a business need only supply

information to government once.

Combined Small Business Associations of WA president Oliver Moon said the GST appeared to be in the too hard basket for a lot of small businesses.

“In general, small businesses tend to leave things till the last minute,” Mr Moon said.

Fallon Group director Tony Ince said the concern was that business seemed to be ignoring the whole GST issue.

“I think there will be a significant number of business liquidations after 1 July,” Mr Ince said.

“That will not be due to the GST but rather the lack of preparation for it,” he said.

Small Business Development Corporation managing director George Etrelezis said the SBDC’s November survey showed small businesses were nowhere near ready for the GST.

However, turnouts to GST seminars co-hosted by the ATO and the SBDC showed small businesses were keen to learn about the new tax regime.

Mr Etrelezis said enquiries to the SBDC’s GST transition centre had increased from seventy-five a week to 500 a week.

He said the Federal Government would be giving out $200 vouchers to help small businesses become GST compliant this month. But these will only be available to GST-registered businesses.

Mr Etrelezis said small businesses would find help drying up as the GST introduction date drew nearer.

“As we get closer to 30 June there will be a rush on printers as companies try to get GST inclusive invoices printed,” he said.

“By 21 October, businesses will have to deal with the new Pay As You Go regime for the first time.

“It incorporates part of the GST but is really a tax return for the business to be filed quarterly.

“Small businesses need to get systems in place to deal with the GST.”

Combined Small Business Association chief executive Rob Bastian said there were several things small businesses could do to make the transition to GST easier.

“The underlying thing is to get very close to your accountant,” Mr Bastian said.

“You must make sure they will be there when you need them.”

Mr Bastian said businesses should register for the ABN.

They should also check their invoices and make sure they are GST compliant.

“Business owners should think about their cashflow now,” Mr Bastian said.

“With PAYG, they will be required to remit tax either monthly or quarterly.

“They should also train themselves to identify input tax credits. This is something they should be practising now.

“Even their current lease – if it goes beyond 30 June – will have a GST component which is therefore an input tax credit.

“They should also look at their current contracts to see if the GST will affect them.

“A business owner should also find a single stream of information about the GST,” he said.

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