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Local GST preparation lags behind

Perth businesses could be seriously underprepared for the introduction of the GST, a new survey has revealed.

The CPA Small Business Survey shows that Perth businesses have spent less than one-fifth of the national average preparing for the introduction of the new tax.

The survey of owners and managers of small businesses was conducted by ACNielsen Research Pty Ltd for the Australian Society of Certified Practising Account-ants (ASCPA).

It reveals that 49 per cent of small businesses felt they were GST ready, despite the fact that key operational elements of the GST are yet to be announced and the lack of educative information available to this sector.

WA president of the ASCPA Mr Ron Metcalf said the 49 per cent figure conflicted with the number of businesses that had sought advice, undertaken a review of their business operations, taken staff training into account or allocated funds.

“The GST is not just a tax issue,” Mr Metcalf said.

“It is an issue that has an impact across every facet of an organisation from sales to its suppliers. It is essential that education material be made available that addresses these whole-of-business issues.

“However, we are not witnessing the complacency we experienced with the Year 2000 issue. While there is a long way to go, small business operators are concerned about the GST and have taken the first steps to becoming GST ready.

Many small business operators will also use the introduction of the tax as an opportunity to upgrade computer hardware and software using the promised tax write-offs.”

The survey found that 72 per cent of the small businesses surveyed had not yet spent any money in their preparations for the GST. Of those that had spent money preparing for the GST, the average was $553.

However, the amount varied widely between the states, with Perth reporting an average of $94 compared to Melbourne at $1056.

The CPA survey reveals that, nationally, 39 per cent had undertaken a review of their business to determine the impact of the GST (34 per cent in Perth), while 36 per cent had sought advice, primarily from professional accountants (39 per cent in Perth).

The CPA Small Business Survey also found that 74 per cent of businesses stated they were confident about the business environment over the next six months (70 per cent in Perth).

This optimism is also likely to translate into jobs growth with an average of 29 per cent stating they will employ more staff over the same period (24 per cent in Perth).

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