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More work for less: GST survey

IT’S official. Small business complaints that the GST has had a major impact on their time and cashflow have been borne out by two surveys.

While most small businesses seem to have a handle on the new tax – especially those that dealt with the old sales tax regime – most have found it brought them reduced profits and more work.

A survey of 264 business by Patterson Market Research, claimed to be one of the most comprehensive into the impact of the GST on small business, found 58 per cent of respondents’ profit margins were negatively affected by the GST.

It found their workload for record keeping rose 82 per cent and for reporting jumped 81 per cent in the past 12 months.

This works out to an average $3,514 per year.

On average, the small business operators who responded to the survey spent 13 hours calculating their tax liability to complete their March 31 Business Activity Statement.

For 41 per cent of those surveyed there was the additional cost of employing an accountant or adviser to complete their BAS.

Small Business Minister Clive Brown said he was concerned about some responses, such as 68 per cent saying the GST had made the performance of their business worse and 71 per cent saying they thought it had made their industry’s performance decline.

However, 30 per cent said the regular collection and reporting of GST information gave them a better idea of their business’ performance.

A nationwide survey by CPA Australia undertaken by Worthington Di Marzio found that after one year of GST, 59 per cent of small businesses found the tax had a negative effect on their cashflow.

It also found 67 per cent of business owners found it had brought a significant increase in their workload, while 42 per cent said it created an increased workload for their staff.

The CPA survey found 80 per cent of small businesses had upgraded their record keeping procedures, 21 per cent had accessed training, 60 per cent had installed or upgraded computer hardware and 77 per cent had installed or upgraded software.

CPA Australia business policy adviser Judy Hartcher said the study showed the GST had a positive effect on small businesses’ management information, ability to monitor cashflow and on their bookkeeping and invoice procedures.

However, more could be done to capitalise on the benefits flowing from improvements made, she said.

Only 22 per cent of those surveyed felt their overall performance had improved with the recent tax changes, with 36 per cent stating it had a negative impact,” Ms Hartcher said.

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