Now for a BASic form

THE Australian Tax Office has lost a valuable source of intelligence with the simplific-ation of the Business Activity Statement.

As part of the changed format, businesses turning over less than $20 million a year will have access to a streamlined BAS, requiring just three pieces of information.

Instead of having to fill out 20 different boxes, businesses only give the ATO a report on sales, GST collected on sales and GST paid on purchases.

Some accountants believe the the old BAS’ complexity was driven by the ATO’s audit division’s thirst for information.

Small Business Development Corporation managing director George Etrelezis said the ATO had been asking for far too much information on its BAS.

“There was a lot of information being collected quarterly that did not need to be collected quarterly,” Mr Etrelezis said.

However, an ATO spokesperson said it would not be losing out on the information it was receiving on the old form.

The bulk of the information required from the old BAS will be remitted on an annual information statement.

And businesses turning over less than $2 million can choose to remit an annual BAS. Their quarterly GST payments will be based on 25 per cent of the previous year’s net GST amount, adjusted by a Gross Domestic Product factor.

Quarterly GST payments fall due on April 28, July 28, October 28 and February 28.

Those choosing the GDP-adjusted method will pay an amount calculated by the Austra-lian Tax Office. This figure will soon be available on a pre-printed form.

Where possible, forms will be customised to remove boxes such as Fringe Benefits, Wine Equal-isation and Luxury Car taxes for businesses that do not have such obligations.

The monthly BAS form has been simplified to just seven boxes. It is compulsory for any business turning over more than $20 million to remit a BAS monthly, although any business can choose to.

Businesses and superannuation funds turning over less than $1 million can opt to have their PAYG instalments calculated for them by the ATO.

The payment will be calculated by the Australian Tax Office using the previous available year’s income, adjusted by a GDP factor.

That move is expected to take about 1.5 million taxpayers out of the Pay As You Go tax system.

Federal Treasurer Peter Costello has distanced himself from any suggestions that the BAS and PAYG simplifications were a knee-jerk reaction to the Liberal Party’s performance in the WA and Queensland elections.

Instead, Mr Costello repeatedly told ABC television that the simplification was drawn from negotiations between the Govern-ment and business and accounting industry representatives.

Small business is waiting to see whether similar “negotiations” will bring about a reduction in the fuel excise and a change in its approach to trust taxation.

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