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Ripper’s tax cuts fail to impress business

THE Western Australian Government’s current $90,000 “nuisance tax abolishment” advertising campaign is nothing more than stating the Government’s compliance to the intergovernmental agreement signed in 1999 according to business groups.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Institute of Chartered Accountants, and WA Retailers Association say the Government should be doing significantly more business tax shaving.

The CCI estimates that WA businesses have been slugged with tax increases that, based on the past two budgets and the 2003-04 budget, exceed $600 million.

CCI chief executive Lyndon Rowe said while he was supportive of the changes, he felt a further 15 to 20 taxes could be shelved.

“The three main money earners are stamp duty, payroll tax, and land tax. There are still another 15 to 20 other taxes that in the longer term could go,” he said.

Mr Rowe said that the Gallop Government had hit businesses hard with new taxes that amounted to, on average, an extra $200 million a year to Government. 

The Institute of Chartered Accountants WA regional manager Con Abbott said he was pleased with taxes being axed but wanted stamp duty on general insurance and professional indemnity insurance to be abolished too.

“What we need to recognise is that the abolishment of these taxes was part of the intergovernmental agreement when the GST came in,” he said.

“I would be more excited if things like stamp duty on general insurance was going. People that take out insurance to safeguard assets should be rewarded. Stamp duty on professional indemnity insurance should go. I’d be more excited if there was a long-term plan to look at payroll tax but that is getting into wishful thinking.”

WA Retailers Association CEO Martin Dempsey said the addition of new taxes was worrying.

“We welcome the fact that stamp duty on commercial leases has gone but have to view with some concern the increase in stamp duties on the sales of businesses that they snuck through on Christmas Eve.”

While not wanting to be drawn the Government’s advertising of its erosion of “nuisance taxes”, business leaders spoken to by WA Business News were not confident that $90,000 needed to be spent advertising the change.

A spokesman for Treasurer Eric Ripper said the television and press campaign was necessary due to the late passing of the bill.

“It’s more information advertising and less Richard Court type advertising,” he said.

“The bill passed through parliament on the last week of November and many of the start dates for the removal of taxes was January 1. We had a short lead time to do any education.”

“You can’t make sweeping changes and expect everybody to know about it.”

He said the television and press ads were designed to prompt people to a dedicated website or hotline for in-depth information.

The spokesman said it was a low-budget campaign and had the timing been different it could have been cheaper.

“If it hadn’t of been the holiday season it might not have been advertised on television.”

Government records show that before the campaign had even begun 2,000 people had logged on to the website during a four-day period.

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