Small business big winner

The small end of town and investors were the winners from the Ralph Report into business taxation, says the Australian Society of Certified Practising Accountants (ASCPA).

“In an environment of major tax upheaval, the government has listened to the calls of small business to reduce the compliance costs they are facing.

“When small business was feeling it had been left to sink or swim, a lifeboat has been thrown out by the government in response to Ralph,” ASCPA tax director Angela Ryan said.

“Of particular benefit will be the Simplified Tax System for small business and the rationalisation of capital gains tax reliefs available for small business.

“We are delighted so many of the recommendations from our Small Business Submission have been recommended by the Ralph Review and adopted by the government,” she said.

Ms Ryan said that small investors are also winners with capital gains tax liabilities cut in half in some cases.

While there are costs, with the removal of the averaging and indexing provisions, there is likely to be strong endorsement for this change from the mum and dad investors looking to make a gain.

She considers other reforms will do much to improve the integrity of the tax system, including the appointment of an Advisory Board to advise on all tax law, not just business tax.

The additional anti-avoidance measures should also do much to stem the blatant abuse and contrived arrangements that are of concern to all political parties.

However, the government may need to be careful in drafting these changes to ensure that it doesn’t inadvertently tangle innocent little fish in the net designed for catching big ones.

The sting in the tail for small business is that the entity tax regime is to apply from 1 July 2001 to all trusts.

Ms Ryan said that the ASCPA were also disappointed that none of the fringe benefits tax reforms recommended by Ralph were adopted by the government.

The changes would have made the system more equitable for income earners on other than the top marginal tax rate, and simplified life for small business.

The ASCPA considers that, overall, the Ralph Report indicates a preparedness to listen to the concerns of small business and provide meaningful reforms to cut red tape and recognise the compliance burdens faced by the sector.

Small business lobby groups such as the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia are happy with the Ralph Review’s findings.

COSBOA chief executive Rob Bastian has long argued the compliance burden on small businesses has been too onerous.

Now, with the Ralph Review changes, some of that burden has been lifted.

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