Support for federal Labor’s rollback committee proposal

CAUTIOUS optimism has greeted Australian Labor Party plans to simplify the GST requirements on small businesses.

And there also has been support for the establishment of a committee, comprised of members independent of the Australian Tax Office and big business, to help with GST rollback.

Labor already had announced proposals to scrap the quarterly Business Activity Statement requirement for small businesses as part of its GST Rollback election policy.

It has gone further by offering to consider extending the simplified accounting method to all small businesses.

Currently, the simplified accounting method has only been offered to food handling businesses with turnovers up to $1 million that use a cash accounting system.

Under the Labor proposal, all small businesses will have the option of using a ratio by the ATO based on their previous year’s tax remittance to calculate further GST liabilities, based on the actual turnover for the quarter but eliminating the need for the annual reconciliation.

However, Opposition Treasury spokesman Simon Crean told the National Press Club recently that a Labor Federal Government would only adopt the proposal if it would not cost revenue.

Small Business Minister Ian Macfarlane labelled Labor’s BAS proposal a “rip-off”.

Mr Macfarlane said the simplification would result in small businesses paying too much GST without recourse to reconcile their liability through an annual reconciliation.

Combined Small Business Organisations of Australia chief executive Rob Bastian said it seemed a good idea to have the ratio.

“We’re urging the Government to consider the ratio idea on its merits and benefits for small business, and not on the obvious political aspects,” Mr Bastian said.

WA Retailers Association chief executive officer Martin Dempsey welcomed the fact that Labor was looking to have representatives from outside the ATO on its rollback committee.

“If they’re serious about the simplification measures we would look forward to the scrapping of quarterly BAS and the extension of simplification,” Mr Dempsey said.

“I certainly agree the GST has increased the burden of tax on ordinary Australians.”

GST specialist Fallon Group partner Tony Ince said there seemed to be value in Labor’s proposal and a chance for much-needed simplification.

“But the devil is in the detail,” Mr Ince said.

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