Tax man here to help

WE’RE here to help.

As a famous lie this is the one often associated with the representatives of government agencies and bodies.

So it was that when Commissioner of Taxation Michael Carmody came to town to tell us the Australian Tax Office was here to assist us with the implementation of the GST, financial journalists treated the statement with a deal of suspicion.

However, the overriding impression we had when we left the presentation was that the ATO had gone overboard in its desire to assist with the GST.

It has set up a plethora of assistance schemes to help small business achieve order in their GST implementation.

There are a host of help lines covering the registration process through to the actual returns that need to be lodged.

In addition, the ATO will send a field officer, on request, to your premises to assist with the establishment process.

Mr Carmody stressed the field officer would not look at anything other than the GST implementation process.

He has even funded a position in the Ombudsman’s office to field any complaints from these field officer visits.

The Small Business Development Corporation is acting as a broker for these visits in WA.

A further departure from the ATO’s modus operandi is the launch of a ‘reply in 5’ procedure which ensures the ATO will respond to all queries on GST matters in five working days.

As if this wasn’t enough, the ATO is even giving away free software and workbooks to help cash-based businesses deal with the GST.

The ATO’s response to this massive change is to be commended.

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