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Taxman means well by visits

SMALL business mistrust of visits from Australian Tax Office field officers to help them understand the GST may be misplaced.

Combined Small Business Associations of WA president Oliver Moon said small business owners had an ongoing mistrust of the tax office “cemented by years of experience”.

“However, these field officers are there to help small businesses cope with the transition to the GST,” Mr Moon said.

Commissioner of taxation Michael Carmody has guaranteed the GST visits are purely educational and completely separate from any income tax or compliance work.

The tax office sees more value in a smooth transition to the new tax regime.

In an address to the American Club Mr Carmody said as evidence of the tax office’s commitment he was transferring funds to the Ombudsman’s office to provide two positions to deal with any complaints people may have in connection with the ATO’s implementation and administration of the GST.

“People who do not believe we have met my commitment on advisory visits will be able to take that up with the Ombuds-man,” Mr Carmody said.

Combined Small Business Associations of Australia executive director Rob Bastian said Mr Carmody told him that if any of the new field officers carried information gleaned from their visits to other tax activities, they would be sacked.

Small Business Development Corporation managing director George Etrelezis said the tax office had some 300 field officers planned for WA.

“The SBDC and our Business Enterprise Centre networks are hosting ninety-five of more than 1,000 GST seminars that will be held in Australia this financial year,” Mr Etrelezis said.

“We had 249 people attend the first seminar and 172 people at the second.”

The GST seminars are free and will be held in every region in WA.

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