Witching hour change haunts businesses

BUSINESSES such as nightclubs, twenty-four hour petrol stations and delicatessans face a potential nightmare at midnight on 30 June.

As June slides into July, a myriad of price and tax changes come into effect with the advent of the GST and the New Tax System.

Several submissions are currently before the Australian Taxation Office to have the changeover delayed.

Currently, the GST changes are expected to come into effect the moment 1 July begins.

The hotel industry is probably under the most pressure from the changeover.

This year 30 June is a Friday, one of the industry’s busiest nights.

Australian Hotels Association WA Branch executive director Bradley Woods said having the GST start as the clock ticked over to 1 July would be a disaster for the industry.

“You can’t close down a hotel at midnight and ask the patrons to wait for an hour while the tills are reprogrammed,” Mr Woods said.

“We have to do a stocktake prior the GST and a lot of our prices are going to change.”

The stocktake is necessary so tht businesses can recoup wholesale sales tax.

Beer currently attracts an excise at its point of manufacture plus a WST.

With the GST, the WST will disappear but the excise will nearly double.

In addition, there is a service component added to the cost of a pub-drawn beer.

Wine will begin to attract the wine equalisation tax, while losing its WST component. Spirits, too, will lose their WST component.

“There are a myriad of changes that will have big implications on the industry,” Mr Woods said.

Mr Woods is confident the ATO will take a commonsense approach to the problem.

The AHA has put a submission to the ATO asking for the GST to take effect from the time a hotel closes its doors.

Therefore, a hotel would continue to operate under the old tax system until it closed. When it reopened for its next day’s trade, the GST would be in place.

Convenience Stores Australasia executive director Barry Anderson said the 1 July changeover should not pose too much of a problem for his organisation’s members.

Mr Anderson said most of his organisation’s members had computerised points of sales so the mechanics of changing

prices would not be technically challenging.

“We have had plenty of warning about the changeover and our members have done a lot of planning,” he said.

“It’s just a matter of changing the prices electronically and putting up signs saying ‘disregard prices on the shelf’.

“Then there is just the manual effort to change the shelf prices,” he said.

• Check Breaking News on the Business News website for further updates.

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