Published on 01 Apr 04
by "AUSTRALIAN TAX FORUM" JOURNAL ARTICLE
One of the major issues facing small business are not the level of tax, not concessions but the costs of working within a tax system - the so-called compliance costs. These
costs are not a vote winning issue, they are not exciting, but they are real. All small businesses have to deal with new systems to collect GST, fill in IAS and BAS,
superannuation contributions and FBT. A simple tax return is now 14 pages. These tasks represent a cost to business for which the business is not compensated.
However, tax reform committees in recent times seem to have little regard to any of the reports commissioned by the Government since 1996 on reducing the cost of compliance (eg Report of Small Business Deregulation Task Force Time For Business, and the Prime Ministerial Statement on 24 March 1997 entitled More Time for Business). In fact the 1998-99 Review of Business Taxation in its final report A Tax System Redesigned does not deal in any direct way with small business in its own right, nor does it analyse and adopt previous reports or studies on regulatory burden in any depth (though it briefly refers to 'Time for Business').
The paper argues that as a result of a failure to duly consider Small/Medium Enterprises (SMEs), the SME sector is the big loser under tax reform. The paper also briefly explores the possible ways forward for future reform processes to ensure that small business is not the major casualty of tax reform.
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