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Regulatory Roundup July 2014

SuperStream delayed yet again

The introduction of the new superannuation payments standard, SuperStream, has been delayed once more, with the introduction date pushed out to July 2015 for employers with 20 or more staff and to 2016 for smaller operations. The latest delay is seen as an acknowledgement that many employers still have a way to go before being able to cope with the new system. “We expect payroll software companies to offer upgrades to packages that will be SuperStream compliant. But any new system can take a while to settle down,” the Tax Office said.

Fair Work Commission lifts minimum wage by $18.70 a week

Australia’s lowest paid workers received a 3% wage rise from July 1, 2014 after a decision by the Fair Work Commission. Minimum wages increased to $640.90 per week, an increase of $18.70. However, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) executive Kate Carnell said the move would destroy job opportunities and hit SMEs the hardest. “There is this combination body blow to many small businesses who are hit with wage rises, higher superannuation at 9.5% from July and excessive penalty rates particularly on Sunday. Unfortunately, the thing that’s going to give way first is jobs,” Carnell said.

GST compliance costs hurt small businesses the most

Tax compliance is costing Australia’s 1.7 million SMEs about $18.4 billion a year, according to new research from the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia (ICAA). The ICAA study showed the average gross tax compliance cost for SMEs is around $12,000 per business each year – a significant increase since its last major study of tax compliance costs in 1995. The data indicated that the GST compliance costs in Australian small businesses comprises 58% of their total internal compliance costs, if compared to 40% for South African, British and Canadian small businesses.

Division 7A “biggest tax headache” for small businesses, say tax experts

Since the anti-avoidance measure Division 7A was introduced in the 1990s, the rules have become increasingly complex over time in order to cover more situations where companies continued to distribute profits through the use of advances, loans, extending credit and other forms of payment to duck their tax obligations. Industry experts say that it is the now very complex Division 7A tax regulations that are behind the more expensive tax compliance costs for Australian small businesses. Taxpayers Australia’s head of tax Mark Chapman has called for a simplification of the law to clarify current provisions.

Head of Treasury’s call to increase payroll taxes attracts ire of businesses

Business groups have slammed Federal Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson’s suggestion that payroll taxes should be increased after he decried state governments for becoming so reliant on the federal government for revenue that they ran “very poorly what are for the most part very good tax bases”. ACCI acting chief executive Burchell Wilson said the payroll tax should be abolished instead of extended to “struggling small businesses” and called it a “highly inefficient tax” that is “levied without regard to capacity to pay”.

Commercialisation Australia still considering pre-March 21 applications

If you got in before March 21 with submitting your application for a Commercialisation Australia grant, you are in luck. Although the incentive was abolished in the recent Federal Budget and is no longer accepting new applications, companies that submitted their applications before March 21 are still having their applications assessed. That being said, the pool is a lot tighter and there is less money in the round – leading to tough competition between existing applicants and no opportunity for reconsideration if unsuccessful.

Payment times between businesses slowest since 2011

Dun and Bradstreet’s Trade Payments Analysis for the first quarter of 2014 has revealed that trade suppliers are the most vulnerable to late or missed payments. If unable to pay all of their expenses on time, 48% of businesses surveyed would opt not to pay their trade suppliers. The analysis said that while first quarter payments are typically slow due to the lagging impact from reduced summer trading, this year’s slowdown is the most pronounced since 2011. The forestry sector has been the slowest at 59.4 days, followed by the mining and retail sectors at 58 days respectively.

Fair Work Ombudsman debunks workplace myths

The Fair Work Ombudsman has highlighted three workplace myths that employers mistakenly believe when it comes to their employees:

  • Myth 1: Employees can be terminated when they reach retirement age.
  • Myth 2: Only full-time and part-time employees can request flexible working arrangements under the National Employment Standard.
  • Myth 3: Employees can be made to take annual leave instead of working out their notice of termination.

Crowdfunding could solve small business capital raising issues: CAMAC report

The Corporations and Market Advisory Committee (CAMAC) has called for the government to take steps to make it easier for businesses to raise capital through online crowdfunding platforms. At present, the option to raise capital through crowdfunding is generally only available to wholesale investors with more than $2.5 million in investable assets or annual earnings of around $250,000. CAMAC said promoting crowdsourced equity funding would help promote productivity and economic growth, as well as keep entrepreneurs in Australia who might otherwise choose to establish their businesses elsewhere.

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