Surveying 1,026 SME owners and managers, the software provider found SMEs spend an average of 84.1 hours a year on taxation compliance. This, MYOB said, equates to $6,778 a year for each of the estimated 2.02 million SMEs and non-employing businesses in Australia – or $13.7 billion a year across all SMEs.
MYOB chief executive Tim Reed said the government needs to better understand the impact the GST has on the running of a small business.
“If Australia is to have a debate on the GST, then let’s start with the way it is collected and reported. Let’s look at ways to ease the cost and burden on SMEs.
“The GST represents two full weeks where the owner’s attention is dragged away from the day-to-day running of their business. This is a significant drain on the productivity and profitability of SMEs,” said Mr Reed.
“If the government’s focus is on improving Australia’s productivity and reducing red-tape, then easing the burden of GST compliance should be a priority,” he added.
Mr Reed called on the Australian government to make a simple and effective reform of the GST by abolishing the requirement to provide additional information on GST-free transactions.
“We need to simplify the GST so that small business operators need only determine if a transaction is one where GST applies or if it is GST-free.”
“The need to allocate a GST-free code to each transaction results in uncertainty, confusion and compliance risk. It has nothing to do with the GST the company is required to pay,” he said.
“This reform would bring Australia in line with New Zealand where there is no requirement to report additional details about GST-free transactions, making it easier for small business to comply.”
Mr Reed said Australian businesses currently spend twice as long on GST compliance than businesses in New Zealand.
"A New Zealand SME needs 39 hours on average to comply with the GST each year, compared to 84 hours by Australian SMEs," he said.
“Removing the requirement to report and classify every GST-free transaction is a sensible and modest reform that could be achieved through regulation, avoiding a more difficult political path of negotiation through parliament.”
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