Earlier this month, the government launched its new streamlined Business Registration Service, following its successful public testing last year, allowing businesses to apply for multiple business and tax registrations at the same time online, reducing the average time taken to obtain a business and associated licences to under 15 minutes.
According to Minister for Small and Family Business, the Workplace and Deregulation, Craig Laundy, over 140,000 registrations have been submitted since the trial version of the service was released in April 2017.
“The response from users has been overwhelmingly positive and we’ve used it to continue making the service even better,” said Mr Laundy.
“So far, we have made improvements to the payments screens, added links to Australian Business Licence and Information Service for state and local government registrations and licences; and started sending notification emails to direct users back to the dashboard for status of their registrations.”
Speaking to Accountants Daily, Kevin San & Associates director, Kevin San said he was supportive of the new system because it would ultimately benefit practitioners on the ground.
“I do support it because accountants use these services too and it is way too fragmented now where if you want to set up a company and ABN, tax file number, you got to do it in several different steps and different websites,” said Mr San.
“So if there's a new process that's harmonised and quicker, then accountants will benefit because we will use it for our clients.”
Further, Mr San does not believe the new service will detract the worth of an accountant in helping clients set up their own business.
“Anyone starting a business can jump online and start a company by themselves. There are quite a lot of online providers that can do that and to be honest it is not very difficult and most accountants use these online services anyway,” said Mr San.
“So for people who normally come to an accountant and want the whole package of setting up a company, I think what they really want is the reassurance of the advice.
“I think there will still be a lot of business people who will want to consult an accountant while they are setting up their company and there will still be people who be delighted to use an easier to use system but I think they are the people who would have struggled and bludgeoned their way through setting it up through the old systems anyway so there won’t be a huge change.”
However, Change Accountants chief executive, Timothy Munro believes that while the intention of the new service is positive, clients will continue to face roadblocks and issues in their application process.
“Unless a client both understands and knows how to correctly answer the questions to set up the business registrations, then the client could end up in a world of pain from the ATO for incorrect or misleading answers to business registration questions,” said Mr Munro.
“It suggests that it’s a simple process to apply for business registrations. But over the past 10 years, everything a client, who we have taken on board, has done themselves, we have ended up needing to fix.
“What are the protections for the client if any aspect of the registrations applied for by the client is incorrect due to misunderstanding by the client?”
Jotham Lian is the news editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.