Our small business wishlist for the 2017 budget

By May 2, 2017 September 10th, 2018 General Business, Tax

SMALL BUSINESS WISH LIST

It’s budget time just around the corner and with only 10 days to go we thought we’d arm our politicians with a wish list of requests for small-medium business owners. Shouldn’t be a problem for them as SME’s are the engine room of our economy, don’t you know? (or was that last year …)

We’ll start this list out with some realistic requests before finishing up with a few that are slightly more outlandish. We’ll steer clear of making any suggestions as to how to fund these changes though clearly it would need to be thought through a little better than the recent changes announced by Trump government in the US – trickle-down economics, anyone?

1. IMMEDIATE WRITE-OFFS

Up until 30 June 2017 small businesses can claim an immediate tax deduction for assets acquired under $20,000. This has been fantastic for businesses looking to invest as it helps manage cash flow by ensuring a matching deduction in the same year as the cash outgoing.

Currently we’re looking at the threshold plummeting back to $1,000 from 1 July 2017. Our request would be to leave the threshold where it is at $20,000 and lock it in place so that it doesn’t get changed every two years. Giving business owners consistency is important for stability and planning, so leave it alone!

2. CHANGE THE DEFINITION OF SMALL BUSINESS

For the purposes of both the income tax rules around depreciation, immediate write-offs, prepaid expense deductions, etc. as well as for capital gains purposes (the small business CGT concessions) we’d like to suggest that our leaders actually agree on a definition for small business and stick with it.

The threshold has been largely defined as $2million in turnover for many years now. The Turnbull government have spoken about increasing this to $10million in recent years. We’d like to request, on behalf of small business owners everywhere, that this definition actually be increased from $2million to $10million as at 1 July 2017.

3. LEAVE THE COMPANY TAX RATE ALONE, CUT PERSONAL RATES INSTEAD

As anyone with a passing understanding of the Australian tax system knows, company tax paid is, broadly speaking, simply personal tax paid in advance. Company pays tax today then passes along as tax credits to shareholders tomorrow. Dropping the company tax rate will, yes, provide a short-term cash flow boost to profitable companies, but ultimately doesn’t change the amount of tax paid by the owners of the company because it means less to pass through as franking credits.

Ultimately dropping the company tax rate only really benefits foreign owners of domestic companies because the franking credit acts as a final tax so if the rate drops then the amount of tax the foreign owner pays also drops.

What could really drive change in the economy is reducing the personal tax rates to make them more competitive with rates in comparable economies around the world. Food for thought.

4. GET RID OF PAYROLL TAX

Sure, this is a state tax and not necessarily under federal government control, but it is certainly something that raises the ire of many business owners. There is an economic argument that it helps to fund state-provided services consumed by a business, but most see it as a tax on success and a major impediment to increasing payroll both from taking on new employees and from increasing wages for existing employees.

With different rates of payroll tax around the country it provides an uneven playing field for businesses to compete on. Ditch the tax and let business owners get on with things.

5. DITCH STAMP DUTY IN FAVOUR OF A MORE BROAD LAND TAX

This isn’t exactly one for business, but many business owners also own property so it’ll also be of interest to them. We currently have a system whereby you pay tax on the transfer of real property and this tax can add up to substantial sums of money – in Sydney the current average house price is $1.1million which would attract stamp duty of $45,990.

Stamp duty acts as a deterrent for people looking to move into more suitable accommodations (e.g. older couples looking to downsize) and generally acts to stop economic forces from deciding on the most effective use of land. If we could swap this instead for a broad-based land tax it would encourage people to live in property that most suits their needs and would help free up vacant property thus increasing supply and hopefully having a dampening effect on prices.

If you’ve got issues in your business you don’t seem to be able to get on top of, why not get in touch? Not only do we provide a full suite of bookkeeping and tax services here at Generate, but we’re also able to help with business coaching, strategy workshops, business plans and much more. You name the problem and I’m sure we can help.