Regulatory Roundup – January 2013

No action on GST threshold, for now

The government has ruled out lowering the goods and services tax (GST) threshold for imported goods in the near future with no final decision on the matter, despite Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury signalling that the $1,000 threshold was “very high” compared with overseas. The government accepted most recommendations from a Treasury Taskforce report that examined long-held grievances about the threshold and outlined the steps it would take in the lead up to a final decision this year – likely to be after the next election.


Changes to the Privacy Act to benefit SMEs

Changes to the Privacy Act that better protect people’s personal information, simplify credit reporting arrangements and give new enforcement powers to the Privacy Commissioner will have broad ramifications for small businesses. A key change that will result from the Privacy Act passing Parliament is that additional information will be able to be listed on consumer credit reports – including account payment information prior to default. Previously, a credit report could only include details, credit inquiries and “negative” data such as defaults, court judgements and bankruptcies.


Low take-up of grants could lie behind slow growth of businesses

Australian start-ups are failing to capitalise on government grants, which may be one of the reasons behind their failure to scale up, according to new research co-authored by Deloitte Private. This showed that only 39% of respondents had applied for some kind of grant. A few of the many government grants on offer are as below:

  • New Plant Products program – provides funding for the development of new industries based on plants or plant products that have commercial potential
  • Experienced Executives assistance scheme – provides up to $350,000 over two years to smaller innovative companies to engage a professional to ensure a new product, process or service is successfully launched
  • New Enterprise Incentive Scheme – provides eligible job seekers who are interested in starting a small business with training, business advice, mentoring and ongoing income support
  • LPG Vehicle Scheme – provides grants for the LPG conversion of a registered motor vehicle or the purchase of a new vehicle fitted with LPG prior to first registration
  • Proof of Concept – provides successful applicants with grants from $50,000 to $250,000 to test the commercial viability of a product, process or service
  • Researchers in Business – supports the placement of researchers into businesses to help develop and implement new ideas


Free DVD and resource kit for stressed out businesses

With the support of the ATO’s Small Business Assistance Program, a DVD and resource kit has been developed by the University of Tasmania that is designed to help small business owners and managers cope with stress and anxiety pressures, or at least be better prepared should these issues arise in the workplace. The free DVD and kit are available to business owners or managers, from sole traders to employers of up to 200 staff, who register with the “Business in Mind” research project. To find our more, or to register online, visit


Revealed: The top red tape tanglers

The fifth annual “Red Tape Survey” from the NSW Business Chamber, conducted over August and September of 2012, has the ATO leading the field of “red tape offenders”, with 40% of businesses surveyed indicating they spend more than five hours per week on regulatory compliance (an increase of 5% on last year) and 33% spending more than $10,000. After the ATO, local councils came in as the second-most red tape driven level of government (57.4%). Safety regulator WorkCover was also ranked in the top five, as well as the Fair Work Commission and Centrelink.


Changes to anti-avoidance rules likely to catch out many businesses

The government’s changes to the general anti-avoidance rules have raised the ire of the wider business community, who argue that the changes broaden the circumstances in which the anti-avoidance rules can apply and give the ATO too much power in applying them. Industry bodies said businesses will now need strong evidence about their reason for entering into a particular transaction and advised them to have documentation describing the reasons and purpose of each step of a transaction, and why they determined not to proceed with the alternatives.


ATO provides support for bushfire-affected businesses

People with a business or residential address in postcodes affected by the bushfire disaster will not need to apply for a deferral of their tax obligations as it will happen automatically, according to the ATO. For people in postcodes affected by the disaster, the ATO is providing further support by:

  • fast tracking their refunds
  • giving people extra time to pay debts
  • deferring lodgement and payment dates for activity statements (excluding large pay-as-you-go withholders), and
  • helping to reconstruct tax records where documents have been destroyed.


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