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A Level Playing Field

by Jeff Banks

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Another day, another new tax year commences. I have been busy this week, what with the normal PAYG summaries, there is also the Building and Construction Contract Payments Reports to do and most of these have required site visits. Using my learner driver daughter as driver…

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Another day, another new tax year commences. I have been busy this week, what with the normal PAYG summaries, there is also the Building and Construction Contract Payments Reports to do and most of these have required site visits. Using my learner driver daughter as driver for one day I reminisced with her about the trials and tribulations of business as we relaxed at the end of one day watching the 2003 movie Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle from where this week’s quote originates:

Angels are like diamonds. They can’t be made. You have to find them.

I apologise now for what I might say in the short term as it may sound like advocacy for more red tape but there is a method to my madness. This time of year brings lots of compliance to business, there are PAYG summaries, BAS and tax returns and for those in the building and construction industry the contractor reports. Work for us, yes, annoyance for business yes, but there is an angel amongst some of these and that is the attempt to make a level playing field for all businesses.

The ATO with their data matching procedures should be able to make sure that all reported contractor payments are disclosed in a tax return. Sounds like a plan but for those really wanting to buck the system and where cash is supreme and both ends of the transaction are unreported the larceny will continue.

So the question is will this piece of extra compliance on business actually do any good in the pursuit of reducing the cash economy. Yes but not the extent I suggest the ATO have planned. What it does not cover are those tradies dealing with the public where for a cash price they will knock off the GST and then not report the income. This particular piece of extra compliance has absolutely no chance of catching those types of transactions, but it’s easy to make an already stretched business sector comply more in what seems to be a war on levelling the playing field.

If they were more ‘fair dinkum’ about the cash economy they would be looking at setting up a strategy TO make individual householders and renovators report on ‘cash’ transactions. Although I am not advocating it but perhaps they could start a series of sting operations with perhaps some elderly agents to attract illegitimate and non taxpaying, non appropriately registered businesses to weed out those who buck the system and make it so much more difficult for those of us trying to work with the laws to make a decent living.

If we all toed the line there would be no need for the mistrust and abuse of our taxation system and perhaps our overall tax burden per person would be less.
At the end of the day there is tax minimisation which is legal and there is tax avoidance which is not. If more of those ‘fringe’ businesses played a fair game on a level playing field there would be less compliance for the rest of us.

Don’t blame the ATO for the legislation, they are only doing what they need to enforce the laws our government put in place and they (the government) only legislate to make everyone’s contribution to our country even and equitable. It is those who believe they deserve to keep more of their pie and not share it with the country that are to blame.
Just looking for diamonds people, and next week I might have a go at multinationals ? you never know.

There endeth the sermon.

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