Recent and prospective improvements to the simplified tax system (STS) are further encouragement for small business to consider joining the system.

The changes announced in the May 2006 Federal Budget (planned to take effect in the 2007-08 income year) will further relax eligibility requirements to enter the STS.

These relate to increasing the STS average annual turnover threshold from $1 million to $2 million and removal of the $3 million depreciable assets test from the eligibility requirements

The STS is a package of measures aimed at reducing the compliance costs faced by eligible small businesses, and provides an alternative method of determining taxable income.The two main elements are:

  1. Simplified depreciation: most depreciating assets less than $1000 each can be written off immediately. Most other depreciating assets are pooled and deducted at a rate of either 30 per cent or 5 per cent, depending on their effective life
  2. Simplified trading stock rules: tax payers do not need to account for changes in the value of trading stock or do stock-takes unless the value of trading stock on hand changes by more than $5000 from the beginning to the end of the year.

For tax payers in the STS system, the Entrepreneur’s Tax Offset provides a 25 per cent tax offset (reduction) on the basic income tax liability related to the business income of a STS business with an annual turnover of $50,000 or less. The benefit is progressively phased out where the turnover is in the range of $50,001 to $75,000

Another improvement is that STS tax payers are no longer required to use the STS cash accounting method. Taxpayers who enter or re-enter the STS for an income year that begins after 1 July 2005 will calculate their taxable income using the accounting method that is most appropriate for their circumstances. The ability for tax practitioners to use an accruals tax accounting approach, which is generally more appropriate for their clients, should provide a greater incentive to use the STS,’ Mr Addison said.

The STS re-entry rule has also been relaxed so that tax payers who exited the STS in 2004-05 income year or before will be able to re-enter without having to wait five years.

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