Ombudsman to investigate small business tax disputes

Businesses with past disputes with the ATO are set to have their cases revisited, as the Small Business Ombudsman reveals that it will investigate historic tax complaints.

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO), headed by Kate Carnell (pictured), revealed that federal Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education, Michaelia Cash, requested it to examine the scope of instances where an SME has disputed an assessment by the ATO, and where the ATO has commenced early recovery action.

“Overzealous early debt recovery by the ATO can be a small business killer,” Ms Carnell said.

“Our research last year into unfair treatment by the ATO found serious system-wide issues impacting the small business sector, including early debt recovery.”

She said that the ASBFEO heard from multiple business owners that they were “devastated financially” by this practice, particularly in instances where the ATO had made a mistake.

However, Ms Carnell said that her office’s investigations will only look at “historical cases”, and not any that is currently subject to review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

“The work behind this task will support the operations of our newly established Small Business Concierge Service, which began on 1 March,” she said.

Simpler BAS

The Government and the ATO have heralded this a big reduction in red tape for small business but for most it will be the dropping of one number only. The total purchases figure, which you will probably need to have calculated to work out how much GST you paid suppliers.

From 1 July 2017, Simpler BAS is the default reporting method for small businesses with a GST turnover of less than $10 million. They have less GST information to report on their BAS.

Small businesses only need to report:

  • G1 Total sales
  • 1A GST on sales
  • 1B GST on purchases

The following GST information is no longer required:

  • G2 Export sales
  • G3 GST-free sales
  • G10 Capital purchases
  • G11 Non-capital purchases

Simpler BAS does not affect how other taxes are reported (eg PAYG income tax instalments or PAYG tax withheld), or how often you lodge your BAS.

You still need to keep records, such as tax invoices, as proof of any claims you make in your BAS and income tax return lodgements.

This short video provides an overview of Simpler BAS.