House debates

Wednesday, 30 March 2022


Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Tax Integrity and Supporting Business Investment) Bill 2022, Income Tax Amendment (Labour Mobility Program) Bill 2022; Second Reading

7:20 pm

Photo of Bert Van ManenBert Van Manen (Forde, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It's always a pleasure to rise in this House and speak about small business, because this government has a record of supporting small business across our community and across this country, and particularly across my electorate of Forde. The schedules in the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Tax Integrity and Supporting Business Investment) Bill 2022 go towards further enhancing our support for small business whilst at the same time ensuring the integrity of our tax system.

Let me first take the opportunity to look at our support for small business over the past several years. Looking at the measures that we've put in place for small business over our term of government, since 2013, we now see small business in a situation where it pays the lowest tax rate it has ever paid, in many, many years, compared to previous governments. The benefit of a lower tax rate for small business is that it gives small business the incentive to invest and to grow, because more of the money that they earn through their hard work each and every day stays in their pocket. We know that many of our small businesses out there, who are the majority of employers in Australia, put on the line each and every day their family wealth. Their house is mortgaged to support their business overdraft. Very often, our small-business owners are the last people to be paid. They ensure they pay their staff and their suppliers, and then they take a cut out of what's left at the end of the week.

We look at these small businesses as we go around our electorates—and I've got the member for Wright here, who's my electoral neighbour—and what I find fascinating is that, when we talk about innovation in this country, it is our small-business community that leads innovation. Big business today has become much like the bureaucracy of the Public Service. It's our small to medium businesses that drive innovation, new ideas and change to make our economy a better economy and a more productive economy. They are involved in our local communities. They support our sporting clubs. They support our community organisations. As we have seen with the floods in my electorate—and I spoke about this earlier today in the Federation Chamber—so many small businesses in my electorate of Forde have put a hand out to help those affected by the floods, to give them a hand up. Yes, we've received support from some great large businesses, but the majority of support has been from great small businesses across my electorate.

That's why I am proud of the work that this government has done over the past eight years to support small business. As I said, lower tax rates, the instant asset write-off, the instant depreciation of capital expenditure—all of those things go to reducing the cost of running small business, because you don't need to carry those items on your balance sheet; you can write them off in the year of the expense, when you buy that new ute or that new piece of equipment. And when we talk about small business, it's not just the people who have a bricks-and-mortar shopfront. It includes our tradies—our sparkies, our plumbers, our brickies and our tilers. All those people are small-business people as well. All these measures that we have implemented over the past few years go to support those very people.

This bill before us today seeks to further assist and make it easier for small business to understand their record-keeping obligations. And if a business is genuinely struggling to keep appropriate tax records, the commissioner will be allowed to offer the business the alternative of undertaking a record-keeping course rather than paying financial penalties.

That actually feeds into our budget announcement last night of a tax deduction for small businesses for every $100 they spend—on new IT equipment, to upgrade their systems, to put in place a cloud storage system or to buy a zero accounting package or something like that to upgrade the efficiency of their business. This dovetails with that very nicely, because part of supporting small businesses is giving them the incentive to upgrade their systems and capacity to do these things better.

The education course that will be provided under this legislation will be free and will take approximately two hours to complete. It is expected to be delivered online. Can I also say that many of the online accounting and bookkeeping software packages that are available today do wonderful work in this space in terms of tutorial and other resources to make it easier for small business owners to manage their business. We know that many of our small business owners are not just the owner of the business; they're also the bookkeeper, the HR manager—all these things that come up in the course of running their small business.

The measures in this bill ensure that more appropriate sanctions are available for assisting small businesses that are struggling with their record-keeping, rather than applying automatic financial penalties. I think that is a very worthwhile process in terms of supporting small business through what we know has been, over the past two years, a very difficult time. But, again, this government has supported small business through that—and I've touched on a couple of the measures—but also through Jobkeeper. A lot of the small businesses in my electorate of Forde that I have spoken to have shared with me how important Jobkeeper was to them in ensuring that they kept their doors open and kept their employees engaged in the business. We know how vital keeping employees engaged in the business and keeping business activity turning over and providing support and income to our community has been to the fact that our economy is now in the position it is in, after two years of COVID. I recognise that there have been different outcomes in different states, given different decisions by various state governments. But these things all go towards ensuring that we have a viable, profitable small-business sector that continues to support our economy and innovation and capability for the future.

In addition, schedule 3 of this bill provides taxpayers with the option to claim deductions in line with an asset's actual economic life rather than mandating the effective life prescribed by statute. Currently, for certain depreciating intangible assets—such as patents, copyrights and in-house software—the tax law specifies the effective life of the assets for depreciation purposes. This measure applies to intangible assets acquired from 1 July 2023 after the temporary full expensing which applies to both tangible and intangible assets has concluded. Again, this is an important part of the government's Digital Economy Strategy, which was announced in the 2021-22 budget.

Importantly, in 2023, we'll see the FIFA Women's World Cup be held in Australia and New Zealand. Part of the package of commitments to host the FIFA Women's World Cup(Time expired)